Friday, 18 September 2009

fear and loathing; open water

okay, so let’s be honest, i have a slight fish phobia.

i’ve been known to do cartoon-like leaps back into the boat when snorkeling. what can i say, they get a bit close sometimes... and there’s something about those fish, something a bit... evil.

as a result, my open water experience has been limited. i’m afraid of fish, i don’t like waves, and swimming face first into deep blue (indeed deep brown) isn’t overly attractive. no surprises there.

however i learnt something from doing London, my first open water swim race. unfortunately it was recorded on these pages and hence my failing memory can not deny...

if you’re going to race open water, you have to train open water

these past few weeks have seen me in sunny, oceanside locations. the perfect hunting ground for the open water (ow) seeker. i’ve even got an ow race next weekend; so you’d think i’d be the first one heading out into the clear blue waters.

or not.

to be honest, it hasn’t been until week three, this week, when i’ve managed to get into the ocean for a ‘proper’ swim (bobbing not included). and while i was rather proud of overcoming my fish/deep blue fears and getting three separate 400m swims in -> in all honesty it’s a rather pathetic blip of a training exercise.

in reflection, i realise that i wasn’t training for speed, or endurance, or technique -- i was really just overcoming my fears and getting comfortable staring at something other than a black line in the cocoon-like safety of the lane ropes.

i was, essentially, overcoming the mammoth task of extending myself physically under a mentally stressed state.

i’ve been pool lap swimming for about eight years, and i’ve never experienced a calf cramp. a few toes, sure, but that’s it. yet within 400 metres of ow swimming during London, my calf was borderline seizure.

i believe it was a combination of things;

-- stress (tensing the body unnecessarily)
-- cold (our wave was delayed, more time unmoving in water)
inexperience (kicking too much and a lack of cold water experience)

tomorrow i’m taking the plunge (apologies for lame pun attempt) and heading out to a tri specific ow lake. didn’t know such things existed?! neither did i! apparently it’s just a normal lake, but with dedicated distance markers. so no more guessing you’ve done 400m. they also offer things like wetsuit testing, which comes in handy when you’re dropping a few hundred quid and your wetsuit can make+break your times.

now that i’m feeling a little more comfortable in ow, i’m hoping to have a proper training session. warm ups, timed sprints, even warm downs! success pending, report coming.


Jeremy Hopwood said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeremy Hopwood said...

totally mis spelled my question in the first comment.

Where is the OW Tri Swim lake and does it have a website as I have never heard of this concept!

Beth said...

That is fantastic that you have a lake that has markers on it. We have many wonderful lakes to swim in and I feel very lucky. I've yet to come eyeball to eyball with a fish, but I know it would totally freak me out. My stategy is to swim with a friend and hope that all the splashing scares the fish away. Good luck!

Trishie said...

the more you swim in open water, the more you'll get used to it (..and maybe start to even like it ?!)

Sarah said...

wow, I would love to swim somewhere with markers, how awesome!! Thanks for the blog visit, and yes, I'm totally drooling over the possible bikes :) We'll find out what I can actually try once I get a fitting.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

My first tri was my first OWS, and I freaked out, thought I was going to drown, thought of quitting, I hated it all. I made it a point to practice, pratice, pratice OWS. Every Saturday till my next tri, I forced myself to OWS and by my next tri, I had the best swim to date, keep it up, I know your feeling, I agree with Trish, the more you do it, the more you get use to it.

tri_al said...

Ooohh and this is where we went;