My relationship with swimming is complicated. I used to love it when I was a kid. Then one day in my early teenage years, I signed up for swimming lessons. Thanks to the instructor who made me swim 40 minutes non stop every lesson, I started to hate it from then on.
Photo credit: Richard Ling
Fast forward many years later, I started to go to the beach, snorkelling etc. After spent my early years in the pool, I was not used to swimming in salt water. It gave my eyes and nose this nasty feeling that’s hard to describe. Here are some tips I had collected over time.
1. Take motion sickness pills
I had to learn this the hard way. When I signed up for a snorkelling/scuba diving cruise at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, I didn’t think much about getting seasick. The important thing is that you must take motion sickness pills before you become seasick. By the time I feel dizzy on the cruise. It was too late to do any damage control.
2. Rent an undersea camera
Love taking photos and don’t wanna miss out underwater? Rent an undersea camera before you depart. Or buy a waterproof case for your camera.
3. Swim in salt water prior to your trip
It may seem redundant. If you are like me and not used to swimming in the ocean, a few seconds with your head in the salt water can be really discomforting. The trick is to get your feet wet beforehand! (Literally). Swim and let your head and body get used to it. After snorkelling every single day for a week, I found out I became more used to the water and can snorkel for a longer time.
Pick goggles that’s not gonna leak. Before going down water, put the googles over your eyes and nose. When you inhale with your nose, you can check if there’s any air leaking out. Bonus tip: To prevent the goggles from “fogging up”, spit on your goggles before you put it on. (trust me, saliva works)
5. Fins vs. Shoes
Think about where your snorkelling is gonna be. If you are on a cruise, having fins will help you swim faster and see more of the underwater world. If you are going down the coral sea from the beach, the initial walk into the water will be cumbersome in fins. On the other hand, shoes will not only make it easier for you to go into water from shallow to deep, but they also help protect your feet from harsh surfaces like rocks, and species such as sea urchins that stings.
6. Read about what’s under the sea and what you might encounter
I once saw a lionfish while snorkelling. While I didn’t know what it was at the time, I swam away as fast as I could because it looked dangerous. Later on, I found out they are poisonous and I definitely did the right thing by “running” away.