Our first Open Water Swim = horrifying

Our first open water swim at Redwood Shores Lagoon.

Our first open water swim at Redwood Shores Lagoon.

Saturday was our first open water swim. And one word to describe it – horrifying. Yep, that’s right. I was hoping that today I’d be able to tell you I conquered my fear of swimming by conquering the open water ….alas I was wrong. I had been anticipating the open water swim ever since joining Team In Training. As I mentioned in my earlier posts, the “swim” part of the triathlon is what I most fear. The thought of drowning is oh so scary. But at the same time, it’s also the part that I am most eager and excited to accomplish. For the past couple of months we’ve been practicing at the pool, drill after drill,l lap after lap, and mile after mile. I’ve conquered my fear of swimming in any depth of the pool….I didn’t think I was ready for the ocean. But open water, lakes, lagoons bays…I figured…ok may be. Friday night, we packed up all our swim gear needed for tomorrow’s swim, body glide, wetsuits, jugs of water to rinse off in etc. We were originally scheduled to be at UVAS reservoir or Steven’s canyon reservoir, but due to permits we were moved to Redwood Lagoon. We headed over to redwood shores and arrived a little before 8:30am. Everyone was already getting into their wetsuits when we parked, so we quickly slapped on the body glide and put our wetsuits on. All the beginners (like myself) were paired with an experienced open water swimmer and mentor. The more experienced swimmers and previous triathletes went on their own. Compared to what I’ve seen in the past, the water was fairly calm. Todd was my mentor for today, he’s been nice for the past season. Back when we had a bike ride in almaden, my chain fell off and he stopped to help me fix it. Anyhoo, most people were already in the water and to set expectation, I informed him that this was my first time. We sat on the dock and he told me not to worry and that the minute I jump in, to sit in the lazy boy position. Apparently wetsuits are somewhat buoyant. It gave me comfort knowing that my wetsuit would help me float. Not as buoyant as a life vest, but buoyant. I took a deep breath …1,2, 3 and I hoped off the dock……..burrrrrrrr the water was freezing. Surprisingly, I was ok. I was soo cold… i was already breathing unevenly. So I waded for awhile and Todd was like ok, “you gotta put your face in the water” . Now, it as time to swim….all these months of swimming in the pool, bi lateral breathing, drills and strokes were gonna be put to use. I was actaully really excited. The minute, I stuck my face into the water I freaked out…..it was so dark, so green and so cold. I felt restricted by the wetsuit, and couldn’t breath in the cold, I started flailing my arms, I started hyperventilating, and swallowing the disgusting duck poo filled water….i was panicking. As I lifted my head to breath the precious air, in between my flailing splashes I could hear Todd’s voice in calm yet stern manner…..”you need to relax, calm down….you’re panicking” .. Oh gosh, i thought I was about to cry. After I stopped panicking, I took a few deep breaths….and I tried again….and again I went to the gasping motions of drowning…again…i needed to relax. Finally, i calmed down and Todd said, “ok, just do 5 strokes and you can take a break”. I was thinking, I’ve been doing hundreds of strokes these past few months, and I can’t even get thru five??!!….After, I did five strokes……he upped it to ten strokes….then twenty….and finally until we made it to the other side. During this entire time the team went thru the triangular of bouys 2x. I was only able to make it across once.  Ugh, I was so frustrated. This must be what coach chris calls a “low points” in training and racing.

Our post swim, 2 mile run.

Our post swim, 2 mile run.

After the swim, we transitioned into a short 2 mile run. During this time, Tony surprisingly ran with me. He’s much faster than me and usually runs with the speedy grop, so I was surprised he stayed back. Later he said that my face  had the unusual expression of  “defeat” on it. So he wanted to see if I was ok and give me a few encouraging words. I called it a “pity run” but in the end his company seemed to cheer me up. After  about 1 mile, he noticed that I was ok and he took off to catch up with the rest.  Oh,  this first open water experienced sucked big ones, but it just means I have to work harder…I’m still nervous about going back in, but I wanna do it!

btw, your prayers and words of encouragement would be good right about now! Think good thoughts for me! =)


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2 Responses to “Our first Open Water Swim = horrifying”

  1. Steven Munatones Says:

    It might have been horrifying, but it sounds like you are going to do it again. The global open water swimming community is rooting for you. Keep it up.

    If you get scared looking down in the cold, dark and green water, you may want to close your eyes when your face is in the water. When you breathe, you can open your eyes. When you need to navigate, you can breathe upwards and forwards as you look forward.

    Good luck.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    You can do it! Good job gf!

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