Last night I did my first open water swim this season. I have been dreading it. I knew that one of these Friday’s coming up I would need to get out to the lake.
Luckily I don’t have to do it by myself. I can run, bike, and swim in the pool by myself with no problems. I actually enjoy working out by myself. But open water swimming alone? No thanks. And it’s not safe. So last night I joined about 10 other people for a swim at Fern Ridge Reservoir.
The last time I swam in this lake was for the Eugene Triathlon last summer. The swim didn’t go very well.
I bought a wetsuit. It’s the same type I rented last summer. Renting a wetsuit can get pretty expensive, so I decided it would be easier to just buy one. Between open water swims every Friday night and races, I would probably have spent enough money this summer renting one to make the purchase worth it.
I was supposed to swim for 30 minutes. For the record, I don’t cut workouts short, unless I think I’m going to end up injured or something. But open water swimming is really mentally challenging for me and I wasn’t ready for a 30 minute swim, so I decided I would swim out to the buoy everyone else was swimming to, and back, and stop no matter how long it ended up taking (I knew it wouldn’t take 30 minutes).
I think I was the last person to start swimming (did I mention I hate water?). The water was kind of cold, but with the wetsuit it really wasn’t bad. So I don’t think it’s cold water than bothers me.
For the first couple of minutes, I would breathe a couple times (I breathe every third stoke), and then stop and take about a 15 second break to calm myself down. After a few minutes, I made myself breathe 10 times, and then I would take a break. This is what I did for the entire swim.
I think I swam around 0.6 miles which would probably take me 16-18 minutes in the pool. It took me 22 minutes last night. And it’s not because I was swimming slowly, but because I stop so many times.
I don’t panic in the water. And I don’t feel scared, just uncomfortable. It doesn’t help that the water at Fern Ridge is really cloudy so you can’t even see your own hand in the water.
I’m not scared of something in the water hurting me. Although I do have this weird fear of running into a dead body (irrational?). I know this is not what is causing my issues, but it is something I was thinking about yesterday. Most likely because when Sonny was on the fire department, he went to a call at Fern Ridge and watched a dead body surface in the lake. Scary. I kind of wish he wouldn’t have told me this story.
Anyway, that was a lot of rambling to just say that I’m not comfortable with open water swimming and I need to somehow get comfortable with it before July 15th.
I’m hoping that one day, something will click and I will wonder why it was ever so hard for me. But I have a feeling I need to identify what exactly my issue is, and learn to fix it.
Someone else got to go swimming yesterday too. Lucky dog! I wish I could love the water like Max does.
What’s the trick to open water swimming? I would appreciate any tips that you might have!