Overcoming fear in water can be a challenge for many people, especially in a triathlon in open water with hundreds of other people swimming over you.
Some things I can recommend to increase confidence are:
- Find a coach who can give you specific help
- Practice swimming with fins – you swim faster and you get a better feel for how to balance your body
- Practice floating – learn to relax and feel comfortable in the water both face down and face up
- You are likely to get dunked or get a mouthful of water every now and then. It is therefore useful to practice taking several strokes between breaths. This “hypoxic” swimming also helps build your stamina in general.
- Another way to practice holding your breath is to see how far you can swim underwater without breathing. It can be easier to do it with fins. The idea is not to race to the end, but to practice being calm, relaxed, and comfortable in the water even when you are short of oxygen.
- Practice “race-specific” conditions (not exactly like in the video) by swimming in the same lane with a few others. We have had great fun lately practicing “beating each other up in the water”.
Some of the things we did were:
- Having a race with the fastest swimmers at the back, who swim over the top of the swimmers in front.
- Getting the swimmers on the outsides of the lanes to swap over to the other side of the lane by the end of one length (Swimming over those in the middle along the way.)
- We also practiced swimming on another swimmer’s toes and turning around buoys by swimming down one side of the lane line and turning around the “T” before the wall. Not only does this help you with your turns, but also helps your overall strength and flexibility.
- Finally, in the race keep to the back or the sides to give yourself room and to avoid getting swum over. Make life easier for yourself (especially the first time) and you will be more likely to want to come back. And don’t worry, you will have saved energy so you will be able to chase everyone down on the bike and run!