Apparently the fear of swimming in open water is a big fear all around – ever since I started training for it – I’ve met numerous people who’ve shared the same kind of fear and haven’t overcome it.
So I decided to share my personal experience with swimming and breaking through the fear.
This comes on the back of my second Pier to Perrignon swim. This year was even more gratifying – last year I managed to swim the 4.5Km swim in 49 minutes and some, and this year I really wanted to break the 45min mark.
So I managed to complete this year within 44.31 and was really happy I did.
This is coming on the back of being absolutely petrified to swim in open water, not so much about the sharks – but more about my own fear of drowning.
About 15 years or so ago – I got caught in a bad rip in Bondi, one of Sydney’s beaches and had to wave to a friend to help me out. From that day on – swimming has always been the bane of my life – at first I tried always swimming on my back and this was over a distance of 100 m or thereabouts.
But what I’m getting to is how to overcome the fear – can probably be broken down into 3 steps.
Step 1: Find the Reason Why and Set a Goal
What is overcoming this fear going to mean for you?
How is it going to change your life? What is going to happen for you and how will you feel about yourself when you’ve overcome it?
For me – it was the personal satisfaction of being able to challenge the fear and just do it. The decision happened on an urging of a friend who made the path seem straightforward.
Then the goal that I set for myself was to swim the Pier 2 Pub, 1.2km swim which is one of the most iconic swims in Australia. I’ve written about it before.
Step 2: Find a Coach
When number 1 is sorted – it really becomes a matter of finding someone who can show and teach you the swimming technique to swim in open water. The water is not like in a pool – its cold, salty and there are waves!
So breathing and correct stroke technique become so much more important – but these are the simple technical steps.
Step 3: Just do it!
With every week – keep going with the training routine and regular swimming. I was very lucky to be invited to train with a group of triathletes who also did regular swims in open water and I still remember it was that first session where we went out in open water and the coach said – follow me as he went out sailing on a kayak and I had to feel it out in open water without stopping. That was the scariest moment for me – but once I got through it – the rest is history.
Good luck with your swimming and remember it is the growth and overcoming fears that makes it all worthwhile.