This time last year I discovered a fear I never knew I had. It was the fear of open water swimming. I knew I wasn’t a strong swimmer, but I didn’t expect to be seized by sheer panic in the lake. In fact, at first I didn’t recognize it as a fear. I thought I wasn’t breathing correctly because my chest felt very tight. I wasn’t breathing correctly, but because I was too busy freaking out. For me, the fear stemmed from being overwhelmed by the distance in front of me. Because I wasn’t a strong swimmer I was sure I was going to get out halfway and suddenly need to be rescued. A helpful tip for me was to break it down to five strokes at a time. After five strokes I would check in internally and decide if I needed to breaststroke or even backstroke. Sometimes I would just stop and tread water. Eventually, I no longer needed to check in at five strokes. It became ten strokes. Now I no longer think about it and I can’t wait to get out and swim a mile without being confined in a pool.
I was also worried about swimming in a large group of people during the tri and getting hit or kicked. To avoid that, I position myself in the back at the edge of the group and use rescue stroke to feel in front of myself at the start of the race. My roommate wasn’t worried about the swim distance, but hates the plant and animal life in open water. I just remind her people pay good money for seaweed wraps 🙂 Trinewbies.com has a great article about conquering your fears in open water. The most important thing is just to get your butt in the water 🙂
Now I apply my five stroke rule to other aspects of my life when I find myself feeling overwhelmed. Lately, I’ve been feeling panicked over my growing to-do list. So I just pick five of the most important things and accomplish those. Then I can think about the next five things. What about you? Any methods you’ve found for overcoming fears, triathlon related or otherwise?