Total Immersion Forums

Total Immersion Forums (
-   Outside the Box: Open Water Swimming (
-   -   First open water "race" (

swim56 07-28-2014 08:52 PM

First open water "race"
Yesterday morning I swam my first open water race and TI delivered in a big way by helping me conserve energy and feel confident. My goal wasnít to race as much as it was to finish comfortably. I wanted to love my first open water race and to finish confidently so that I continue to participate in open water swimming. Water temperature was a comfortable 77F and I didnít use (nor do I own) a wetsuit. I placed 4th in my age group that had 9 swimmers and finished the 1.2 mile ďraceĒ in 46:29. In a 25-yard pool I typically swim a mile (i.e.1750 yards) in about 35 minutes.

Things that I learned:
  • I love open water swimming!
  • To train for the race, I briefly swam in a lake to acclimate to the murky, and potentially choppy, conditions. The first 5 minutes I felt a little claustrophobic because I couldnít see past my elbow while swimming, but that disappeared as I adapted to the conditions.
  • During the race, I started near the back of the mass start (~125 swimmers between the 1.2 mile, 2.4 mile and 5K swims) so that I could take my time and not have to fight people, but it still seemed like being in a large bathtub with lots of people you didnít know (and not in a good way!). My hands would touch the swimmerís feet in front of me and I could feel swimmers behind me doing the same to my feet. But, after rounding the first buoy, the pack started to space out so there was more room to find a rhythm.
  • I suck at sighting and plan to practice this acquired skill. Between getting caught behind slower swimmers, slowing down to a crawl while sighting and occasionally drifting from an optimal course line, itís no wonder my 1.2 mile time doesnít reflect what might be predicted from my pool times.
  • Focusing on technique kept me from wondering how far I had gone or how far there was still to go.
  • Breathing on both sides helped a great deal and was useful to monitor nearby swimmers and occasionally look at the shore to confirm that I was actually moving!
  • Buoys were held down by ropes (duh!) and itís not easy to swim over the ropes. I inadvertently tried this and I won't ever do that again!
All-in-all it was a very pleasurable 1st time experience and very educational. Iím tempted to slowly increase my mileage so that I can participate in the 2.4 miler next year.

My next step is to do the swim leg (1500m) of a local triathlon in early September. My neighbor is a runner that has always wanted to participate in a triathlon and he has a friend who bikes. Neither likes to swim, so Iím thinking about being the water guy.

Thanks TI for making all this possible!


Talvi 07-29-2014 03:42 PM

Hi Tim, I think your performance sounds great. A couple of weeks ago I did a 1500m in the pool in 34:27, not racing, just trying to do it. Now in the lake I have been really struggling to swim anything over 200m or so. So your brief acclimatization in the lake and your time in a shoal of others sounds excellent.

FWIW for myself, I think the almost permanent darkness caused by the murky water combined with the potential endlessness of it all, has a psychological impact on me. So today I used a TT. I set it to a leisurely 1.40, and found it really helped a lot. It gave the equivalent of the pool end. I could focus on the beat and do "just another beat" sort of a thing. That ansd my Garmin set to alarm at 50m intervals distracted me enough so that things began to settle down. I found I was swimming 400m and 500m intervals, separated by floating rests, in quite a relaxed way. Still nothing like your 1.2 mile but still a vast improvement - I enjoyed it (despite nearly getting run over by a power boat!).

swim56 07-29-2014 11:37 PM


Sounds like you are making great progress adjusting to the murkiness of the water. If you can do relaxed 400-500m segments, itís a short hop to much longer distances. But you bring up the all-important psychological side of swimming.

Iíve experience a couple psychological impacts on my swimming over the last year. Being a relatively new convert to TI (working on it for a little over 1 year now), I could swim a continuous mile with my thrash-and-dash style, but when I switched over to whole-stroke TI, I found that I couldnít swim more than a few laps without going into major oxygen-debt. With some advice from TI-ers Werner and Ananth to slow down and relax, I was able to quickly get back to a continuous mile. That ability apparently was always there, but my technique was holding me back and I had gotten into a mental rut that I couldnít do it. By relaxing and trusting the TI approach I was able to breathe appropriately and extend my distance accordingly.

Another example is fairly minor but instructive. My open water race was supposed to be held in a fairly deep reservoir, but due to heavy Spring rains the water depth and the potential for debris caused the venue to be moved to a much shallower lake. The reservoir was about 860 feet deep, whereas the new venue was a maximum of 21 feet deep with an average depth of only 8 feet. Even though I knew mentally that a swimmer only uses the top 1 or 2 feet of water regardless of the water depth, it was more concerning to me to swim in the reservoir than the shallower lake. A friend of mine tried to cheer me up by saying, ďThe only major difference would be that it would take them longer to recover your body in the reservoir than the shallow lakeĒ. So much for the encouragement!

Your use of the Tempo Trainer sounds like a great approach. It helped me a great deal to simply focus on a single stroke, then the next stroke, etc. Ė kind of like focusing on the next step during a running race. I can tell you are on the verge of a break-through. Keep us informed.


Talvi 07-30-2014 08:05 AM


Originally Posted by swim56 (Post 47867)
...Even though I knew mentally that a swimmer only uses the top 1 or 2 feet of water regardless of the water depth, it was more concerning to me to swim in the reservoir than the shallower lake...

I have had exactly the same issue with swimming out into the lake as opposed to along the shoreline. In the middle of the water there's no option but to swim back. By the shoreline it's only a short distance to safety. However swimming out into the lake, being in the middle of so much water, and realizing you're ok staying there, is a fabulous feeling of freedom (until you hear the whistling of a powerboat that is!)

Thanks for your encouragement. Yesterday did feel special.

carlakeegan 08-11-2014 01:49 PM

My first channel swim
I'm so excited to do my first channel swim but so so nervous. I have been collecting tips while preparing for it. One of my favourites is which has give me goals to set on. I would appreciate any tips or advice for a first channel swim please :)


jamesdave 01-28-2018 06:27 PM

I think its great performance buddy, keep it up.

All times are GMT. The time now is 10:24 PM.

Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.