Speaking of open water swims...

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Cam Wilson, Sep 13, 2003.

  1. Cam Wilson

    Cam Wilson Guest

    ... I'll have to begin doing some this year. I will be doing my first triathlon at the end of May,
    and its swim will be in an indoor pool (it'll still be a touch cool outside then). but once summer
    gets rolling, i'd like to try some open water swimming - for the first time ever. as a little
    background, i was not even a swimmer until last winter when i took private lessons, and then began
    practice workouts every week right up until now, all of them in pools. but i realize that most tri's
    have an open water swim. as luck would have it, there is a bay with a beach nearby, so i'll head
    over there to practise.

    any tips for an OW swim newbie? like keep my mouth closed more often so the weeds and dirt don't
    float in? or don't swat at the fish? :)

    Thanks,

    Cam
     
    Tags:


  2. on 3/12/03 9:03 PM, Cam Wilson at [email protected] wrote:

    >
    > any tips for an OW swim newbie? like keep my mouth closed more often so the weeds and dirt don't
    > float in? or don't swat at the fish? :)
    >
    Familiarize, familiarize, familiarize.

    Many folks going into an OW race as newbies get freaked out (understandably) by just how different
    the sensory experience is from the pool. You may not be able to see bottom. You may not be able, in
    fact, to see more than a few feet in front of you at any given time. You may see fish, weeds, etc.
    There will be wave motion different from the pool. It will taste and smell different. It will sound
    different. Folks will be swimming all around you, some of them too close for comfort at times, too
    far away for comfort at others.

    You can get used to most of these pre-race day by swimming as much as possible in the body of water
    (or something much like it) you'll be racing in, and it can make a *huge* difference. Even
    experienced OW swimmers sometimes experience an initial minor "breath freeze" until they get
    acclimated-- I've seen it be crippling to newbies. Concentrate on your breathing patterns-- *trust*
    the rhythm you've become accustomed to in the pool and force yourself into it. Depending on the
    length and course layout, you'll want to learn how to take an occasional heads-up or head-forward
    breath without destroying your stroke or breathing pattern-- practice this in the pool and in the
    water as much as possible. Many folks will take a heads up breath every four or six breath cycles or
    so-- many newbies will want-- and need-- to take them more often to stay oriented. Get used to dead
    reckoning-- learn how to spot that large rock or tree or whatever on the shore and keep assessing
    your path relative to it and other landmarks-- it's ludicrously easy to go off course in one's first
    few OW swims. (Been there, done that.)

    You'll have a blast, Cam. Good luck.

    --
    Shalom, Peace, Salaam

    George Grattan
     
  3. Cam Wilson wrote:
    > any tips for an OW swim newbie? like keep my mouth closed more often so the weeds and dirt don't
    > float in? or don't swat at the fish? :)

    Learning how to draft will help, but in the absence of a suitable draftee, you have to learn how to
    swim in a straight line. It's a gift. If you don't have the gift, you will want to get used to
    lifting your head about every dozen strokes to see that you are holding your line.

    How and when you lift your head depends on whether you are swimming in the sea or in a lake. If you
    are swimming in the sea, then you want to lift your head when you are at the top of a swell, because
    if you lift your head when you are in a trough, you won't see anything. In a lake, unless we are
    talking about Lake Michigan, you won't have swells to deal with, so you can lift your head pretty
    much any time.

    You will want to find a fixed point on the shore ahead that you can easily see when your head comes
    up. You're up; you see your point, and you're down again in a single arm pull. If you can draft off
    someone, you can let him be your guide.

    The hardest part for me is always the run up the beach at the end. Trying to stand up and run can be
    very disorienting after you have been swimming in swells for a half hour or longer. Most swimmers
    stand up way to early. Keep swimming until your hands hit the bottom. Pull yourself along the bottom
    if possible. Body surf if you can, but, again, beware of disorientation at the end of the race. If
    you are coming in through a drop zone, you could get slammed hard.

    At the starting line, don't try to get in front of the pack if you don't have a realistic chance of
    leading the way early. Choose a starting point on one end or the other, or in the back. There can be
    massive thrashing and kicking during a mass start, and you can get kicked in the face. If you see
    someone you know, who is your speed or a little faster, stand behind him at the start and let him
    clear the way for you.

    Again, most swimmers start swimming too soon. Watch some old reruns of the Baywatch opening, where
    Mike Newman is going out through the surf. He runs as far as he can, and when the wave hits him, he
    dives under it, swims a bit, and if the water level drops enough, he stands again and runs some
    more. Running is faster than swimming at the start.

    Don't worry about swallowing water, because you will swallow water. And don't worry about things
    biting you.

    martin

    --
    Martin Smith email: [email protected] Vollsveien 9 tel. : +47 6783 1188
    P.O. Box 482 mob. : +47 932 48 303 1327 Lysaker, Norway
     
  4. Helgi Briem

    Helgi Briem Guest

    On Thu, 13 Mar 2003 14:36:38 +0100, "Martin W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Don't worry about swallowing water, because you will swallow water. And don't worry about things
    >biting you.

    Because they *will* bit you, I presume. ;-)
    --
    Regards, Helgi Briem helgi AT decode DOT is
     
  5. Cam Wilson

    Cam Wilson Guest

    thanks for the thoughts, Martin. I would never have thought of some of these things. Yeah, swimming
    straight will be interesting without a line on the bottom of the bay/lake to guide me :) I have
    already been practising lifting my head periodically during pool swims, mainly just to see if people
    are coming at me from any particular direction.... it's a madhouse at the pool sometimes, with kids
    everywhere.

    thanks again,

    Cam

    In article <[email protected]>,
    "Martin W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote:

    > Cam Wilson wrote:
    > > any tips for an OW swim newbie? like keep my mouth closed more often so the weeds and dirt don't
    > > float in? or don't swat at the fish? :)
    >
    > Learning how to draft will help, but in the absence of a suitable draftee, you have to learn how
    > to swim in a straight line. It's a gift. If you don't have the gift, you will want to get used to
    > lifting your head about every dozen strokes to see that you are holding your line.
    >
    > How and when you lift your head depends on whether you are swimming in the sea or in a lake. If
    > you are swimming in the sea, then you want to lift your head when you are at the top of a swell,
    > because if you lift your head when you are in a trough, you won't see anything. In a lake, unless
    > we are talking about Lake Michigan, you won't have swells to deal with, so you can lift your head
    > pretty much any time.
    >
    > You will want to find a fixed point on the shore ahead that you can easily see when your head
    > comes up. You're up; you see your point, and you're down again in a single arm pull. If you can
    > draft off someone, you can let him be your guide.
    >
    > The hardest part for me is always the run up the beach at the end. Trying to stand up and run can
    > be very disorienting after you have been swimming in swells for a half hour or longer. Most
    > swimmers stand up way to early. Keep swimming until your hands hit the bottom. Pull yourself along
    > the bottom if possible. Body surf if you can, but, again, beware of disorientation at the end of
    > the race. If you are coming in through a drop zone, you could get slammed hard.
    >
    > At the starting line, don't try to get in front of the pack if you don't have a realistic chance
    > of leading the way early. Choose a starting point on one end or the other, or in the back. There
    > can be massive thrashing and kicking during a mass start, and you can get kicked in the face. If
    > you see someone you know, who is your speed or a little faster, stand behind him at the start and
    > let him clear the way for you.
    >
    > Again, most swimmers start swimming too soon. Watch some old reruns of the Baywatch opening, where
    > Mike Newman is going out through the surf. He runs as far as he can, and when the wave hits him,
    > he dives under it, swims a bit, and if the water level drops enough, he stands again and runs some
    > more. Running is faster than swimming at the start.
    >
    > Don't worry about swallowing water, because you will swallow water. And don't worry about things
    > biting you.
    >
    > martin
     
  6. Cam Wilson

    Cam Wilson Guest

    George Grattan wrote:

    > on 3/12/03 9:03 PM, Cam Wilson at [email protected] wrote:

    > > any tips for an OW swim newbie? like keep my mouth closed more often so the weeds and dirt don't
    > > float in? or don't swat at the fish? :)
    > >
    > Familiarize, familiarize, familiarize.
    >
    > Many folks going into an OW race as newbies get freaked out (understandably) by just how different
    > the sensory experience is from the pool. You may not be able to see bottom. You may not be able,
    > in fact, to see more than a few feet in front of you at any given time. You may see fish, weeds,
    > etc. There will be wave motion different from the pool. It will taste and smell different. It will
    > sound different. Folks will be swimming all around you, some of them too close for comfort at
    > times, too far away for comfort at others.

    yes, i can understand this stuff. in fact, sometimes there is a strangeness just from one swimming
    pool to another, let alone from pool to open water. once the beaches open (still a ways away), i'll
    try as many different areas as possible to at least get used to adapting to different scenarios.

    < much good stuff deleted, but much appreciated>
    >
    > You'll have a blast, Cam. Good luck.

    Thanks, George. I am SO looking forward to my first tri in May. It'll be in a pool, but I figure I'm
    still going to get hooked on the sport, and will then have to move on to OW swims. good tips!

    Cam
     
  7. Helgi Briem wrote:
    >
    > On Thu, 13 Mar 2003 14:36:38 +0100, "Martin W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    > >Don't worry about swallowing water, because you will swallow water. And don't worry about things
    > >biting you.
    >
    > Because they *will* bit you, I presume. ;-)

    If you are in salt water, you might run into a jellyfish. Unless it is a Portuguese Man-o-war, it
    won't hurt very much. If it is a Portuguese Man-o-war, they shouldn't be having a race there at that
    time of year.

    --
    Martin Smith email: [email protected] Vollsveien 9 tel. : +47 6783 1188
    P.O. Box 482 mob. : +47 932 48 303 1327 Lysaker, Norway
     
  8. Just a tip for open water, lift your head but keep breathing on your side. Don't lift too much, it
    consumes energy and slow you down. Leandro.

    Cam Wilson wrote:
    > thanks for the thoughts, Martin. I would never have thought of some of these things. Yeah,
    > swimming straight will be interesting without a line on the bottom of the bay/lake to guide me :)
    > I have already been practising lifting my head periodically during pool swims, mainly just to see
    > if people are coming at me from any particular direction.... it's a madhouse at the pool
    > sometimes, with kids everywhere.
    >
    > thanks again,
    >
    > Cam
    >
    >
    > In article <[email protected]>,
    > "Martin W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote:
    >
    >
    >>Cam Wilson wrote:
    >>
    >>>any tips for an OW swim newbie? like keep my mouth closed more often so the weeds and dirt don't
    >>>float in? or don't swat at the fish? :)
    >>
    >>Learning how to draft will help, but in the absence of a suitable draftee, you have to learn how
    >>to swim in a straight line. It's a gift. If you don't have the gift, you will want to get used to
    >>lifting your head about every dozen strokes to see that you are holding your line.
    >>
    >>How and when you lift your head depends on whether you are swimming in the sea or in a lake. If
    >>you are swimming in the sea, then you want to lift your head when you are at the top of a swell,
    >>because if you lift your head when you are in a trough, you won't see anything. In a lake, unless
    >>we are talking about Lake Michigan, you won't have swells to deal with, so you can lift your head
    >>pretty much any time.
    >>
    >>You will want to find a fixed point on the shore ahead that you can easily see when your head
    >>comes up. You're up; you see your point, and you're down again in a single arm pull. If you can
    >>draft off someone, you can let him be your guide.
    >>
    >>The hardest part for me is always the run up the beach at the end. Trying to stand up and run can
    >>be very disorienting after you have been swimming in swells for a half hour or longer. Most
    >>swimmers stand up way to early. Keep swimming until your hands hit the bottom. Pull yourself along
    >>the bottom if possible. Body surf if you can, but, again, beware of disorientation at the end of
    >>the race. If you are coming in through a drop zone, you could get slammed hard.
    >>
    >>At the starting line, don't try to get in front of the pack if you don't have a realistic chance
    >>of leading the way early. Choose a starting point on one end or the other, or in the back. There
    >>can be massive thrashing and kicking during a mass start, and you can get kicked in the face. If
    >>you see someone you know, who is your speed or a little faster, stand behind him at the start and
    >>let him clear the way for you.
    >>
    >>Again, most swimmers start swimming too soon. Watch some old reruns of the Baywatch opening, where
    >>Mike Newman is going out through the surf. He runs as far as he can, and when the wave hits him,
    >>he dives under it, swims a bit, and if the water level drops enough, he stands again and runs some
    >>more. Running is faster than swimming at the start.
    >>
    >>Don't worry about swallowing water, because you will swallow water. And don't worry about things
    >>biting you.
    >>
    >>martin
     
  9. Liz D

    Liz D Guest

    "Martin W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > Helgi Briem wrote:
    > >
    > > On Thu, 13 Mar 2003 14:36:38 +0100, "Martin W. Smith" <[email protected]> wrote:
    > >
    > > >Don't worry about swallowing water, because you will swallow water. And don't worry about
    > > >things biting you.
    > >
    > > Because they *will* bit you, I presume. ;-)
    >
    > If you are in salt water, you might run into a jellyfish. Unless it is a Portuguese Man-o-war, it
    > won't hurt very much. If it is a Portuguese Man-o-war, they shouldn't be having a race there at
    > that time of year.

    I got stung by a jelly fish (I presume) in an open water swim I did the weekend before last. It felt
    like a piece of seaweed brush against my lower arm (I wear a long-john wetsuit) and the second it
    touched it stared stinging like mad.

    Fortunately it was almost at the end of the swim and I just finished and got out as soon as I could.
    My husband did an outdoor first aid course a while ago and he told me that the thing to do was to
    rub sand over the affected area to get rid of any barbs left in the skin. So there I was running up
    the beach to the finish line picking up handfuls of sand and rubbing them into my arm. I got some
    first aid treatment while I was there (local antihistamine cream) and took an oral anti-histamine
    tablet when I got home and after a bit of soreness the first day it has been ok since.

    This was also my first open water swim in reasonably rough conditions and it makes a huge difference
    to the way that you have to swim. You should do at least some practice in windy conditions, unless
    you decide beforehand that you won't race in those conditions. It only needs the slightest breeze in
    open water and what looks like flat calm water from the beach feels like mountainous seas when you
    are swimming in them. A few people actually got sea sick in this swim!

    One thing I have found is that you have to "roll with" the waves - especially when you are going
    downwards. I think you get a somewhat falling sensation and the urge is to fight against it, pull
    your head up, etc but you just need to roll with it and wait to come up again. I also found that I
    didn't want to take so many sighting strokes as I would usually do because I would get swamped by a
    wave every time. It was better to keep my face in the water as much as possible. With the nett
    effect that I went off course more than usual.

    You *really* need to be able to breathe on both sides for open water swimming, so if necessary you
    can avoid having to breathe from the side the waves are coming. My usual pattern in the pool is
    alternate breathing every 3 strokes, so if I have to breathe only to one side I will do something
    like 4/2/4/2 etc strokes between breaths. If I can I will settle into a 3-stroke pattern for spells
    as that is the best rhythm for me. I can now breathe equaly comfortably to either side.

    I have also found that a relatively straight & high arm recovery action is beneficial in open water,
    so you get your arm over and above the wave instead of getting it knocked by the wave all the time
    which is very tiring. I had actually changed my style like this in the pool recently anyway, and I
    have found it better suited to open water swimming than a more bent elbow style.

    The experience with the rough conditions and then the jelly fish sting have made me decide that I
    will only do open water swims on nice calm days. But plenty of other people on the day really
    enjoyed the swim.

    Good luck and have fun.

    Liz D
     
  10. Cam Wilson

    Cam Wilson Guest

    In article <[email protected]>, [email protected]
    (Liz D) wrote:

    > I got stung by a jelly fish (I presume) in an open water swim I did the weekend before last. It
    > felt like a piece of seaweed brush against my lower arm (I wear a long-john wetsuit) and the
    > second it touched it stared stinging like mad.
    >
    > Fortunately it was almost at the end of the swim and I just finished and got out as soon as I
    > could. My husband did an outdoor first aid course a while ago and he told me that the thing to
    > do was to rub sand over the affected area to get rid of any barbs left in the skin. So there I
    > was running up the beach to the finish line picking up handfuls of sand and rubbing them into my
    > arm. I got some first aid treatment while I was there (local antihistamine cream) and took an
    > oral anti-histamine tablet when I got home and after a bit of soreness the first day it has been
    > ok since.

    no jellyfish where i'll be swimming, but i'll file that bit of First Aid info for any future
    emergencies.

    > This was also my first open water swim in reasonably rough conditions and it makes a huge
    > difference to the way that you have to swim. You should do at least some practice in windy
    > conditions, unless you decide beforehand that you won't race in those conditions. It only needs
    > the slightest breeze in open water and what looks like flat calm water from the beach feels like
    > mountainous seas when you are swimming in them. A few people actually got sea sick in this swim!
    >
    > One thing I have found is that you have to "roll with" the waves - especially when you are going
    > downwards. I think you get a somewhat falling sensation and the urge is to fight against it, pull
    > your head up, etc but you just need to roll with it and wait to come up again. I also found that I
    > didn't want to take so many sighting strokes as I would usually do because I would get swamped by
    > a wave every time. It was better to keep my face in the water as much as possible. With the nett
    > effect that I went off course more than usual.
    >
    > You *really* need to be able to breathe on both sides for open water swimming, so if necessary you
    > can avoid having to breathe from the side the waves are coming. My usual pattern in the pool is
    > alternate breathing every 3 strokes, so if I have to breathe only to one side I will do something
    > like 4/2/4/2 etc strokes between breaths. If I can I will settle into a 3-stroke pattern for
    > spells as that is the best rhythm for me. I can now breathe equaly comfortably to either side.

    interesting. i already am working on my bilateral breathing, with some success, and i'll keep at it.
    this is obviously a valuable skill to have in my arsenal.

    > Good luck and have fun.

    Thanks, Liz, I'm sure I will.

    Cam
     
  11. Liz D wrote:
    > I have also found that a relatively straight & high arm recovery action is beneficial in open
    > water, so you get your arm over and above the wave instead of getting it knocked by the wave all
    > the time which is very tiring. I had actually changed my style like this in the pool recently
    > anyway, and I have found it better suited to open water swimming than a more bent elbow style.

    This is a good point, which I had forgotton about. In rough water swimming, a low arm recovery can
    even result in some shouldler damage when your hand and forearm keep hitting oncoming waves side on.
    It can be jarring to the shoulder. I am not sure I would recommend a straight arm recover, however,
    if you don't normally recover that way. An alternative to what Liz recommends is to exaggerate the
    high elbow recovery, dragging the thumb along your side, and deliberately spearing the water ahead
    with your hand. The straight, high arm technique can backfire in a high chop situation by giving the
    waves an even bigger target moving at an even higher speed. There is nothing more frustrating during
    an open water race than forever being thrown off your stroke by waves hitting your arms. Well, there
    is one thing, which is swimming against the prevailing current and getting nowhere for what seems
    like hours. But that's another story for another time.

    martin

    --
    Martin Smith email: [email protected] Vollsveien 9 tel. : +47 6783 1188
    P.O. Box 482 mob. : +47 932 48 303 1327 Lysaker, Norway
     
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