Plus top tips for staying hydrated while surfing, swimming or participating in any water sports.
Wild swimming saw a surge in first-time dippers during lockdown and is one of the habits that many of us have kept up post-pandemic. It has numerous benefits for mental and physical health, as it helps forge deeper connections with nature, the local community and ultimately to yourself.
With the rise in popularity of open water swimming, it’s no wonder the wild swimmer’s favourite item – the changing robe – is being seen on beaches, river banks and on even high streets up and down the country. If you’re considering starting outdoor swimming, or looking to up your gear game, there are a few options of robe out there, but you want to make sure you’re getting good value for your money and investing in something sustainable that will last you for years to come.
In this article we look at the benefits of open water swimming; answer the questions of what a changing robe is and why you would need one; reveal the best sustainable changing robe and finish with some bonus tips for keeping hydrated during water sport activities.
Let’s dive in!
The benefits of open water swimming
There are plenty of reasons to start open water swimming. It’s shown to have positive effects on your circulation, stress reduction, weight loss, immune system and even your libido!
What is a changing robe and why would I need one?
A changing robe is essentially a specialist coat designed for swimmers, surfers, or anyone participating in any sports where you need to get changed outside. It provides privacy and protection from the elements, and has an inner lining that helps dry and warm your wet after-swim body. In winter, you’ll want a waterproof and windproof changing robe, but in summer, a lighter poncho towel is usually all you need.
You don’t strictly need a changing robe to try open water swimming or surfing, but it’s a much more pleasant experience if you have one. Particularly in the UK!
The most versatile & sustainable changing robe
There are lots of changing robes available – but unfortunately they’re not all created equally. While many changing robes have lots of practical features, they mostly tend to have the same
“changing robe” look to them and often have very large branding across the back. Not so with Vivida Lifestyle’s Puffer All Weather Changing Robe. It’s the only changing robe on the
market with a puffer coat design, which not only makes it incredibly warm and cosy, but means it can easily double as a regular winter coat – perfect for when you’re heading from the beach to straight to brunch. Along with its good looks, it’s also highly practical with all the features you only really appreciate when you’re freezing cold and wet straight out of the water – think easy-grab two-way zip pull, large hand-warmer pockets, and even a compression bag that doubles as a wet kit bag after your swim. Best of all though, the Vivida robe is made with sustainable recycled materials. Win, win, win.
The importance of hydration during swimming
So now you know the benefits of open water swimming and have your kit ready, you’re ready to dip your toe in the water, right? Not quite yet… have you considered your hydration?
Dehydration might not be something you immediately associate with water sports, but it’s a swimmer or surfer’s worst nightmare. Studies have shown that dehydration of as little as 2% negatively affects mood, concentration, cognitive ability, strength, endurance and overall performance.
It’s easy enough to become dehydrated on dry land, but being in the water creates a whole new challenge. It’s hard to tell how much you’re sweating during water activities and wearing a wetsuit also impacts the body’s thermoregulatory processes. It’s vital to replace the water you lose via sweat to maintain optimal performance levels and to generally feel like a healthy happy human being. Submersion in cold water can also increase your dehydration rate, as fluid moves away from the skin inwards to protect core body temperature.
Top tips for staying hydrated during swimming, surfing or any other water activities
Never fear, it’s pretty easy to stay hydrated when out for a swim or surf session, you just need to make sure you prepare ahead of time. These are our top tips:
- Arrive hydrated
The best way to ensure dehydration doesn’t ruin your swim or surf is to drink around 600ml of water during the 4 hours before you take the plunge. Make sure you also have some carbs in you to provide the energy you’ll need.
- Listen to your body (and remember your water bottle)
This is a little trickier, as when you’re out in the open water it’s easy to get fully absorbed in your swim or surf, but it’s important to always listen to your body. If your mouth feels dry or you experience a cramp, head straight back to shore and have a drink. We recommend keeping your water bottle easily accessible by your changing robe or poncho towel to avoid
any unnecessary fumbling when you’re cold and wet.
- Have a hot (sweet) drink to hand
Particularly important for cold water sessions. Pack a flask with a sweet, hot drink for the moment you emerge from the water. As well as providing an added boost of hydration, the energy boost of the sugar combined with the warmth of the drink will help your body gently warm itself up.
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