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  #1  
Old 02-13-2011
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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Default Open Water - Conquering Fear

Hi everyone

I have been away from these boards for some time. For those that I have not spoken to previously, I have been a Masters swimmer for many years and have been a big fan of TI adopting many TI principles in my swimming. Although I have constructively challenged certain aspects of TI at times, I incorporate a vast amount of TI teachings in my swimming. However, a combination of an expanding family - which has limited my pool swimming - and TI's shift towards Open Water swimming (which I have never been attracted to partly through fear) have led me to drift from these boards.

However, that is all changing. I have close family and friends who have suffered from various types of mental illness. Last year, a friend committed suicide through stress. And I have become supportive of the English Charity 'Mind' which seeks to assist those with mental illness. Details here: http://www.mind.org.uk/thisismind

I looked to see what fundraising events I could do and the Great London Swim stood out: http://www.greatswim.org/Events/Brit...t-London-Swim/

So I am about to train for my first ever open water swimming event. I've never even worn a wet suit before. And I have never swam in a way that requires me to 'sight' etc. And I've always had a fear of Open Water (probably from watching 'Jaws' as a kid). In a pool I can swim 1500m in around 26 mins but that's with turns, no waves, no arms and legs near me. And in water that is clear and at the correct temperature. So training is going to be an adventure, and I'll probably need a lot of tips, help and encouragement along the way!

I'll let people know how I get on, and how TI principles help me along the way. Thanks in advance for the tips and advice, I know I'll get

Laurie

Last edited by LBRoberts : 02-13-2011 at 09:48 PM. Reason: typos
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  #2  
Old 02-13-2011
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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And my 1st question is how on earth do I decide what type of wetsuit I need?

There are so many? Should I go for one with positive buoyancy (intended for poor swimmers) or balanced buoyancy? I have good body position in the water but surely, wouldn't a positive buoyancy suit help anyone? And what is disadvantage of a positive buoyancy suit?
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  #3  
Old 02-13-2011
Grant Grant is offline
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Welcome back Laurie. Good luck on your venture.
May we swim with ease at the speeds we choose.
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May we swim with ease at the speeds we choose.
Grant
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  #4  
Old 02-14-2011
cynthiam cynthiam is offline
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Laurie,

I started to learn to swim 1.5 years ago and began open water swimming last summer. I'm still a beginner -- both in the pool and in the bay (salt water) -- though I really enjoy the open water. I'm itching to get back in, but the water's too cold for me right now. I don't use a wet suit.

There are sporting goods stores near me that rent wet suits and will help to fit customers with suits that meet their needs (there are also some online). Are there any like that near you? You're right, there are so many types -- I'd never know which to choose. Do you plan on buying one? If so, then I would really rent a couple of different ones before buying.

I don't use a wet suit because I don't like how it feels to swim in one. I like to feel the water, and I don't like being extra buoyant - it affects my stroke.

I did wear one once. I rented (hired?) it from an online shop and wore it for an introductory clinic on open water swimming (it wasn't a great fit, but it was ok for this purpose). I highly recommend a clinic like this if one's available to you. The wet suit kept me warm and feeling totally safe. I was in salt water, so I was super buoyant! And the lessons from the clinic were very helpful.

If you don't attend a clinic, I'd suggest getting into the water with someone who is experienced and whom you trust. Do that for a few times and see how you do. You can practice the mechanics of sighting in the pool, though it's a bit different once you're in open water.

The first few times I was out alone, I was very conservative about how far I went. I had to stop a lot and catch my breath. It just took some experience for me to feel more comfortable and to relax (and to get used to cold water).

It may seem daunting, but remember that you have swimming skills that you can apply to OW. Being able to calm yourself is a very good skill to have. So much of my comfort in OW is based on being able to talk myself through any scary patches.
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  #5  
Old 02-14-2011
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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Thanks, that's great advice. I wouldn't normally wear a wet suit as I swim in a pool. But it is mandatory that a wet suit be worn for this race (probably because it is so cold in London!).

So while hiring sounds a good idea, I'll want to train in some Lidos first, so will probably buy one. But I'll see if I can hire one first before buying if I can find a clinic as you suggest. I am thinking that balanced buoyancy suit is best. The positive buoyancy will probably interfere with my stroke.


Your tips about acclimatising are helpful too. Thanks
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  #6  
Old 02-14-2011
westyswoods westyswoods is offline
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Default Wet Suits

I would just like to reinforce Cynthiam's comments on the wet suit issue. When wearing one it is difficult to maintain any type of stroke and or feel for the water. Initially I thought they would be the cats meow and would help with balance and speed, I guess they do and I will use what little I gain from one if it is needed for safety, other than that I much prefer to swim naked.

My choice would definitely be one for balance and the thinnest possible. You may also look into the sleeveless as I find the restrictions with a full suit the biggest pitfall.

Swim Silent and Be Well
Westy
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  #7  
Old 02-14-2011
AWP AWP is offline
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Laurie,
Welcome back. I feel you're on the right track to acquiring a suit that's proper for the event, the people who sell and rent can be a big help I'm sure in helping you decide as well.
The 'important' part is that you're going for it! and I'm sure you'll enjoy it more than you think, even with your anxieties. Having the swimming part down you can focus on absorbing all the sensations you'll experience and experiment with any adjustments. It's a charity event so no real pressure to race and being your first go at OW events look at it as a fact finding mission and have fun doing it. Will you be sharing the experience with a 'buddy'? (aside from the scores of others participating)
I never wore an extra skin (aside from scuba diving) but my experience from swimming with those that do is to be mindful of where the suit will rub ie. neck area, if sleeveless under the arm, and be sure to lubricate those areas well. This will help prevent too much chaffing and the lube will also assist in doning and removal of the suit.
Have fun 'training' and I'll look forward to your report.

Best,
Alan
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  #8  
Old 02-14-2011
naj naj is offline
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Default Welcome!

Laurie,

Welcome to the club of ow swimmers! Glad too hear your taking the plunge and for such a worthy cause to boot. Like AWP and Cynthia I don't wear a wetsuit. But the advice you've been given is very good so no need to add anything there. The only thing I would strongly suggest is what Cynthia said, even though you have a suit on don't go in alone! Go with someone who has experience in ow. Even with a wetsuit you can get hypothermia

Also, see if a buddy has a kayak and if they are willing to be alongside the two of you to make sure your both okay. Have hot drinks, warm clothes and thick hats for when you get out. The real challenge of the cold hits you once you get out not while your in.

OW is the ultimate swim challenge and the nuances of sighting, buoy turns and the like will come in time. For now get a suit that fits you right and,as AWP said, lubricate areas like the neck, underarms, waist etc that will have friction do to all the activity they do during a swim.

Good luck and enjoy the journey! Oh and by the way I am proud to say that I recommended the clinic that Cynthia spoke about and was with her the very first time she swam naked (sans wetsuit). I'm sure she curses my name every day since then LOL!

Naji
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  #9  
Old 02-14-2011
KatieK KatieK is offline
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Great advice from everyone. I can't stress enough the importance of going with a buddy who can show you the ropes.

Silly things can be very scary the first time you experience them in open water. A few harmless things that freaked me out the first time: swimming thru a cold spot or a hot spot, touching a piece of driftwood, losing sight of the buoy line for a moment, etc. Your buddy can tell you what to expect and calm you down if you get scared.

Try swimming with your wetsuit in the pool before you go out in open water. The tightness causes a lot of people to panic the first time they try a wetsuit. Better to get used to that feeling in the pool.

A buddy can give you a good overview of what to expect.

I don't swim with a wetsuit, but I use Body Glide on my upper arms and underarms to prevent chafing on long open water swims.
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  #10  
Old 02-14-2011
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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Yes - I will definitely try swimming with the westuit before I go for real. The course is well marshalled with people in kayaks along the route (see pictures from link in initial post) and I am persuading a freind who swam the channel in a relay to swim with me. I may also do a weekend swim trek weekend in advance too.

I have found somewhere that both hires and sells wetsuits who have agreed to fit me. So I shall do that shortly. It is still very cold in London so before I attempt my first open water swim (the event isn't until Kuly) I shall try and regain my fitness with some pool swims and some running and cycling.
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