If you’ve signed up for a sponsored swim in support of Devon Air Ambulance, you might already be feeling a bit out of your depth! Even experienced swimmers should bear in mind that the sea is a very different beast to the local swimming pool. So before you jump in the deep end, take a quick look at our top tips for making a splash with your sponsorship event.

Warm Up!

Although you’re swimming, that doesn’t mean that you can’t first warm up on dry land. Warming up will improve your circulation, allowing you to get the most out of your muscles as soon as you get in the water. Some dynamic stretching will also loosen you up, and reduce the chance of injury. For a basic warm up, try some arm swings and a light jog.

Prepare for the cold

This might be pointing out the obvious, but it really is going to be cold in the sea. In cold water, your body loses up to four times more heat than you would at the same temperature in air, and this heat loss becomes even greater when you start swimming. If you want to mitigate the effects of the cold (which aren’t great for your performance), then you’ll need to acclimatise. As well as actually swimming in the sea a few times a week (start off for a short time and increase the time), you can try taking a cold bath and even adding some ice if you dare.

Find your stroke

Generally speaking, front crawl is the fastest stroke - if you’re good with that, then fantastic! Otherwise, go with what’s comfortable. A strong breast stroke will be better than nearly drowning trying to do front crawl, just because that’s what everyone else is doing. And if you want to try out the butterfly, it’s best to practice a bit first - or you could end up flopping about like a fish rather than channelling your inner dolphin.

Train for the distance

A mile swim is a long way, and a mile swim in the sea will feel even longer. As well as training for the distance in a pool (around 64 lengths of a 25 metre pool), make sure you get some practice in the sea - you should be going in to acclimatise to the cold anyway. This will help you to get used to swimming against the waves, and might even make you more comfortable with getting seaweed in your hair.

Get the right equipment

Getting the right equipment is essential - the last thing you want on the day of the event is to be distracted by a badly fitting wetsuit. Firstly, you’ll need a good wetsuit or drysuit to keep you as warm as possible. Secondly, you should get a good pair of swimming goggles, and make sure they fit just right. Too loose, and you risk losing them as soon as you jump in. Too tight, and you might give yourself a headache and there's not be much of a chance to take an aspirin. Ideally, goggles should form a good seal, and even stay on your face for a few seconds without any straps. Otherwise, that salty water is going to sting.

Hopefully you’re now feeling a bit more ready to take on the sea swimming event!

Do you have a fundraising story you'd like to share? If so we'd love to hear from you. There are hundred of community events and several very popular annual Devon Air Ambulance fundraising events you can support each year - take a look!