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Open water swim question

GGBGGB Posts: 482
I have my first ever Triathlon on May 4th which is a 750m lake swim.

I am capable of swimming the 750m, I hope, but have never swam in open water - I have yet to swim in a wetsuit and won't be getting my wetsuit until at least the beginning of April.

So my question is or rather are :-

How much of a difference is an open water swim to a pool swim ?

If I don't get any open water practise how much of a shock am I in for ?

How much practise should I do given the chance that I can ?

Thanks for your help in advance.


  • hbiker108hbiker108 Posts: 23
    Hi GGB

    I was like you when i started. I could swim my 400m in a pool and then went off to London to swim in the Thames and it was a shock!

    Wetsuits are a lot more bouyant than you think but this doesnt help you swim faster or easier. You need to practise in your wetsuit at least once if you can before your event. Check the internet for your local tri club as most clubs have open water practise. As they say Practise makes perfect!

  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Rare is the person who will get into a wetsuit, into a lake & swim as calm as you like from the gun to the shore, you may be that person. However..just in case.. I would as suggested practice, then practice some more.

    Remember even the smallest lake is a whole lot bigger than a pool, an enclosed warm pool, that you can see the bottom of, that you can follow the lines, that you pause every 25 or 50m to push off for the next lap, that you can stand up in at the shallow end when you get tired.
  • bennybenny Posts: 1,314
    Get all the practice you can get! OW swims are daunting at first, scary for some.

    Every time you enter a lake, will make it easier.

    The first open water swim of the season is always exciting, it's almost like the first time again if you've hibernated in the pool over winter.

    Good luck, and most of all: keep it cool![;)]
  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    Cheers for the info

    Conehead - book is on order ;)

    My main problem is that I won't have the wetsuit until April - giving maximum only 4 weeks to try it out - the local open water places nearish where I am am don't open until end of April - (nearest is about 30 miles away I think)

    I may get the chance to do some sea swimming though if I can get round to getting it organised - I know its not the same but at least its open water ??

  • lappieszalappiesza Posts: 36
    Well yes a pool and open water is almost the same as cycling road and mountainbike.

    Get some open water done before as this will place you in a good position.

    The wetsuit adds buoancy and actually makes a nice difference. The arms can be a bit tighter depending on what suit you wear.

    There is a lot of open water venues just pop around on a saturday morning and get used to it.

  • justinpjustinp Posts: 3
    Hi and many thanks for asking/answering the question,

    A couple more though regarding open water swimming.

    #1 is breathing on both sides absolutely esssential i.e. can you get away with breathing on

    one side. My may conern is sighting.

    #2 Can anybody recommend an open swim practise session is the berkshire/hampshire area. ?

    - and possibly a good tutor.

    Cheers & many thanks,


  • clarkey30clarkey30 Posts: 270
    Justin, youve answered the my question already. If you live in the area heron lake is awesome for open water swimming.

    Last year it was tuesdays saturdays and sunday mornngs 6 - 9ish with a bacon sarnie afterwards.

    Rick kiddle works out of there and his open water training days are excellent. It is completely different to swimming in a pool, i personally love it as it breaks the boredom but some friends of mine get really freaked out by not being able to see!

    In terms of different you float alot more therefore it affects your kick, and the way you sight affects your stroke and energy.

    With regards to the breathing most coaches would say breath every two in a race anyway.

    I swim there every week so if you'd like to come down with me then just PM me, im hoping to combine it with a cycle of the windsor route with a few guys on here.

  • jthetjthet Posts: 45

    Just to let you know your not the only one in that position. My first event coming up in April so only just ahead of you and know exactly how you feel. My only advice is take the advice and practice in open water - the difference I have found between the two is considerable (and no black line!)



    Hat off to you; your book is the only one I actually have read without coming away completely bewildered. ts the only one my wife has read and enjoyed. Having young children, it has really resonated during my training.

    Still disregarded your advice though (foolishly) and making the same mistakes (and some new ones).

  • justinpjustinp Posts: 3
    Many thanks for the replies and encouragement.

    My first tri was welcome organised affair but I was under prepared the net result an awful 15 minute 400m swim followed by half way decent ride on a hand me down bike and a chug(run) along the lymington coast - which was actualloy great. Recently I've been training for the swimathon as a point of focus. So I'm averaging around 4k a week in the pool. The next purchase will be a wetsuit . My middle name is "cheap" - so any tips on wetsuit aquisition welcome.

    Cheers & again many thanks,


  • GGBGGB Posts: 482
    Justin - Open water season starts at one of the lakes on the 18th, cant remember which at the moment but will find out - our local Tri club will be going that weekend - unfortunately I am away, but I will be going the week after early Saturday morning - I will find out which lake it is - it might be Heron as above.

    With regards to the wetsuit I got mine from TriUK - it costs about £90 initially but you can return it in September and you will get a £50 refund or if you like keep it.

  • treefrogtreefrog Posts: 1,242
    Like the others advised - Open water swimming is so different to the pool. Wetsuits give extra buoyancy and therefore a a little more confidence re. safety. Nothing prepares you for the 1. restrictive nature of a well fitted wetsuit, this causes hyperventilation and therefore increases HR 2. the cold shock of open water in UK in May 3. the adrenaline rush of competition (no matter what you tell yourself it's a race and you are in it to do your best so "go slowly" does not happen) 4. the mayhem of a full field of flailing arms, legs, heads etc as they head across the lake 5. the inevitability of going off course.

    It's the SAME FOR EVERYONE just get on with it

    So given all this get as much practise in as possible
  • BopomofoBopomofo Posts: 980
    Yep... what he said. The best practice you're going to get for your first ever open-water tri is to go out and do two or three open-water tris before hand.

    See what I did there?

    As per my advice on other threads.... prepare as best as you think you can then get out there and cock it up good and proper! You'll survive, you'll finish, you'll learn, you'll be better next time around.
  • BexHBexH Posts: 226
    Hi Justin,

    I got my wetsuit a few weeks ago from a guy who has the Blue Seventy ironman wetsuits so they are old logos or whatever but who cares about that?! I got the ladies version of this: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Triathlon-Wetsuit-Blue-Seventy-IM-Reaction-tri_W0QQitemZ230334699045QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_3?hash=item230334699045&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72:1688|66:2|65:12|39:1|240:1318.

    It seems to be a nice suit in my uneducated eyes and he had them on Ebay for about £55-60 from memory. He had loads of sizes/stock so if you are interested message me and I'll give you his number.
  • danny_sdanny_s Posts: 235
    Until my first open water swim, I thought I just naturally swam in a straight line, so I pointed myself in the direction I wanted to go and then after about 3 minutes looked around and had ended up more or less going in a big circle... Learn how your body normally drifts in the water can save you a load of time when you actually come to a race so that you don't swim wildly off course and add another 100m to your race that you don't need to do.
  • Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    lappiesza wrote:

    Well yes a pool and open water is almost the same as cycling road and mountainbike.

    I have to call you on that one!

    The difference between between a pool and open water swim is like the difference between going up in an aeroplane, then coming down out of one. They both involve the ground and the air at some point. But that's about it. One has the slim possibility of death, the other the slim possibility of avoiding it.

    Cycling road and mountain bike is the like the difference between swimming from the shallow end of the pool to the deep end, or the other way round.

    You obviously have flippers, blubber and a blowhole.
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