If you’re a beginner triathlete like me, you’re probably a little nervous, but mostly curious and excited about swimming in open water for the first time. What I’ve learned in my brief, but rather intense triathlon training is that there’s a HUGE difference between swimming in the pool and swimming in open water.
My first experience in open water wasn’t during a practice session but during my first spring triathlon. I figured hey, I’m been in the pool a ton and its only a 500 yard swim, no big deal right? WRONG! First off, the first time you swim in murky water its really kind of creepy. There’s no straight line guiding your swim and the lack of vision can mess with your mind a bit. Also, if you don’t have the correct goggles with the correct sun protection, you can catch some really bad glares off the water from the sun. Make sure you’ve swam a few times with your goggles in open water to make sure they’re the correct fit and that they provide you with the proper glare protection as well. Definitely make sure that you’re not trying out new eye protection on race day for the first time.
The other thing that really surprised me about open water swimming was how excited I felt once that starting gun sounded. I got such an adrenaline rush in my first race and in my first 500 yard swim that I simply forgot to exhale while I was swimming. I nearly made myself pass out during the swim portion from improper breathing. It got a little intense for me when I realized that I was getting light headed and my wetsuit started to get real tight. For a second, I seriously thought I was going to pass out. Not good news when you’re still 75 yards from shore. Luckily for me, I was able to calm myself down a bit and struggle to get back to shore.
So if you’re a first time triathlete, remember to get some good quality open water swim training in and for goodness sakes, remember to breathe!!!