I am terrified of open water swims. Especially those with lots of waves. Like the ocean. And, let's just say there's a lot of ocean here in Southern California.
Now, somehow swimming is my best of the three triathlon events (swim, bike, and run). But still I can't keep from panicking. This caused me some serious trouble in the Hyannis Sprint when my panic triggered an asthma attack.
What better way to get used to swimming in the ocean than by throwing myself into the midst of a race? One with big waves and lots of flailing limbs? There's a race series called the Playa Del Run which takes place on several Thursdays. You can swim the one kilometer and then run five kilometers, or you can just swim or just run. As I've never swam a kilometer in open water, let alone a raging ocean, I did only the swim portion.
I lined up with about 120 people to run into the ocean. Off we went with the gun. The waves were BIG!!! I saw people dive right in, under big waves -- which is what you're supposed to do. I still turn myself sideways and hope it doesn't knock me over. After some breaststroke, I start to ease into freestyle. But every time someone knocks me, I get annoyed, look up, and go back into breaststroke.
But, I didn't panic! I just let the crazy people go ahead, and once it was more clear, I eased back into freestyle. Once we were around the first buoy, people spread out, and there were few limbs to crash into. From what I'm told, it was a really choppy day, but I felt okay.
I came out of the water a little tired, though pleased with finishing that distance of a swim, and watched as people ran ahead of me to the transition area for the 5K run.
That day, I couldn't imagine doing a 5K after the swim. I do feel proud of myself that I could not only swim that distance in the open water, but that I was able to do it calmly. My time was okay too.
Next time, I'll swim AND run!!!