The open water swim can be the scariest part of the triathlon, especially if you’re not Michael Phelps, and are more inexperienced. The open water can be just as mentally and physically tough for the top swimmers as it is for the beginner. Stepping up to the water’s edge and seeing the waves crash down overcoming the fear of the open water is both mental and physical.
There is a common feeling that most people feel when they see the waves. Panic and fear are two feelings that no one wants to feel right before a race. The shotgun goes off and you run with the rest of the triathletes into the water. Your heart is racing and you find it difficult to catch a breath. People claim that they feel as if the wetsuit went down two sizes, and is pushing against their chest making it impossible for them to breathe. These can be all very common feelings and something to think about if you have never done an open water swim before. The good news is that they can also all be avoided!
Here are some tips to defeat that panic attack on race day morning:
1. Practice Makes Perfect: Don’t let race day morning be the first time you have ever swam in open water. Make sure to practice this with a friend or coach before you race. Make sure to practice in similar conditions as expected at the race.
2. Wetsuit Fit: Swim in your wetsuit before race day. Make sure the size is correct. Swimming in a wetsuit is very different than swimming in just a bathing suit. If you have never swam in a wetsuit before, make sure to get that practice in so you know the feeling.
3. Take deep breaths: Work on controlling your breathing. The more panic you get the faster and deeper your breathing will be. When you get out there, if needed, stop swimming and take a few breaths. It’s better to stop for 30 seconds and gain that control back than to DNF (do not finish.) Another way is to float on your back and breathe in heavily.
4. Blowing Bubbles: Spreads out capillaries in cheeks and helps you to remain more calm. Use this as a calming technique.
5. Use Breaststroke: By using this stroke you can re-orient yourself. Be able to find an opening and also be able to sight a little easier. All these things will lead to you being more comfortable which will again lead to calmer breathing.
6. Slow Down: Taking control of your swim and panic is sometimes easier if you just slow for a 100 meters or more if needed.
Feeling panic is a normal reaction to open water swimming. By using these techniques and tips will allow you to take that open water by storm and conquer it and come out with your best swim time yet!
First seen at www.xterrawetsuits.com