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5982 Views 28 Replies Latest reply: Oct 19, 2006 12:40 PM by iainspapa 1 2 Previous Next
dojojenn Amateur 12 posts since
Jul 9, 2007
Currently Being Moderated

Sep 10, 2006 6:32 PM

Open water swim fear - Please Help!

I have major panic attacks in the open water swim.  I know that I can finish the distance and have NO FEAR of drowning but I can't put my face in the water and swim.  I have no idea where this comes from as I used to be a beach lifeguard and grew up swimming at the beach. 

 

My last two races I swam sidestroke to get around having to put my face in. I have a race coming up in a week and I am dreading the swim.  Any advice?  I usually swim with an mp3 player in the pool (I know I need to practice in the open water more) and am considering trying the mp3 during the race to help me stay calm.  Thoughts on this?

  • trialot Rookie 4 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Sep 13, 2006 7:30 AM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    I am so relieved to see someone else has this problem, I was a nationally ranked swimmer, and can swin 100 yards in 59 seconds, but I get in open water and I panic, I even got out of the water my first race.  I have since completed five tri's but the swim freaks me out, I also can't put my face in the water and I have no idea why, I know that I am a strong swimmer and won't drown, especially with a wetsuit on, but I can't seem to overcome this!  I would love some advice as well, what I thought would be my strongest part of the race is my worst!!

     

    HELP!!

  • Joe_h1 Community Moderator 1,833 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Sep 13, 2006 8:57 AM (in response to dojojenn)
    sorry don't got much advice

    besides doing more open water swims, starting in the back out of the mix, and keep repeating a mantra something reassuring "I am smooth and strong" or something like that. and get in the water early to try to get ready before the race. good luck and leave the mp3 player at home





    goals for 2011:

    break 19minutes for 5k

    break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic

    break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)

  • nospmohta Rookie 8 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Sep 13, 2006 10:17 AM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    Before you plan on taking your mp3 player with you in the water, check to make sure it's allowed.  A lot of races are very specific about banning them as they are a major safety issue - you need to hear what's going on around you and can't do that if you have a music player.

     

    Can you get your self out into open water any time this week and just play with getting your face in the water?  Be relaxed and put your face in the water briefly without any pressure and maybe not even swimming any strokes, just get used to the feel of the water on your face.  Don't worry about your upcoming race (that'll cause too much stress), just focus on how you feel and relaxing in the water.

     

    Prior to the race give yourself a chance to get into the water as a warm up and get comfortable in the water in general, do a stroke or two with your face in and some without to get a feel for it.  I find a slow, easy warm up swim before a race really helps lessen my anxiety in the water at the start.

     

    If you do panic in the water, it's not the end of the world.  Remember that the swim's the shortest part of the race.  Try to be aware of and prevent negative self-talk ("I'm panicking again. I'll never be a good swimmer.  My race is ruined." etc.) as that will make it worse.  I tend to do this and sends my anxiety to unbelievable levels.  Accept that you're panicking and work through it.

     

    In my first Olympic tri I freaked when I hit the water, for the first 200m all I wanted to do was get out and go home.  I ended up making deals with myself - if I did three strokes of freestyle I could do 10 of breast stroke, then 4 to 8, etc.  I think I did about half breast stroke and half freestyle in the end.  Wasn't hapy with the swim but I worked through it.

     

    Good luck with your race and let us know how it goes!

  • Joe_h1 Community Moderator 1,833 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Sep 14, 2006 10:59 AM (in response to dojojenn)
    saw this article. hope this helps

    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/sport_psych/a/aa010603a.htm

     

    basically focus on what you gotta do and think happy thoughts. good luck and have fun!





    goals for 2011:

    break 19minutes for 5k

    break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic

    break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)

  • trialot Rookie 4 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    5. Sep 14, 2006 2:44 PM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    Thank you for all of your suggestions, its really kind of humiliating I will try positive thinking though, I am my own worst enemy when it comes to that!!

  • tavisyeung Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Sep 14, 2006 5:18 PM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    I used to have this problem to but spent a LOT of time practicing in the pool with my eyes closed, which was also great practice to swim straight - only open your eyes to sight.  Think of it as a reallllly long blink while your face is in the water and when you need to breath, open your eyes, and of course when you sight.

     

    Another good thing to do is, while eyes closed (or not), is practice counting your strokes - it gives you something else to think about and since you are strong swimmers anyway, you don't have to worry about your stroke technique, but you need to occupy your mind with something else other than "fear and panic" - just relax, count your strokes, and learn how to go to your happy place when your eyes are closed.  It should feel EXACTLY the same way as when you're in your pool.

     

    cheers

    Tav

     

    www.gymskinz.com

  • trialot Rookie 4 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Sep 14, 2006 6:01 PM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    I love your idea of keeping my eyes shut, and counting strokes, I will start that this weekend at the pool.  Thank you so much, I really think this will help!

  • tavisyeung Rookie 3 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Sep 15, 2006 4:18 PM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    absolutely! let us know how you make out!  You can BARELY see anything in open water anyway so why freak yourself out with all the chaos around you, just relax relax relax and pretend you're swimming in your pool.. water is water so it shouldn't matter if you're in a lake or in the pool

     

    look forward to hearing about your success!

     

    Tav.

  • Joe_h1 Community Moderator 1,833 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Sep 18, 2006 6:32 AM (in response to dojojenn)
    AttaGirl!

    congratulations!





    goals for 2011:

    break 19minutes for 5k

    break 2:42 for olympic triathlon probably Anthracite olympic

    break 3:16 for marathon ( a long shot but it's fun putting yourself out there)

  • LPIronman06 Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Oct 5, 2006 12:17 PM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    Having a fear of the open water is quite common. But lets be realistic, unless you are swimming in the beaches of South africa, Australia or the US west coast not much will happen to you. So, that being said if I were you I would attack the mental problem head on, and again there is no shame in what you have said about your possible phobia. I work with a girl who wont swim in lakes for fear of the fish.......

    If it were me I would concentrate on more open water swimming/practicing, but take it slow at first, maybe with a friend. Preferably a fairly clean lake and one not filled with algae, weeds, etc....where you can see the bottom like Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, NY where the Ironman was. Keep the depth shallow and get away from the pool if at all possible.  I am a SCUBA Instructor and I know half the battle with our students was adapting to a differant environment, but it can be done with practice,patience and determination.

    The swim portion of any triathlon is the shortest distance, but the hardest mental barroier to overcome for many.  You are not alone please believe me.

    If you live anywhere near Raleigh, NC let me know and Ill offer my help(free..just a beer or two mate)and Ill help you conquer your demons. It can and will be done.

     

    cheers, Mike

  • crawford_lesley Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Oct 16, 2006 5:22 AM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    Skip the mp3- that is dangerous, and probably not allowed anyway.  My suggestion, is one that was given to me by a avid swimmer...do a fake freestyle- your head up and freestyle for your arms and legs.  Worked for me!  And stay away from other swimmers.  If you have to swim a bit longer, it is SO worth it not to get kicked! Good luck-

  • sheali Rookie 1 posts since
    Jul 9, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Oct 16, 2006 5:35 AM (in response to dojojenn)
    Re: Open water swim fear - Please Help!

    Congratulations on successful swim! I had/have exact same problem-and it was made much worse by cold water. My problem is that free style is really the only stroke I know well enough to use in a race-so the first time I panicked was a disaster. I exited the water intending to bag the race only to be talked back into it by a well meaning lifeguard/official who encouraged me to go with the next wave of competitors just to complete the race. I ended up doing a modified head out crawl (more like a dog paddle) from life guard board to life guard board (talk about humiliating!). I entered the same race at the end of the season (Hyannis, Mass) and made sure I swam the morning of the race.  It made all the difference in the world (of course the water temp helped as well).

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