Once again it's Tri Talk Tuesday! This week we are discussing the open water swim. Head on over to: Cynthia, Miranda and Courtney's blog posts about open water swimming and feel free to link up yours. And while you are over at Courtney's page (Tri Girl Chronicles) leave her some cheer. She just rocked her first Half Ironman!
The open water swim. These words often send chills up and down many triathletes spines. It certainly used to put me on the edge of a panic attack as soon as I put my face in the water. Why? Maybe it's because of certain images I couldn't get out of my mind.
or perhaps spotting this guy:
or it's this fear of being the slow person in the middle of this chaos:
- Don't panic and control your breathing. It's easy to say however panicking will only raise your heart-rate and hinder your breathing. Close your eyes for a minute and block out all negative things. Tell yourself over and over that you CAN do this and "it's just another pool swim." Take few deep breaths and blow bubbles in the water. This will help calm you down.
- Practice in open water as often as you can. Get comfortable with what it feels like to swim in open water, what it looks like through your goggles and what it feels like to swim in a current. These are not the kind of things you want to experience for the first time on race day. Grab a buddy and practice together. Strength in numbers, right?
- Start in the back and off to the side. If you know you are not a strong swimmer and fear the starting line chaos, move over and to the side. Take your time start with the slower swimmers. You are less likely to get trampled and swam over or even kicked in the head (it happens). There is nothing wrong with taking a little extra time to slow down if you are a beginner. A calm and relaxed swim will only make your remaining segments (bike/run) that much more enjoyable.
- Watch where you are going. Before you jump in the water to race take a look at what side of your body you need to keep the buoys on. Make a mental note and remind yourself often. There is no black line on the bottom guiding you where to go. Practice sighting ahead of time and sight often. Keep the buoys on the correct side and don't rely on swimmers in front of you. Those swimmers could steer you off course and that will just frustrate and cause you to panic.
- Get in the water and warm up before the gun goes off. Allow your body to get used to the water before you start swimming, Splash some water on your face and fill your wet suit up with a little water. If you can, do a few strokes or wade around in the deep water to get your blood flowing in your arms.
Do you have a fear of open water swimming? What tips do you have to help calm yourself down?