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Open water swim PANIC!!!!!!!! HELP PLEASE!!!!

Hi everyone I had my first open water swim of the season today, and to say it went badly would be an understatement!!! I rushed into it and just could not calm down and 300 meters into the 750 meters I had to get out as I was having a panic attack. I know the only cure is to spend more time in the water and to just try and stay calm. Does anyone know where I can get some teaching for this near South Wales or the West.

Any other tips hints and knowledge that I'm not the only one would be great.

Oh it's not the swimming that's the problem as I swam 3.5km on Monday non stop.

Cheers everyone from Micheal Phelps (i wish)


  • joolzdjoolzd Posts: 245
    I can totally relate to you Nick as I had this problem on my very first ow swim last year & although it wasn't 750m but 400, it was the same issue. For me and everyone varies in how they like to tackle the problem, it was down to breathing techniques in the water. I would envisage being in a race situation in ow when I was in the pool (& then the panic feeling would come back), but I would then practise counting my breathes and trying to calm myself. Of course, nothing beats being out in ow to practise and this year I have managed to do this and with advise from Richard Stannard, who says that by lying flat on the water and floating, put your head in and get used to the feel for a few mintues, plus he also mentioned the 'twat' hat, which I now wear, as I had issues with the cold water, which again didn't help with breathing as I'd be constantly catching my breath, it keeps your head much warmer and therefore your mind much calmer.

    Anyway, good luck with it all and finding somewhere outside to practise.

  • anitaanita Posts: 27

    I cant give you any advice as I am looking to start doing open water events myself. I am a little nervous at the thought of it. That must have been scary for you. I will certainly let you know of my first water experience, any advice glady recieved to.
  • moonshinemoonshine Posts: 335
    also looking for ow in Wales - plot for w/end is to swim in sea off Aberystwyth so if you fancy a group panic attack you're more than welcome
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    Nick, you've said it yourself, you just need to keep trying.

    I panicked massively on Sunday when I had my first go.

    I had another go last night and it was much easier.
  • andyb99andyb99 Posts: 229
    I did my first ow swim this weekend just gone, i wasn't too worried about the cold (i'm a northerner after all) but it was the jelly fish that worried me....anyway i got in...started swimming...doing my drills...all went out the window and it was the longest 400m i've ever done...after getting out the guy told me it wasnt panic...it was just to combat not being able to see i was simply speeding up my stroke...all he said was keep calm...remember 3 strokes wont send you way off course..and slow it right right down as though it feels like i'm not moving...it felt way too slow...but i then did the 400m in about 12 mins (i'll be happy with that in the race)

    you're right, more time in the water is prob the best way....have a look at endurancecoach.co.uk (maybe .com) and see if they have any ow swim lessons you can go to.

    good luck mate, and keep it up...i'm totally new to all this so i get exactly where you're coming from
  • nicknofingernicknofinger Posts: 284
    Can't do this weekend, but could be good where do you live Aber?

  • FlavadaveFlavadave Posts: 749
    I totally blew up in my first OW experience. Was a bit annoyed with myself as I'd had one practice session the week before, and thought I'd be fine. Not so. Ended up a minute over what I was hoping for a 400m swim.

    When the klaxon went, I either went off to quick, or my heart was pounding from adrenaline and after about 50m I was gasping for air. Had to throw in some breastroke to get my breath back (looking around there was a lot of that going on) and tried again. Same story. Thought I was going to end up with a DNF at one point, but managed to keep it together.

    Moral of the story is I think everyone has trouble getting used to OW swimming but from the advice on this forum it should get easier with practice.

    God I hope so.
  • willtriwilltri Posts: 436
    I'm now really looking forward to my first swim tomorrow!!! [:D]
  • nicknofingernicknofinger Posts: 284
    Willtri you'll be fine I think my main problem was turning up ten minutes before the start and rushing around.

    I think I'm going to make a trip down to the Blueseventy centr in Reading, has anyone been?
  • BlurredgirlBlurredgirl Posts: 292
    Panic Attacks R Us = me.

    These are my strategies for avoiding an OW panic attack - and I am a 9min 500m swimmer who also does a huge amount of sea and river swimming - still sometimes get the Triathlon Panic Attack:

    1. If at all possible - warm-up in the water before the event. Swim for 10-15 mins, very gently. Get your head in and get a feel for the water.

    2. Start at the side and towards the back (particularly if you are actually a strong swimmer. When you get into your stroke you will find yourself overtaking lots of people)

    3. Start very slow. Don't dive in at the klaxon and try to thrash your way to the front. Video evidence shows that at the Brighton triathlon last year I was last in the water.....and sixth out.

    4. If you do get into trouble, take short breaths (when you have a panic attack you over-breathe and you need to calm that down), turn onto your back, do a little breaststroke.

    Let us know how you get on!


  • epacseepacse Posts: 92
    Hi...exact same thing happen to me first time in.... the whole experience went badly wrong!

    The cold, the non seeing in the water, the no bottom, the way the sides seem to close in on the river, the fact that the banks didn't really have acces in and out....the cold...the cold...have i mentioned, the cold.... :) I nstruggled with my breathing due to the cold...

    My only adivice, and i am NO expert, but it worked for me.... i took time to aclimatise with to the water.... get in 5 mins before anyone else, just tread water, wee in your suit, seriously, worksm and just get used to it.... get you face in the water.... take time to calm down....thats the biggest bit of advice, and helped me no end... all the other bits will fall into place....as they say with all our diciplines, time in the water, on the bike and on the feet, makes it all better..... :)

    I found another part of the river that allowed me to go nearly neck deep and still touch the bottom, just to get me used to it all.... keep on, it still isn't my fave bit, OW or pool, but we do it cause we love it....don't we... :)

    Good Luck...
  • nicknofingernicknofinger Posts: 284
    Cheers for all the advice I've just arranged to go for an open water session at Bluseventy can't wait. Thanks for all the support everyone and glad to know I'm not on my own.

  • moonshinemoonshine Posts: 335
    nicknofinger wrote:

    Can't do this weekend, but could be good where do you live Aber?

    Tregaron 20 miles inland - had a go today lasted 3 minutes before lost all feeling in hands and feet and got out far toooo cold on thehunt for a puddle somewhere[:D]
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    My first OW was at Rother Valley - cold, wet, murky and that was the weather before I got in the water! Gently eased myself into water and not too bad, not cold at all. Started off very nicely, nice eeven strokes, whow, really cutting through the water - bang - 250m hit this wall. Couldn't breathe, had to break into breast stroke. The next 500m took an age - 20mins later I hauled myself out, shattered. Not cold but there was this tightness around my chest. Next 750 at Norwich, nice sunny day; this time kept to the side and away from everybody - same thing, again 250m hit the wall and hauled myself out at 20mins. Nottingham, cunning plan, unzipped my tri suit underneath my wetsuit, breathed every 2 strokes, 17 mins later came out very happy.

    Have been doing pool swims in my wetsuit with just speedos underneath, intended to swim bilaterally and concentrate on my technique. Concentrated on my technique to the point of anality and realised I was breathing every 4 strokes and not feeling any stress or exertion. After a few sessions discovered that whether I am doing 750, 1,000, 1,500 or 2,000 I am doing the same pace regardless of distance of about 2:15/100m. Not brilliant but I am very happy with it as the swim is my worst discipline. Secondly I have been concentrating very hard on technique and in fact I ignore achieving a goal time; each stroke I think about the angle at which my hand enters the water, hip rotation etc. Result is a slow relaxed pace, not out of breath (no oxygen debt) yet I am getting a time of about 16 mins for the 750 and 33mins for 1500. Yes I know it is a pool but the turns slow me down and I make a point of not kicking off at each turn as they would not be avialable in a lake. And as I said that is with a slow, relaxed pace, at times my legs are motionless.

    So for me my strategy in training will be to maintain technique and then try to build up speed just a tad, 5 - 7% is my initial goal. When racing I will wear just my Falke sports knickers instead of a tri-suit underneath the wetsuit and get into my trisuit at T1 as I think the time I will gain in the swim will outweigh the time lost in changing, make sure that get as much stretch as possible in the arms and chest and discipline myself on the technique.
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