On my way home from my open water swim and straight into my first swim session of the week, my mind has labored to identify what needs to be done to tame open water swimming and to improve. The realization struck that I needed to focus on what problems arose, why they arose and what I need to do to address it in my swim sessions. Also, I need to set some achievable goals to work on in my next open water swim. If I take a systematic approach I can achieve to get better and hopefully improve before the water goes cold and open water swimming is no longer possible without a wet suit.
Starting with the identifiable problems, here is my list of where the beast strikes:
- Panic strikes relatively early. Not panic of open water, but panic of other people around me and of missing the buoy. I realize now that in both my swims, before I even get to the first buoy, about 100 meters, I get distracted by other people, sighting or a combination of things(sighting and breathing will be in the next bullet point). When this happens I pull up and start to skull with my arms, immediately exhausting my arms and immediately making all effort from this point forward harder (I swim from the waist).
- Breathing is irregular – Originally I naturally fell into a stroke/breath/repeat pattern. As I learned total immersion swimming and worked through hours in the pool, my breathing has gotten better and I started alternating the side I would breath on using a 3 stroke repeat pattern. To further compound things, my breathing capacity has continued to increase and some laps in the pool I swim with a 3 stroke/breath/5 stroke/breath/repeat cadence. I cannot last for more than 50 meters at this rhythm. Another problem is that I have not practiced sighting or figuring where that works in my cadence, so that also leads to irregular counts. All these factors leads to exhausting my breath early as I get unsure about how long I am holding air to release and the above panic also makes breathing erratic.
- Upright crawling – This rolls over from the other bullet points, but one of my Achilles heels is continuously managing to get out of a freestyle position and a more into a forward crawling position. Using total immersion swimming, I use kinetic chain energy from my hips more than I do my arms, shoulder and back. By switching position so easily I immediately wear out these muscles.
I have found that by the time I calm down it is already too late. Part 2 of this article will focus on what I believe to be solutions to start correcting these issues and goals for the last open water swim of the month. Til next time.