Wednesday, May 6, 2009

First Open Water Swim

Last weekend we headed up to Connecticut for some serious training. The number one item on the agenda - an open water swim. We both have our new Neo Sport 5/3mm Women's Sprint Suit and wanted to give them a test run before our first race. My camera wasn't working last weekend so I couldn't take any photos, but I did get these pictures of us in our wetsuits when we first bought them!
Don't miss Sam's awesome tan lines from our bike in Hariman
(or "What happens when you don't wear sunscreen.")

Look at those guns ;)

With wetsuits in hand we went in search of a good spot for our open water swim. We settled on Hopeville Pond State Park. They have a nice public beach and swimming area. Given that it was cold and overcast, we were the only ones around.

I learned to swim in a river near my parents house in Minnesota and I was a competitive swimmer in junior high and high school. To put it bluntly, I'm very comfortable in the water and swimming is probably my strongest of the 3 sports. I wasn't nervous about the open water swim at all.

Let me start by saying that swimming with the purpose of moving long distances in May in 55 degree water in a wetsuit is entirely different than recreational swimming in a lake in the middle of the summer. First, the water was COLD. The wetsuit did a great job of keeping me warm, and I actually didn't "feel" cold once I started swimming, but it was incredibly hard to breathe. I actually felt like there was a huge weight on my chest that was preventing me from exhaling. After the swim I did some research and found out that this is a very common occurrence in cold waters. If you are doing an open water swim in the cold I recommend you check out this website for some helpful tips. I know I'll be using some of these for the race next weekend - the current water temp in Atison Lake is 59 degrees.

In addition to the cold, the water was DARK. Really dark. Like "Cant-see-your-hand-in-front-of-your-face" dark. It is surprisingly alarming to swim in water when you can't see (or breath). So, the combination of the cold and the dark meant that I completed most of the swim with my head out of the water. Every time I would try to just put my head down and just go for it I couldn't get more than three strokes before I pulled my head up gasping for breath. I also spent some time doing backstroke and breast stroke too.

Even though it was hard, I'm so glad that we did this. I think if this swim had been in a race setting I would have been much more panicked. Now I'll have a better idea of what to expect on race day.

1 comment:

Rebecca DeWire said...

Oh my gosh, my brother was a lifeguard at Hopeville! This is the area of CT in which I grew up, not sure if you have ever heard of Lisbon but that is my home town. I would do open water swims at Hopeville with my brother on his lifeguard paddelboard beside me. I was preparing for my first triathlon ever which was in Mystic, CT.


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