My experience in the try-a-tri swim portion was a little scary. Within 5 strokes, I took in water with my breath and had to stand to cough it out! Fortunately, I was still close enough to shore to touch the bottom. But that left me a little panicked, and I couldn’t get my breathing under control. Every few strokes, a wave would hit my face and I would struggle again. Instead of quitting, I turned on my back and spent some time to breath, before going back to front crawl. I actually spent a lot of time on my back, increasing my time in the water. So, here are a few things I learned:
1. Learn to Swim – properly
Proper swim technique gives you confidence. Plowing along in a pool works, because at the end of each lap is a chance to pause. That does not exist in open water. Once you start, you have to keep going. Breathing on both sides allows you to face out of the waves at least some of the time. If the waves were bigger than the 2 inches I faced, facing away from them to breath would have been critical.
2. Practice – in open water
You cannot really appreciate the difference between a pool and a lake until you get into the lake. I was aware of the difference, in theory, but did not take the opportunity to experience it until the day before the race. Reduce the panic by being familiar with the conditions.
3. Stay near the Back
Got this one covered! By swimming behind, you can follow. Sighting (seeing where you are supposed to swim) is harder in a lake than in a pool because there are no lines. Following a few other people allows you to stay on course without lifting your head too high to see where you are going. The danger with this is that you may get too far behind, or the person you are following may not stay on course. You still need to see the buoy, but not as often.
Of all of these lessons, the most important for me is to learn to swim properly. Perhaps swimming lessons should go on my list of “things to do”. Although my 13 year old thinks she has enough knowledge to teach me! I have no doubt she has the knowledge, but I’m not sure she has the ability to teach! This may be a learning experience for both of us!