June 5, 2012

Triathlon Training Tuesdays: Open Water Swimming

Or, The one in which Amy faces her fears of drowning, getting kicked in the face, and being laughed at for being the only triathlete swimming breast stroke...

First, a big thank you to my triathlon inspiration, Lauren, for holding my hand through my first group open water swim last Wednesday!  When I messaged Lauren a few weeks ago saying, "Help! I am freaking out about the swim leg for my tri!" she offered to talk me through open water swimming and even accompany me to a group swim.  You rock, Lauren!  (Be sure to check out her blog, forwardisapace.com)
 Like I said, I have been terrified about the swim leg of my triathlon.  But, since my training motto for 2012 is "BE FEARLESS," I figured I should face those fears head on!  (Also, I figured that it probably wasn't a good idea to have my first group open water swim be DURING my first tri...see, I'm a thinker like that...or at least Lauren is because it was her idea...)  So, Wednesday evening last week I found myself driving out to  meet Lauren and a bunch of crazy triathletes, all of whom looked way more hard core than myself, at a beach on a little lake. Even though I tried to assume a "BE FEARLESS" attitude, my good friends, Doubt and Anxiety somehow managed to sneak into my car with me...Sources of Doubt and Anxiety included, but were not limited to, the following: 1. Drowning.  2. Freezing (Did I mention that it was 64 degrees outside?? Yup, truth.)  3. Getting far away from the beach and being too tired to swim back (see #1).  4. Being the only inexperienced swimmer and sticking out like a sore thumb. 5. Looking dumb for swimming breast stroke.  6. Realizing I'm totally not ready for my tri and that I have no business even attempting one.  (Mostly this one...)
Lauren promised she would be right there and that I could do it.  She let me know that it was 100% okay if I wanted to just swim a couple laps along the shore for today and promised that I could absolutely swim breast stroke.  I was all set to agree to laps along the shore when something in my mind said, "No way, Amy.  You are doing a triathlon in a week and a half.  Do you really want to just do LAPS ALONG THE SHORE today?  You are fearless.  You are getting in that water and swimming the half mile course."  So I did. :)

When we first stepped into the water, it actually didn't feel super cold!  Maybe because at 72 degrees it was 8 degrees warmer than the chilly windy air!!  However, the second I put my face in and tried to swim, I started hyperventilating.  I'm telling you, it is not easy to swim in cold water, guys!  My body was just saying, "NOO!!  Are you crazy???"  I immediately lost my confidence and thought, "There is NO way I will make it around the course!"  Lauren told me to just breathe and try again.  So I treaded water for a minute, took deep breaths to get my breathing under control, and tried again.  It still sucked at first, but I just focused on swimming towards the first buoy, one stroke at a time.  Then when I made it there, I just focused on the second buoy, feeling more and more confident.  There were definitely a few times when I thought, "Man, I could use a wall to kick off of right about now!" or "That sun sure is bright and glaring on the water like crazy!!!" or "What, did someone just grab my foot??" or "It's hard to see through lake water when it's full of bubbles from other swimmers..."  But I just kept on swimming and before I knew it, I was heading back into shore!
Half mile swim in open water--DONE!  I am SO glad I did this swim and feel SOOO much more confident and prepared about my tri now.

Things I learned:
1. It's okay to let the other swimmers in the group get a head start :)  Stick to the back of the pack...
2. Remember to look around for the buoys and other swimmers...there are no black lines along the bottom of lakes like in the pool!
3. Breast stroke is a-okay.  Any forward motion counts!!
4. Treading water for a second is a-okay too.  So is grabbing onto a buoy or guard to rest!  While I didn't do this, I did see others resting like this.  (And no one pointed and laughed!  Obviously...)
5. If the water is cold, you may hyperventilate.  Just take deep breaths and try again!
6. Don't be afraid :)

What fears have you crushed lately??

Don't forget to enter my giveaway to win a beautiful infinity scarf from Sprigs!  


  1. Great job being fearless and just doing it! Sounds like you will be great in your tri. I just did my first tri (click over if you want to read about it). I would guess I did breast and side stroke for about 80 percent of the 1/4 mile distance. I blended right in with the others who were doing the same thing! Nobody will judge you or laugh at you. I even saw a few people grab onto the buoy like you describe (though I didn't because I wasn't sure if it would be a DQ or not).
    Best of luck in your upcoming tri! I had a lot of fun in mine.

  2. Way to go, girlie! Have you read 'Can’t Swim, Can’t Ride, Can’t Run: From Common Man to Ironman'? Very funny and full of great tri tips!

  3. I've thought about training/trying to complete a Tri but the swim is the most intimidating part. I loved reading this! And I'm so excited for you!

  4. this is awesome!!!! you were so brave to get out there and conquer this fear. i would say that the swim portion of the tri is definitely the thing that scares me the most. cant wait to see you conquer one of your goals next week!

  5. I need to do an open water swim! I need to face that. I wish I had a group to go with but nonetheless I need to do it. Thanks for this post.

    1. Definitely get to a lake soon to try it out, you will feel MUCH better afterward!!!

  6. Okay, you have NO idea how impressed I am with you right now. You are very very brave. It's the swimming bit that totally stops me from doing a tri. WAY TO GO, AMY!!! (sorry for yelling :))

    My Running Shortz

    1. Thanks Barbara!!! If I can swim, anybody can swim, trust me!

  7. I just came upon your blog by happenstance....I've just experienced all those same fears you had and finished a sprint TRI on Saturday (although 20 minutes before the beginning of the swim, they cancelled it due to unsafe waters/tides. I was SO SO looking forward to having the SWIM monkey off my back. I feel funny now calling it a TRI becasue technically it was a Duathlon (we ran, then biked then RAN!) Oh well, look forward to reading more. what a great idea to take that picture. I think I need one, to remind me of my goal too.

  8. Great job! You are going to be so glad you did this swim on the day of your tri!!

  9. Great Job! If you have open water swim anxiety, you should check out the USAT and Ironman Approved Swim IT swim safety device designed for triathletes and approved this year! IT Rocks!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...