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open water swim help!!

I have just completed my first open water training. It lasted all of 20 minutes and most of that was spent coughing up the greater part of the Bristol chanel.

Can anyony point me in the right direction with regards to;

1, how do I stop the feeling of panic as I start off, suddenly being blind except for the green soup which now surrounds me?

2, Breathing, no matter which side I tried I seemed to get a wave splashing me as I gulped for breath.

Please tell me it's just a matter of practice and confidence.

If there's anyone in or around Plymouth who fancies an open water apprentice please drop me an email.



  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    You're correct it is just a matter of practice and confidence, but alot of that goes out the window when hundreds or thousands of others are flailing around you. You just have to get stuck in, you will get panic attacks just stop , pull yourself together and get on with it. I always found that getting into the water early - really early helps as you will become accustomed to the cold and murk, also you become more at one with it.
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    The cold is a big thing, your respiratory rate can double or triple in a matter of seconds once you hit the cold water. This no only is a problem because your supposed to be swimming, but also because you will quickly dump the CO2 from your blood, which will upset the CO2 balance. As treefrog says the only real way to get past this is more open water swimming. But it may help to have cold showers, put it on nice and cold, then jump in and try to remain calm and control your breathing. you will get it so dont worry, its the same for everyone.
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I really never thought that I would ever get open water swimming such was my talent at panicking..but I did..thru practice, however if you are swimming in the Brsitol Channel, might I suggest you ge some practice in a lake or a smaller body of enclosec water which is not tidal & possibly less exposed? This will lessen the wave problem & allow concentration on breathing, stroke etc. allowing you to calm down & gain your confidence. Good luck, i can't wait until our open water sessions start in May..this time last year I was a 'drowning not swimming' open water guy.
  • ashthetashashthetash Posts: 164
    But it may help to have cold showers, put it on nice and cold, then jump in and try to remain calm and control your breathing.
    An alternative would be to fill a bath with cold water and hop in and out of it. As others have said the aim is to learn to control your breathing despite the shock of the cold water.

    Not sure if the best time to do this is after a hard session - sort of like a multi-tasking ice bath!
  • learnerlearner Posts: 100
    Thanks for the boost, I think, the only reason I was in the Bristol channel is because of a family holiday to the north Devon coast. Trying to please all the people all the time and all that.

    The only lakes around me are resevoirs, think that's how you spell it, and there is no swimming permitted. I have got a sheltered bay in mind for next time.

    wish me luck and thanks again...

  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    actually after a hard session isnt such a bad idea! apparently you are supposed to alternate 30secs hot and cold in the shower after a heavy session. Brings blood to the muscles, apparently!

    What you could do is have a cold bath run, and put the shower on hot and jump between the two. hehe. thats what you call adding a bit of fun to daily washing routine! [:D]
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Has a multisport ring to it too [:D]
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    I like it..bathroom duathlon...now if we introduce the shaving event, we have a tri, so shaving before hot/after hot?
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    sounds like a race, shaving after hot, hot and wet is always best with shaving.
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    It is becoming clear to me that all triathlon threads end up talking about shaving... the fifth discipline.
  • Open water swimming is all about confidence and that is just gained with lots of practise. But if you are in the Plymouth area why not get in touch with the Plymouth tri club as they are quite a friendly lot ?
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    but how many of them shave?..sorry couldn't resist.
  • SamutriSamutri Posts: 143
    My first open water training was carried out in the North Sea off the coast of Aberdeen - I suspect this was a tad cooler than the tropical waters of the Bristol Channel. I started hyperventilating as soon as I hit the water (I was wearing a wetsuit!) and could only last 10 minutes before coming out.

    I think continual exposure is the only answer, as some of the other replies suggest. Don't panic and 'enjoy' it.

    and now the answer to the burning question I know you all have.....I was waxed!!

  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    If only you had kept on a coating of wax...you might have lasted more than 10 mins! Seriously tho..I doff my swimming cap to you for 10 mins in ice water..
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    I guess things will get better soon, when the water temp rises. Really hate that shivering stuff;

  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Oops,must have pushed the shift lock on previous post[&:]
  • SamutriSamutri Posts: 143
    Not sure the North Sea gets all that much warmer really!

    I did think, after coming out of the water, that it was a very cheap way of having a sex change - my 'gentleman's equipment' didn't make an appearance for days afterwards [:D][:D]
  • legalbeaglelegalbeagle Posts: 208
    My Hubby claims that the water temperature in the lake we practice in does not vary that much and he spent a considerable amount of time trying to convince me that a New Years Day swim would be a "pleasan" experience! What rubbish! Needless to say I wasn't fooled.

    On the Open Water swim front though, I did my fisrt open water event last year and when I went to practice a few months before I was terrified and nearly pulled out. I was so out of my comfort zone I couldn't believe it. All the usual issues - cold, couldn't breath, got motion sickness from the waves and generally felt like I couldn't swim at all. However I went every week with the aim of staying in for five minutes longer each time and after jsut 4 sessions, I managed a 1.6km swim - once you get used to it - it feels fantastic and so much nicer that all that chlorine!
  • I agree with the "practice makes perfect" line. I completely panicked the first time I was in open water, and ended up swimming in the wrong direction and having frequent breast-stroke breathers - nearly 19mins in the Blenheim 750m course..... I now really enjoy open water swimming and even find that I am much faster than in a pool. The only real difference (as with the other guys) is that I now get in the water as soon as possible so that I am acclimatised before the race begins (I used to skulk on the bank until the last second in order to keep warm) and that I try to practise frequently. I also do most of my open water swimming practice in the Bristol Channel (Welsh side) and really enjoy it - a key point is to pick a good tide time as the Severn estuary has the second highest tides in the world (?!) and there are definitely calmer and choppier times of the tide - I go just before high tide. I also always swim parallel to the coast and breathe on the coast side (i.e. away from the incoming waves): this seems to minimise the amount of spray, though I still take a big mouthful every so often when a wave hits at just the wrong time. Looking at the coast also makes it a lot easier to sight.

    First swim of the year was late March - v.v.v.v.v.v.cold. I would have chickened out and got straight out of the water, but about 20 people had stopped to watch the nutter in the wetsuit who thought it was warm enough to swim and I realised I was too chicken to chicken out in front of them all. Once I got over the initial cold shock and started getting a rythym it was beautiful - warm enough for a 30min swim.

    Good luck


  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Once more I doff my swimming cap to your fortitude.
  • goin for a triple whammy this week - doin my first open water swim, goin to get shaved/waxed and after having just been down wimbleball and doin the bike course, i'm also gettin a new bike.... Mrs PiP is sculking in the corner at the pospect of the new bike but seems too over keen to help in the shaving/waxing area.... best not tell her about the requirement of new wetsuit for open water swim as well.... gettin into triathlon is definitely the best thing i've ever done but my wallet is taking a hammering!!!! good job i'm off the demon alcohol and therefore saving my pennies!!!
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    what bike you thinking of getting?

    I need to get the wetsuit aswell, thinking of a snugg as it will be a tailored to fit!
  • LuckyLucky Posts: 137
    Been looking at the Snugg wetsuits, time to retire the Orca suit I have from the London Tri a few years ago, used it for the first time last season, but I'm convinced it's not "quite right" so I think get a suit tailored is the way ahead....

    agree with painispleasure, tri is great, and feel fitter than ever, but the wallet is showing the strain.
  • toadtoad Posts: 104
    snugg wetsuits are great, I love my snug, reduced my mile time by 3 minutes, although I had been using a very thick dive suit previously.
  • TommiTriTommiTri Posts: 879
    Right, thats me mind made up then. snugg wetsuit it is!
  • AgnessAgness Posts: 27
    Did my 1st open water swim today! in derwentwater, keswick. initially it was fine untill my hands felt soo cold that my resp rate must ave trebled! could not coordinate my breathing, so breast stroked most the time. my wet suit is hung up to dry for round #2 first thing in am. Hope it is just a matter of practice, coz def will ave to pull out of keswick tri if i get no better!

    Will the water temp rise in a month?

    my hands were so cold they were bright red and numb. i felt that it was my hands that were causing me trouble. anyone else had this?

    Ps got my wet suit from tri central in manchester. tested it out in an endless pool excellent! really pleased with it

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