Facing The Open Waters
Face your fears.
The hardest part about swimming in the open water is getting in. Facing your fears and taking the plunge into the open water can be incredibly daunting. Once you are in, however, it’s smooth sailing. Open water swimming is all about being prepared and confident. These tips will help you feel more confident before facing the open waters.
1. Prepare on Dry Land
Being mentally and physically prepared for the open waters is vital. It’s incredibly important that you are both fit and confident in your swimming abilities. Make sure that your swimming technique is perfected first, either by swimming in the pool or using swim trainers, such as the ZEN8 swim trainer. If you are confident on land, you will be confident in the open waters.
2. Safety First
The most important aspect of open water swimming is making sure the area of open water you choose to swim in is safe. If it is your first time swimming in the ocean, try go to a beach where there are life guards on duty and swim parallel to the shore. Ideally, try swim with someone else who is experienced in open water swimming. It is also worth having some clothing to help you be spotted easily - such as a brightly coloured swimming cap.
3. Face Your Fears
The only thing limiting you from taking on the open waters is yourself. The dark, deep, open water can be very intimidating at first. And, the only way to get over this fear is to get in the water and get swimming. Soon, you will only be focusing on your swimming and all of those fears will sink away. If you do start feeling uneasy, however, try to focus on your swimming strokes and your breathing. Keeping your mind busy will drive away any fears.
4. Small Goals
The big, open water can feel endless. The best way to keep your motivation up is to focus on small goals. Try break up your strokes into sets of 50 to have small goals to focus on, or if you are in a race, make each of the buoys a goal.
5. Train in Real, Open, Cold Water
Ahead of a race or a triathlon it’s important that you try to do as much of your training in open water. As much as swimming in a pool or using a swim trainer can help with your fitness and technique, the best way to prepare for the open water is to swim in open water. Your body will need to acclimatise to real, open, cold water. And, the only way to know your open water limits is to train in open water.
Having the correct equipment is vital. A good, warm and flexible wetsuit can make all the difference. Having your wetsuit just a little too big or too small, too thin or too thick will be a huge drawback when you are out in the open water. Make sure to speak to an expert at a local store as they will be able to help you choose the correct wetsuit thickness depending on your local water temperature. Don’t forget about your swimming cap either - up to 80% of body heat can be lost through your head.
7. Most Importantly, Have Fun
Swimming in open waters will only be daunting if you make it daunting. Try have as much fun as possible and remember how awesome it is to be so close to the raw power of nature.
8. Some Extra Tips
Check out the following video on tips for your first open water swim by the Global Triathlon Network: