Warm water swimming

KarenTKarenT Charter Member
edited July 2013 in General Discussion
After months of shivering in the unseasonal cold, I find myself confronted with a new and unexpected dilemma - how to cope with warm water. I'm signed up for the "quiet" MIMS re-run in late August, and water temps promise to be well into the 20's celsius (mid-high 70's F), which is very new territory for me. Happily, the UK is suddenly in the middle of a heatwave so I'm getting plenty of lake swimming (and weed-wrangling) in at those temps for the time being, but am wondering about nutrition. Does anyone have any experience of managing nutrition in warmer temps over a long swim compared to cold? Common sense seems to dictate perhaps using electrolyte drinks more regularly than I would on a cold sea swim, but I'd love to hear people's experiences - perhaps from Tampa Bay swims, or other warm water marathons - so that I can begin putting together a feeding plan, or at least start some informed experimenting. Any other warm water issues that I should be wary of?


  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    edited July 2013
    Hi Karen, it's possible your electrolyte needs will differ somewhat compared to a cold-water swim, but the main thing I'd focus on is proper hydration. For Tampa Bay in 2011 (82+ F) I was taking in 32oz of liquids per hour.

    Also you'll probably want to look into insulating your feeds so they stay cold throughout the day. MIMS boats are small and most don't have refrigerators though some may have ice coolers.

    I know you know this, but for others' benefit - make sure you are peeing regularly. Personally I feed every 20 mins and aim to pee no more frequently than every 2 feeds, and no less frequently than every 3 feeds.
  • mjstaplesmjstaples Atlanta, GA, USMember
    I actually have a question about this. I'm still new to marathon swimming. Just completed end-wet last weekend. (Water temp mid to high 70's) I was only taking in around 12-15 oz of feed an hour (which talking to other swimmers seems to be less than normal) but was peeing every 15-20 min. Felt good for the greater part of the swim. Should I be taking in less cause I'm going so often?
  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member
    @mjstaples, congrats on END-Wet!

    Multi-Tampa winner Chris Derks told me once that you should be peeing so much you can't tell when you're not peeing. He's not a doctor, but you can't argue with his resume: http://openwaterpedia.com/index.php?title=Chris_Derks

    Just here troubling deaf heaven with my bootless cries...

  • mjstaplesmjstaples Atlanta, GA, USMember
    edited July 2013
    IronMike wrote:
    @mjstaples, congrats on END-Wet!
    Thanks! It was a great event!
  • KarenTKarenT Charter Member
    Thanks @evmo - that's very helpful. I seem to be spending a lot more time monitoring my bodily functions than one would expect in adult life.
  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    IronMike wrote:
    you should be peeing so much you can't tell when you're not peeing.

    Good advice here!

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    Karen -

    Kidneys are about the most efficient organ in the body, so you can't break them by peeing too often. As long as you have a good electrolyte balance in your drinks, you will be fine even if it seems like you are leaving a continuous yellow ribbon around NYC. My rule of thumb is no less than once every 1/2 hour (I feed every 30 min.) and usually more than that after the first hour. It helps if you don't have to stop to answer the call, however.

    Anyway, this is a moot point for you since the lampreys will have sucked you into a dessicated husk within the first hour.

    No need to thank me.


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • caburkecaburke Charter Member
    Karen T, I live and train in Florida and have competed in marathon swims in Key West and Tampa Bay so I have some experience with warm water swimming. I’m a big guy and I typically take in 30 to 40 ounces per hour by feeding every 30 minutes. My best advice is to make sure your feeds are ice cold. I find the cold drinks to be extremely refreshing throughout the swim. A few gulps of my cold feeds really invigorate me.

    I premix a combination of Maxim, G2 Gatorade and water. I keep the feeds in large jugs in a cooler on the boat. My crew typically transfers two squeeze water bottles of the mixture into a small soft side cooler with a little ice that is passed off to the kayaker. This method provides me with ice cold feeds throughout the swim.

    Good luck in your return to New York.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Member
    I peed every 15 minutes all the way down and back across Tahoe. Towards the end, I wasn't going as much, so we started adding straight water in addition to my feeds. I was having some stomach issues and wasn't able to hold as much of my normal feeds. I used the same tactic in Tampa Bay a few years ago- if I wasn't peeing enough or feeling thirsty, I would take my feed and then see how much water I could fit. Not sure how scientific that is, but pure water seems to taste pretty good when I'm really hot/thirsty, and has never upset my stomach.

    Also, @caburke is spot on. The colder you can keep your feeds the more refreshing they'll be! At SCAR this year, some were freezing their feeds the night before to be sure they had something cool to sip on while they swam.
  • Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
    ssthomas wrote:
    Also, @caburke is spot on. The colder you can keep your feeds the more refreshing they'll be! At SCAR this year, some were freezing their feeds the night before to be sure they had something cool to sip on while they swam.

    One thing about this, however: Be sure you try this in training swims before the race. In general, the colder a drink is relative to body temperature, the longer it takes to be emptied from the stomach and can lead to stomach distress.

    Also, some of the typical drink ingredients like maltodextrin dissolve less readily in cold liquid. I recently tried this with water I had kept in the 'fridge over night and didn't have any stomach distress, but the drink consistency was fairly "gritty."


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • miklcctmiklcct Kowloon, Hong KongMem​ber

    I have a dilemma now. I am a new swimmer, want to build up distance, speed and also cold water tolerance in preparation for my goal to "become a marathon swimmer" next year.

    However, I feel it extremely uncomfortable to swim in warm water and I always complain about the standard pool temperature (28°C) being too hot for squad training. I'm always exhausted in those squad training during high intensity set, need to jump out of the pool between sets to cool down, and I cannot sustain the cadence I normally hold in cool (20°C) water. In past few years, I thought that 21°C - 22°C was the best temperature for me, but as my swimming improved and intensity increased, I now prefer 19°C for high-intensity training. The non-heated pool I use returned to 22°C after a few warm days, and I was feeling warm in my own practice already, to the extent that it suppressed my appetite afterwards.

    Before I started any serious swim training last October, I simply refused to swim in any outdoor pools during the summer where the temperature can be 32°C or above, and even indoor pools are extremely uncomfortable for me if the pool is using natural ventilation, therefore I only swim in a particular pool where the air-con is strong, but this will no longer be an option for me.

    I am known among all my friends to be very heat-adverse, with the following signs:

    • I am always underdressed in cold weather, when others are wearing multiple layers, I am still in a T-shirt and shorts in around 12°C air temperature (cold water swimmers, is this familiar to you?)
    • I run in < 5' / km pace in winter, but have trouble even at 6' / km in summer
    • I like to turn up the air-con to the extent that others are feeling cold
    • I feel it's great to swim bare skin in 18 - 19°C, while nearly all the others are in their neoprene.

    However, there are simply no cold water opportunities for me in the summer (not even in winter this year), and it will be at least 28°C everywhere I can swim in for around 3 to 4 months per year but I still need improvement in order to meet my goal next winter.

    Can anyone give me some guidance how I can acclimatise for warm, or even hot water as well? I am currently scared to sign up any of the races in South-East Asia despite perfectly fitting my desired distance in my current stage of training because the expected water temperature will be 29°C! And I need a way to sustain my training over the summer months when it is over 30°C!

  • @david_barra said:
    IronMike wrote:

    you should be peeing so much you can't tell when you're not peeing.

    Good advice here!

    Two years ago, I swam my first official OWS long swim during Swim the Kingdom in Lake Memphremagog (at the suggestion of a friend......and...I said, "sure" before I asked how long the distance would be -- another story). I definitely fell into the "...couldn't tell when I wasn't peeing" category. So much so, that when we all were in the car and headed to Montreal so that my friend's hubby could do IM Mont Tremblant...I realized that I had to keep reminding myself that "...you can't just pee whenever the urge strikes! Ya gotta wait till the car stops!"

    Luckily, Monica also was reminding herself of that....so she and I were in charge of stops for awhile until our bodies were back to "land rules" vs. "water rules." :)

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