so I can say I TRIed
so I can say I TRIed

First Open Water Swim - I'm a Crocodile!

charlieeliseby charlieeliseMay 13th 2012
Today was my first open water swimming session. I've been pretty excited about it all week. When I signed up for Lakeside tri I noticed Swim for Tri were doing a session at the lake this weekend. It was £20 for a beginner coached session, which from what I've seen is very good value. Also it was an opportunity to see where the event is taking place and get familiar with the swim course.

So how did it go? Well it must have been good because I look a bit sunburned on my face! Typical, one sunny day and I get burned.

I got the wetsuit half on in the changing room and chatted with some of the ladies also there for the session. Most of them were getting their wetsuits wet for the first time too, and there were a lot of nerves. I was more worried about the cold affecting my lungs than anything else. Oh and I have a bit of a thing about touching stuff with my feet in the water, like seaweed. Yeah, I know. I pretend I'm all big and tough, but I can't cope with not knowing what's in the weed. But I knew I'd probably be ok with that in a deep lake.

We were taught some useful 'putting on' techniques for the wetsuit - including making a loop out of the zip strap so it's easy to grap and fastening the velcro at the neck over the zip strap so if it gets caught it won't unzip your suit.

We then entered the water and 'flushed' our suits. I did not particularly enjoy getting into the water. I could feel the water coming in through my zip and letting the water in through my neck (that's flushing, apparently) was not fun - but it did make me warmer in the long run.

We warmed up and I was a bit scared of putting my face into the water, mostly because it was cold. However I did get over that and my chest didn't feel as tight as I had expected.

However my hands and feet were really cold. Painfully so. I wondered how I'd last the session. The water was 10 degrees so it was chilly. I was glad of my neoprene hat and swim cap over the top. My head didn't feel cold at all, it was only my hands and feet.

Fortunately, just when I was expecting my hands to drop off of cold my body finally sent some blood around and suddenly I was feeling quite comfortable.

After the warm up they asked who was feeling good and confident, and I was, so I went into the intermediate group. I was the only girl - the rest went with the less confident swimmers, although a couple of them afterwards confided to me they wish they had switched as they did less swimming and felt colder as a result.

We practiced sighting, and were individually assessed for how straight we swim. Apparently I have good body rotation on both sides and swim straight, thanks Phil, but higher elbows wouldn't hurt. I think I wasn't lifting my elbows as far as usual because I was getting used to the wetsuit but I will work on it anyway.

Also we practiced some race starts, drafting and swimming close together. Years of Master's swimming has made less afraid of group swimming than I expected and I was happy drafting between two guys - although there was an incident where one gentleman was drifting left onto me... or was I drifting right onto him?

Once I got going and we did longer distances I got into the sighting without breathing (I pretended I was a crocodile) and relaxed a bit into the stroke.

At the end we did a race start and exit, and I was one of the first out of the water although I'm pretty sure I started near the back. Must have lost some of them somewhere along the line...

I felt most short of breath when treading water and staying still so clearly the answer is to keep swimming! I am still wearing the contact lenses I put in this morning and the wetsuit sered me well. It's in the bathroom and although I've rinsed it twice there is definitely a slight lingering smell of pond water...

I swallowed some of the water but so far feel fine! Apparently that 'drink cola after open water swiming' is a myth but why take any chances? ;-)

Oh and as I said if I liked it I promised I would sign up for the Great London Swim. I'll be checking if there are places tomorrow...
TriRachby member: TriRach, May 14th 2012 16:37
I have neoprene booties! Can't wear them in races but good for just such occasions :o)
charlieeliseby blog author: charlieelise, May 14th 2012 17:10
Hi TriRach - I had some when I used to go sailing, they are awesome! However I think my toes need to understand what they are in for... tough love though!
Thanks for the comment :-)
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