Open water swimming can be exhilarating, but it also comes with a set of risks that make swimming in a pool seem like stepping in a puddle. Chances are you've had to sign liability waivers to compete in open water, and you made sure you had great insurance. However, insurance companies can sometimes balk at paying for care, of course, and you might end up having to prove that yes, you did everything you could to stay safe while competing. You'll also need to show documentation for everything, and a lawyer can help you put together a case file that will be your best chance of finally getting a payout.
Caps and Goggles
Always test your swim caps and goggles the day before the competition. Ensure the straps on the goggles are in good shape and that they aren't fraying at the point where they connect with the plastic portion of the goggles. Check the cap for stretching, and ensure that it will hold your hair down and not slip off. If you lose your goggles or cap, your hair could float into your face and you might have more trouble seeing underwater; that would give the insurance company an opportunity to say that you didn't take proper precautions.
Chafing From Competition-Required Accessories
If you have to wear a competition timing or transponder band, be sure you place petroleum jelly or another skin lubricant under the band. Chafing is a major problem in open water swimming, but if it happens when you wear an accessory provided by the race organization, your insurance could try to claim that the liability rests with the organizers.
If you do require medical attention, be sure the codes the doctors and nurses use are accurate. There is a list of codes dedicated to open water risks (including such interesting topics as being bitten by a dolphin), and the more accurate the codes, the easier it will be to get compensation from the insurance company. If the company still balks at paying, you'll at least have a good record of everything you had done, which could help your case if you need to take legal action.
If you're having trouble getting your insurance company to pay up, talking to a lawyer is your best bet. Lawyers who specialize in personal injury and who know about open water injuries can help you pursue the compensation you deserve.