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  #1  
Old 05-10-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Default How to handle severe chop?

As the weather begins to warm up, the weather systems are beginning create a lot of wind; even sometimes creating what I call an opposing chop against the current on the river, but even if the wind goes with the direction of the current, we can get a lot of chop. I am not talking about 6 inch waves, but waves that are 2 feet or more. I am trying to keep a regular swimming regiment every day, and severe chop is something I am not used to because I have not really encountered it before.

I am seeking advice as to how to handle swimming in or through severe chop. Sighting where I am going is not as hard because I try to wait until I am on the crest of a wave to sight, yet breathing is a significant challenge for me because I rotate to breathe when it is time to get my next breath, then a breaking wave slams me and I don't get air but water in my mouth instead. I thought I could become one with the water and get in sync with the flow of the waves, yet they are not always consistent, therefore I need to find another solution. Any insight as how to handle this other than not to swim on choppy days?
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  #2  
Old 05-11-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelmarshall5030 View Post
As the weather begins to warm up, the weather systems are beginning create a lot of wind; even sometimes creating what I call an opposing chop against the current on the river, but even if the wind goes with the direction of the current, we can get a lot of chop. I am not talking about 6 inch waves, but waves that are 2 feet or more. I am trying to keep a regular swimming regiment every day, and severe chop is something I am not used to because I have not really encountered it before.

I am seeking advice as to how to handle swimming in or through severe chop. Sighting where I am going is not as hard because I try to wait until I am on the crest of a wave to sight, yet breathing is a significant challenge for me because I rotate to breathe when it is time to get my next breath, then a breaking wave slams me and I don't get air but water in my mouth instead. I thought I could become one with the water and get in sync with the flow of the waves, yet they are not always consistent, therefore I need to find another solution. Any insight as how to handle this other than not to swim on choppy days?
Swimming in chop is not comfortable and takes experience. However even the most experienced OW swimmers will take accidental mouthfuls. I have raced in 3-4 ft waves and it is definitely not fun.

Some tips:

1. You will want to increase your stroke rate but of course don't lose form. This will allow you to maintain propulsion against things that are working against you like the waves.

2. You will want to practice breathing to both sides. Most of the time the waves will be coming from one direction. So if you're swimming with the waves hitting your favorite breathing side, that sucks and you'll want to switch to the other side to breathe. This also may apply to where the sun is. I have often had to breathe on my off side not because of chop but because every time i turned to air the sun was in my eyes. Closing your eyes can be done but for some reason i find it uncomfortable.

3. You will likely want to train yourself to not reflexively open your mouth every time, but to be able to open it only when you are sure that your mouth is exposed to air. Likewise, you will want to have more fine control over taking in air as well, meaning if you open your mouth but you are not exposed to air, then don't take a breath!

I have many times turned for air, only to find that a wave is there and my head is not above water. I just kept stroking and then tried again on the next cycle.

4. To accomplish 3, you will want to train yourself to keep some sort of reserve in your lungs and/or train yourself not to panic when you couldn't get that breath. So don't completely blow out your air when you turn for air.

5. Practice holding it in, versus dribbling it out, during the stroke. Dribbling out is ok in the pool but you will want that air your dribbled out for a reserve. so now train to hold that air in a relaxed fashion. Don't squeeze your mouth closed with such tension that wastes energy and also oxygen.

As always, the more you swim in varied conditions, the better equipped you will be to handle them. However, the more chop there is, the more dangerous it can become. Try to always swim with a buddy if you can. Wear a bright colored cap. Work to be comfortable and to not panic.

Let us know how it goes!
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  #3  
Old 05-11-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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David,

Thank you for the help as how to swim in choppy conditions. That helps... I am glad you mentioned some safety concerns. Even though I am no more than 30 feet or so from the bank of the river, I have a person in a kayak next to me as a safety precaution in case I get into trouble; and we make the effort to be in the water early in the day so I am not fighting with boats. He does not like to swim in open water, but has agreed to be of assistance since I am wanting to transition out of the pool into full-time open water swimming. I typically wear neon swim caps to be seen in case a boat happens to be passing by.

As a side note, after swimming in chop, I never knew how much easier and fun it is to swim on what we water skiers call glass (yes, I water ski) because it is like slicing soft butter as I glide through the water.
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Old 05-11-2016
s.sciame s.sciame is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelmarshall5030 View Post

I am wanting to transition out of the pool into full-time open water swimming. I typically wear neon swim caps to be seen in case a boat happens to be passing by.
Hi Michael, about being seen by boats, you may like the Swim Safety Device:

http://saferswimmer.com/

Personally I never swim without this in open water (unless it's a race of course): much more visible than a swim cap. It also makes me confident since in case of cramps I'd have a buoy to grab. And last but not least it's a waterproof bag to store stuff like car keys, mobile phone etc. One thing I like to do is to place my phone with GPS inside the bag and then keep track of my swim. Basically a cheaper version of a wrist Garmin and maybe it also works better because the GPS device is always floating above the water and moves forward without the continual accelerations you'd have on your wrist.

As for the transition out of the pool into full-time open water swimming, great goal!!

Salvo
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  #5  
Old 05-11-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s.sciame View Post
Hi Michael, about being seen by boats, you may like the Swim Safety Device:

http://saferswimmer.com/

Personally I never swim without this in open water (unless it's a race of course): much more visible than a swim cap. It also makes me confident since in case of cramps I'd have a buoy to grab. And last but not least it's a waterproof bag to store stuff like car keys, mobile phone etc. One thing I like to do is to place my phone with GPS inside the bag and then keep track of my swim. Basically a cheaper version of a wrist Garmin and maybe it also works better because the GPS device is always floating above the water and moves forward without the continual accelerations you'd have on your wrist.


Salvo
Thanks for that information, looks like something I need to look into.
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  #6  
Old 05-11-2016
michaelmarshall5030
 
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Default

Just noticed it is no longer able to be purchased from the website
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  #7  
Old 05-11-2016
CoachDavidShen CoachDavidShen is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelmarshall5030 View Post
David,

Thank you for the help as how to swim in choppy conditions. That helps... I am glad you mentioned some safety concerns. Even though I am no more than 30 feet or so from the bank of the river, I have a person in a kayak next to me as a safety precaution in case I get into trouble; and we make the effort to be in the water early in the day so I am not fighting with boats. He does not like to swim in open water, but has agreed to be of assistance since I am wanting to transition out of the pool into full-time open water swimming. I typically wear neon swim caps to be seen in case a boat happens to be passing by.

As a side note, after swimming in chop, I never knew how much easier and fun it is to swim on what we water skiers call glass (yes, I water ski) because it is like slicing soft butter as I glide through the water.
Safety always first. And you never know how you'll respond in choppier conditions. There have been experienced swimmers who have died in those conditions so even those who have been doing this for a long time are not fully immune to the dangers.

I have raced in a river where people have drowned - the water is murky and you can't see bottom. However, it is barely 3 ft deep! If you get into trouble the race directors always advise you - don't panic, just put your feet down and stand up and then you realize you're barely chest deep.

And yes I've been out in the SF Bay when it was like glass. What magic that is to be out there and see nothing but smooth water to the beach.
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David Shen
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  #8  
Old 06-20-2016
Suddethb Suddethb is offline
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Saferswimmer floats are available here, and you are also supporting the patent owner, the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame: http://www.ishof.org/shop.html#!/Saf...=0&sort=normal
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