Friday, March 30, 2012

Beautiful Weather (For Open Water Swimming?)

Over the last week or so Europe has been experiencing an amazing warm and sunny period that is scarcely believable for March. We've heard from many of you who are digging out your wetsuits and going for the first swim of the season at your local open water swimming venue. It's great to be able to do this so early in the year but watch out because the water's still very chilly and this can be a bit of a shock to the system.

If you're a little anxious in open water then the number one thing to remember to do is to exhale into the water continuously with a big long stream of bubbles 'brrrrrrr'! Our natural reaction is to hold our breath when feeling anxious, building up CO2 in the body. This further heightens feelings of anxiety and so creates a vicious circle leading to the possibility of a panic attack.

It's only March but swimmers are already enjoying
open water swimming in the Lake District in the UK
Splash some cold water on your face for 10-15 seconds before getting in and when you start swimming simply focus on blowing those bubbles into the water. If you're breathing every three strokes you can use our famous mantra bubble-bubble-breathe to help you tune into this technique.

This sounds like very basic advice but focusing your mind on something as simple as exhalation is powerful. Blowing bubbles is directly under your control so that you start to settle down and feel more relaxed after a few minutes. Worrying about things not under your control (e.g. waves, the cold, what else might be in the water) will make you more anxious, so focus on something that is under your control (blowing bubbles) and block everything else out.

Have fun out there and be sure to swim at a safe venue with other swimmers and proper life saving support.

Swim Smooth!

3 comments:

Unknown said...

this will be my first Ironman 70.3 in very cold water, I recommend the neoprene cap or CAP, I'm not sure that using it brings a strap around your neck, short? improve the use or not, I recommend?

Anonymous said...

I think I might have respect for the Swim Smooth team that runs to love or should I say swims to love. My thaughts very much with Paul last yr on his channel swim; congrats. This week's blog is inspireing me to get back in our river here in Cornwall so soon. Trained in it aplenty for my IMUK last yr and the only difficult then was coping with being looked on as a nut; likely few have ever used it so before, as its assumed boats only. I've got to get in there as even the taste is champagne compared to the local pool/sea, while the scenery along the river bank, Gods' own country. Many thanks again for so much advice. ps pity your UK clinics are far. Regards BM

Adam Young said...

Hi Unknown, yes a cap could certainly help you cope with cold water during your race. Definitely buy in advance and train with it to check how effective it is and whether it causes any chafing.

Hi Anonymous, great stuff! Our nearest Swim Smooth Coach is now in Yeovil - still too far?! http://www.martinhillcoaching.com/