Swim Anxiety results in DNS

It has been 11 days since my DNS at the Oldenburger Baeren Triathlon. A DNS not as a result of injury or logistical issues, but as a result of open water swim anxiety. The race, an Olympic Distance Triathlon, a distance I feel comfortable with, should have been an easy morning day out. However the night before the race I went to pickup up my race documents, and I saw the lake with conditions being very windy and choppy water. Until then I had not thought about the swim leg. The lack of calm conditions meant the doubts started to creep into my mind, and I was unsure if I even wanted to start in these conditions. My nervous mind continued over night, and this most likely undermined my ability to concentrate on the race and just get on with it.

So on race day morning I was thinking more and more about the swim leg with me being generally nervous, and feeling sick. My partner stated that I looked white with dark rings around my eyes, and looked generally worse for wear. A feeling that is all a result of me being scared of open water swimming. I know that I can swim the distance and more in a pool, and yes everybody states that swimming in the pool is very different to swimming in an open water environment. Yet in my mind I always believed that even though I do most of my swim training indoors, I could just simply get on with my swimming in an outdoor environment. So after two hours of feeling sick with a relative high heart rate, I decided to not start the race. The funny thing was that once I decided to not start I felt relieved, like nothing had happened.

From that moment onwards I knew that I had to get my swim anxiety under control; simply because I wanted to continue doing Triathlons, but also because I m signed up for three 70.3 in 2014 and I m aiming to do my 1st Full Ironman at the end of 2014. Having open water swim anxiety throw a massive spanner into the works.

What is the solution? I call it my three steps to swim heaven. 1st step is to swim more, swim longer, swim faster. Mental and fitness strength is gained from this, as I will know that I can do the distance in a good time, and I will know that I can swim double or triple if necessary. Step 2 is that I m going to try Sports Hypnosis, something that will help in removing or reducing competition fear and overcoming mental blocks. Step 3 is probably the most extreme with me doing a swim camp in February 2014, that is organized by Tri Dynamic in Tenerife and where open water training and tactics are part of the course.


This all might sound excessive, but I m a firm believer that to solve a problem you need to tackle it head on. This is my way of hopefully solving my swim anxiety, and yes it might not work, but at least I know that I m trying. And that is what it is all about. To try and if you fail to try again, until you succeed.