How to master your fate in the water

By Kaye Lopez | Photo by Regan Campbell/Unsplash

The water is your friend but it can be your worst enemy, too. That’s why swimming, especially in the deep or open water, ranks as one of the greatest fears many new triathletes have to overcome. A bit of fear can sometimes work for you because it helps you respect the water and be aware of the possible dangers you might face. Here are some safety reminders to help you stay on top of the water.

Never swim alone. No matter how experienced you are, many things can happen beyond your control. Always have at least one person with you especially when you swim out where there are no buoys or boats to guide you.

Do not head out to unknown waters if you’re not confident with your swimming ability. If you’re conflicted, a swim coach will be able to give you an honest assessment. When in doubt, have a coach or fellow athlete swim with you up to a comfortable distance, pace then work your way towards improving from there. Some important skills to learn before heading out to the deep or open water are:

  1. Water awareness or feel for the water
  2. Treading or stationary swimming in deep water
  3. Sculling or moving the water in different directions by changing the angle and position of your arms and hands (like paddles)
  4. Breathing in a relaxed, rhythmic pattern in place or while moving (do not hold your breath while swimming)
  5. Endurance to swim double the distance (or time) in the pool as you would in open water.

Water safety is an important and practical skill to learn not just in triathlon but in life as well. Avoid untoward incidents and gain confidence in the water by always practicing safety first. Pretty soon you’ll all be set and find yourself at the beach start of your first triathlon.