Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The REAL deal: Open water

I did it once and it wasn't pretty. I did it a second time and it wasn't that bad, but it wasn't great. 

It was an open water swim.   

The only thing remotely cool about my first open water swim attempt was that I was the only person on the beach in a full on Tri Suit, complete with butt pads and no bike to get on afterwards! I really dig the suit, and wanted to give it a try. What better place than the lake! 

While camping, our site was about 50 feet from Lake Echo so there was no excuse for not getting in and reminding myself that Triathlon's take place in a lake. 

My first swim didn't go so great. Earlier that morning I set off with 2 friends to do a little trail run and ended up twisting my ankle. It wasn't TOO bad, but it ended up being a bother the rest of the weekend.  STILL, I thought maybe it was an ok idea to go for my first open water swim even with a hurting and slightly swollen ankle. 

Not so much. It hurt a lot and made the attempt to swim WORSE than it would have been. And it was pretty bad. Why? Because I am afraid of deep water, I am afraid of water I can't see into and where I can't touch... that won't go away with 8 weeks of fun little swim lessons in the 4 foot deep water at the Y. Nope. That requires courage and determination on my part and this first swim had none of the sort! 

I joke around about this stuff, but I actually was about in tears. I know I am Mrs. Little ray of sunshine on here and I am in my life too, but this was a lot for one day. For starters, it was hard for me to have fallen and twisted my ankle and not finish my run with my friends. It was also a lot for me to get in the water try swimming period. But when my feet aren't working right, I am facing a deep lake for the first time knowing it's the race in front of me and I am still learning, it was a lot all at once. It was discouraging. I made this little VLOG about it: 

The second attempt, the next day was better. I decided that a body of water was not going to get the best of me, so I suited up again and went to the beach with my friends. This time, my friend Jen swam very close to me and encouraged me as I swam. 

My goal was just to swim out to where I couldn't touch and do laps back and forth between the buoy's.  At one point, I got too close to some weeds and even as I tried to move away, moved into more of them and really started to panic! I got out took a breather and did a little more.
Jen rocks! 

 I spent a total of 9:40 swimming without touching. For me, right now that is a good start, I have a long way to go, but most of what makes me stop in the water is not being tired, but being afraid. 

Things I need to do: 
1) Keep my eyes closed when my face is in the water. When I can see that I can't SEE the bottom, I start to panic, come up and stop. I can wear goggles, but need to not open my eyes under water. 
2) Swim with someone in a canoe next to me in a Minneapolis Lake. Jen said she would swim with me, and I am hoping to have a friend paddle along side me much like the kayakers will be during the tri. 
3) Keep practicing and focus on my next step, not on my failure of today or yesterday. The past is PAST. I can only move forward and focus my energies there. I know I will not fail, because I am trying and stepping out to face a fear. I may not overcome the fear, but if I face it and get THROUGH it, then I have not failed. 

Swimming super hero!

Coming up: some REALLY great moves I learned at swimming lesson #4 and the difference they made! 

Have you done an open water swim? Do you enjoy the lake with a passion or do you just splash around? :) Happy Hump Day! 


Dr. TriRunner said...

If you ever want to meet me over at Harriet, I'd definitely swim buoys with you! Just shoot me an email!!

Julie said...

My first open water swim was disaster - I had to be towed in by a friend in a kayak because I had a terrible breakdown in the water - I felt like my wetsuit was so tight on my chest that I couldn't breath (ALL in my head). I literally cried for two days after wards - I would just break into tears every hour or so and I felt like such a LOSER. I never wanted to get back in the water, but I did and each swim got easier and easier and now I absolutely LOVE open water swimming...HOWEVER, the first couple of swims of each season put me back in my place again...I'm just one of those people who take a while to warm up to it, I guess. I'm SO glad I didn't let it stop me in the beginning...I almost did and that would have just been awful considering how much I now love it!

Alexa said...

You are a brave woman to swim in a Minnesota Lake, I'm too freaked out by the plants and the fish, ish!! I'm getting weirded out just typing about it! Great job Mary, keep up the good work. =)

Susan (All Things In moderation) said...

I give you so much credit! I am not sure I could ever do an open water swim, even the thought of it terrifies me! I am impressed that you had a rough time , but STILL went back for more anyway! Bravo!

The Curvy Life said...

You go girl! I love to flop around in the water- dog paddle, float... be cute in my new smaller swim suits... but actually SWIM!!? now THAt is crazy talk!! LOL

You go girl! You can do it! I KNOW YOU CAN!

I haven't paddled a canoe in years- but it is one of those skills like biking... so if we can every coordinate our schedules... I would paddle beside you!

La- said...

I really struggled with this, too! In fact, i just did my first deep open water swim last weekend as well (i was very afraid of the deep water as well). it gets better as you go along, I find my friends are my courage when it comes to this! I LOVE your tri suit, btw!!!!

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