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Old 06-03-2011
jeetkevdo jeetkevdo is offline
Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 38
Default Need advice on mental block...

Shooting to do a sprint-tri in about seven weeks, and looking for advice concerning a mental block I seem to be having. I started swimming (using TI as guide) a little over a ½ year ago, and still have trouble swimming continuous freestyle “on command”. I know I can physically do it, having swam a continuous 60 minute before (plus several 45’s, 30’s, etc.) but I often feel the urge to stop after a short distance. A few weeks ago I decided that instead of stop, I would just alternate some backstroke lengths in between my freestyle laps. Sometimes while doing that for 20 minutes, I find that I get into a groove and can finish with another 20 minutes of continuous freestyle.

A little concerned… and I have yet to swim in open water. Advice?

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Old 06-03-2011
ScottMT ScottMT is offline
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 60

Hi Kevin,

I'm pretty much in the same boat (or pool) as you, first Tri in 3 weeks and have never swam in open water. In my case the mental block is sort of like water claustrophobia, it's not that I'm tired or out of breath I just feel the need to get my face out of the water and look around in the air for a moment. Backstroke does that so that is my emergency plan for the Tri. I'm not worried about time I just want to finish and have a good time. So if I freak out I'll just roll on my back for a bit. But I've gotten better recently and here are a few things that are helping me:
1) I try to be more aware of the world around me above water when I swim. You need to sight in OW so practice it in the pool. Also, try to really see when you can, breathing etc. Look at the clocks, try to track people around you etc. - all the skills that I think we will need for open water.
2) This has really helped - do sets with increasing lengths as Terry describes in one of the recent OW posts. I do 2 -50s, then 2-100s, then 2-200s, then 2-400s, 2- 800s, etc. This seems simple but there is some sort of mental trick that happens to me. By forcing myself to stop when I don't need to and gradually lengthening the intervals I find myself craving the longer intervals. By the time that I get to the 400s I just don't want to stop and the last 800 usually becomes swimming until I run out of time.

Hope this helps and good luck!
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Old 06-03-2011
don h don h is offline
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 64
don h
Default jeets mental bloc

as with running (or cycling), be sure to always warm up by swimming slow for however long it takes for you to feel your body to start producing lots of energy. swim easy til this happens. if you swim hard too soon, you will probably have the urge to stop.

also, learn to swim with a low heartrate, and to lower your heartrate, if you get winded. learn to bring your heartrate down while continuing to swim.

during your triathlon, you might want to swim at a medium low, to medium heartrate, however slowly you might be swimming. when you get out of the water, you can then murder the bike. if your heartrate gets too high on the bike, you dont have to worry about having to have someone pull you out of the water.

good luck.

don h
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Old 06-03-2011
naj naj is offline
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624

Kevin what you have described has happened to all of us at one time or an other and everyone has a different way of overcoming the mental block you have described. One thing that can be of benefit for you is to concentrate on one focal point while swimming (i.e. mail-slot entry, lead elbow, head in neutral position etc). This focus can make you not concentrate on anything else but your swimming. Only focus on being a better swimmer when you enter the water than when you exit. Push other stuff out. I know its tough to imagine doing this but give the focal point a try and see what happens. As for swimming in ow, seven weeks is plenty of time to get ready for that. For now just concentrate on seeing swimming as a moving meditation. This is what Terry has taught me about swimming long distances and I am now able to swim one, two, three or more miles without stopping. I focus on one thing and get into a rhythm and viola! I'm off to distant lands.

Keep Swimming!
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