The open water swim can be the scariest part of the triathlon, especially if you’re not Michael Phelps, and are more inexperienced. The open water can be just as mentally and physically tough for the top swimmers as it is for the beginner. Stepping up to the waters edge, seeing the dark water where there is no wall 25 yards ahead and overcoming the fear of the open water is both mental and physical.
There is a common feeling that most people feel when they see the water. Panic and fear, are two feelings that no one wants to feel right before a race. The shotgun goes off and you run with the rest of the triathletes into the water. Your heart is racing and you find it difficult to catch a breath. People claim that they feel as if the wetsuit went down two sizes, and is pushing against their chest making it impossible for them to breathe. These can be all very common feelings and something to think about if you have never done an open water swim before. The good news though is that this can also all be avoided! Here are some tips to defeat that panic attack on race day morning:
Some decades ago, standing on the deck of the UCSD pool after a
rigorous master’s swim workout, I overheard two college students.
“There are a lot of very fit athletes here.”
“Yeah, but not many healthy ones.”
conversation intrigued me. What did they mean? What was the difference
between fitness and health and where did I fit on that continuum? Some
weeks later, I surmised, the claim was in reference to the dozens of
world class triathletes who constituted the noon-time workout. And the
reference inferred that as you move into the upper echelons of elite
multisport and gain a superior level of fitness, you necessarily
sacrifice basic health.
If this was the case, I wondered if there were to be costs to my
colleagues and I as we chased titles around the globe, training
excessively without the modern benefit of technology-based bio
information. Was our desire to win through performance causing us to
lose through the sacrifice of simple health? The answer(s) to those
questions were to come much later when age, illness, time, and tide had
washed over us.
Open water swimming can be exhilarating, liberating, and a little scary.
I’ve competed in over 200 open water swim races and triathlons,
volunteered as a safety paddler at a number of triathlons, and
instructed junior lifeguards for nearly a decade. I’ve learned that
with proper preparation, anyone who can swim can swim in open water.
The three most important things to do to prepare for open water swimming
are: 1) swim in open water; 2) swim in open water; and 3) swim in open
10. Hills, glorious hills. Whether on the bike or on
the run, there are hills everywhere to challenge even the fittest of
athletes. Are you looking for a leg burner? Cuesta Grade has a 1000ft elevation climb over 3 miles. High Mountain Road
has an 11% grade for a quarter mile that will have your heart coming
out of your chest. If you’re planning to run in either the San Luis
Obispo Marathon or the SLO Triathlon, make sure to train on Johnson St. hill, a half-mile 4.4% grade.
9. Go Off-Road. Take a break from training on asphalt and enjoy the many trails around SLO. From Johnson Ranch and Irish Hills to Shooters and Poly Canyon, there’s something for everyone. Would you like a hill-trail challenge? Test your fitness by running the Madonna Mountain, Rock Garden Trail in less than 11 min.
With the release of the Agility and Instinct strapless hand paddles, it is clear that FINIS has found some
advantages in producing paddles without the traditional elastic straps. Coaches and swimmers who have not
had the experience of swimming with these training aids will ask us what the benefits of using this type of
paddle are. Following the old adage of "if there is one question, there are bound to be more people with the
same one", we hope to provide a few examples as to why swimmers will benefit from using these paddles.
So why strapless? Doing without the straps reduces the opportunity for one to swim with incorrect form. If
there are errors in hand entry, positioning, a low elbow, or any general loss of contact with the water against
the palm, the paddle will become dislodged and provide instant feedback to the user. We call this method of
training remaining "palm positive", which essentially means continuously pulling water throughout the entire