Open water swimming

Sun protection guidelines for those participating, spectating, or working in sport or outdoor recreation. The following specific tips and advice have been developed with the help of Swim England.

Open water swimming

  1. Apply a broad-spectrum product with an SPF 30 or higher, paying special attention to your ears, nose, and shoulders, as well as other areas which are prone to burning.
  2. Get into the habit of applying sunscreen 20 minutes before your swim to ensure it has ‘set’ to avoid it being washed off.
  3. No sunscreen is truly waterproof only water resistance so it’s best to reapply every 50 minutes of swimming and do so after towelling off thoroughly.
  4. The more you sweat and are in water, the more sunscreen you’re washing away into the water. For this reason, consider clothing like a rash vest, guard or sun sleeves.
  5. The sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm so on very hot days, if possible, swim outside of these hours.
  6. A swim cap will not only help keep you streamlined, if will keep your scalp safe protected!
  7. The water may feel cooling but be aware of the absence of shade when swimming either at a pool or in the sea. UV rays pass easily through water, so make sure to take regular breaks out of the sun.
  8. Consider swim goggles that provide UV protection.
  9. Whilst spectating, do so in a shaded area out of direct sunlight and remember to use wraparound sunglasses to avoid eye damage.
  10. Remember, sunshine reflects off surfaces, so sun exposure can be more intense near or in water.
  11. When removing wetsuits, remember to apply plenty of sunscreen to newly exposed areas of skin.
  12. Select sunscreen without chemicals that harm marine life.

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