It’s that time of the year again when Canadian triathletes are hitting lakes, ponds and, for those on the east and west coasts, even the oceans. Racing is off and rolling, and many of us have hit the water for our first open-water swim as we gear up for race season. Somehow, though, every time we do it we realize that there really are a lot of differences between open water and pool swimming:
Wetsuits are really tight
Thanks to the COVID pandemic, some of us haven’t been in our wetsuits for a while. And, no, they don’t stretch out sitting in your cupboard. Just remember that a well-fitting suit is tight. Really tight! It is going to take you a while to get into it, so give yourself some time.
Sometimes the best way to warm up is to pee in your suit
Sure, we’ll go with that. There’s also no way you’re getting it off for a pit stop before the race …
No, that thing you touched wasn’t a shark
Coming from someone who can imagine a great white in the deep end of a pool, this one always hits home. When you’re swimming in a lake, that thing you felt brush against you isn’t about to take your leg off. Relax.
Sighting is really, really important
So you know how you’ve spent the winter looking at the bottom of the pool, never paying attention to what’s ahead? That’s not going to work here (unless you’re swimming in Mirror Lake in Lake Placid with its conveniently placed guide ropes). You can add hundreds of metres to a swim by going off course. You can also find yourself a long way away from your swim buddy, too, especially if they’re not sighting and one of you tends to skew left and the other veers towards the right. Save yourself some grief and get back into the habit of looking ahead every 10 m or so.
Standing up to take a rest isn’t an option
You know how you can just push yourself to the limit in the pool, touch the wall at the end of an interval, and then take a rest? That’s not going to happen once you swim out from shore. While you might get some flotation from your suit, remember that if you stop, you’re treading water. It’s a bit of a break, but not like swimming in the pool!
Getting to the pool all winter is really important
Remember what your coach kept saying all winter? Make sure you stay on top of your swimming. How you need to hit the pool at least three times a week to stay on top of your stroke and so that you’ll be ready for race season?