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2013-06-02 2:46 PM


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Subject: open water swim
Looking for any advice I can get in regard to open water swim. Here is a brief background.

Prior to spring of 2010 I was non-swimmer. Since then I have "immersed" myself in the pool. I have taught myself to swim. I have gone from not being able to swim across the pool to now being able to swim 3000 meters and do miscellaneous intervals. When I swim I generally breathe every stroke (every head turn to the left). Otherwise I don't feel that I get enough air. After swimming for awhile I can intersperse longer intervals between breathing, but I cannot sustain it.

Every open water swim triathlon I have done has been a disaster in the swim portion. At first I thought it was the cold water, even though I do have a full wet suit. This year I delayed any racing until this past weekend. That was smart. The water was not too cold. At the start I hang in the back, wait for everyone to go and then begin. I get maybe 25 yards and I can't get enough air, even with breathing every other stroke as I do in the pool. I side stroke for a bit and then try again. I have no success. Eventually, I flipped on my back and do the back stroke which is terrible for sighting, let alone speed. By the time I'm out of the water I am significantly behind. Good thing I'm a decent cyclist and runner. I usually pass oodles of people in those disciplines.

I have done some open water swims in non-race situations. It is better there. I can get into a rhythm. Is it the wet suit? The only time I have used the wet suit is in these races. Is it nerves/anxiety or based on my more limited swimming, is it a lack of swim strength? Eager to hear from anyone with advice.

Brian


2013-06-02 6:42 PM
in reply to: #4764137

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Subject: RE: open water swim
I am no expert, but it sounds like you would benefit from practicing OWS more often rather than swimming in the pool.
2013-06-02 9:44 PM
in reply to: rugby7179

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Subject: RE: open water swim
My situation is similar. I've spent time splashing in the water and swimming around for recreation but hadn't ever tried for speed until last summer. I've worked at it over the winter but still am not a great swimmer. I believe that a lot of it is feeling comfortable in the water and that doesn't come easy. I've learned the breast stroke which isn't much slower than free style but it helps me feel more relaxed because I can always fall back on that and it's a lot easier breathing. I've taken some lessons which gave me confidence. I also bought a front face snorkel. That way I can practise technique without having to worry about breathing. I also do a lot of swimming with my wet suit in open water. It is a different feeling with it on and the more you use it, the more comfortable you'll get with it.

Good luck.
2013-06-03 8:54 AM
in reply to: b2run


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Subject: RE: open water swim
Thanks. I am planning to get some lessons on breast stroke.
2013-06-03 9:08 AM
in reply to: rugby7179

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Subject: RE: open water swim
I live in Panama City, FL and have access to Gulf year round. I would say my confidence is expontentially better than it used to be just by getting out and swimming in OW as much as possible. Still, the bulk of my swim training is in the pool, but as races approach, I work in as many OWS swims as I can. My training buddies and I talk about it being like a punch in the face- the difference between peaceful pool swim and the OWS/Gulf swim. Just completed our local HIM (Gulf Coast Tri) on the IMFL course and had more confidence for that swim than I have had in the past with sprint/Oly swims- just from doing it more (OWS).

I have to constantly "calm myself down" to get breathing under control early in the race starts, then you settle down and get to work from there. Sounds like you are hyperventilating/breathing hard early in race maybe from excitement/cold whatever. The more you do, the better you will be at this. It gets better. Good luck.
2013-06-03 9:22 AM
in reply to: rugby7179

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Subject: RE: open water swim

I think most of us have gone through similar issues with OW swimming.

Even though I was a competitive swimmer in my youth, I struggled mightily in my first few races, resorting to breaststroke, sidestroke, dog-paddling, etc. after spiking my HR and breathing in the first couple hundred yards.

Obviously gettting more OWS practice is good advice.  And staying out of the chaos in the middle of the pack also helps.

But the thing that really helped me psychologically was mentally putting aside the fact that I was in a race, and just focusing on swimming at a 'comfortable' pace from A to B. 

Completing my first OWS doing freestyle the entire way was a huge confidence breakthrough for me and helped me put aside my anxiety. 

I also discovered that even a 'slow" freestyle is much faster and less tiring overall than any other combination of strokes you might come up with.

Another thing that really helps me is warming up as much as I can prior to the start, to the point where I've got my HR and breathing cranked up and actually start to feel a bit fatigued, if that makes any sense.   

Keep at it and good luck,

Mark



2013-06-03 11:34 AM
in reply to: rugby7179

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Subject: RE: open water swim
Originally posted by rugby7179 I get maybe 25 yards and I can't get enough air, even with breathing every other stroke as I do in the pool....

I have done some open water swims in non-race situations. It is better there. I can get into a rhythm. Is it the wet suit? The only time I have used the wet suit is in these races. Is it nerves/anxiety or based on my more limited swimming, is it a lack of swim strength? Eager to hear from anyone with advice.

Brian


It is almost always a matter of preparing for it. A quick tip is to practice exhaling fully since when you're amped up, it's common to forget. It's probably not the wetsuit, or even strength since you do 3000m in the pool.

Being comfortable OWS'ing is about prep. You can be comfortable in the cold. I make a point of doing cold OWS most Wednesdays, with temps as low as 48 or 49, and agree with experts that comfort is mostly due to insulating your forehead. In the context of Alcatraz, Emelio DeSoto encourages the "cap sandwich," latex/neoprene/latex. I like to be warm, so in the low 50s, I like two neoprenes and an outer latex. It's key to pull the caps low to your eyebrows just shy of your goggle seals. Warmth is all about your forehead, and you can nearly ignore the back of your head. One tip is that a mask like a Aqua Sphere Vista offers a lot more insulation than goggles - that's what I use training when it's cold. I race in goggles.

Even still, the first 100 yards can be bracing, and even I can forget to exhale, but it's a huge advantage to know that you're certain to be okay in a couple of minutes.
2013-06-03 11:45 AM
in reply to: RedCorvette

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Subject: RE: open water swim
Originally posted by RedCorvette

Another thing that really helps me is warming up as much as I can prior to the start, to the point where I've got my HR and breathing cranked up and actually start to feel a bit fatigued, if that makes any sense.   

Keep at it and good luck,

Mark

^^^THIS^^^

I'm exactly in your boat; a good, brisk warm-up has been the key to me.  I like to think I'm burning off some of the extra energy that the 'nerves' have provided.  Good Luck!

2013-06-03 12:46 PM
in reply to: rugby7179

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Subject: RE: open water swim
One of the "scary" things for beginners coming from the pool I guess is not being able to see the bottom. Suddenly you feel you're out on the deep and this can cause panic with some swimmers.

Every one has nerves in a race, and more so in the beginning. If you don't naturally fall into a rhythm, try counting, breathe 1-2, sight every 5 breaths say, etc. If you can get a chance to warm up in the water this can also remove the surprise of cold water and bring down the nerves.

Have you had the chance to do OWS without a wetsuit? If the wetsuit is a problem then you should feel better without. Sure, it may be a bit cold, but most can sustain that 10-15min. I'm not suggesting you ditch the wetsuit for your next race, but try a short OWS without and see how you feel. Stay safe.

BR
2013-06-03 5:29 PM
in reply to: erik.norgaard

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Subject: RE: open water swim
Although I would definitely agree with the practice in OW and warming up before the actual start, I wouldn't completely dismiss the wetsuit issue. I live in Key West and although I do most of my training in a pool, I do try to go out at least a week or two before and do some OWS. I though had a race, an Oly, where I was wearing full wetsuit for the first time. It was super tight and even though it was the "right" size according to the manufacturer's chart, I had it on right, I just never felt like I could take a deep breath. As a result I ended up hyperventilating and then panicking a bit to a point where I was almost going to quit because I just couldn't make it past the first third of the swim. I finally relaxed a bit and finished, but I was so exhausted that the rest of the race was ruined. The next race, a HIM, was the same beach but the water was MUCH rougher. However, I decided to wear my sleeveless wetsuit that I feel much more comfortable with. All the difference in the world. I relaxed, and as others have said, just went for a swim (fast as I could though), and voila success. No stopping (except to wait for the 4' wave to take me up so I could sight) and no alternate strokes.

Long winded I know, but don't get discouraged, practice in OW and check out a alternate wetsuit or without it and see how you feel.
2013-06-03 5:54 PM
in reply to: topolina

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Subject: RE: open water swim
Last year I did my first OWS in a race. I learned quickly that there is a difference between the pool and the lake. For me it was mainly with pacing, I went out way too fast and was tired by the half way point. This year I am making it a point to get in an OWS each week to get more familiar with pacing and overall comfort.

I did two OWS races last year, one was an interval start and the other was a small race with a mass start. This year I am doing my first 70.3, it will be interesting to see what the first two minutes are like.


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