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2017-06-02 7:11 AM


Subject: Open Water Swim
I did my first ever open water swim last night and came out of the water feeling very discouraged. I had been making great improvement in the pool. While I knew it would be different in the open water this was more challenging than I thought. It was like all my swimming mechanics went down the drain. Is this normal? any recommendations for how to improve or get more comfortable.

2017-06-02 7:23 AM
in reply to: DKusaywa

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Davenort, Iowa
Subject: RE: Open Water Swim
The simple answer is yes, it's normal. If you think back to the first time you got into the pool, it was probably about the same feeling. Getting into a open water where there is no black line or clear water is a shock to your senses. Don't feel discouraged, the more you get into the open water the more comfortable it will be. When I started and was having issues, I focused on one thing for the duration of my open water swim. I remember thinking breather every other stroke for a long time. Yes, my form was out the window, but I knew I had to start with something. After a couple of times it would get easier and form came back. Before any race, especially if it's new water that I've never been in, I mentally have to psyche myself up. I literally tell myself out loud, while standing with my feet in the water, "it's just water, you've been in it a hundred times this year. It may look, taste and smell different, but it's just water, and you know what to do." It's silly and the first time someone heard me they laughed at me, but it works for me. The more time you spend in the uncomfortable/unfamiliar, the more comfortable and familiar it will become. Stay the course, trust your training. You just have to find that level of comfort that you have in the pool.
2017-06-02 7:32 AM
in reply to: DKusaywa

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Extreme Veteran
Greenwood, South Carolina
Subject: RE: Open Water Swim

You may have done better than you actually thought. Swimming in open water can give you the thought that you're not going very fast. Stay focused on your breathing and comfortable stroke. Work on practicing your sighting because I haven't found that black line in the bottom of the lake yet.
I always swim better in the race then I do in practice sessions for some reason.

Don't get discouraged, just keep working in the pool and try another practice in the open water. Make sure you warm up prior to the race to get relaxed.
2017-06-02 9:50 AM
in reply to: 0

Subject: RE: Open Water Swim
Same thing happened to me!

I've been working really hard in the pool this winter and have taken lessons. My pool times have dropped 10-15 seconds per 100 so I was looking forward to getting into the open water to see if my work in the pool would pay off. My first swim I averaged way slower than I thought and I was pretty upset. My coach gave me a lesson in the open water last week and pointed out a few things I was doing wrong. He told me it would take a few times to get comfortable in open water. Every year I go through this. It's almost like I have to learn how to swim again when I get outside. Some things I do in the pool don't necessarily carry over to open water, at least for me.

Today I did my 5th open water swim of the season and I'm now starting to get comfortable and my times are getting faster. I've had to change a few things with my stroke but it's coming together. I just need to be patient. The more times you get out there, the easier it will be. Swimming in open water is way different than a pool and you were probably much better than you think you were.

Just keep going out there and practice. Work on sighting more efficiently, breathing on both sides, slowing your stroke down, and pulling all the way through.

Edited by katgirl2013 2017-06-02 9:51 AM
2017-06-02 10:56 AM
in reply to: katgirl2013


Subject: RE: Open Water Swim
Thank you all good advice. I guess I just need to be patient and get in the water more. It is totally different from the pool which I expected to some extent but it turned out to be much more so. Slow and steady. Thanks again.
2017-06-02 12:28 PM
in reply to: DKusaywa

Subject: RE: Open Water Swim
My comment is to always embrace it. I think by thinking about how fun it is, it gives you the best chance to deliver to your expectations.

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to overcome the adrenaline or the reaction to cold (if it's cold) water that keeps me from getting into my groove for a couple hundred meters....but....

One thing that helps is embracing open water swimming. Seriously. I love riding my bike. Any time I can ride, I enjoy I always anticipate it "on the day". But, in the leadup to a race, I find I am most excited about swimming in open water. Lap swimming sucks. Nothing at all to see except a black line. Even if it's murky open water, there's trees and people in kayaks, and shoreline to glance at.

I always think of it this way.
If someone called you and said...."Hey, let's play hooky from work and go swim laps....".....Even if they just wanted so splash around in the pool....
Most of us would pass.

But if someone called and said, "Hey, they got an open water swim at Lake X that just got put together spur of the moment...."
I'd jump at the chance to ditch work to go play outside.

2017-06-02 1:47 PM
in reply to: jhaack39

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Austin, Texas
Subject: RE: Open Water Swim

The great things about open water swims:

- No walls, so all those real fish can't show off with the fancy flip turns

- WET SUITS!  These things should have a huge "S" on the front of them. Total superhero outfits.

- Sunshine and fresh air!

Seriously, though, it just takes time to get used to it, as others have said.  The first few times I swam in a pond, even though I was swimming faster than in a pool (almost always the case for me), every branch on the bottom was a loch ness monster coming up to get me.  The first few times in the ocean, my HR spiked with every seaweed covered rock I approached! 

Most of that anxiety went away with experience, although I no longer do OWS by myself from our cottage in Plymouth, MA since the GWS attacks and continued sightings have been happening.  That's not anxiety - that's adaptive. 

Try easing in by staying close to shore in a calm body of water the first many times, gradually pushing further out the more comfortable you get (and stay safe).

Like jhaack, I love love love OWS and much prefer it to the pool.


2017-06-05 9:08 AM
in reply to: mcmanusclan5

Subject: RE: Open Water Swim
Originally posted by mcmanusclan5

although I no longer do OWS by myself from our cottage in Plymouth, MA since the GWS attacks and continued sightings have been happening.  That's not anxiety - that's adaptive. 

I would totally be there having coffee on your deck with you instead of swimming there...

I rarely get access to salt water. But, that doesn't stop me from having a 'moment' about sharks every time I get in a body of water bigger than a 25 meter pool. I will seriously have to quickly remind myself, even in an Olympic sized pool, that there are no sharks. And even if there were, the odds are greater winning Powerball.

Irrational. But hey, I just embrace with all the other madness in all this.
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