Getting ready to swim, whether for fun or for a race, isn't difficult. But the better prepared you are the more enjoyable the experience will be, as it only takes a few simple steps to get prepared to go swimming.

 

Check the weather, planning accordingly.

Check the weather, planning accordingly

If you know it is going to be hot and sunny, make sure you have sunscreen and water. If there is a chance of thunderstorms later on you can still go swimming. However, make sure you have a plan for inclement weather, such as shelter to get under, and that everyone you're with knows where to meet if you hear thunder.

Avoid large meals within an hour of swimming.

Avoid large meals within an hour of swimming

The dreaded swimmer's cramp is caused when your body is both trying to digest food and exert itself to stay afloat. Avoid this by avoiding large meals, particularly greasy, fatty foods like hamburgers, cheese, etc. that take a long time to digest.[1]

  • This doesn't mean you need to swim hungry. Rather, try to graze and eat lightly over time instead of loading up on one big meal.

Apply 30 SPF sunscreen 15-20 minutes before heading out, even if it is cloudy. UV radiation still penetrates cloud cover, so don't assume you're fine just because the sun isn't shining. Make sure you are using a waterproof "sport" sunscreen that won't wash off as soon as you get in the water.

  • While swimming, reapply sunscreen every 30 minutes to prevent burning.[2]

Pack up a towel, swimsuit, and waterproof shoes.

If you're going to change at the pool or beach, you should consider an extra shirt or pair of underwear as well, in case your dry clothes accidentally get wet. If you want goggles, be sure to pack them as well.

Bring water to stay hydrated. It doesn't matter where you're swimming, it is always a good idea to have drinkable water on hand. Dehydration causes exhaustion, grumpiness, and, when left untreated, serious health issues. It seems obvious, but make sure you have drinkable water before you go into the water.

- At the very least, aim to drink 16oz or more of water in the hour leading up to your swim.

- 1 water bottle per person should be good for 1-2 hours of activity

Stuff phones, electronics, and valuables in resealable plastic bags. To be safest as you pack, just assume that everything you bring is going to get wet. If you are taking things like your mobile phone that can't get wet, take them in a separate small bag, pockets of your clothes or a waterproof bag which you can put in your swimming bag.

Protect your hair from salt or chlorine with watered-down conditioner. Your hair is sponge, absorbing moisture when you're in the water. To prevent absorbing salt water or chlorine, however, you can "pre-load" your hair follicles with conditioner. To do so, simply mix up your conditioner with some water in a spray bottle, then coat your hair right before getting into the pool or ocean. You hair should come out noticeably cleaner.