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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [turningscrews] [ In reply to ]
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turningscrews wrote:
Tell him to find a waterpolo club
LOL. I played waterpolo in high school. Yeah. No issues in OWS. Had a black eye once at Lake Stevens. Got kicked in the ribs in Victoria. Had a bloody nose twice. Didn't even slow down.

You can also tell your friend to take up surfing. That'd do it too. Bonus points for finding a locals beach. If he doesn't get beat up he'll be ready for Kona.
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [fattoironman] [ In reply to ]
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Your friend isn’t alone. I also still panic in the water ... after 10 years of Tris and open water (ocean) swimming.

Is there something that triggers it for him? Waves? Swell? Chop? Being surrounded by lots of swimmers?

Last time I freaked was when I could not get past the surf zone and couldn’t see land or anyone else.. hyperventilated but then eventually calmed myself, reminding that I’m a very capable swimmer and flipped over to float on my back until I breathed normally again.

I know of a couple of people who have never had this issue and they grew up being in the ocean all the time, surfing and doing all kinds of water sports. I learned to swim as an adult, 10 years after my first lesson I got over my fear of the deep water. I love swimming in the open water/ocean (!!) but will occasionally still freak out.

Here’s a vid that gave me some good ideas for swim techniques in different conditions ... remind your friend that it may be a mind over matter issue (unless it’s caused by cold water, wetsuit or other factors as other people have noted). I have found that swimming in the open water in all kinds of conditions was the best way I came over my fears. Good luck to your friend.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dRgdEnUYgKI
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [monty] [ In reply to ]
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monty wrote:
And to add how to conquer those fears, go out and do as many OW races he can find. Start slow, settle in, and build to the finish, just like he does in a pool. Get a 1/2 dozen of those under his belt without an attack, and he should be good to go..

This is pretty perfect advice, but even before then, I'd be getting him out in the open water as often as possible, be it racing or training.

It's amazing what a bit of time in the open water can do for some people - what a great place to be, anyhow..!
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [fattoironman] [ In reply to ]
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I LOVE swimming and have been swimming all my life, both in pools and open water. I also scuba dive. That said, I HATE triathlon swimming. I am not comfortable with all the thrashing about and dread the swim. I haven't been doing triathlons long, so for me, I know I have to do more practice replicating triathlon swimming (bunch of people all going out at the same time with lots of contact). The contact/hitting other swimmers is what freaks me out. I tend to go into breaststroke until I can get clear, and in a crowded race, that may end up being a lot of breaststroke. I know I just have to practice the "game situation" more.
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [MRid] [ In reply to ]
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MRid wrote:
Fortunately I was able to
calm down again, I started breaststroke for a bit, then went back to swimming and felt fine.

As a recovering breaststroker, I resemble that comment.
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [fattoironman] [ In reply to ]
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have him go play in the waves. literally.

there much focus on knocking out laps in the pool and assuming it will benefit you, which it will.. but .. doing non-traditional swimming stuff is actually very beneficial as you develop new feels of the water.. examples : water polo, surfing, body boarding, playing in the waves, sharks and menos...get the idea?!
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [fattoironman] [ In reply to ]
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fattoironman wrote:
I have a friend (yes, this is actually about a friend) who is looking to qualify for Kona in the 60-64 age group. He is currently biking at 22 mph average for 5 hours and runs a 3.5 hour marathon. His problem is the swim. He was a DNF in Vegas 70.3 2-3 years ago because he got knocked out in the swim and he got the wind knocked out of him in a couple of other races. He did a Sprint today and he had to hold onto a kayak twice during the swim. This is a guy who can finish off 2500 yds in a pool without stopping at a good clip with no problem. The race today was a seeded, time trial start so no physical contact with other swimmers, but he said his heart started to race and exceeded his max HR and he couldn't get enough air so had to stop. He thinks it is in his head and is looking for how to address it. I would appreciate any ideas people might have.

alrighty. i wrote a front page piece, just for your friend.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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There’s a front page? 😜

Great article.
I do this now and again in OW, either to make up for a “missed’” breath, or just to better see what’s going on in the other half of the world I’m not currently looking at.


float , hammer , and jog

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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [fattoironman] [ In reply to ]
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fattoironman wrote:
I have a friend (yes, this is actually about a friend) who is looking to qualify for Kona in the 60-64 age group. He is currently biking at 22 mph average for 5 hours and runs a 3.5 hour marathon. His problem is the swim. He was a DNF in Vegas 70.3 2-3 years ago because he got knocked out in the swim and he got the wind knocked out of him in a couple of other races. He did a Sprint today and he had to hold onto a kayak twice during the swim. This is a guy who can finish off 2500 yds in a pool without stopping at a good clip with no problem. The race today was a seeded, time trial start so no physical contact with other swimmers, but he said his heart started to race and exceeded his max HR and he couldn't get enough air so had to stop. He thinks it is in his head and is looking for how to address it. I would appreciate any ideas people might have.


Interesting. First, tell your friend, if he's on ST, that he can feel free to PM me about this. I've written much about my personal issues with panic and have seen patients (professionally) with more serious issues like psvt/paf/SIPE. My own troubles have always started with being an AOS, of course, and simply always feeling constricted with what was recommended as a 'normal fitting' wetsuit. I bought a Helix full and Helix sleeveless in 2012, after teaching myself to swim in late 2011 and wanting to try triathlon. Got into a master's swim group and that and lots of video got me from a BOP (almost dead last in my first triathlon, a HIM) to front MOP in my first IM (my second triathlon, for the record). I had a panic attack/anxiety/constriction issue about every other race over the next several years. And for the record, I have no cardiac or significant pulmonary issues but I'd say that I have some form of 'water anxiety/panic disorder' for sure at this point. I did make many, many rookie mistakes along the way like: not practicing in open water, not putting on the wetsuit multiple times prior to races, not putting on the wetsuit correctly, not using bodyglide...etc...

Now, older athletes certainly need to worry about ischemic heart disease and arrhythmia (as do younger pts) as causing issues in the water, and shortness of breath is often an atypical warning symptom of heart disease, but RARELY does this occur in the water. It is usually something else-panic/anxiety, asthma, wetsuit too small or not put on correctly but occasionally is something bad like SIPE, paf, psvt or other serious cardiac issues. If it happens repeatedly, a proper evaluation with a cardiologist is certainly in order from a risk/reward standpoint, IMO. Swimming induced tachycardia is not uncommon. Monitors of various types for various times can help.

I've personally always had issues putting my face in the water and being comfortable with it. I have marginal swim technique, even after years of this, yet I've improved enough to place in my AG at some races. Even earned an 'elite' spot in our local sprint this year. When I went out with the faster swimmers in that group, I had my usual breakdown mentally after acquiring a few kicks to the chest and being swum over and gotten the wind knocked out of me. Yes, I was hanging on a kayak. A little panic and it's hard to catch your breath. I was on that kayak for what seemed like an eternity and that wrecked my race that day-almost DNF'd. I felt constricted after the kick, had started breathing too fast and was stacking my breaths not getting all of my air out and started to feel panicky. Not a great race and it sounds eerily similar to your friend's experience.

I'm not a bad swimmer at this point. I did casco bay swim/run last year and swam 5 miles in the ocean with a partner, including a mile stretch by ourselves, in 58 degree water. I can swim. But swimming around people and getting nudged messes with my mind. Having a wetsuit on makes it worse.

In my last sprint race, I had just lava shorts and my chest was free. The water was warm enough and I had NO problems. First in my AG. I've ordered an oversized ROKA wetsuit and just got it today, and swam without any constriction issues. Haven't yet tried it in a race, but for the record, I love the way the ROKA suit seems to not constrict as much. The neck seems lower than on my Helix too. I'm 5'8'' and 155 pounds and have a ML. (I almost bought a L)

sizing chart
https://www.roka.com/...372195137#size-chart

For me, it's always important to get a good swim warm up in. I now know that I need 10+ minutes before I start to feel more comfortable in the wetsuit. I also know that I must start slow and relaxed, preferably on the outer edge and get into a rhythm until I feel at ease enough to change my stroke rate and become a more aggressive swimmer. I usually do this by counting down from 100 or whatever the number of strokes needed to hit the first buoy, which I'll count in my warmup.


So, IMO, part of it is the mind and part of it is the feeling of being squished in the neoprene and being uncomfortable and needing to get 'warmed up' both physically and mentally. For others, there may be an underlying arrhythmia, heart disease, lung disease panic/anxiety or something else contributing.

A qualified professional can help. Tell your friend to consider it and wish him good luck from me.

Dale
Last edited by: dtoce: Aug 29, 18 17:30
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [dtoce] [ In reply to ]
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FWIW - I've had similar experiences to your friend. Usually large mass start races - IM Arizona 2014 and 2015 for example. I leave the start flat out, run out of breath, realize a herd is about to trample me and can no longer breathe. As with your friend, the result is a minute or more hanging on to a kayak.

Here is what works for me -

1. Start to one side. Seeing open water to one side gives me a sense that I can escape the crowd if needed

2. Continuously slow down. As slow as I think I'm swimming in the opening minutes, its still too fast. Lengthen, settle.

3. Found a better wetsuit. Roka works for me. Fits well but not constricting

4. Fog free googles. If googles fog up, panic likelihood goes up

5. Rolling start races. Reduces my personal field to those around me - much more manageable.

6. Got marginally better at swimming. Probably the least important lever..

Good luck!
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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How would the average bear know if was getting too little or too much air in these situations?
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [nc452010] [ In reply to ]
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nc452010 wrote:
How would the average bear know if was getting too little or too much air in these situations?

too little? your face turns blue. too much? if you don't need any more air i think you'll know it and you'll breathe less often. don't overthink it. the only time i breathe on consecutive strokes is if i'm getting hypoxic.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Maybe I asked a good question in a dumb manner.

I think I was hyperventilating at the beginning of LOU. I hadn’t swum far enough to be oxygen deficient. I don’t think I was over-exerting myself.

Do you think most issues with panic are due to hyperventilating or oxygen deficiency?
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [nc452010] [ In reply to ]
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nc452010 wrote:
Maybe I asked a good question in a dumb manner.

I think I was hyperventilating at the beginning of LOU. I hadn’t swum far enough to be oxygen deficient. I don’t think I was over-exerting myself.

Do you think most issues with panic are due to hyperventilating or oxygen deficiency?

i don't have enough evidence to answer that. but let me ask you this: what is your warmup like? preswim?

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
nc452010 wrote:
Maybe I asked a good question in a dumb manner.

I think I was hyperventilating at the beginning of LOU. I hadn’t swum far enough to be oxygen deficient. I don’t think I was over-exerting myself.

Do you think most issues with panic are due to hyperventilating or oxygen deficiency?

i don't have enough evidence to answer that. but let me ask you this: what is your warmup like? preswim?

In 4 HIMs (and two additional 1.2 m swim timed events), I’ve been able to warm up (swim) in 2/4 HIMs and both timed 1.2s. 5/6 we’re wave starts. I had an issue on one of the timed 1.2s and one rolling start HIM. LOU was also a rolling start.

If I’m allowed to warm up (swim) - I do. But, I don’t run/exercise before a rolling start.
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [nc452010] [ In reply to ]
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nc452010 wrote:
Maybe I asked a good question in a dumb manner.

I think I was hyperventilating at the beginning of LOU. I hadn’t swum far enough to be oxygen deficient. I don’t think I was over-exerting myself.

Do you think most issues with panic are due to hyperventilating or oxygen deficiency?



IMO, hyperventilating and stacking their breaths likely occurs more frequently and leads to anxiety/panic.
(this still happens to me when I'm not relaxed and blowing all my air out early on in a race, and keeping the pace within myself-
especially when I'm not warmed up enough and feeling constricted in my wetsuit)

Getting sucked into a pace that's too fast likely occurs less frequently, but can also be followed by 'issues' of anxiety/panic...

In the first case, there is not an increased workload as the driving force, it's breathing inappropriately and feeling anxious being in the wetsuit
In the latter, there is an increased workload adding to the stress of breathing (and possibly leading to anxiety)

It's awfully hard to calm down once very anxious. In the past, I'd have to flip on my back and totally get control of my breathing before continuing on.

*edited to add:
but we're talking about anxiety/panic and sometimes there is something very real, like psvt/paf that is the driving force-and we don't know if the OP's
friend has something else going on or not

My son's PSVT (at age 23) goes ~240 bpm and he not only would not be able to swim well, but also he feels panicky/anxious and like crap until the rhythm rights itself
Last edited by: dtoce: Aug 30, 18 8:39
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [nc452010] [ In reply to ]
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nc452010 wrote:
Slowman wrote:
nc452010 wrote:
Maybe I asked a good question in a dumb manner.

I think I was hyperventilating at the beginning of LOU. I hadn’t swum far enough to be oxygen deficient. I don’t think I was over-exerting myself.

Do you think most issues with panic are due to hyperventilating or oxygen deficiency?


i don't have enough evidence to answer that. but let me ask you this: what is your warmup like? preswim?


In 4 HIMs (and two additional 1.2 m swim timed events), I’ve been able to warm up (swim) in 2/4 HIMs and both timed 1.2s. 5/6 we’re wave starts. I had an issue on one of the timed 1.2s and one rolling start HIM. LOU was also a rolling start.

If I’m allowed to warm up (swim) - I do. But, I don’t run/exercise before a rolling start.

what is your experience with races and warmup capacity? me, i always warm up in the water, swimming, prior to the start. i'm out in the water at least 20min prior to when i commence the race. if i'm not allowed a warmup, highly unlikely i'll register for that race.

but that's me. if you're asking me about hyperventilation, or getting too keyed up prior to the start, one big way to inoculate yourself from that is the warmup. so, which among your races are you not allowed to warm up? and when you are allowed to warm up, what is your warm up protocol? how early are you in the water prior to your start? what is your discipline here?

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [dtoce] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for your reply.

One thing’s for certain about me and wetsuits. I’m WAY more at-ease IN one. 😀
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [nc452010] [ In reply to ]
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Do you think most issues with panic are due to hyperventilating or oxygen deficiency? //


I think it would be pretty hard to hyperventilate while you are racing hard. Your body has a need for a certain amount of air, your lungs try and supply it. If they cannot supply enough, then it might seem like you are hyperventilating, but in reality you are just behind the eight ball because of a pace that was too stiff, and gasping for air.

Dan asked about the warm up because this can affect greatly the speed with which you can go out, and not go into this kind of panic, rapid breathing pattern. If you do a really stiff warm up where you get to a place you would get to doing 400 repeats on the track, then you are ready. If you just go out and jog or swim easy, the rest of what you need for a warm up is going to come in the beginning 400 yards of the race, not where you want it to come..
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:

If I’m allowed to warm up (swim) - I do. But, I don’t run/exercise before a rolling start.

what is your experience with races and warmup capacity? me, i always warm up in the water, swimming, prior to the start. i'm out in the water at least 20min prior to when i commence the race. if i'm not allowed a warmup, highly unlikely i'll register for that race.

but that's me. if you're asking me about hyperventilation, or getting too keyed up prior to the start, one big way to inoculate yourself from that is the warmup. so, which among your races are you not allowed to warm up? and when you are allowed to warm up, what is your warm up protocol? how early are you in the water prior to your start? what is your discipline here?


An interesting point regarding the warmup. And in retrospect, even when I did Casco Bay, with no swim warmup, we ran a few miles in our S/R wetsuits and I was able to get into the 58 degree ocean wearing a constricting wetsuit with all kinds of stuff strapped onto me and yet swam relatively quickly without panic/anxiety.

Doing a run warm up may in fact be significantly helpful prior to swimming.
Last edited by: dtoce: Aug 30, 18 8:41
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [dtoce] [ In reply to ]
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dtoce wrote:
Slowman wrote:

If I’m allowed to warm up (swim) - I do. But, I don’t run/exercise before a rolling start.

what is your experience with races and warmup capacity? me, i always warm up in the water, swimming, prior to the start. i'm out in the water at least 20min prior to when i commence the race. if i'm not allowed a warmup, highly unlikely i'll register for that race.

but that's me. if you're asking me about hyperventilation, or getting too keyed up prior to the start, one big way to inoculate yourself from that is the warmup. so, which among your races are you not allowed to warm up? and when you are allowed to warm up, what is your warm up protocol? how early are you in the water prior to your start? what is your discipline here?


An interesting point regarding the warmup. And in retrospect, even when I did Casco Bay, with no swim warmup, we ran a few miles in our S/R wetsuits and I was able to get into the 58 degree ocean relatively quickly without panic/anxiety.

Doing a run warm up may in fact be significantly helpful prior to swimming.

when larry creswell and his team did their big study on deaths in triathlon, and came up with their best practices recommendations, providing for a warm up was, to my recollection, in there. i'm not saying that the lack of a warmup means you'll die in the swim. just, my admonition, don't be that guy who picks an outlier case, or a particular anecdote, and build a thesis around it.

i've done plenty of races where i didn't get a warmup. i remember doing worlds toughest half, swimming in a 51 degree lake. no thanks to a warmup! i also remember three or four years ago the fellow who jumped off the ferry in alcatraz, died of a heart attack not long thereafter, and was described as being nervous, keyed up, pre-race. hard to assign causation. and, of course, it's hard to allow for a warmup in that race (or in norseman or any other ferry drop).

i've raced plenty of races that had dangerous road conditions. the fact that i didn't die on a dangerous bike course doesn't mean that dangerous bike courses aren't dangerous. maybe we'll find out that warmups in the swim aren't helpful (medically helpful). but my sense tells me otherwise.

Dan Empfield
aka Slowman
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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I'm totally agreeing with you Dan. I think a swim warm up is certainly best practice, for sure. I'm just saying, if a venue doesn't allow a swim warm up, then a run warm up could be quite viable. Or if a swim start gets delayed...

If you read any of my post above, you'll see that I said that I personally need > 10 minutes of a swim warm up to get comfortable in a stupid wetsuit. I'm not recommending ANYONE forgo one.
Last edited by: dtoce: Aug 30, 18 8:53
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [nc452010] [ In reply to ]
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nc452010 wrote:
Maybe I asked a good question in a dumb manner.

I think I was hyperventilating at the beginning of LOU. I hadn’t swum far enough to be oxygen deficient. I don’t think I was over-exerting myself.

Do you think most issues with panic are due to hyperventilating or oxygen deficiency?

It might be neither, and a breath timing issue. Like Dan, I'm a fan of more as opposed to less breathing/air.

I'd work on in the pool sorting out where your exhalation is best prior to turning your head to breathe. It's common in clinics for the instructor (or even some coaches in a non-clinic setting) to say that you should slowly breathe out somewhat continuously. Hum. Blow Bubbles, etc. Then when you turn your head to breathe, you only have to inhale.

My experience is that when some athletes do that AND try to breathe every 3rd or whatever, they run out of air before they need a breath. So they rush to breathe and end up gasping for air.

The other alternative is the swimmer who ends up holding their breath the entire cycle and then tries to exhale and inhale when turning the head. There's too much going on there.

Work on having a big exhalation right before you turn your head to breathe. I find myself exhaling just before I turn my head to breathe. My breathing pattern is typically every 3rd when swimming easy or pulling with a double breath (one on each side) into a turn. When I go faster, like IM speed, I'm breathing 2 on side, three strokes, 2 on the other. When I'm going faster still I might be breathing every 'other stroke' as Dan calls it on the front page...right or left side exclusively. I'll sneak in a double breath...on on each side consecutively...as well during faster swimming.

But I find that working on the timing of the exhalation and breathing pattern is a good way to find the right balance.


Brandon Marsh - Website | @BrandonMarshTX | Cervelo | RokaWetsuits | 1stEndurance | ATC Bikeshop |
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [fattoironman] [ In reply to ]
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I'm a psychologist and see this (not in a professional capacity) pretty often. I would recommend he look for a sport psychologist in his area. If qualifying is his goal it will be worth the money.
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Re: FEAR of the SWIM [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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Slowman wrote:
what is your experience with races and warmup capacity? me, i always warm up in the water, swimming, prior to the start. i'm out in the water at least 20min prior to when i commence the race. if i'm not allowed a warmup, highly unlikely i'll register for that race.

but that's me. if you're asking me about hyperventilation, or getting too keyed up prior to the start, one big way to inoculate yourself from that is the warmup. so, which among your races are you not allowed to warm up? and when you are allowed to warm up, what is your warm up protocol? how early are you in the water prior to your start? what is your discipline here?

I had one of these panic attacks at the WTS Bermuda race in April. I had done the pre-race swim the day before, albeit without a wetsuit, without issues. Race day was wetsuit legal so, I wore a wetsuit. The race allowed basically zero warmup because it was a deep-water start after entering from the pier. The "warmup" was limited to the 50 yard swim to the start line. At about 200 yards, my chest started feeling constricted and I had trouble breathing. It took several hundred yards to get under control.

I had a repeat incident at AG Nationals earlier this month. Different wetwuit but with several minutes of warmup immediately before the start. Again, about 200 yards out, I had constriction issues which eventually subsided.

I did a 1/2 mile swim this past weekend in the same wetsuit with the same amount of warmup and had no issues. Quite perplexing.

I tried the single stroke breathing today in the pool. That will take some practice to become comfortable doing in OW.
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