Let’s face it, open water swimming can be down right intimidating. Here are FIVE common fears athletes associate with open water swimming during a triathlon race.
MURKY WATER CREATURES – Sounds silly, but it’s true. In an open water situation (lake, reservoir or ocean) there truly is no way to know what’s beneath the water’s surface. It could be sharks, an octopus or yes mercorns (yup…a mermaid unicorn)…you just don’t know. Take comfort in the fact that NO ONE else knows either and you’re not alone out there. Human and wildlife interactions are NOT common on race days….you can breathe a little easier now.
PANIC ATTACK – Being in the water with commotion, adrenaline and a level of unknown can induce panic attacks. We won’t deny that. However, if you are fearful of this practice ahead of time well before race day what your plan will be. Calm breathing, signaling a paramedic or volunteer and taking a break are all readily great options on race day.
BEING KICKED – You’re not alone in the water – which is GREAT as you often will find and feel a sense of comradery with other athletes. However, when you’re swimming with faster or slower swimmers it’s inevitable that some contact will be made. Avoid this by always keeping an eye on your surroundings AND sighting. Sighting your immediate 5ft radius gives you an awareness of other athletes so you can veer to either side of them if you are gaining and plan to pass them.
SIGHT and SIGHT – Practice sighting in your pool and during swim sessions. Pick a spot on the wall or pool deck and look to find it quickly as you tackle swim sessions. This will arm you to be a good open water swimmer and to spot the swim course buoys. Veering off course and swimming 1100 meters when it’s a 750 meter course because you zigged AND zagged isn’t ideal.
PRACTICE PATIENCE – Swimming is overall easy with basic technique. Swimming efficiently takes time AND patience. Bring patience to race day. Yes, it can be competitive (depending on your race day goals), but being patient in the water while you settle into a rhythm is critical. Sprinting then walking then sprinting then walking isn’t a super efficient way to run, right? Don’t panic swim then bob around then panic swim then bob around. You’ll spend extra time in the water being inefficient because you weren’t patient and steady from the start.
Have questions on your first triathlon?? Give us a shout!