Channel Crossing Preparation Landlocked

musclewhale89musclewhale89 Alberta, CanadaMember

Good morning everyone,

I am just curious what everyone's thoughts are on preparing for a channel swim without access to the ocean. I live in northern Alberta, and moving is not an option. I have access to pristine lakes from mid May-mid September (4 months). The closest ocean to me is about 1400km away. I will not be dissuaded in any way so please be honest.

I know it is important to get in the ocean as much as possible but for someone in my circumstance, how realistic is it if 90% of your training is done is pools and lakes? How often do I NEED to be in the ocean while preparing for a channel crossing?

I look forward to reading all of your opinions!


  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin

    Hey @musclewhale89, good question. I do think it helps to have at least a couple bumpy ocean training swims under your belt, in preparing for a long ocean swim -- but it is by no means a prerequisite. Lots of people train for such events in pools and lakes.

    It may help to be more specific about what sort of "channel swim" you are training for, particularly in terms of distance and temperature. Catalina? English Channel? Molokai? North Channel? Alcatraz to SF (1.25 miles) ? All channel swims, all very different.

  • musclewhale89musclewhale89 Alberta, CanadaMember

    Thanks @evmo, I am doing another couple big lake swims next summer and then I'd like to sign up to do the Straight of Gibraltar. That's the plan anyways!

  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    edited October 2022

    Gibraltar can get a bit rough, so I'd recommend doing some a few swims in wind and rough water and make sure you're comfortable in it. Other than that, the main challenge is actually getting to swim - I believe there's quite a waiting list at this point. To answer your question though, definitely feasible to do most of your training in lakes and pools.

  • LakeBaggerLakeBagger Central OregonSenior Member

    @musclewhale89 Hello from a fellow landlocked swimmer. It’s true that a windy lake (even a large one) feels really different than the windy ocean. But, to me it’s seems like it’s mostly just about getting comfortable with the various different sensations you experience in the ocean. For example, there might be a tidal current from one direction, swells coming from another and surface chop from local winds that may or may not line up with the swell. It can all be a bit weird.

    I’ll make two recommendations: 1) swim in your lakes in the afternoon, or whenever there’s the most wind. It’s not like the ocean, but if you can practice adjusting to a windy lake, it’ll help you adjust quicker to the windy ocean.

    2) consider a training trip or two to a location next to the ocean where you can swim daily in the afternoon. Try to find a local group or local kayak guide to go with you when there is wind and swell. You might consider visiting La Jolla Cove in California and contact @DanSimonelli, who is a local kayak guide and owner of Open Water Swim Academy.

    I think for Gibraltar, you’d want to get some of that practice in. I haven’t done it, but @evmo is right, there should be a long waiting list, which means plenty of time to get experience and prepare ;).

    On the upside: coming from freshwater lake training to the ocean, the buoyancy of the salt water is quite a nice change!

  • DanSimonelliDanSimonelli San Diego CASenior Member

    I concur w Evan @evmo and Jessica @LakeBagger

    It’s certainly ideal to get in some open ocean swimming to practice, but there are plenty of landlocked people who have done what it takes to train and succeed on long ocean swims.

    If you’re not able to get in any at all, as Jessica said I suggest you practice some long training swims in the windiest lake conditions available and test out using a seasickness med such as Bonine or Dramamine to ensure no side effect and then utilize it on your swim event (ideal protocol: take one pill night before; another pill or half morning of; and have at the ready during swim).
    I’ve seen too many people who haven’t had any or little ocean experience get seasick on their swim which has ruined many a swim!

    Happy training and have fun!

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