Shark Biting During the Swim

author : AskMrsBT
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Welcome to AskMrsBeginnerTriathlete.  I’m glad that you’re here!

AskMrsBeginnerTriathlete is here to provide answers to questions you have as a newcomer to the world of triathlon. Younger than Dear Abby, more athletic than Ann Landers, each month I will post, what I hope to be helpful, responses to questions that have been submitted.

  

I encourage you to ask any question that is on your mind related to training and/or racing triathlons.  I specialize in and welcome the “dumb question”!  We can learn as we make the journey together.

 

Our first question is from msjilybean.

 



 

Okay - this may sound like a really crazy question but hear goes..So I am laying in bed last night looking over my training program and getting all excited telling my husband about it and he says......"I was talking to this guy I work with who's son does tri's and he says that fish and sharks "NIP" at you while you are swimming." Okay so now I am freaked out. Hate to be a wussy girl but that does not sound fun!!!!

Is this true? I have no problem sticking to the pool tri's. Any insight would be great.

 

In general, different athletes react differently to swimming in open water.  Some will choose to only race in triathlons that have pool swims while others work to overcome some very common fears and concerns of racing in open water.  Since most of us train in the secure environment of the indoor or outdoor pool complete with walls, lifeguards, lap lines, and lane ropes and without fish, seaweed, currents, temperature fluctuation and generally murky conditions, there are some things to keep in mind when tackling the open water swim.

 

Good Ol’ Fashioned Practice.  Swim in a lake or other open water area at least 2-3 times before your race in the open water.  Being more familiar with the sights and feel of open water will make you more comfortable come race day.

 

Practice Safe Swim.  Remember the buddy system from days gone by?  This is also a good idea when you are practicing in the open water just in case you run into unknown currents or boaters.  Swimming along the shoreline will also provide water that is more of a comfortable depth.

 

Things that go bump in the water.  Most of the time fish or other wildlife are scared to death of all the splashing and movement of a swimmer in the water.  The occasional “nip” may happen, but it is very rare.  If you are in the ocean and encounter seaweed, stop kicking for a bit.  The seaweed can wrap around you if you are kicking.  Also, remember that you are in a race!  This means other swimmers will be fighting for position.  An occasional swing or kick is not uncommon.

 

Prevent the Preventable.  If the water is below 72 degrees consider wearing a wetsuit.  A wetsuit will help keep you more buoyant in the water (on top of the water) and help decrease your overall swim time.  However, remember to apply petroleum jelly or Body Glide in high risk chaffing areas such as the back of the neck, arm pits, and back of the knees so you don’t chafe.

 

Drafting.  Legal in the swim portion, but not on the bike, you can draft off the swimmer in front of you.  Watch for their bubbles produced by their kick and swim in their wake.  Their wake will pull you along and may also give you the feeling that you are near another person.

 

Drills.   To prepare yourself to swim without the comforts of the pool you can do a few practice drills the next time you visit the pool.  Try the following:
            a. swim a few strokes with your eyes closed.

            b. look up and forward to “spot the buoy” every 5-10 strokes.

            c. swim laps in an area where there are no lane lines or lane ropes.

 

I am excited to make AskMrsBeginnerTriathlete an informative forum for our members and guests.  As we develop our site I welcome your comments and suggestions for improvements.

 

Enjoy the journey.

- AskMrsBT

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date: September 1, 2004

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AskMrsBT