Open Water Swimming
|Photo courtesy of David Young with Coast Shots Photography|
**Lisa stands up** I am I am I am!!!
It's no secret, my mind is a hot mess in open water. I know, you're exclaiming, "WHATEVER, you're an Ironman!!" But that doesn't mean I'm not terrified of open water! But here's the deal, I keep on getting in and I'm going to keep on doing what I do. And so are you!
So let's talk about our fears, yeah? Because I PROMISE you, you are NOT alone in your fear. I would be arrogant enough to say 90% of the triathletes standing there are scared (ranging from mild nerves to Oh My God I'm going to die). The other 10% aren't human...
Things to be afraid of:
1 - critters
2 - drowning
3 - fear itself
4 - panicking/anxiety
5 - the wetsuit
6 - no wetsuit
7 - cold water
8 - dead bodies
Things to do so you won't be SO afraid:
1 - learn how to swim! For real, you would be surprised by the amount of triathletes that get in the water and don't have a clue how to swim. I can't lie, my first tri, I side stroked the whole 600 yards. 22 minutes later, survived. I vowed, LEARN HOW TO SWIM!! So spend some time in a pool and get yourself right before diving in an open body of water.
2 - swim with a buddy. Whether your buddy is swimming next to you, in front of you, just behind you, or kayaking next to you, it's real nice knowing you can reach out to someone when that I'm Going To Die feeling strikes you.
3 - practice WITH a wetsuit and WITHOUT. Don't get attached to it like a child with a binky. Be able to swim in it (you'll be glad when you find out your swim is 60 some degrees...) and to swim without it (or you'll be sorry when a heat wave comes through and BOOM, race is wetsuit ILLEGAL! DOH!!).
4 - ease into cold water; acclimate your body. Splash a little on your face, arms...
5 - there's a really good chance there won't be any dead bodies. But there will be critters. We just have to deal with it. If you don't want to swim with gators, don't do a race in Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Texas. Ha, problem solved. But really, they won't fuss with you. They are terrified of the hundreds of triathletes and boats in the water; they are getting the hell out of dodge. So is any critter. They are more scared of us then us them. You'll probably never come in contact with a single critter. Now vegetation, that's another story and swimming into that will sometimes send you soaring up out of the water like a little human dolphin. Hey Luke, remember that one time when I kicked a branch! Ha ha ha!!
6 - Finally, Stay Positive! For real...your fears ARE real... but they are REALLY in between your ears. Repeat after me, I can do this, I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.