Here at GONE FOR A SWIM, we believe everyone has the right to enjoy the wonderful, wild ways of the open water.
But the sea, lakes, and rivers are exactly that — wild. They’re unpredictable and can quickly become dangerous. So, we want to make sure you have everything you need to enjoy open water swimming safely.
Whether you’re dipping in the sea or embarking on a cold water swimming journey, we want you to be safe. There are hundreds of benefits to open water swimming. But there are also many risks. Over 400 people accidentally drown in the UK and Ireland every year. Many more have non-fatal experiences, often suffering life-changing injuries. Please, don’t become another statistic. Prioritise your water safety education, skills and confidence.
Do your research, get to know your local area and work on your swimming skills and confidence.
As well as running amazing swimming sessions with the GONE FOR A SWIM team as a fully qualified Open Water Swimming instructor and beach lifeguard, I’m also a volunteer HM Coastguard Rescue Officer in Southend. Every day, I see the risks and dangers of open water.
To help you get the most out of your open water swimming journey, I’ve compiled this collection of water safety advice and resources.
Anyone can get into trouble in open water, even strong swimmers. Familiarising yourself with common risks of open water (and how to navigate them) helps you minimise your chances of getting into difficulty.
Let’s walk through some common open water dangers and tips for avoiding trouble.
Do you know the best time to swim in the sea? Throughout the day, the sea water rises and falls (or comes in and goes out). The tide is ever changing. If it’s high tide one morning, it’ll be low tide at the same time the following week, and back to high tide again the week after that.
Understanding the tide times in Southend (or wherever you plan to swim) is key for knowing when it’s safe to swim… and when you’re best enjoying a beachside picnic and coming back to swim another time.
Every day there are high and low tides. These change each day by approximately 60 minutes.
A rising sea is known as a flooding tide. This is when the tide is coming in. A high tide occurs when the tide is fully in.
A falling sea is known as an ebbing tide. This is when the tide is going out. When the tide is fully out, the sea is at low tide.
The tide is affected by the moon and sun’s gravitational pull. There are two main tide types that occur during the monthly tides cycle. These are called spring and neap tides.
Spring tides are very high tides followed by a very low tide. These tides (particularly in Southend) will come higher up the beach at high tide. Spring tides occur twice per month on a new moon and full moon.
Neap tides, that fall between the spring tides, are tides that are lower at high tide but are followed by higher low tides. The differential between the high tide and the low tide heights is less than with a spring tide.
Understanding tide times as a sea swimmer protects you from potential hazards. Flooding tides can cut you off, leaving you stranded from the shore, and may hide potential hazards in the water.
Meanwhile, ebbing tides could pull you from nearer the shore or reveal obstructions and hazards in the water.
The safest time to swim in the sea is during a slack tide. A “slack tide” is when the water is most still. This means there is less water moving and currents are weaker. However, rip currents can still occur at slack tides so always stay aware of potential riptides.
Slack tide happens during the hour before or after a high or low tide. Check the local tide times and aim to swim one hour before or after the specified time of the high and low tide.
Wherever you choose to swim it is key that you obtain local tide information and safety advice for that particular area. If the beach is lifeguarded this is the perfect place to get correct information. There are also numerous swimming groups around the country that are happy to share safety advice.
To check the tide times in Southend, visit tidetimes.org.uk. You can also buy a printed book of Southend tide times to make sure you know all the tide times for the year ahead.
The online Southend Tide Times shows the predicted high and low tides for each day. It also provides tide graphs and the sunrise, sunset, moonrise and moonset times.
SwimSafe is our introductory open water swimming session perfect for new, novice and nervous dippers.
Learn open water swimming tips and skills so you can confidently and safely swim in the sea.
Children and teenagers love swimming in the sea. Yet less than half of school age children have any swimming lessons.
Make sure your child enjoys the open water safely with our 1:1 or group Children’s Sea Safety sessions.
Part of being safe in the sea comes from being a strong and capable swimmer.
Improve your frontcrawl swimming technique and confidence with our 4-week, pool-based Frontcrawl Improver course.
Join the private Good Vibe Swim Tribe when you attend a GONE FOR A SWIM Open Water Swimming session.
Good Vibe Swim Tribe is an amazing Facebook community filled with Southend sea swimmers who are all part of the GONE FOR A SWIM tribe.
As a Good Vibe Swim Tribe member, you’ll get: