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Swim Test

In a good rowing course you learn to swim fully clothed, as an initiation to rowing life! These lessons are huge fun and may save your life one day.

Wear your usual rowing clothing, clean rowing shoes, bring a towel and change of clothes. Bring more clothes if you want to try out several outfits for different weather.

In accordance with rowing safety guidelines, all budding rowers and coxswains are required to pass a swim test before they are cleared for all future seasons and let loose on and into the water without a life jacket. Anybody who fails to complete the swim test should wear a life vest at all times while afloat. Rowing specific life vests are available online.

The better rowing teams run the swim test once a month in seasonally adjusted clothing. You'll learn what clothes will keep warm, even when wet, and that they you slow you down, but won't pull you down. Some may actually provide some buoyancy.

rowing swim test in clothes
Swim 200 meters in full clothing without stopping or touching the bottom of the pool.
rowing swim test in clothes
Immediately following, float or tread water for 10 minutes without stopping or touching the bottom of the pool.
rowing swim test in clothes
Finally, swim at least 5 metres underwater and relax.

Reader Story: Swim test in Clothes

by Andreas, studying sports science in London, England

Recently I joined a local rowing club looking for some quiet time on the water. I'm not the competitve type, but enjoy nature and get wet for fun.

The club emailed me that I had to pass a swim test before I was allowed on the boats. How hard can that be? Later I found out that it had to be done fully clothed. This is something I've never tried before. They said I could get lessons for this if required, so I signed up for those, feeling a bit apprehensive.

On the day about 20 newbies showed up on poolside, all dressed in light clothing like shorts and tee-shirts, with socks and clean rowing shoes. We all were quickly pushed into the pool and asked swim 200 meters at a moderate pace. This was easy and I was surprised how good the clothes felt in the water.

After our warm up we were called out of the water and issued with hooded jogging suits. We had to wear them on top of our wet clothes, put the hood up and tie it close. We were pushed into the water again for another 200 meter swim. That was much harder but good fun.

The swimming in clothes lessons were actually a very pleasant experience. Hysterical laughter seemed to be the order of the day which helped us to relax and probably meant we inadvertently swallowed more pool water, oh joy. That wasn't the end of it. Thereafter we went swimming in clothes evey week in the local indoor pool, just to stay fit.