Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Active Blu - Open Water Venue.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Anxiety on the start line

Open Water Swim Series WA.

Cottesloe Beach

It is the morning of my first ocean swim since arriving in Perth. I have not slept in 4 days through jet lag and although I am feeling bit tired, I am very calm about the 2.5km swim ahead of me. The last time I left this beach was when I was setting off to swim the 20km to Rottnest Island. 

My only concern with racing in the Ocean in WA are the stingers, however I had been informed that it was too cold for them and no one had been stung this season. This reassured me as last year I found myself in hospital after having an allergic reaction.

Once registered, I met with some friends as we started to notice people rushing out the water crying in pain...The stingers were back. 

This left me with an interesting dilemma, I suddenly went from a very calm state, to considering whether to drop out of the ocean swim altogether. It was not because of the pain the stingers cause, it was more the responsibility I felt to everyone else and an overwhelming desire not to get sick again.

I decided to to apply the wool fat, which basically means cover every part of my body in fat, so that you have a protective barrier from you and the stingers. I hoped this would be the answer and made the decision to continue. Remembering - Just stick to the plan.

Megan helping with the wool fat.

We all entered the water for the deep water start, conditions were perfect, warm water, with a slight swell. I had forgotten how competitive these races can be, as the race started there were lots of pulling, pushing and people getting swam over on the start line. 

 I soon found some feet and hoped to settle into a pace, but this did not happen, at the buoys stray kicks were being felt among the swimmers, the lead pack had broken away and myself and 4 others were leading the second group, I remember smiling to myself as we all were swimming so close together but syncing nicely not to have too many clashes. However I did end up with my goggles full of water, from a cracking right hander.

I was aware of the stings I was getting, I kept in mind the importance of positive thinking and relaxed breathing. I found myself just focusing on the internal aspects of the swim I could control, such as sighting, drafting, pacing and breathing patterns. 

The race eventually came down to a 100m sprint to the shore where we surfed the wave in and ran the 20m to the finish line. It was fun, exciting and I am glad I decided to take my own advice and enjoy the swim by focusing on the aspects I could control.

Emma at the end of the race.

I am writing this as I learnt a lot from this experience, it highlighted the importance of the right advice and training, whilst having the confidence and knowledge that you have made the right decisions within the race.

On reflection, the key points I learnt from this experience were: 

  • Stick to the plan.
  • Do not worry about the things you can not control. (weather, swell, other competitors)
  • Be a selfish swimmer - Meaning focus on yourself. (breathing, sighting, pacing)
  • Listen to your instincts.
  • Have confidence you have done everything you can to prepare for the event.
  • Enjoy what you do, most of us are doing this for fun.
  • Learn from past experiences. Apply an action plan..what if...
  • Lastly....practice these skills in training, get your coach to do OW sessions in the pool, practice drafting, mass starts,sighting, turning, swimming without your goggles. This will all help when it comes to next season and allow you to deal with the unexpected.

Most importantly make sure you do NOT miss any parts of your body when applying the wool fat. OUCH  :)

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