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  #1  
Old 05-31-2010
ArikB ArikB is offline
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Join Date: May 2010
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ArikB
Default Rough conditions. What would YOU do?

Hi everyone,

Last Friday i had my first OW experience.
It was a 1.5km competition in the open sea, and the conditions were, well, a "bit" rough.
Strong western winds, strong northern current, 4-6 ft high waves.
The competition almost got cancelled, but eventualy they decided it was ok for swimmers and triathletes to go out to the sea.

I did my best to imlpement some TI principles like:
1. Relax: well, it was a battle. Especially the first lag west (~200m) which was straight into the waves. How can you relax while the sea is fighting you? Waves break over your head? You're being thrown from side to side?
2. Breath w/ one goggle in the water: while I manage to do this at the pool, it was impossible in the sea. Even lifting your head was not enough at times, and I swallowed and breathed in some good amount of sea water.
3. Sighting: Hah! Try to take a peek at these conditions! Try to look for the next buoy. All you can see is the next 4 ft wave getting closer, blocking your entire field of view.
During the swim I remembered what Terry wrote, about how he smiled when conditions were tough. Well, it was hard for me to smile, but still, I was able to get myself together from time to time and relax whenever it was possible, keep my strokes long and calm, thinking positive.

All in all, this experience was AMAZING and WILD! The adrenalin levels were high and the thrill is still there when I think of what I went through.
Taking the last stroke, touching the sand, knowing I can stand up again was a moment of pure joy.

I was wondering if any of you has been through a swim in such rough conditions and can share some insight/tips regarding the 3 points I raised earlier (relaxing, breathing, sighting).

Arik
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  #2  
Old 05-31-2010
ewa.swimmer ewa.swimmer is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Ewa Beach or Kona Hawaii
Posts: 147
ewa.swimmer
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Congratulations on your swim! Smooth water is okay but rough water is an adventure with stories to tell afterward.
Knowing you survived and felt good at the end will help you to relax in your next race. Your body will also figure out that it is easier to be relaxed and let the energy of the water flow over you or through you then to be tense and let all that energy throw you around.
To breathe a little easier you might have to roll a bit more (but not too much). Find the pocket of air towards your armpit and breathe out just before you breathe in.
For sighting in big waves you might use a landmark instead of a buoy, feel the water and wait until you are on top of a swell to sight, or use other swimmers. Use all the bright swim caps in front of you to let you know you are heading in the correct direction.
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  #3  
Old 05-31-2010
naj naj is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624
naj
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Congrats on your first OW swim!!! I agree with what EWA said, the more you relax the better you'll feel. I've been in force 5 winds before and let me tell you the first instinct in my mind is to tense up but as you relax more and really stretch out you'll make it. A good buddy of mine has a saying, "Take what the water gives you." And he's right because if you fight it your gonna lose every time. Rolling a bit more with your whole body not just your head you'll get a breath and like EWA said, wait till your on top of a swell to breathe not in a trough. Lastly with respect to waves, dive under and keep that head low the taller you are the bigger a target you become to get slammed by one. If your under water let them wash over you and then pop up and keep going. Best of luck with other ow swims and come out and swim with me in San Francisco, CA I have some lovely waves you'd like!!!!!

Naji
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  #4  
Old 06-01-2010
ArikB ArikB is offline
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 7
ArikB
Default Thank you for the tips!

Ewa and Naji,
Thanks for the tips!
I guess relaxation in high sea is a little different than relaxing in the pool, and is something you learn with time and experience.
As to breathing, well I tried rolling even farther for the air, but the waves were simply too aggressive.
Regarding sighting, waiting for the top of the wave is a good practice. I should remember this for the next time. I did look for landmarks, as Ewa said, as a general direction, but since it was a race, it was important to get to the buoy and pass it from the correct side, so you couldn't avoid looking for it. Following the group of white hats is a good idea but was funny, since due to high waves and the fact that nobody could see where he's heading, you could see swimming caps all over, moving in every direction! So you couldn't really trust them, could you?
And last thing, Naji, thanks for the invitation! It's a bit of a problem for me since I live a few thousand miles away from SF, but I'd be happy to join you for a swim, if and when I get there some day

All the best
Arik
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  #5  
Old 06-01-2010
lanceryoung lanceryoung is offline
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Not smart to swim in those conditions.
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  #6  
Old 06-02-2010
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CoachDave CoachDave is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Posts: 249
CoachDave
Default Rough conditions

Oh, rough conditions...how I love thee...

So many opportunities to try out new adaptations! To see what happens with big or little technical adjustments! To throw variables into an activity that is mostly established. There are so many things to try in rough waves!

I've done a lot of swims in moderate to heavy chop and rough seas. There's only one thing that has worked every time: practice. Stroke work in rough seas. Tempo training in rough seas. All too many well-intentioned swimmers take mindful pool practice into "just do the distance" in open water. Some of my best technical work happened in Dover, or in the Channel, or in Tampa, or Alcatraz. Breathing timing happens after enough practice to feel the rise and fall or know (based on some intuition I can't explain) that it's just not the right time to breathe, even if all other factors seem to be right. Focused practice and the willingness to try out new things in rough water in practice leads to loving rough conditions. Look for the opportunity to learn and improve and enjoy the moment!
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  #7  
Old 06-03-2010
AWP AWP is offline
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AWP
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What he (Dave) said!
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