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  #1  
Old 11-05-2010
mmcinnis mmcinnis is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2010
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mmcinnis
Default Open Water Triathlon Struggles

I am a relatively new triathlete(9 months) and swimmer. I have been doing TI for approximately 6 months. I am getting better, but still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be which would be to continually finish in the top 25% of the swim in my races. I did fairly well in my first race which was a 1/2 mile open water swim. Since then I have done two races(1/4 mile lake and 1/4 mile ocean swim) and I have really struggled in the water. At the start my heart rate rises and I can't seem to catch my breath so I end up swimming with my head out of the water the entire time with occasional side stroking. It really wears me out and I have very little confidence going into my final race of the year in a week. In the pool, I can do my TI drills and have no problem with distance which frustrates me even more. Any tips to relax and stay calm in an open water race? Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 11-05-2010
naj naj is offline
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Location: San Francisco, CA
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Default Welcome!

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Originally Posted by mmcinnis View Post
I am a relatively new triathlete(9 months) and swimmer. I have been doing TI for approximately 6 months. I am getting better, but still have a long way to go to get to where I want to be which would be to continually finish in the top 25% of the swim in my races. I did fairly well in my first race which was a 1/2 mile open water swim. Since then I have done two races(1/4 mile lake and 1/4 mile ocean swim) and I have really struggled in the water. At the start my heart rate rises and I can't seem to catch my breath so I end up swimming with my head out of the water the entire time with occasional side stroking. It really wears me out and I have very little confidence going into my final race of the year in a week. In the pool, I can do my TI drills and have no problem with distance which frustrates me even more. Any tips to relax and stay calm in an open water race? Thanks!
Hello and welcome to TI! I am not a triathlete but i do swim in open water year round and - on a rare occasion - swim in races. Though I never bother to race others, just myself and my own times and technique etc..

So your having trouble calming down before a race and it sounds like your hyperventilating during it as well. One thing you might want to try is getting centered before the race. Focus on what you need to do not what your competitors are doing. Try and focus on two aspects of your Ti stroke (maybe your lead elbow and wide tracks).

Another notion is to begin the race on the outside part of the pack. At the beginning - in particular in a triathlon - there is a mass of arms and legs, churning the water and sometimes these limbs kick and hit you inadvertently of course. All this commotion might be one of he reasons you feel out of breath. The start of an open water race is pure chaos and - at times - those that are new to ow swimming are not use to it.

By swimming on the outer edge of the pack you can avoid a great majority of the kicks and hits as well as choppy water that the swimmers create. These are just a couple of thigns I would suggest thee triathletes and other ow swimmers on the forum will chime in soon. Again welcome to TI and congrats on your first tow races. Well done!

Naji
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  #3  
Old 11-06-2010
KatieK KatieK is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naj View Post
Hello and welcome to TI! I am not a triathlete but i do swim in open water year round and - on a rare occasion - swim in races. Though I never bother to race others, just myself and my own times and technique etc..

So your having trouble calming down before a race and it sounds like your hyperventilating during it as well. One thing you might want to try is getting centered before the race. Focus on what you need to do not what your competitors are doing. Try and focus on two aspects of your Ti stroke (maybe your lead elbow and wide tracks).

Another notion is to begin the race on the outside part of the pack. At the beginning - in particular in a triathlon - there is a mass of arms and legs, churning the water and sometimes these limbs kick and hit you inadvertently of course. All this commotion might be one of he reasons you feel out of breath. The start of an open water race is pure chaos and - at times - those that are new to ow swimming are not use to it.

By swimming on the outer edge of the pack you can avoid a great majority of the kicks and hits as well as choppy water that the swimmers create. These are just a couple of thigns I would suggest thee triathletes and other ow swimmers on the forum will chime in soon. Again welcome to TI and congrats on your first tow races. Well done!

Naji
Good advice from Naji (as always).

Mmcinnis, anxiety can be a big problem in open water. I LOVE swimming in open water, but I can get anxious too.

Staying calm is the most important thing. You'll be faster, have more fun, and save more energy for the other events. Even if you really care about getting a good time, you're still better off taking a break when you get anxious. Try floating on your back and breathing deeply. I promise those few seconds of relaxation aren't going to cost you.

I want my performance in a race to be at least as good as it is in practice. BUT, I've learned the hard way that I can't force it. My faster times in races have happened when I've deliberately focused on swimming slowly and staying relaxed. When I try to rush, I end up expending a lot of energy to swim slowly.

You're making great progress. Keep up the good work, and enjoy your next race.
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Old 11-06-2010
madvet madvet is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
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One of the biggest issues between pool and open water is the opacity of most open water. Getting more open water practice is helpful. But another factor in a race is the noise on top of that.

Blindness with loud noise around you can bring on panic. It is a very "human" fear. It is very much a subconscious reaction so it is easy to miss that that is what is going on.

If you can get a group together to practice open water together you can at least get some of that sound going on to learn how to adjust.
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  #5  
Old 11-14-2010
mmcinnis mmcinnis is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2010
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Thank you everyone for your thoughts and encouragement. I had the race today and felt really comfortable in the water. I have lots to improve upon, but it was so nice to actually get through a race without all the anxiety.
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  #6  
Old 11-15-2010
naj naj is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
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naj
Default Congratulations!

Quote:
Originally Posted by mmcinnis View Post
Thank you everyone for your thoughts and encouragement. I had the race today and felt really comfortable in the water. I have lots to improve upon, but it was so nice to actually get through a race without all the anxiety.
Well done and I hope you can continue to swim mindfully and improve even more!

Keep Swimming!
Naji
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