This morning was the team’s first open water swim in the Alamitos Bay in Long Beach, one day before my first triathlon. One would think that it’s too quick to do a triathlon with very little open water experience, but I trust my coaches and we’ll see what happens! It was just 2 months ago that my coaches were concerned that I should already be swimming at the end of January. Swimming, meaning I don’t stop and stand at the middle of the pool, or hold on to lane lines, or use a pool buoy, or hang out at the wall. It was just a body positioning adjustment that worked wonders for me, which got me to this point in time, ready for my first open water swim.
Lemme tell ya, you don’t know how SCARED I was prior to jumping in that bay. Sooo many questions and thoughts running through my head. “How deep is that water? How buoyant will I be? How come there’s no lifeguards? Will I be even slower than I already am? If I stop, how hard will it be to tread water? That water looks dirty. I think the water is too cold. How fast is everyone else? I need some floaties. I hope water doesn’t get in my goggles. I heard it’s good to pee inside your wetsuit if you pee. What if a shark gets into this bay?” yeah, just some absurd thoughts! I was already feeling uncomfortable wearing my snazzy new Team in Training wetsuit. I’ve never worn a wetsuit before, so everything felt so tight and restricted.
So coach Brad split up the team into two: People with open water experience and people without. Pretty obvious which side I was in! When it was time to go, I didn’t really know what to do because I was just used to kicking off a pool wall. “Umm… ok, I guess float and go?” Immediately I felt how much more buoyant I was with the wetsuit. Everyone was swimming at a pretty good pace, except me. I was freaking out. Just like many people warned me, it was definitely hard to breathe (at first), my nerves were high, heart was beating fast. Everything seemed to be going wrong. Good thing Coach Arkady was hanging back to calm me down at times and give me pointers. (Thank you Arkady!). By the turnaround point, I got my rhythm down, and things slowly got better. Water was cold, so my head, hands and feet were freezing. Water was salty, and seemed dirty (of course relative to the usual pool water), but I just need to practice in it more to get more comfortable. I actually like it better than pool swimming because the wetsuit helps, and once I get a rhythm down, I can keep going!