What Makes Swimming in the Ocean Different from Swimming in the Pool?

swimming in the ocean

Swimming is awesome! There are so many wonderful benefits, both mental and physical, that you can get from swimming that it’s sometimes a wonder that people don’t do it more often. Some people prefer to swim in pools, while others may prefer the ocean. For those who haven’t experienced both, it’s only normal to wonder what makes one different from the other.


Generally speaking, pools don’t tend to have currents. Sure, there are some specialty pools that create currents for you to swim against, but that tends to be the exception, not the rule. Currents are continuous, directed flows of water. Some are incredibly strong, while others are weaker. For those swimming in the ocean, it’s especially important to be aware of rip currents, the dangers they pose, and how to get out of them if you’re caught. Panicking and trying to fight them is only going to make things worse. You’ll need to swim parallel to shore until you’re out of it instead.


Waves are another feature unique to the ocean. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The bigger the wave, the stronger it is. Huge waves can be fun for surfing but can be incredibly dangerous to swimmers. It’s important to be alert and aware of the waves where you’re swimming. If they get to be more than you can handle, you can end up in serious danger. Watch out for waves with a powerful undertow that can pull you underneath the water.

Staying Oriented

When you’re swimming in a pool, the water is usually very clean and clear. Community pools often feature lane lines that swimmers can use to orient themselves. Ocean water is vastly different. Sand and silt can easily muddy the water, making visibility almost nonexistent. There aren’t any lines either. If you aren’t careful, you may end up swimming farther out to sea than you intended, which can put you in danger. You’ll need to be very aware of your surroundings when swimming in the ocean to avoid becoming disoriented.

When it comes to swimming in the ocean versus swimming in a pool, you can only make the argument that swimming is swimming up to a certain point. Sure, you may use the same strokes, but the currents and waves that are present in the ocean but absent in the pool make for an entirely different environment, not to mention the increased difficulty in staying oriented in the water. Both can be a ton of fun, so make sure you keep these important differences in mind so you can have a safe swimming experience wherever you decide to swim.

Swimming in open water can be tricky if you aren’t used to it. Check out these 4 Tips for Swimming in Open Water that you can use to have a better experience with it.