If you're ready to challenge yourself this summer, consider open water swimming. True, it’s not your typical beach day, or a hardcore training session at the pool, but open water swimming—with its waves, tides and unexpected currents, all while churning through longer distances than other aquatic events—presents a different kind of challenge. Most of them may fly under the radar, but Hong Kong actually has a sizable number of open water swimming events. (And no, you don’t have to worry about the pollution.) The Shek O Challenge, held in July in support of WWF (HK) and the Ocean Recovery Alliance, records the biggest turnout, with about 160 swimmers. The youngest participant was 11 and the oldest around 70. Though having to fight through a school of minnow just outside of the shark net, swimmers completed the race with family, friends and food waiting for them. An Insiders’ Guide HK Magazine spoke with Shek O Challenge organizers Doug Woo (DW) and Doug Woodring (DWD), who gave us some tips for open water swimming. HK: Why open water swimming? DWD: When compared to swimming in the pool, open water swimming gets people out into nature. They can see all kind of scenery and wildlife, with the freedom of not having a lane line or turns. It's great to be out there and enjoy Hong Kong's great water and coastline. What's also great is the social atmosphere at the finish lane—people come to our events and stay around. DW: What's great about open water swimming is that it gets you to trails that you can't normally get to yourself, for example [the Shek O Challenge] trail was from one beach to another. It's rare to get the chance to really get out there in the open water. And to us, this is less a competition than an event. Some people take it less seriously; there are first-timers who don't even think they can do it. And when they finish, it's a great achievement of their lives. How do you prepare for an open water swimming event? DWD: You need to feel comfortable. You don't need to be fast, but be calm and confident in the water and that you can make this kind of a distance. Some people have a fear of water when they can't see the bottom. So it's a psychological challenge as well as a physical challenge. DW: The most important thing to be calm in the water. If you ever want to get help, paddle over to the nearest safety vessel. Also when you're in the race and you're so involved in the swimming, it's easy to get lost. Just take a breath and enjoy it for a moment or two. Look around. DWD: When you don't have the lane line, it's hard to know what direction to go. Looking for the buoy is tricky sometimes, especially with a crowd of people and big waves. Upcoming Events Open water swimming is a great way to experience Hong Kong’s furthest reaches. With experienced organizers, safety vessels around and a big group of determined swimmers, it's hard not to get all excited and pumped. And if you feel up for a challenge, don't worry that you missed the Shek O Challenge. Here's a list of other open water events this summer. For Novices August 19 South Bay Ocean Swim Route: Repulse Bay to South Bay Distance: 1,800m For more information visit www.revolution-asia.com . September 2 Bay to Bay Ocean Swim Route: Repulse Bay Pier to Deepwater Bay Distance: 2,000m For more information visit www.revolution-asia.com . September 30 Deep Water Bay Ocean Route: Middle Is to Deepwater Bay Distance 1,400m For more information visit www.revolution-asia.com . For Experts August 25 2XU Pier to Pier Invitational Route: Repulse Bay to Stanley Pier Distance: 5000m For more information visit www.hkasa.org.hk . October 8 The Clean Half Route: Stanley Main Beach to Deepwater Bay Distance: 15km For more information visit www.thecleanhalf.com .