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first open water swim

ok so i have done all the pool swimming i want to, now the time has come for me to do the Urban Race Brighton tri in September so if there is anyone doing this locally then pls drop me a line as my training partner has decided to wimp out and couldnt even finish the l2b bike ride. So where was I, I need some advice of how to cope with my first open water swim as this is obviously so different to swiming in a pool, so any advice would be greatfully recieved.



  • rpopper65rpopper65 Posts: 171
    Have you got a wet suit sorted out? Do you have anywhere you can go and practice swimming in open water?

    Main problems I have in open water (and most people I've trained with and talked to seem to concur):

    - sighting your marker in the distance and swimming in a straight line

    - getting used to wearing the wet suit and making sure it fits comfortably, and getting used to taking it off in transtion

    - getting used to the relative free-for-all activity of other swimmers in an open water event

    Most useful solutions people have given me (but I still struggle with the above every time I do an open water race, but as much practice as I can manage does make it easier and less stressful):

    - (a) instead of sighting the little yellow buoy (or whatever your marker is) try sighting something much bigger (like a very distinctive tree or a telephone pole) just behind your marker, it's easier to spot and you don't have to lift your head as high out of the water to see it; (b) if you only have access to a swimming pool, try and find a time when you have the lane all to yourself and swim a length with your eyes closed and see which direction you naturally veer towards, then work on correcting it until you can swim in a straighter line

    - (a) practice wearing your wet suit whenever you can, even if you only have access to a swimming pool [just be careful not to get dehydrated or too boiling if it is a heated pool, so keep a water bottle by the pool]; (b) get someone more experienced to show you how to put it on so that it has some give in the knees and the shoulders, fits your crotch snugly, etc.; (d) use some special wet suit lubricant [they sell it in tri stores and online tri specialist shops, I use baby oil, or anything that is NOT petroleum based like vaseline, which would dissolve your suit]; (c) practice

    - (a) practice with other people if you can find an open water training group; (b) stay to the outside of the swim pack if you don't get much chance to practice and swim the extra 100 metres to go around the pack instead of getting stuck in the middle if you are not very confident; (c) take water tai chi classes and learn how to deflect effortlessly the kicks, elbows and slashes that may come your way
  • RobRob Posts: 209
    Being a nervous OW swimmer I've found that getting into the water way before your swim time & getting your face wet & getting used to the temperature is a big help. I've had real problems in races where I've just dived straight in & tried to race.
  • toadtoad Posts: 104
    Watch out for competitors who switch from freestyle to breast stroke especially if you are about to pass them.

    Otherwise have fun and remember you still have the bike and run to go ... so pace yourself.

  • The best advice I've had is to make sure you wet suit has enough water in it before you set off on the swim. I had real problems with fatigue in my shoulders and a club mate said that I needed a decent layer of water between me and the wetsuit to act as both and insulator and a "lubricant". Now the first think I do is to get in the water and pull the neck of my wetsuit away from my skin to let a load of water into the suit. Works a treat. Sounds counter intuitive(sp?) but give it a go...

    Good luck and enjoy

  • rpopper65rpopper65 Posts: 171
    Yeah, it's called "flushing" your wet suit, but don't just put water in the suit, also squeeze some out.

    Let some water in (pulling on the neck a little and letting in a little water - it's also a great way to shrink your gonads and make sure they are tucked away safely before you start swimming [:D]), then try and find somewhere to stand up and squeeze the water out (you can also do it under water if you can't get back out of the water again). Run your hands from your thighs down to your ankles and also squeeze some out of from your shoulders to your wrists. You want to have a little layer of water between your skin and the wet suit, but not be carrying around an extra 3-4 kg of water inside the wet suit.
  • JulieMacJulieMac Posts: 30
    Your race is in September right? You have got quite a bit of time to get out and do some O.W. I'd say its best to swim in a group and know the water that your swimming in, tides etc. Heres a link to the A.S.A. it might help you track down an O.W. swim club if you can't find a tri club to go out swimming with

    http://www.britishswimming.org/vsite/vnavsite/page/directory/0,10853,5157-180204-197422-nav-list,00.html be warned though alot of these guys swim without wet suits (brrr [&:] ) due to the A.S.A. regs but you'll probably be on your own and will definatly be at the back of the pack in a tri if you go out in just your speedos!

    As for other bits of advise. Much the same as other posts. Mass starts are brutal if your not confident then keep to the out side edge or back of the pack. Getting your goggels kicked off is a bad way to start a race. Get in the water and warm up you can't swim very fast hyperventilating trust me! But most importantly get out and train in the sea befor the race so you know what to expect (as best as possible) from the water and your self. But don't swim on your own at worst get some one to watch you from the beach (with a mobile phone at the ready!!) and keep within a safe distance.

  • JudeJude Posts: 11
    [:'(] Don't want to put you off but i did my first tri on Saturday and got a big shock.

    I'm not fazed by open water but just couldn't swim crawl. I've trained hard but with

    all the splashing and arms and legs everywhere I felt safer doing breast stroke.

    Having done a bit of sailing I figured that with a breeze coming from the right I aimed to the right of the bouy so that if I drifted I went onto the bouy instead of downwind. I think it worked.

    Definately give it a go before the event and good luck.

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