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open water swimming

Hi,I was looking for some advice on open water swimming, every time I compete in an open water swim it takes me about 100m for me to get my breathing under control and relax, by then i'm playing catch up, it happened again last weekend at the Windsor tri, the water was 14.5c. Any thought Guys


  • Gerry

    I've previously had these issues, and it wasn't necessarily down to the temperature or the fact it was open water swim.

    It was anxiety related, It happened whenever in a race and it was down to my breathing, basically i didn't breath out in the water to allow me to breathe in when my head was out.

    I got out of synch and very quickly became out of breath and struggling with freestyle and had to swim breast stroke.

    Basically I started off swimming slower at the beginning of a race to get in stride to avoid these problems, and now over time I have no concerns at all.

    Best advice is practice, swim like you would in a race, gets lots of open water swimming practice in, I use a lake nearby and swim once a week. I've been able to swim from Alcatraz since so it can be done!

    Best of luck
  • I would second Gerry's advice. I started off in a lake practice my first time and ended up having a bit of an asthma attack. It was mainly nerves. I have practiced and practiced in lakes, rivers, the sea. The more practice you get, the more confident you become. Just 3 weeks ago I did my first ever 10k swim in a river. Like Gerry, I have got there through lots of practice. What you experienced is not unusual. There is actually scientific evidence to support the fact that humans have a a similar reaction to submersion in cold water to dolphins which causes a sharp intake of breath. The claim is that it proves we are genetically linked to them. While I don't fel at all dolphin like, I do know I spend the first 100m, like you, overcoming this. I find the best way around it at the start of a race is to get in and swim around before the start as much as possible.
    Just keep going - you will get better, and probably like me end up loving OW swimming.
  • Windsor is always a bun fight. Try by staying well back, or off to one side for the start of the swim, and totally concentrate on keeping your breathing steady and under control. The adrenaline will peak and then diminish in your system once you impose a rhythm for that first 100m, that's what causes that out of breath / can't catch your breath properly feeling. Rest assured everyone - and I mean everyone - is feeling exactly the same. After the first 100m, when you haven't been kicked, when you haven't had your goggles knocked off, switch to thinking about your stroke, your stroke length and your kick. That process of thinking about something positive will take your mind off the out-of-breath feeling. Start sighting at this point too, say every 5 to 8 strokes. You'll be surprised how quickly that can make a swim such as Windsor go by, even with the first two-thirds of the swim the against the downstream current. Simples
  • willieverfinishwillieverfinish Posts: 1,381
    Great post now the race has been and gone !!
  • MacaroneMacarone Posts: 58
    You could also trying practicing swimming off at race pace in your training when you first get in the water so you get used to the feeling of going from calm to hell in seconds.
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