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...)
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??
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