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Thread: Swim across america open water newbie

  1. #1
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    Swim across america open water newbie

    Hello!

    I've never swam in the open waters before, but I've had some folks in my masters program who have and love it. I'm thinking of doing a swim across america open water event. But have some questions:

    Is this considered a race or more of a relaxed charity event where you can go as slow as you want? I tried doing a 2k non-stop in the pool, but my pace was really terrible.

    I don't have any opportunities to swim in the open water as practice, how will I know whether a wet suit is required?

    What should I bring for such an event?

    I've heard that I need to learn how to do a "sighting", and since I breathe on my right, to stay on the left end so I can "look" at people and the direction they are going. Any other tips?

    My 2 main fears of open water: taking in water while breathing and getting kicked in the face.

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    Moderator Rob Copeland's Avatar
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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    Is this considered a race or more of a relaxed charity event where you can go as slow as you want?
    Like most open water events, it is whatever you want it to be. If you want to race, then line up in the front row at the start and race. If you want a relaxed swim, then take your time and relax.

    , how will I know whether a wet suit is required?
    Most likely a wetsuit is NOT required. But check with the event director.


    What should I bring for such an event?
    Suit , goggles, towel. If the swim is at some beach, then bring beach stuff; chair, sunscreen, beach blanket. If itís cold bring warm clothes.


    I've heard that I need to learn how to do a "sighting", and since I breathe on my right, to stay on the left end so I can "look" at people and the direction they are going. Any other tips?
    Swim straight and if you are going for a relaxed swim, then sight for the buoys often. Read all the race materials and pay close attention to the pre-race briefing. If you have questions about the swim ask the event director in advance or an experienced swimmer at the event.

    My 2 main fears of open water: taking in water while breathing and getting kicked in the face.
    practice your breathing in the pool, most times open water breathing is no different than pool breathing. And keep your face away from other peopleís feet, itís pretty easy to not follow others too closely.
    The opinions expressed in the above post are mine and not those of U.S. Masters Swimming.

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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by ssumargo View Post
    Hello!

    I've never swam in the open waters before, but I've had some folks in my masters program who have and love it. I'm thinking of doing a swim across america open water event. But have some questions:

    Is this considered a race or more of a relaxed charity event where you can go as slow as you want? I tried doing a 2k non-stop in the pool, but my pace was really terrible.

    I don't have any opportunities to swim in the open water as practice, how will I know whether a wet suit is required?

    What should I bring for such an event?

    I've heard that I need to learn how to do a "sighting", and since I breathe on my right, to stay on the left end so I can "look" at people and the direction they are going. Any other tips?

    My 2 main fears of open water: taking in water while breathing and getting kicked in the face.
    You can also check out our Open Water Swimming 101 series.

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    Very Active Member flystorms's Avatar
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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    Lots of good advice already. I helped as a "swim angel" last year in Dallas and stayed with some of the folks towards the back of the pack. Just know you'll likely have a lot of kayakers, jet skis and swimmers out there to help if you start to feel like you're struggling.

    Start out towards the back of the pack and just keep focusing on finishing. Swim about 10 strokes, then peek up to see if you're still swimming towards the next buoy. Keep doing that until you're done. At any time if you're starting to feel stressed or tired, switch strokes. Start doing some breast stroke or roll over on your back for 10 strokes, then get back to it. Just repeat the mantra, "Relentless forward motion." You can do it.
    "If your ship doesn't come in, swim out to meet it." - Jonathan Winters, actor and comedian

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    Very Active Member srcoyote's Avatar
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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    I'd encourage you to try it. The key will be hanging back for a few seconds at the start and letting the racers take off. Those left will be those looking to get the experience like you.

    The only thing I'd add to the excellent advice is that if not this swim, try another. I enter a wide range of events and every one of them includes at least some swimmers that are in it for a relaxed open water swim.

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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    thank you everybody!

    There are a lot of sites to find a pool where you can swim at, is there an equivalent site for open water swimming? I really would love to go and try it out before this event. I will be doing the long island sound event, and it looks like you need to be members of these fancy clubs to get into the water.

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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    I've done five formal open water events (four were triathlons and one just a swim) so I'm pretty new to it, but have been learning from experience each time. I agree with what is stated above Get someone to teach you how to site correctly as incorrect siting is needlessly tiring. Wear your most comfortable goggles - they don't have to be streamlined for diving and turns as in the pool environment. 2000 m is a long time to wear uncomfortable goggles without a break. Many people including me wear different goggles for open water than in the pool. Practice swimming short distances with you eyes closed to see if you tend to pull to one side. I didn't realize it but I was using the line in the pool lane to correct for a slightly uneven pull. Without that line, I have to be e be careful to swim straight in an open water environment. The ability to breathe to either side is well worth learning - both so you can see around you and also in case of waves. If you can't practice in open water ahead of time you can still simulate the mass start by putting about five people together in one lane and all starting together. Practice swimming at least once in the wetsuit if you plan to use it in order to make sure it works for you. My first OW event, I had planned to use a borrowed wetsuit and discovered it was a bad fit when I tried it out in water. Ended up getting a different one.

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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    Quote Originally Posted by ssumargo View Post
    thank you everybody!

    There are a lot of sites to find a pool where you can swim at, is there an equivalent site for open water swimming? I really would love to go and try it out before this event. I will be doing the long island sound event, and it looks like you need to be members of these fancy clubs to get into the water.
    Look for triathlon clubs. We have one that offers open water swims in a lake once per week, weather permitting. We also used to have another club that swam in the river, but the organizer of that moved on and nobody has picked up the reigns (that I know of). My point is, that's where the opportunities are around here. We also have a state park that has a 150 meter lap lane set up. It offers all the discomfort of cold water and seaweed, all within a 5 ft deep (and very wide) lane. So you can check your local park services for info.

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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    Lots of good advice already. I would just add that this is a perfect even to do as a first open water swim. I have done a few Swim Across America events, and it is a very supportive and fun atmosphere. There are no timing chips and this is not a race. The goal is to finish and have fun, and of course raise money for a very worthy cause. I think the kayakers sometimes even have "noodles" people can grab onto if they get too tired. It is fine to go oat your own pace - in fact there is often a lot of cheering for the last person to finish.

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    Re: Swim across america open water newbie

    My first swim event ever (at age 68) was last August in Lake Placid, NY, a one miler. Swimmers were seeded by submitted times. I had never done one before so I swam a casual 1650 in a pool in 42 min. and turned in that time. I was in the last wave and when the whistle went off, I hung back and let everyone go. I swam slowly and comfortably the whole way finishing last by a large margin in 48 something. Everyone was very supportive.

    It was a cable swim, so there were buoys every few yards with a cable 4 feet below which could be seen at all times, no sighting necessary. I practice open water with a triathlon club in a lake, a half mile loop. There are buoys at the turns and halfway between turns. It's not a square course, somewhat triangular, so sighting is always necessary. I have learned that I drift right, and I breathe right so I know to look to the left when sighting. I count about 30 strokes then look up to see if I'm still on a line.

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