You’ve signed up for your swim or triathlon, bought some goggles and are pretending you’re not terrified of fish touching your feet – what now? Your first open water swim is a big deal, and it’s OK to be nervous. Take a look at our cheat sheet to help you prepare and feel confident when that start whistle blows.
Open water swimming is going to be cold – even with your top-of-the-range wetsuit it will be a shock. That shock can slow you down and even make it difficult to breathe – not what you need at the start of your race. Get your body used to cold water by taking cold baths – fill your tub with icy water and take the plunge for 15 minutes, three times per week.
Face Your Fears
Don’t worry – we all have irrational fears of sharks, water snakes and other unlikely horrors lurking in murky water. You’re not alone, but tell yourself that your fears are irrational and face them head on. The race you’ve signed up for has been approved and would almost never be set in shark-infested waters. There will be fish. They may feel gross, but they can’t hurt you.
Be Aware Of Your Surroundings
The lake or river you’re taking on won’t have smooth tiled floors, walls, painted markers or anything you might be used to in the pool. Don’t let this panic you. There will be buoys and spotters located across the course, so just keep a good awareness and make sure you’re looking up every now and then – you won’t have the energy to spare on swimming in the wrong direction for half a mile!
Keep Calm And Carry On
There will be lots of people around you and lots o splashing, it’s easy to panic in an unfamiliar environment. Make sure you trust in your training and let your body do what you have practiced. If you do feel anxious take deep breaths and blow hard into the water and focus on the steady flow of bubbles – this will force your breathing into a regulated pattern.
Read our triathlon expert, Parys’ guide to buying a wetsuit here.