I have been open water swimming 3 times plus a quick dip in a very chilly Devon sea back in June. Every time it has been very different and not just in terms of location.
The first time was just terrifying and cold! I wrote about it here.
The second time was at an open water swim seminar run by Human Race events which was a structured session with lots of other novices, really interesting and useful (separate post to come).
The third and most recent time was a Tri-sistas trip to Ellingham lakes at the butt-early (a technical term) time of 6am.
The lake is beautiful, surrounded by trees, the sun was shining and the water warm enough that really we could have done without our wetsuits.
So it should have been easy right? All my swimming lessons, all the crack of dawn mornings in the pool.
We all sauntered in (after all we are pro’s now right?) and my sisters immediately started swimming like fishes. I, on the other hand, almost immediately completely forgot how to swim. I couldn’t remember how to breathe, I couldn’t put my face in the water, I doggy paddled and I panicked.
Our plan to swim the entire lake loop of 1200m seemed impossible and I very nearly turned around and got out. Luckily I have the best sisters in the world and they cajoled and coaxed me to at least try to swim to the first buoy, 20 strokes at a time. It was so hard. Every time I got into a semi rhythm, some thought or thing, like seeing how far we still had to go, or a duck, or another swimmer powering by, would pop me out of it and I would panic and stop and have to hyperventilate for a bit. Both sisters would then stop as well and we’d have a little chat while I calmed down and then we set off again.
It must have been torture for them, stopping and starting, but they were incredibly patient. I can’t say I ever completely got my mojo back but I made it all the way around. I only really felt confident in my swimming ability at the very end ( when the pier was in sight and that was possibly because the pier was in sight).
I don’t really know what happened, perhaps I was overconfident, perhaps too much wine the night before (can you sense a theme of drinking slightly too much in these posts?) perhaps too little sleep. But it’s knocked my confidence a bit. I just need to get back out there, be better prepared mentally and WORRY less swim more.
Also as an aside, I was physically knackered that whole day and the next and couldn’t work out why until I realised 1200m is the equivalent of 48 lengths, further than I’ve ever swam before. So that’s something.
And another aside, the wetsuit chafing really got me this time, super painful rubbing on the back of my neck. The verdict: I’m not twisting my body enough and I need some lube…