With most would-be triathletes put off by the swim, Tri Surrey chairman Jonathan Wilden explains how to tackle the wild lakes of triathlon.
For many, 2016 will mark the start of a new challenge, whether that be going longer for an Ironman or simply setting out to conquer a first triathlon.
However, If you’re thinking of trying open water swimming this coming year, here’s how to calm those nerves.
1) Consider location
As you start your open water training, your time in the water will probably be under 30 minutes, which means the last thing you want is an hour commute to a suitable lake. Choose somewhere nearby that also has changing and shower facilities as well as a safety infrastructure, such as spotters, swim course monitors and even kayak or stand-up paddle board supervision.
2) Get your own wetsuit
It’s tempting to save money and hire a wetsuit, but having your own really makes a difference. For about £100 you can pick up some really great entry-level suits.
Pay attention to the sizing charts and make sure it’s a swimming triathlon suit. There is not enough neoprene in a boarding or surf suit so it won’t offer the flexibility you need for an efficient stroke.
3) Practise sighting
There are no lane ropes, lines or walls to help keep you on the right course, therefore you’ll need to pop your head up every now and then to “sight” where you’re heading.
You can practise this in the pool before getting in the lake by lifting your head forward every few breaths. This will strengthen your neck muscles and help you integrate it into your breathing pattern.
Spend a few pounds on an anti fog spray for your goggles. Just make sure you wash them in clean water after applying, otherwise the chemical can burn your eyes!
4) Phone a friend
Swimming can be a lonely activity. Some people do it because they like the thinking time and the isolation, but for others being part of a group of like-minded people is motivating. Swimming with a friend or two also improves safety.
Usually, there isn’t a shortage of triathletes wanting to swim open water at your local club so join up and team up!