Open-water swimming is not always easy for those used to swimming with their eyes fixed on the blue line along the bottom of the pool.
So, even though the triathlon and open-water swimming season will not be starting for some time yet, we would like to give you a few good tips about how to prepare for your first races. The sooner you overcome your fear, the more specific your preparation will be and the better you will perform in your races.
The first step is to stop avoiding what you are afraid of and to face up to your fears. An invaluable piece of advice is to “simulate and isolate”, this can make everything less stressful.
Always incorporates breathing exercises in your training sessions, such as 6/8 x 50 m freestyle breathing every 3 strokes for the first 25 m and then every 5 strokes for the second 25 m with 20” rest.
The second step is to recognise any signals coming from your brain. Our brain has an irrational, paranoiac and extremely emotional side that thinks catastrophically. It is one of the oldest parts of the brain and it is the source of the fight or flight response and also the source of all our instincts, drives and pleasure. Evolution has given it incredible powers, such as the ability to take in and process information much more quickly than the rest of our brain and the ability to warn the rational brain so as to force it to think more quickly when our life is in danger.
The third step is to use self-talk and mental imagery. After regaining control of your brain, make use of the “facts” and “logic”.
The final step is to be prepared and find a way to overcome any difficulties that might arise. Preparation is vital, so train to make sure you are ready to take on the swim leg to the best of your ability. Training that is not geared to your goal will have a cascading effect on your physical, mental and motivational preparation.
If you still have doubts, try reading some of our previous articles, such as Learn all about open water swimming or Open water races: a survival handbook: you will find some excellent advice about the best possible physical preparation.
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