One problem that sea swimmers complain of again and again is chafing. Swimming in salt water is a whole different game to swimming in a chlorinated pool, or indeed fresh water. If you're going to be undertaking any marathon swims, or perhaps you have your sights set on swimming the British Channel, then pay close attention this could save you some serious soreness!
Let's attempt a bit of science here. Seawater is a solution made from salt ions such as chloride, sodium, sulfate, magnesium, calcium, potassium, bicarbonate, bromide, borat, strontium, and the list goes on. As the sea water evaporates salt crystals are left on the skin of the swimmer. The first salts to precipitate are calcium carbonate and a small amount of magnesium carbonate. You may know calcium carbonate (CaCO3) by it's more common name “Limestone”. As you can imagine, calcium carbonate particles are gritty, rough and irritating. It's these microscopic particles that cause a lot of the trouble for sea swimmers!
With the effect of these micro-particles, the normal frictions experienced in swimming become infinitely more irritating. Skin-on-skin contact as well as skin-on-fabric contact that normally doesn't cause any irritation suddenly leaves red and raw marks. It varies from swimmer to swimmer, some experience irritation after just 15-20minutes sea swimming whereas others will swim for an hour before they feel uncomfortable.
Dr. Olmos-Lau explains the hair-to-skin chafing in Swimming World Magazine, "I have had severe burns with bleeding related to beard friction on my shoulder in the ocean. These were very painful." He gives advice known by many. “Petroleum jelly doesn't last but is useful in long pool swims. Lanolin adheres to the skin more, but the smell of natural lanolin is repellent. However, there are diluted compounds that are useful.”
If you're planning on swimming any distance longer than a few km then you're going to want to think about anti-chafing solutions. The most commonly affected areas are the underarms, neck and shoulders. A lot of long distance open water swimmers use petroleum jelly as their anti-chafing product, others mix it with Lanolin to create their own custom blend. But, there are custom products out there designed exactly for this purpose, with hours of lab development time and real world testing to back them up!Body Glide is an anti-chafing solution that is now on sale at ProSwimwear. Recommended by athletes and weekend warriors since 1996. The product is made from all-natural ingredients (suitable for vegans) and offers non-greasy, water repellent all day protection from chafing and irritation. An invisible, hypoallergenic barrier derived from plant waxes attaches to the skin surface, allowing it to stay where needed. The balm repels water and moisture, as it lets skin breathe and sweat escape.
Body Glide comes in a stick applicator much like some deodorants so it's easy to apply. No more sticky, greasy tub to dig your hand into, no more trying to wash your greasy hands afterwards! Body Glide is sweat and water resistant but does not clog pores, it also helps your skin retain moisture after you swim!
A must try for open water swimmers and triathletes.
Small and large versions on sale now at ProSwimwear - try it today!