Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ocean Swimming Tips - things to remember when you're about to freak out

Feel fast and efficient in the pool? Feel confident in your swimming, in the pool? Have limited open water swim experience? That's me. When I was about 9 years old, my oldest brother and I nearly drowned in the Hawaiian ocean to death. All I remember is the part where both struggled as we drowned...and then waking up to the sight of many heads looking at me asking "are you ok???" As odd as it sounds, I didn't even have that memory until I started practicing open water swim in the ocean about 4 years ago. Nowadays, i have to tell myself not to think about that day whenever I'm going ocean swimming. I want to overcome this fear so badly.

So, although I've done several ocean swim races, as you read from yesterday's blog I totally lost control and freaked out in the water, tempting me to quit the swim and get rescued out by someone. It was embarrassing. I recovered my dignity by swimming again and doing another loop out in the ocean, but I was shocked myself as to how I ended up getting so paranoid.

I've put together some key ocean swimming tips, not just for the readers but as a reminder to myself as well.

1. Warm up before you go in the water and spend as much time in the water before swim start - important for your body to be warmed up for the main swim. It usually takes longer for me to warm up and get acclimated to the water temperature. Start early.

2. One stroke at a time - the scope of the ocean can be overwhelming, causing the thought of finishing a full mile undoable, even if you've done 3 miles during training. Always remember - it is each stroke after stroke that will get you closer. don't look too far ahead. Just keep going, focus on your stroke.

3. Every 5-8 strokes, lift your head and to make sure you stay in line with where you're going. When I get nervous, I will swim while sticking my head out constantly to see where i'm going. That makes me super nervous because all I'm doing is reminding myself how far the swim is. Swim as usual, except periodically checking to see if you're still heading towards the mark. When you're not lifting your head to see, just swim as normal. Pretend you're in the pool with less visibility and no black line on the bottom.

4. Breathe deep, Exhale loooooong - especially in the beginning, even if it slows you down. It will stabilize your heart rate and prevent you from hyperventilating.

5. Think about happy/comforting things while swimming. Distract yourself from the constant push and pull from other swimmers and the daunting task of finishing the swim. Keep the rhythm of your strokes consistent, think about your friends, what you're going to do after the race, chant something, sing, pray, whatever you can to keep you distracted yet calm.

6. Minimize kicking. Until you're about to finish the swim (at which point you start kicking to get the blood flowing in your legs in prep for the run out of the swim and then bike), minimize kicking. This will save your legs and also help you exert less energy and help ease the heartrate as your body will need less oxygen the less kicking you do. It may slow you down just a tad bit, but if you're priority is to finish a race vs. winning and you will need a lot more energy for later, try to manage that during the swim by minimizing leg usage. This definitely helped me stay calmer in the water.

7. You can do this! You're not going to drown, nothing is wrong, you can totally do this!!! if you're too scared and you start overly hyperventilating, flip over and lie on your will float as long as you're in your wetsuit. catch your breath, and then repeat 1-6. I can do this! You can do this - stop worrying, keep going.

and lastly - practice makes perfect. Keep doing these ocean swims, don't sporadically show up to ocean swim sessions right before a race. This is definitely one of the biggest mistakes I made. I am going to be a regular at the Wednesday Ocean Swim Speed Circuit with the LA Tri Club! Yeah!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I share a love/hate relationship with virtual memory because of how prices are always,and I mean always dropping. I hate buying Micro SD Cards for my R4 / R4i at (what seems to be) a cheap price only to see it become a whole lot more cheaper a few weeks later.

(Posted by cPost scPost for R4i Nintendo DS.)