This past Sunday the Ogre team headed out into a choppy and down right rough Lake Washington for an early morning training swim. Spirits were up but the team knew they were in for a tough workout ahead. The conditions were making an already challenging course much harder. Before setting off into the lake Coach ran the checklist..headcount, brightly colored (orange) swim caps, swim floats, staying in the group and keeping calm in a tough situation. The group of seven set out with two safety kayaks escorting the swimmers and providing aid if needed. The absolutely gorgeous day brought with it amazing views of Mt. Rainer but also a sight line directly into the sun and a glare that was dancing across the caps on the waves. The tough conditions brought with them a different comfort level for each swimmer, and provided a lesson or two for everyone. The workout was handled with grace by all our athletes, finding limits and safely working within them. We couldn’t have asked for more. As always it was treat to be in such good company.
For a tough day in the water mental or physical here are some tips to help you approach an open water swim.
- Above all else safety comes first!
- Don’t swim alone. Don’t swim in the dark. Don’t swim in conditions you are uncomfortable in. Don’t swim in high marine traffic areas.
- RELAX: We often tend to stress/panic when we can’t see the bottom or more than a few feet ahead. This makes swimmers lift their heads and sight more often. They then forget to take a full stroke. Each time you sight by lifting your head, your feet drop and it disrupts your overall pace and stroke.
- Practice, practice, practice. The more you practice the more confidence you gain and the more you will be able to RELAX.
- RELAX: Remember your stroke, slow your breathing and focus on a smooth swim.
- Learn to breath from both sides.
- In case waves are crashing on you from only one side you want to be able to breath to the opposite side.
- RELAX: Go out easy in the swim. Often the start of a workout or race bring excitement and adrenaline causing swimmers to take off too hard and too fast not leaving enough energy for later in the workout.
- Follow the bubbles! If you can, get in the draft of someone just slightly faster than you and follow their bubbles. But don’t forget to keep sighting in case they are doing a poor job.
- RELAX: Remember not to hold your breath. This happens typically when swimmers get nervous. If you need to, roll on to your back and catch your breath.
- If you miss a breath due to a wave or another swimmer splashing near you, put your head back into the water, take 1-2 more strokes and breathe again.
- Do not swim on an empty stomach. This can often contribute to motion sickness and fatigue.
- If you do get motion sick while swimming try ear plugs, eating something with ginger before the swim and as a last resort if safe for you try a non-drowsy motion sickness aid like Dramamine.
- Remember if you are physically tired before a swim this will often become apparent in your swim, form tends to decline and fatigue comes quickly.