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I'll TRI my best in 2013
A blog about tri-ing hard and enjoying every minute.

1st Open Water Experience.....

ClaireDby ClaireDMay 13th 2013
With Blenheim looming just 4 weeks away, I thought I'd best get myself down to a lake to dip my toe in the water. I have never been great at swimming where I can't see the bottom - it freaks me out and I imagine all sorts of lake/river monsters are at the bottom just waiting for me. Having said that, some of my childhood/teenage years were spent waterskiing up and down the River Bann where farmers had a tendency to throw their dead animals in - but at least I could see them, or what was left of them!

MVH Tri club put on local sessions at the Lavender Patch Farm, Hilton and very kindly invite non-members to join them. Being a girl, I had to bring someone with me so brought my friend's husband James who a) is a much better swimmer than me b) also doing Blenheim and c) has nerves of steel so doesn't mind where he swims.
1st Open Water Experience.....
Saturday morning was spent researching open water swimming techniques (thanx Chrissie Wellington), I also read some blogs so I could try and get a 'true' picture of what I could expect for the first time (cold water, cold hands, cold feet, inability to breathe etc). I thought I was ready.

My usual attitude to trying things out for the first time is to just throw myself into it and make the most of the experience. I didn't deviate on Saturday morning. As I stood at the edge of the lake, the water wasn't as cold as I thought it would be, other swimmers were happily swimming along so I thought 'F..k it, just get in & start swimming'. I got about 50m before I started to hyperventilate - sheer panic at not being able to see, the coldness of the water, the heaviness of my arms in the wetsuit, the thought of what was at the bottom, the angry swan at the other end of the lake who had already chased some earlier swimmers. I had an absolute mare - but I knew I had to get through the next 200m before I could get out. Luckily James was not too far ahead so he came back for me and swam the rest of the way making sure I was OK.

I got out at the end of the first lap to decide on a strategy because there was no way I was letting this beat me. In a consultation with James and the marshal, we decided that the best thing would be to stand at the edge of the lake with my head in the water blowing bubbles, so I could get used to the coldness and the invisibility. Once I became comfortable, I was able to float out then resume swimming. This time it was a lot better - the 2nd lap was OK and the 3rd lap even better; it was actually quite pleasant.

I feel slightly more confident now that I have been able to swim 750m in a lake - albeit quite slowly. At least I have a few more weeks to get more practices in, get more confident and a bit quicker and I've entered an aquathlon in Nottingham at the end of May so I can get used to swimming then getting my wetsuit off quickly to run.

In the meantime I have a sprint triathlon to look forward to on Sunday so will spend my week focussing on that - especially as James is starting at the same time as me. Now there's a competition!
cedwardsby member: cedwards, May 13th 2013 20:25
Well done! I find focusing on breathing helps to fight off the monsters, but some panic is good for getting a good time. The swim smooth website and forum has some really useful stuff on panic and open water skills. I'm looking forward to Blenheim too - although I wish they'd tell us which day we're racing!
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