Ok – let’s just go ahead and start this out by saying, this is how I thought I would feel…
But, this is how I really felt…
Open water swims are HARD and are absolutely no joke. To give you my full swimming background for context, I started swimming to train in January and was in full COVID lockdown, meaning no pool access, at the beginning of March. So with a mediocre two months under my belt, safe to say I struggled with the open water swim.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy it though! It was honestly such a great workout both physically and mentally. Physically, the difference between lap and open water swim is clear, there is no pausing at the end of a 25 or 50 yard lap. It’s maybe a brief pause at the end of the 100 or 150 yard lap, which is a huge difference to get used to. And mentally, even though there weren’t more than 20 people in the water, swimming in that proximity, maintaining my strokes, breathing and learning to sight while also simultaneously trying to keep up, not hit or stray into head-on traffic was a mental challenge to say the least. Talk about sensory overload.
But here are a few things that I did right for my first open water swim
- I went with a familiar buddy
- It is always easier to try something new with someone who isn’t new! In my case, I was so happy that my mom came with me. She has been swimming in open water for a few years now and is comfortable with the scenario, which in turn made me feel more comfortable as well.
- I joined up with a larger group and coach
- Instead of my mom and I just heading out to a lake and paddling around for a little while, we joined up with the local Playtri group for the swim. Playtri had a beginner and more novice-advanced swim group option and a coach accompanied both swims to give guidance and direction. Being in a structured group with others who considered themselves beginners made it much easier to relax and feel comfortable in the water.
- I was patient with myself
- I know that I have mentioned this in other blog posts, but just to reiterate something about myself: I am not a good beginner! As competitive as I am, it is so hard for me to try something and not automatically be fighting for the top spot. Knowing this about myself, I went into the swim being OK knowing I wouldn’t be leading the pack or swimming circle around my other beginner swims. I certainly got frustrated (especially with sighting), but when I need to, I rolled onto my back, took some deep breaths, calmed down and kept trying.
If you are in the DFW area, I highly recommend checking out Playtri! They helped make this experience much more successful than otherwise. Here is a link to their open water swim page.
No matter what, just keep swimming!!