OpenWater Swim Training

As part of my preparation for South Africa 70.3 an open water swim training session was required to get a feel for swimming in the sea. This was especially important, as I for one get panic attacks if its not in a pool environment, and I have only swam previously in a lake and a river. Additionally experiencing a saltwater environment is a must to know how your body will react to it.

A good friend recommended that I should do the Clifton Swim in Cape Town that was designed to give Cape Townions the experience of Open Water swimming in a controlled environment. The swim is usually a 1600m swim of either one lap or two laps of 800m depending on the conditions. It is open to swimmers of all levels, and is flly supported by safety personal in the forms of paddlers, livesavers and NSRI. All in all a great way either to get your first step into openwater swimming or to swim a controlled timed event.

So there I was on the Saturday morning looking at the waves, with a little yellow buoy dancing in the far distance. Not the calm water conditions I was hoping for, and my head was already telling me to go home. With around 60 swimmers starting, and the majority of swimmers looking calm and warming up in the water before the start, it should have been a calming influence on me. But just by warming up in the water (Temperature 14degrees celcius), at least I was wearing a wetsuit, although it meant that my feet and hands were unsure if they would survive this ordeal or even start. There were a few swimmers without a wetsuit, with one training for the Robben Island – Cape Town Swim, which is a 7km swim and no wetsuits allowed. Insane I thought.

The event was a beach start with 20m until the waterline, and as the starting gun went I let everybody else into the water first, and then slowly followed. I had still qualms in following, and just getting to the first buoy that was 50m away was struggle. But then it happened; my mind just went blank and I just started swimming, simply one pull after another. I remembered the words from a few swim technique session I had. ‘Simply relax, you know how to swim’. And there I went, simply swimming & sighting every 10strokes. My only mistake was that I did not go around a reef break and subsequently the wave got me and dunked me under the water. But I stayed calm, and once my head was over the water again, I continued on my way. 1600m later & 3 buoys turn, and no other incidents, and there was the finish. I did not even notice any of the other swimmers I had overtaken, as I finished 4th in 0:24’05.68.

Result was a very successful Open Water swim session, and it simply came down to doing what I know best. Simply swim.