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Everything You Wanted to Know About Open Water Swim Anxiety but Were Afraid to Ask….
The Causes So,
you are feeling a little anxious swimming in open water
a little dose of anxiety or “pre-race jitters” is a good thing,
as it sharpens the focus of the task at hand,
and provides some adrenaline to give you some added fight,
as per the “fight or flight” response.
Yet too much anxiety can impair performance,
and is a common problem for swimmers at all levels of experience,
you first need to understand why you have it,
and then develop some strategies to neutralize it.
There are distinct differences between swimming 2000 meters in a pool and swimming the same distance in open water
if you are new to open water swimming,
this can lead to decreased confidence in your swimming,
with a corresponding increase in anxiety.
What are the sources of this anxiety,
the strategies to overcome them.
you are never far from a lane rope,
In open water,
you do not have these securities,
so you need to believe in your swimming abilities more,
and have faith in your ability to remain calm and functional in any circumstance.
some of which are shallow enough to stand comfortably
the rest has limited depths that you can see easily and grow comfortable with that.
and oceans provide you no such assurances,
although you will come to realize that the depth of the water is irrelevant to most swimming,
while open water can appear expansive,
without a clear sense of distance.
with lanes marked by dark blue lines at the bottom of the pool,
to allow you to quickly correct any tendency to swim off course.
Open water swimming requires the development of good sighting techniques to swim straight.
The feeling of random and repeated contact in the water by other swimmers is not generally comfortable even for experienced swimmers.
the water temperature is constant,
as well as being clean and clear.
and may have significant particulates or silt,
from water fowl to mammals large and small.
Unlike a pool,
this is the “yuck” factor that takes some getting used to.
sailboarders and stand-up paddlers are all sharing the water with you,
and leave you wondering how vulnerable you are to getting run over,
a concern that does not exist in a swimming pool.
poor visibility and darkness are all added variables in open water swimming.
but are different in open water.
and cause concern regarding being run over by another swimmer.
most open water swims encourage the use of wetsuits,
which is a new piece of equipment that takes some getting used to
some find them tight or restrictive,
even hard to breathe if they are not properly fitting.
Yet they also provide safety in the form of buoyance and warmth,
and usually enhance swimming by improving body position.
if you are new to open water swimming,
there is little doubt that you will be quickly confronted by most of these variables,
each one of which pushes you a little farther away from your swimming comfort zone.
Some may get overwhelmed by several of these variables,
and the result is…..anxiety.
how do you lessen swim anxiety
ask yourself which of these factors are most significant in your mind,
and focus on those in particular.
the more time you spend in open water swim environments,
the more comfortable you will be with it.
Be committed to developing the fitness and swimming abilities necessary to do this swim.
Take advantage of the free swim clinics included in your registration at the Gyro Beach Swim Loop 6 consecutive Saturdays before the event.
all are possible on the day of the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim.
and get comfortable with occasional contact in the water,
since there will be swimmers that will deliberately follow your feet or swim closely beside you during open water swim events.
and make sure they are properly fitted for you.
You have effectively a personal floatation device on you when you wear a wetsuit.
you can rest at any point on your swim,
by treading water easily or floating on your back while your wetsuit holds you up.
Just swim off to the side of the swim pathway to clear the way for any other swimmers who may be behind you.
If you need help,
just wave to nearby watercraft or lifeguards.
Staying calm is your best strategy for a successful swim.
that does not require you to go fast.
which is more than double what most people take.
and don’t be preoccupied by your expectations.
and when that is not going well,
it is the most likely trigger to hyperventilating,
and may make it hard to take full expirations into the water,
hence the need to do some warm up swimming.
or 4 strokes) to accommodate your swim needs and the choppiness of the water.
reset your breathing by going more slowly,
taking a few deep clearing breaths,
or stopping long enough to get your breathing back to normal.
by feeling the rocking of the waves,
then timing your breath by altering your breathing cadence or extending the glide portion of a stroke.
we have seeded you roughly according to your ability (remember we asked you how long it would take you to cross when you registered
so that you are unlikely to get run over from behind.
and within that group you can further seed yourself as you wish,
whether by staying behind the front row of swimmers,
you do not feel well for whatever reason (dizzy,
significant cold or flu symptoms,
you need to consider that today may not be your best day for this swim.
Please advise one of the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim officials and hand in your timing chip and cap.
We will gladly rollover your registration to next year.
Do not let others tell you that you should swim if you are not feeling well—you are the expert of how you feel.
and practice it prior to the event.
This will include how you warm up,
how you acclimatize to the cooler water,
how you pace yourself in the early and middle parts of the swim,
how you avoid falling into the trap of following others’ pace that may not be suitable for you,
and even what foods or snacks you eat pre-event.
sugar or food prior to the swim.
and you would be surprised how few calories you will burn swimming for an hour.
and may give yourself palpitations or tachycardia.
check out the correct line of sight,
the mountain pattern behind that,
and how this relates to where the sun is in the sky.
Also check out what is on the left and the right of the swim path—buildings,
etc.--these are things that you will need to correct away from if you start sighting these during your swim.
and learn some simple relaxing breathing techniques that can settle you down when feeling anxious.
Yoga can help with calming your mind and using breathing as a tool to relax.
Thinking logically is much easier when not feeling panicky.
! And the water is not out to get you.
we require all participants to be wearing a brightly colored swim cap,
and we encourage you to consider using an ATLS “Swim Buddy”.
If you swallow water,
roll onto your back to make breathing easier,
turn to face any swimmers that might be coming your way,
and work at calming your breathing down.
Find a posture that you can practice before hand in safe conditions that you can call your “happy place”.
If you can resume your swim do so at a pace that is comfortable and manageable,
wave to the nearest watercraft for assistance.
! Getting water in your wetsuit will be a slight shock at first,
but once you have warmed it up,
becomes your wet insulation for the Swim,
so do this BEFORE your event starts… One less shock to the system.
Warming up your shoulders,
get a feeling of your breathing rhythm,
getting comfortable with the water temperature,
and your wetsuit are all best done BEFORE the Swim.
Your heart does not like going from a resting pulse one minute,
Combine that demand with the “diving reflex” that cause people to hold their breath and slow down their heart with the application of cold water to their face,
the possible added effects of ingested caffeine,
and generalized race-associated anxiety,
it is easy to see some swimmers becoming short of breath after just a few hundred meters of swimming.
and time your warm up to help this.
Learn how to do this in both flat water and choppy conditions.
Consider practicing with some water in your goggles,
without goggles (goggle straps sometimes break,
and some fall off— remember that goggles have only been used for a few decades).
change your fears and your perceptions,
skillful and safe in the water,
to the point where they love being in it.
There is no reason adults cannot get to this point with recurring exposures to open water.
and with practice (both swimming and yoga/meditation),
this can become a “zen-like” experience.
Be able to accept that,
you abilities may not be up to par,
and that it is okay to decline the opportunity to do this or any event.
swim safety and enjoyment are the mandates of our open water swim event.
While we expect every swimmer to have the swim abilities,
commit to a swim training program to do this event,
and follow the guidelines we have provided on our website and in the event packages,
here is a list of what the Across the Lake Swim Society is doing to provide a safe environment for the Swim: 1)
to spread out swimmers and keep swimmers of similar abilities together
Wetsuit use is encouraged for warmth and buoyancy
along with two power boats per wave,
and multiple kayakers and stand up paddlers.
Improved sighting with large buoys and a huge finishing arch.
at package pickup and in the race packages.
RCMP boat protection on the south flank of the swim to protect against power boats unwittingly crossing under the bridge onto the swim’s path.
and BC Ambulance 13) A physician is onsite both at the start line and at the finish line on the morning of the event.
so as to minimize the startle response in some swimmers,
and to reduce the adrenaline surge that may come as a result 15) A partnership with a local yoga studio has been developed to improve swimmers’ mental focus,
and body position 16) Lots of post race snacks,
canoe or stand up paddle board 18) We focus on the swim as an “event” not a “race” 19) Encourage swimmers to ask questions at the open water swim clinics,
package pickup and through the weeks and months leading up to the swim.