12 June 2008

The First Open Water Swim of 2008

Well, I had my first OW swim of 2008 and it didn't go well. My brother and I headed out to Newton Reservoir, which is about 22 miles from my parents house. He has a little fishing boat, so he was planning on sticking with me while I swam, which was nice. We arrived out there and I wrestled with my wetsuit to get it on and then put on a couple of swim caps and my goggles and headed into the water. It was definitely take your breath away chilly. My brother took his boat out to warm-up the engine and I just stood there in the shallow water wondering why in the world I was doing this. My feet finally got used to the water, so I decided to dive in.

I swam out a little ways and was a little freaked out. My brother took the boat out and headed across the bay, so I told him to stop and I would swim out there. The good news was that I didn't feel like my wetsuit impeded my swim much at all. In fact, I really noticed the warmth and buoyancy. Well, I made it out to the boat and had some vegetation touching my legs, which sort of freaked me out. I was shivering like crazy and a little nervous, so I told my brother I was heading back to shore. I tried doing the freestyle back to the beach, but I couldn't catch my breath and ended up breaststroking. I think I ended up doing about 300 yds.

Well, I was highly frustrated...with myself mostly. I am a strong swimmer. I am a good swimmer. I am even kind of fast. However, I struggle in the open water. It's all in my head. Somehow I need to wrap my head around the idea that I can do the whole swimming thing and that it's one of my stronger events. One of the positive things that I noticed was that my wetsuit was actually pretty warm. My hands and feet were kind of chilly, but I can handle that...I think. Another positive thing that I noticed was that I was able to keep my eyes open when my face was under water.

So, I have a 1500 m. OW swim on Saturday morning in some pretty chilly water. I have to figure out how to center myself and calm myself down enough to swim the way that I know how. While we were driving home, I was thinking about this and I remembered the article about "Buy a Bigger Bowl." I've been thinking about it and I think that may be my mantra for Saturday. I'm thinking that I need to remember that I'm just a little swimmer in a bigger bowl and I can do that swim. I'm also going to be doing a lot of visualization tonight, as well as some practice at centering myself. Hopefully, that will help...


See You at the Finish Line said...

Some of what you may be experiencing could be a typical response to adjusting to the cold water. The hyperventilating, unable to catch your breath, etc. might be something almost every swimmer would go through as they first get in that chilly water. I remember reading an article written by an elite triathlete who described going through that sensation in the first part of the swim.
You've already done a great job calming your overall anxiety and moving from anxious to excited about the tri this weekend.
You can regroup mentally around the swim portion as well.
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.... You'll be fine! And you'll be surprised at yourself with how well you complete that swim!