OPEN WATER SWIMMING - INFORMATION GUIDE

Ace Swimming Open Water guidelines and rules

Prior to the start of any session, the lead coach will carry out a safety assessment which will include the following:

  • An assessment of the weather conditions

  • Assessment of the air and water temperature

  • Assessment of the sea conditions (taking advice from the lifeguard)

  • Assessment of any other potential hazards that could cause injury, illness or death.


The lead coach will discuss with assisting coaching/lifeguards to ensure the safety assessment has been completed and the session is safe to run.


Safety cover will be provided at all sessions in the form of:

  • Minimum 1:20 ratio (coach to swimmer)

  • First aid cover

  • Lifeguard cover

  • Venue risk assessment

  • Venue map

  • Emergency Action Plan.


Basic first aid equipment will be available. Ace Swimming sessions are risk assessed. All final decisions on the sessions and the participants lie with Jason Quiterio.


Before taking part in an ACE Swimming coaching session, swimmers must:

  • Complete and return the consent form

  • Provide the lead coach with any medical information not stated on the consent form

  • Swim within their own ability and pace

  • Be a minimum of 8 years old (for under 18s, parents must stay at the site except for a day camp) and able to continuously swim 400m

  • Report any injuries as soon as possible

  • Wear an Ace Swimming hat/bright coloured hat

  • Comply with all the rules and instructions given by the session leader (on land) at all times

  • Must wear a triathlon/open water swimming wetsuit (skins swimmer must be discussed with Lead coach before booking)

  • No swimmers to enter the water until the session leader and designated spotters are in position

  • Swimmers must enter/exit at the designated point

  • All swimmers must swim in the direction directed by the session leader and stick to the marked course avoiding any areas identified as hazardous or out of bounds

  • No shouting, whistling or waving unless you require help or rescue

  • Swimming must be performed at all times on the front, unless in danger and require help or rescue, when only in this circumstance should you swim or roll onto your back

  • Anyone found to have contravened these rules will be removed from the session.

Swimmers equipment

Swimmers must bring the following equipment to each session

  • Wetsuit

  • Lubricant for wetsuit

  • Goggles

  • Hat (bright coloured)

  • Cheap flip flops

  • Towel

  • Drink (and maybe a snack for after)

  • Warm clothing

  • A warm drink

Note: we are not responsible for any items left on the side

Duty of Care

Responsibility: all Ace Swimming coaches have a legal obligation to give a reasonable standard of care. Coaches will be made aware of any issues shared on the consent documentation and will check for injuries or illnesses at the start of each session.


Safe Environment: all Ace Swimming sessions will be risk assessed, with risks managed to reduce the risk. A Health and Safety talk will be given at the start of each session. Swimmers will need to ensure they listen and follow the instructions.


First Aid: Ace Swimming coaches will have access to first aid equipment at each session and will be able to contact a beach lifeguard for further assistance if needed.

Environment

For sea sessions, we will ensure that:

  • Tide times are checked and considered when planning and risk assessing

  • Daily rip currents are discussed with lifeguards and shared with swimmers

  • Each athlete is registered at the start and end of the swim

  • Swimming will only be in a safe area, agreed by the lifeguard. Area will be marked and discussed with the swimmers.

For lake/quarry sessions, we will ensure that:

  • Each athlete is registered at the start and end of the swim

  • Water quality is checked for visibility (the water quality is the responsibility of the venue)

Our procedures

On the day:

  • Conduct a risk assessment:

    • Water temperature/quality

    • Tide/sea conditions

    • Air temperature

  • Review safety procedures

  • Give a safety briefing


After the session:

  • Review procedures for reporting accidents

  • Record and store the session

  • Review and update documents

Health and Safety requirements

  • Each venue will have its own risk assessment and EAP

  • Each session will be assessed prior to the start of the session

  • For lakes, water quality checks will be used to ensure the water is safe to swim. Government websites will be used to check the water quality in any sea location

Health and environmental factors influencing participants

Prior to each session the coaches (with RNLI/lifeguard input) will discuss and assess the risk of the following:

  • Tidal movements

  • Currents

  • Local hazards

  • Water and air temperature

  • The population on the beach

General Health Advice for Open Water Swimming

  1. Cover up all cuts and abrasions, however minor, with a waterproof plaster.

  2. Do not swim if you have any deep cuts or have been unwell in the past 48 hours

  3. After swimming, wash your hands before eating/drinking

  4. Take a full shower at the earliest opportunity

  5. Whilst swimming try to ingest the minimum amount of water possible

  6. Avoid swimming close to the banks, where there is an increased risk of pollution and disease


If you feel ill or unwell in the days/week following open water swimming, seek the advice of a doctor stating that you have been swimming in open water.

Health-related issues associated with open water

Open water swimming does have some associated health-related issues that swimmers should be aware of. The issues are not common but, if they occur, swimmers should report them straight away and seek medical attention.

  • Chafing

    • Skin to skin chafing can be avoided by improving the swimmers' technique

    • Skin to material chafing can be improved by using a lubricant on areas

  • Swimmers itch

    • Small itchy red spots on the skin. This can be avoided by completely drying the skin.

    • Ace Swimming will avoid coaching in an area of wildlife to minimise infection

  • Weil’s disease:

    • Symptoms can include vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, pains, fatigue, and, sometimes, fatigue organ failure. This is caused by animal urine in the water but can be avoided by not swimming with cuts. Ace Swimming will always seek water quality tests in water likely to be affected

  • Cryptosporidiosis (crypto):

    • Crypto occurs when there is sewage or dead animals in the water

    • Symptoms include dehydration, severe headaches, a rash around the stomach which can be fatal to those with a weak immune system

  • E. Coli:

    • Usually presents with symptoms similar to food positioning

  • Ear infections:

    • Small cuts, blemishes or scratches leave the ear vulnerable to bacteria in the water

    • Symptoms include discharge and temporary deafness

    • Can be avoided by swimming in clean water and wearing earplugs

Good practice

  • Equipment:

    • Swimming buoys used to mark the course

    • SUP used for support and to mark the furthest point (400m from lifeguards) - not used at all venues

  • Group organisation and dynamics

    • Group introduction, safety talk and instructions are given at the start

    • Coaches to be situated as detailed on the map

Other information

  • Risk assessments and venue maps available upon request

  • Before each session, the coach will conduct a safety audit

  • There will be a sign in and out register for each event

By joining an open water swimming session you acknowledge the associated risks with the sport as a result of the environment and conditions and take part at your own risk.