If you’re swimming outdoors, you’re swimming in UV

With outdoor swimming taking place during peak UV months, swimmers are particularly vulnerable to UV exposure. Swimmers are subject to the UV both reflected off the water and from above, and 40% of the sun’s UV can penetrate water up to a depth of 50cm so good sun protection is essential.

Five tips for how to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide in and around water  

1. Cover as much skin as possible: SLIP on swim gear such as a rashie, wetsuit or t-shirt for casual swims. If you can see skin, UV can reach it.

  • Look for bathers and rashies labelled UPF50 to help block UV. If you can’t wear a rashie, wear a t-shirt and swap it for a dry one when you get back out of the water. Cover up with a shirt or wrap after your swim.  
  • For competition swimming or training, have a shirt or wrap handy for when you’re back out of the water.

2. Apply sunscreen correctly and frequently: SLOP on SPF50+ broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen to any parts of skin not covered by clothing. Sunscreen won’t provide 100% protection but used in conjunction with other sun protection methods it will greatly reduce your risk of skin damage.

  • Apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before diving in the water. Choose a formula that feels comfortable on your skin that you’ll be happy to reapply. Make sure you reapply sunscreen at least every two hours as the water will have washed it off. Use the free SunSmart app to set sunscreen reminders so you don’t forget.
  • Remember that sunscreen is water-resistant, not waterproof. Make sure you’re extra vigilant in applying sunscreen to your face, neck, shoulders, back and back of your legs because those parts will be particularly vulnerable during the swim.
  • Correct application of sunscreen is essential. 85% of Aussies don’t use enough sunscreen putting themselves at risk. Check out our sunscreen calculator.

3. Protect your face, neck and ears: SLAP on a broad-brim or bucket hat to help shade the face, neck and ears when you’re back on dry land or when just taking a leisurely dip. A hat will also help with sun glare.

4. Avoid peak UV times of day: Try to swim earlier in the morning or later in the day when the sun’s UV isn’t as intense. Download the free SunSmart app to stay on top of UV levels and sun protection times. SEEK shady swimming spots or take some shade with you. Rest in the shade. Consider using an indoor pool if UV is particularly high.

5. Protect your eyes: SLIDE on swimming goggles that have some UV protection to help protect your eyes. When you’ve finished your swim, swap the goggles for wrap-around sunglasses that meet the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1067).