When I first started going out to the lake to swim, I was always paranoid about what to do with my valuables. In fact, I would have recurring nightmares where I would visualize packs of Chicago hoodlums gleefully rifling through my possessions while I watched helplessly from 1/4 mile off shore.
These days, I’m less concerned about this since I’ve developed a system for managing this risk. Here’s what I do:
1) I only bring out items that I need – most of which I will be wearing anyway (i.e. wetsuit, goggles, swim cap).
This means that I leave many items such as my wallet, cell phone, and extra keys at home. I’ll lock up my bike and take the bike lock key with me in a zip lock bag. However, I don’t leave a bunch of stuff out in the open for strangers to peruse. If someone wants to pilfer my ratty old swim towel, I figure they must really be desperate – so I view it as an act of charity on my part.
2) If I have to bring out valuables, I make it as difficult as possible to purloin them.
If I decide to bring out a cell phone or house keys, I’ll stash them in one of the other swimmer’s vehicles or I’ll find a way to secure them on site. One of my favorite gadgets for this is a PacSafe travel pouch used by backpackers and travelers. It’s “slash proof,” and you can lock it up to your bike or to a fixed object.
3) I always try to swim in an organized group setting so there are people around to keep watch.
This is one of the side benefits to running and organizing a swim group. Having more people out at the swim site raises the overall level of monitoring and supervision. Not only does this keep you safer in the water, but it also ensures that more people will be watching over everyone’s stuff.
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