With summer around the corner, it's time to think about ditching the indoor pool workouts for some unconstrained aquatic fun. Here are some mostly chlorine-free ideas on how to mix it up:
#1. Find a new swimming hole.
See those teens wearing cutoff jeans and towels around their necks jumping over that fence? They know something you don't. Follow them or check out SwimmingHoles.info and avoid the trespassing fine.
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#2. Register for an outdoor long-course meet.
If you're not ready to ditch the pool just yet, find a longer one. Chances are there's a 50-meter lap pool within driving distance of your home. With that much black line between flipturns, you can really settle into your stroke.
#3. Take a swimming vacation.
Until recently, only runners and cyclists could enjoy guided trips. Now swimmers can combine a vacation with their favorite pastime. In July, SwimVacation runs trips from a small island in a pristine Maine lake, and SwimTrek has options everywhere from Scotland to Sicily throughout the summer.
#4. Try an open water competition.
It's the hot aquatic sport right now, and for a good reason. Open water swimming is not just about raw speed. Strategy, resilience and guts play a big role, too. Search for an event on Active.com or check out the U.S. Open Water Swimming Connection for a list of places to practice.
#5. Just jump in.
Wherever you go this summer, bring your bathing suit and goggles. Driving past a tree-lined pond? Spy a canoe launch on the bank of a lazy river? Is that the exit for the beach? Take it and just jump in.
Search for an open water event.
Hopper McDonough is an Active.com contributor and founder and president of SwimVacation.