Sometimes the socially acceptable but devious brain (#2) takes charge by saying âThree strong kicks to the mouth should do it!â Sometimes the rational frontal cortex brain (#4) takes control and says âIâll just swim 2 feet over to the left and all will be fine.â Depending on your personality, the brain left holding the reins is likely to vary. So, even though the triathlon and open-water swimming season will not be starting for some time yet, we would like to give you a few good tips about how to prepare for your first races. Fears of swimming, especially in open water, aren’t rare. Open water swimming has a lot of perks. An actual event combined with intense emotional experience gets quickly embedded into your nervous system making any thoughts of swimming an anxious moment. âIâm going to come out of the water last. Overcoming Your Fear of Open Water Swimming Step 1. So if I had a wee wobble, I might say to myself, “I’m only feeling nervous because I’m becoming tired and cold, and I’m only tired because I’ve been swimming for an hour and the water’s cold, so that’s all quite normal. For more information on open water swimming, check out the U.S. Masters Open Water Swimming 101. Bizarre, because I’ve swum countless times in black peaty lochs where you could barely see your hands in the murk! I would always urge every open water swimmer to have a good awareness of the weather forecast, water conditions and their own ability before getting in to the water. Dr. Steve Peters, the British sports psychiatrist, calls this region your âChimp brainâ because itâs prone to tantrums and acts like an immature primate. Without access to pools or coaches, there are plenty of online resources. For some, the ‘pool drain’ phobia extends to the swimming pool lights and filters too. I have managed to keep going in skins this winter (but lack bioprene!) I am in the process of conquering this fear myself. Aquaphobia (from Latin aqua 'water', and Ancient Greek φόβος (phóbos) 'fear') is an irrational fear of water. You have six brains in a fight. Most open water swimmers experience fear at some point, but when the water is cold, fatigue can creep in making your swim even more of a mental challenge. There are a lot of ways to alleviate these fears. First off, swimming skins throughout the winter is a massive achievement and one to be proud of. And of course, the more you do it and the more you push your mental boundaries, the stronger you become. Gerry Rodrigues, founder of the Tower26 swim group in Los Angeles and an open-water swim coach who has worked with top pros like Lionel Sanders and Holly Lawrence, says swim confidence all starts with practicing specific protocols in the pool. Categories. A very short open water swim, close to the shore or lake edge for your first attempt will provide some comfort. The gun goes off and you sprint into the water. (using only facts), and second, so damn what? With the water starting to warm up (almost double figures! In a comfort zone-busting new experience, force your goal to be something you are always in control of. Warm-Up Right As a triathlete brain-trainer, Iâm just trying to help you cope with staying calm and efficient during an open water swim start, and this involves making all six brains work together. I’d like to overcome irrational fear and retain my survival mode while open water swimming! Everyone is looking at my fat legs.â And on it goes. From my observation, unless you want to race out the first 300m at full speed to find your space (that's just terrible advice), the initial theory is to relax and start when you are comfortable. If we simplify the science, we can think of your âswim fearâ as a battle of six regions in the brain, each with different priorities come race day. The critical point is what we do with our failed actions and plans (or the thought of failure). Overcome your swimming fear in these places: Kenneth Rippetoe, a swim coach at One With the Water, says he takes things slowly when people are learning to swim … Be cognizant that there are dangers out there. For many new triathletes one of the most scary things is the swim. Besides, who cares if I come out of the water last? Of course irrational fear shouldn’t be confused with rational fear and real danger. Fear. It means making a risk assessment before you get in, and making dynamic risk assessments throughout. Conquering your fear of the open water swim Tips to become more confident so you will not only survive but have a great open water swim. The word comes from the Greek word “Thalassa,” which means sea or ocean. âFearâ — even the word makes some people twitchy. A truly special way to celebra. Specifically, I’m talking about open water swimming. This will really help if you’ve sensitive feet! 1.Your goggles get knocked off It's a nightmare situation in an open water swim, especially if you are a contact lens wearer or have sensitive eyes. You might be able to find a local open water coach, which I would always recommend, though you should be clear that it’s stroke development and water confidence you’re looking for. It can be caused by the fear of the unknown, of what might be lurking below the water surface in deep, cloudy or muddy waters. For example, âIâm going to come out of the water lastâ would be dissected as: âIâm probably going to be at the back of my wave but the faster swimmers in the wave behind will catch us anyway up so no one really knows whoâs in what place. People are not failures. In fact, I’d say unless you grew up swimming regularly in lakes or the ocean, the idea of getting into a body of water that other things- aka fish and other sea creatures- live in doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. Update April 2008: When you are finished reading the article below about my first attempt at open water swimming, check out this related entry about that feeling of panic in open water! Ease your way into stressful situations by simulating the problem first. I drove my daughters to the beach for a … Itâs the only part actually capable of thinking (as opposed to just reacting). Just at that moment, someone grabs your ankle. Why not invest in a swim ergometer and bang out intervals in your garage? And then the day came. With the cold water right now, I tend to commit to a certain amount of time rather than distance, with a degree of margin on either side. So now you understand, I have to keep swimming, there’s no other option. Itâs a clichÃ©, but the magic really does happen out of your comfort zone. Brain #1 is irrational, paranoid, very emotional, and thinks catastrophically. Go to a local river or lake that is not deep so you can feel the ground. For example, swim trainers and ergometers are incredibly useful tools to work on technique and race simulation sans the anxiety and/or boredom. Open water swimming can be daunting, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll have a skill you can take to any body of water — and the knowledge that a few choppy waves can’t stop you! Not being able to see the bottom in the sea, lake or river can throw even the most experienced swimmer. I do some open water swimming in a lake in my area in the summer months. After all, everyone likes feeling listened to. But if you only do it … How to overcome fear of open water swimming. And of course, with pools closed, practise is also a no. Look at these statistics: Two-thirds of Americans are afraid of deep, open bodies of water and 46% are afraid of the deep end of a pool. Once you can comfortably stay in for a few minutes maintain until you feel the shivers starting. It presents with the same symptoms of general anxiety, and can be extremely dangerous to experience while swimming because panic can be crippling. Build up over a few weeks from 30 seconds to two minutes and longer. Mental toughness is built by enduring in the face of failure, it doesnât come from an easy swim during taper week. When I started to do triathlon, one of the biggest obstacles I need to conquer is to swim in the open water. and love the feeling it gives me, but it also scares me! Diet aside (and there will be professional dieticians out there who I’m sure could advise), increased exposure to cold will improve your tolerance, endurance, and recovery. Eleutherophobia is a fear of freedom. I’m sure most open water swimmers, if not all, have had to dig deep mentally to keep going at some point. Recent research in neuroscience has told us a lot about why some people become extremely nervous and worried before the swim. Weâre hoping the one who wants to punch the offending swimmer doesnât get control. Even now, I still sometimes get the heebie-jeebies when swimming over beautiful white sand and a sudden black patch of seaweed emerges below me. The swimming blog Swimming Open-water swimming: how do you handle the Fear? Another thing I would recommend is agreeing with yourself how long/far you are going to do BEFORE you get in. There is no doubt that the open water swim of a triathlon is what many triathletes find the most intimidating portion of the race. To regain composure and enjoy yourself, you need to take back control. The first few seconds can be bracing but exciting, and you will quickly settle. Now keep going!”. This could be a very small amount of water, like what’s found in the bathroom sink, or … Actions fail. Affecting people in different ways, the causes are unknown. We take a look at some of the most common inconveniences and issues that swimmers face when in open water and give advice on how best to tackle them so that you can enjoy and thrive when swimming in open water. Below is a query I received recently that covers a few subjects, specifically cold water resistance and confidence, but also touches upon diet, fear, fatigue and risk. Fear of water can have lots of different causes: It often exists as an instinctive fear related to the fear of drowning. It also tells us how to do something about it. I hated swimming over it. Remember, itâs not the âreal youâ talking, itâs your Chimp using tricks to get you to quit. Having the confidence, bravery and commitment to be able to get into the cold water when the climate is at its most miserable is a brilliant thing to be able to do. Fear of open water swimming is common in both newbies and season veterans. After your normal wash (perhaps with temperature slightly lower than usual), turn your shower thermostat to cold and enjoy! Weeks went by swimming four times a week in open water, twice a week in a group and twice a week with my teacher and I was really seeing an improvement in my technique. The best goal is based on the effort you plan to give, not the time it takes you, where you finish, or how others see you. Then someone grabs your shoulder. But this anxiety dissolves after a few minutes of swimming. Although it’s the shortest part of a triathlon, the swim often causes the most stress and anxiety. Start every new swim with this simple pledge: âNo matter what happens today, I agree to give it everything Iâve got given the circumstances.â You might be unfit or under prepared, you might get your goggles knocked off, or be the slowest person in the lane or wave â these are all your âcircumstancesâ â but they have no bearing on the effort you give. Can you help? Great fun in, Yesterday it was a post-sunset winter solstice swi, Another night swim! Overcome your swimming fear in these places: Kenneth Rippetoe, a swim coach at One With the Water, says he takes things slowly when people are learning to swim … Triathlon Magazine April 16, 2016 — By Jessica Adam. Of course, swimming with an experienced and qualified open water swim coach is one of the best ways to address many of these issues, while also minimising the real risk! A specific phobia is an intense fear of something that poses little or no actual danger. The parts of your brain that are best described as the âreal youâ are located in your frontal cortex (Brains #2-6). All the main characters are there: the show-offs, the bullies, the shy kids, the nerds, and a bunch of other kids just trying to make it through another day. People will, literally, swim around it or change lanes to avoid it. When I started to do triathlon, one of the biggest obstacles I need to conquer is to swim in the open water. Regardless of the outcome, you can see how very complicated this all is. Fear of Open Water Ocean Swimming By Carol Scheible June 16, 2005 General. Recognize that feeling overwhelmed by fear and anxiety about the swim simply means that your brain has been hijacked by the part of your brain trying to keep you alive (Brain #1). Most people don’t/can’t/won’t, so please do hold on to that. Swim Ergs have the added advantage of providing data on your stroke (e.g., power, cadence, stroke length) and enable you to do very specific upper body resistance work to reduce deficits in your wet swimming. The bike stationary trainer and treadmill remain fundamental training aids for the bike and run, yet so few triathletes see out complementary training aids for the swim. I do one day hope to add my own online resources in relation to swimming front crawl in open water. The same is happening in your brain on race day. Meantime, I like the approach offered by Effortless Swimming and Carl 360, though there are others of course. Just watch an Ironman finish at the cutoff? Open Water Swimming: Top Tips from Olympian Keri-Anne Payne. While the idea of swimming in the ocean can be intimidating and sometimes, borderline impossible for some swimmers, this specific fear of water can be overcome. Treat open-water swimming like a technical sport where mistakes could have very real consequences, says Hamel. Here, Rodrigues outlines a plan to nix that open water swimming fear for good. Or go to the beach and swim in the sea. There are ways to overcome these fears and feel more empowered and confident in open water. It’s called thalassophobia, which is a fear of open water. Sighting is key for keeping on course and staving off disorientation. Fear. In fact, I’d say it was normal. If you donât live near an open water location or your schedule prevents you from getting to the pool enough, get creative. Iâm not a real athlete. Could it be down to childhood experiences – memories of old films such as Piranha, Jaws and Open Water? Hope they’re useful! After all, itâs only a triathlon. Open water swim anxiety is characterized as the fear of swimming in lakes, oceans, and other open bodies of water. The best way to overcome your fear of … Move about, get your face in and head under, turn around so your back and shoulders get cold, too. When the goal is under your control, you always get to define success and failure. Also … You will never get over your fear unless you actually swim in open water. Getting out immediately means I can train my body to a faster recovery (which it has). And I think the realisation of that helps disarm its potency; it loses some of its sway over you. In fact, I’d say it was normal. It is a common emotion experienced by many swimmers - particularly in the ever-changing environment of open water. Sadly, I can’t help with anyone’s bioprene shortage, though I would happily share some of mine were that possible! Overcome your fear of open-water swimming! People will think Iâm a joke. Eosophobia is fear of dawn or daylight. Seriously, are we ever as free as when we are open water swimming. Hello, I’d like to increase my confidence and water skills. The swimming blog Swimming Open-water swimming: how do you handle the Fear? Most open water swimmers experience fear at some point, but when the water is cold, fatigue can creep in making your swim even more of a mental challenge. It may be … Aquaphobia is considered a Specific Phobia of natural environment type in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 1. The slowest athletes get the biggest cheer!â. It presents with the same symptoms of general anxiety, and can be extremely dangerous to experience while swimming because panic can be crippling. Once pools reopen, see if your local pool runs sessions on stroke development. If we let our fears and concerns linger long enough, we can become paralyzed by them, unable to make a decision. I don’t think fear when you’re swimming in a lake, loch, sea or river is irrational at all! I don’t think fear when you’re swimming in a lake, loch, sea or river is irrational at all! It is a common emotion experienced by many swimmers - particularly in the ever-changing environment of open water. Iâm amazed at the number of triathletes for whom the swim is their weakest discipline, or who are terrified of ocean starts, but never actually practice or simulate race conditions. Be prepared and find a way. ), I’ll be trying to push the distance a wee bit, though staying within comfort zones. Sometimes, itâs good to be impulsive. Open Water swimming is a common fear, even among some of the toughest triathlon athletes. I’m sure most open water swimmers, if not all, have had to dig deep mentally to keep going at some point. Itâs hectic. On the other hand, other swimmers can’t cope with jellyfish, which don’t really bother me (though maybe I haven’t been stung badly enough yet!). Recognize that feeling overwhelmed by fear and anxiety about the swim … Not swimming in open water, not practicing swim entries and exits with others, not entering a race because the surf is usually big, not moving up a lane at masters when you should all make paranoid Brain #1 even stronger (in science speak, synaptic strengthening occurs). (While a good coach will make all the difference, not all open water swim coaches are swim teachers so may not have the experience in breaking down and analysing your stroke.) Thirty-seven percent of Americans are unable to … Neuroscience holds the clues to why open water swimming scares many of us. Then you get punched twice and pushed under. Donât interrupt your chimp. It is especially common for athletes competing in open water races. Evolution has given it incredible powers, like the ability to receive and process information much quicker than the rest of your brain, and the ability to throw a chemical brick at your rational brain to stop it taking âover thinkingâ when your life really is in danger. And once this Covid crisis is over, hope to again! Causes. Fatigue makes the fear worse, hence my earlier tips about improving your resistance. It’s common to have a fear of open water swimming as a newbie (or even experienced) triathlete. Iâm going to get pushed under by those big waves. Focus on the good things. But to address my seaweed fear, I’ve since spent a lot of time sea swimming at low tide through seaweed or even diving down and among it in depths of a couple of metres. Plans fail. So I would say fear is a common emotion. Building Confidence and Skills Start small, in shallow water. Unlike your Chimp Brain, your frontal cortex deals only in facts and logic. It is especially common for athletes competing in open water races. Sea-swimmers all know the creeping dread that something awful – from sharks to evil seals to water … At the beginning of each swim, I also have some anxiety. We all swim at our own risk and that means being responsible for our own safety. One of the biggest misjudgments that people make is mistaking a failed plan for a failed person. I was eating less water, swimming in rougher seas, entering the water headfirst and even managing to increase my speed. Open water swimming can be dangerous, no doubt, if you don’t know what you’re doing. Edinburgh Leisure, for example, runs skills and drills sessions, as well as masters. Without seeing you swim, it’s impossible to give a stroke analysis. Youâre left with too few experiences to draw on in which things went ok (you lived) or even felt great. The bonus here is that open water swimming is an excellent full body workout that will help you boost your Let it have 2 to 3 minutes of uninterrupted ranting. Took a wee solo swim out from Wardie Bay beach thi, A gorgeous swim out to the white buoy this morning, A very happy new year to you all from me and my wi, For my 500th Instagram post I figured I should do, Taken the other day while swimming with my better, If you slip on the ice on your way to a swim, does, A very warm thank you to all you bold swimmers who, Was a bit of a wild one this morning! Chlorophobia: Fear of the colour green. Most peopleâs brains on race day are like an unruly school playground. Crazy huh? Stop avoiding things that scare you and instead confront them head on. The number one deterrent to competing in a triathlon is open water swimming. Basically, heed the weather, your surroundings and your body. This is a big subject! One of them has got to get control. Nothing in this world is going to help you overcome your fears faster…not a $1000 wetsuit, not a skin suit, not … But how have I gone from barely being able to get into a lake to being able to swim for 11 hours in the Atlantic? Fear caused by lack of visibility/not being able to see the bottom. Seeing water can trigger intense fear and anxiety in a person with aquaphobia. Swimming with another person is a massive support, too, though I appreciate this might be difficult right now. By letting it say all the things that it hopes will persuade you to pack your bags and go home, it will start to calm down. Meanwhile, Yoga will help with flexibility, strength and balance. But you can easily find out and apply certain strategies that will help you overcome the fear and anxiety you feel when even imagining yourself surrounded by nothing but water for miles. What advice would you give them? … Acknowledge your fears.. Having a bit of fear about the open water can be your greatest strength. If you can, plug the shower area/bath so the water fills up and your feet are sitting in cold water. Inconsistent swim training has a cascading effect on your physical, technical, psychological and emotional readiness to race. Cold showers are a very effective strategy (I much prefer them to cold baths though they’ll be good too). Fear of open water is not always rational or easy to understand. Picture yourself as an outsider, as though youâre watching someone else look nervously at the water. For this reason, we call the frontal cortex, your âProfessor Brain.â, For each of the Chimp rants, start to dissect each statement with two weapons: One, what is the actual likelihood of this happening? But, again, knowing this helps to disarm the anxiety. The shivering means your core is getting cold so don’t overdo it! As with many open water fears, the key is in starting on a small scale and building things up slowly. In addition, get a group of tri club members to meet you at a local OWS location and practice race-simulation entries and exits â complete with body contact, drafting, and mishaps. While you’re not going to be dragged under by a water kelpie or tangled up in demonic seaweed, factors such as cold water, inclement weather, poor visibility, other water users, etc, all bring their own hazards. It takes constant work and endless patience. Stop avoiding things that scare you and instead confront them head on. You can train your brain to swim fearless. If you have any issues with not seeing the bottom of the water you are swimming in, or retaining feeling in your extremities, this may not be for you. (Using only logic). Like many swim coaches, I’m often asked questions that aren’t always related to swimming technique or stroke development. As for your ability and water skills. Short, high intensity power intervals help prepare you for swim starts, and longer sets with video feedback from a camera phone help identify when your technique starts to break down. In addition, without the confusing and disorienting presence of water, a Vasa Ergometer enables you to more easily focus on critical technique cues such as your high elbow catch, engagement of the lats, power in the catch phase, and follow through to the hip. Fear and confidence while open water swimming … This is a big subject! A bit … I had a fear of seaweed (and still do to an extent). Each of these is worth a post in itself, but I’ve boiled it down to answer this question with a few of my own personal thoughts and experiences, specifically fear of swimming in open water. New experience, force your goal to be something you are going to out... Of general anxiety, and thinks catastrophically practise is also a no to see the bottom taper.! Reasons we love outdoor swimming so much? Magazine April 16, 2005.. ( as opposed to just reacting ) thermostat to cold and enjoy yourself, you have to keep in. Water ) that is not always rational or easy to understand ; it some... Where you could barely see your hands in the open water fears, the pool! Body to a local river or lake edge for your first attempt will provide comfort. Like an unruly school playground my body to a faster recovery ( which it has ) rhythm goes out your. From Olympian Keri-Anne Payne cold baths though they ’ ll be trying to the. Without access to pools or coaches, there ’ s the shortest of... I am in the face of failure, it doesnât come from an swim..., Jaws and open water is n't just made up ; something really.. For keeping on course and staving off disorientation a failed person … this is in part to... Throughout the winter is a big subject as masters, turn your shower thermostat to cold and enjoy of..., swimming in a triathlon, the stronger you become this is a massive support too... 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