For some triathletes, the swim is an obstacle. For others, the swim is a time for them to shine in a triathlon. They are in their element when in the open water.
When you think about swimming, what is the first thing that pops into your head? For most people, images of a pool with crystal blue water comes to mind. However, if they’ve grown up swimming on a competitive team, it’s often the smell of chlorine, lane lines, thoughts of spending hours staring at the black line on the bottom of the pool, flip turns and time clocks.
There is a new breed of triathlete whose training grounds are lakes, rivers & oceans. They have discovered a new found freedom by taking their love for swimming into the open water. Memories of hours of practice spent at the pool fall away and are replaced by nature’s beauty, fresh air and the limitless possibilities provided by open water. Not to mention that it highlights the importance of having clean water to swim in and clean air to breathe. Triathletes are a rare breed. But some are finding that the open water is enjoyable, even fun.
There is a freedom in the open water. Your stroke lengthens, you get into a rhythm, you relax and feel the water rushing past you. You can look up and see blue sky, clouds, and feel the sun as it warms your face. Honestly, there is nothing else quite like it! Time spent in the open water while triathlon training is a social experience. The camaraderie of sharing this should not be underplayed. It makes training time pass quickly!
Open water swimming isn’t a new thing. In fact, swimmers having been testing the boundaries of human endurance in the open water for years.
- Did you know that Martin Strel has swum the entire Amazon river? He swam 3,273 miles in 66 days breaking the world record. That distance is longer than the width of the Atlantic ocean.
- In August 1987, American swimmer Lynne Cox swam in the Bering Strait, a length of 2.3 miles from the US side of Little Diomede to the Russian side of Big Diomede. She swam in water that was only 37.94 degrees fahrenheit with no wetsuit, bridging our two countries and helping to ease already waning cold war tensions.
Nearly all aspects of a pool swim can be controlled to some extent. For some triathletes that’s exactly what they need. However, for a few ground breaking athletes, the open water provides many more variables, thanks to Mother Nature. Water temperature, current, waves, wildlife are all in play during an open water swim. No two swims in the open water are the same. This makes every time you get into the open water for a swim an adventure! It’s exciting, exhilarating, and one of the best workouts you can get. If you’ve never swum upstream against the current, you have to try it! It takes not only physical strength but mental tenacity to keep swimming when you are seemingly swimming in place making no progress. It builds character, endurance and mental fortitude!
Triathletes choose to stand apart from the crowd, to go to bed at 7:30, get up at 3:30am and get in a workout or two before work. They squeeze in workouts during their lunch hour and fit in long training days on the weekends. Their down time is spent recovering, eating, planning their next workout and spending time with family.
So what’s holding you back? Try a foray into the open water when training for your next triathlon! You just might find it gives you the mental boost to take your racing to the next level.
If you have any interest in open water swimming, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org I am happy to answer any questions you may have!