Fun fact: Beyond Swim is part of Triathlon England– we’re like their cool brother or sister, but don’t tell them we told you that!
As such, we work with many triathletes, from seasoned pros to enthusiasts who are just starting out. We let Triathlon England cover the running and cycling, but as the experts in open water swimming, we like to use our knowledge to help triathletes get the most out of their training and educate them on all the safety guidance they may need to open water swim.
We’ve been chatting to Shaun, who picked up triathlon in 2021, about how Beyond Swim helps him train:
You say you’ve been a triathlete for about a year, does that include open-water swimming or have you only done pool-based events?
Yeah, so I started around October last year , at the time, I thought it was too cold to go open water swimming and it turns out it’s not so bad. I then started open water swimming around April this year  and ended up in the Danube 2km in the summer, so it was a quick progression. It’s incredible how quickly you can go from beginner to confident, I used to be breathless after 25 metres and now I can tackle 2km.
What is it that attracts you to open water swimming? – That’s a really quick progression, so you must enjoy it!
I think it’s just a natural progression, you start out doing a little bit, then a little bit more, and you think, “I might as well push myself a bit more”. Everyone’s pretty open, and it’s a collective group being a triathlete, so you sort of get shimmied along with the team and their encouragement.
What do you enjoy the most about open water swimming?
It’s the challenge. Open water swimming is definitely my worst discipline, so I always feel a sense of achievement anytime that I do any distance really. It’s always a little faster or a little further, or a bit colder.
What’s the main motivation for coming into cold water swimming?
I struggle to get into water and temperature changes, I even struggle with a hot bath. I thought coming here would help me understand the different methods of tackling the cold, and the information that Greg [Whyte] provided helped me understand what my body is doing and how it is reacting to the temperature and what you can do to mediate that reaction.
What were the key takeaways for you?
Mainly, the ways to enter the water and acclimatise rather than jumping in and going for it. I think most people’s natural reaction is to go really fast and we’ll just warm up, but that’s not the way to do it. Slowly acclimatise then you’ll be good to go.
Having guidance from a coach or Beyond Swim venue, how does that make you feel as a swimmer from a safety perspective?
I think that’s the most important part, knowing that all the risk has been reduced as much as possible. Of course, open water swimming is an inherently difficult thing to do, and you need to respect that, but wherever possible, if the risk is reduced, that’s really important to get mass participation. So, you can feel like you’re doing it, and you’re protected somehow.
How does knowing that the Beyond Swim Cold Water Guidance is evidence-based give you that peace of mind?
Yeah, all the time I’m looking at different stuff, less so on the swimming side of things, more on the bike and run, but I think everything you do, from being coached or your own participation, should be evidence-led, so it’s really nice that’s it’s based on that and not just anecdotal. Those things tend to align anyway, so it’s great to see.
Knowing that all our Beyond Swim venues have cold water guidance, do you think that will entice you to do more cold water swimming with us?
Definitely! Last year I didn’t even consider that you would go in the water after August, basically, so I’ll be definitely checking out some of the other venues.
Thank you Shaun!
It shows how important it is to have safety knowledge about cold water swimming before taking a dip – even if you already consider yourself a confident open water swimmer.
Guidance is constantly being updated and reviewed, so whenever you attend a Beyond Swim Accredited Venue, you can be assured that they are updated on all the correct safety protocols to ensure you have the safest experience possible.
Don’t forget, you can also check out Beyond Swim tips, advice and news on our blog page here.