OK, I learned a hard lesson in my first Tri about the difference between open water swimming and swimming laps in a pool. Today I learned another tough lesson with regards to open water swimming in the ocean.
I have been steadily improving my swim in the pool over the past 6 weeks and felt good going into todays sprint. Actually it was just a swim for me because it was a relay and I got to do the swim portion. Anyway, me and one of my team mates were driving to the Site this morning and I could see the thunder boomers over the ocean that woke me up around midnight still rumbling in the distance in the pre-dawn light and I thought I may be in trouble. We setup in the transition area and I said my farewells as I started walking to the beach. You can't see the ocean from the transition area because of the sand dunes, but as I walked over them, I could see the 3-5 foot swells breaking about 100 yards from the shoreline. Now 3-5 feet probably isn't that big for some, but.... It was a beach start and I was spent trying to get past the breakers to the first bouy. After the turn, it was a parallel to the beach swim. Needless to say, I could never get into any rythem and it was a long 30 minutes in an angry ocean for .6 miles.
I was very dissapointed, because I was hoping to break 20 minutes over .6 miles and I swear I couldn't tell that I had done any swim training at all. On the bright side I finished but I have to ask if there are any tips for handling waves like that? Everytime I would roll for air I felt I was getting smacked in the face by a wave.