Have you ever dived into your ocean swim race and felt that the wetsuit that you are wearing was choking you so it was hard to breathe? It was never like this when you did any training right?

Whether you are experienced or new to ocean swimming this feeling can happen to anyone and 99% of the time I’d say it isn’t the wetsuit – and it can be avoided!

If you get in a simple warm up prior to the race start you’ll be setting yourself up to swim comfortably.  The warm up can take as little as 3min to as much as 15min.

  1. Get into the water to a level that you are comfortable with and swim easy getting into your stroke and rhythm. For more novice swimmers it’s important to get your face in the water and to get your breathing rhythm under control – by ensuring you exhale your air slowly underwater.
    SET: 3-5min easy swimming 
  2. Then do a bit of kicking with your hands sculling in front of you, then go into a swim that builds your pace.
    SET: 15-20sec kick then go into 30 strokes freestyle building your pace
    Repeat x4
  3. Then over 20-30 strokes or 15-25m get into so fast sprints making sure you are driving your legs; this should increase your heart rate and therefore your breathing intensity too.
    SET: 4x 20-30 strokes sprint 
  4. Finish with an easy swim 3-5min and I’d recommend familiarising yourself with your exiting the water technique (watch a video here), rounding the buoys and sighting points of reference for buoys on the course and the finishing chute.
    SET: Easy swim 3-5min including focus on the course environment

If you are running short on time then focus on points 2&3 and over 2-3min you can be set up in the best way to start the event and it will be better than doing nothing!

The warm up is to simulate the race intensity and therefore limit the shock and anxiety that can happen if you do little or no warm up or open water familiarisation.  By following this ocean swim warm up routine you will:

  • Increase your breathing and heart rate
  • Warm up key muscle groups
  • Prepare your body to be active especially as you go from a vertical to a horizontal position
  • Familiarise yourself with the environment


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