Sunday, May 10, 2009

First OWS ... ever :)

Yesterday I went for my first open water swim ever. I never went out to swim in a lake, sure when I was younger I went to lakes to play in the water and have fun with my friends. But yesterday was different, I was heading there to swim and have an idea how it was before my first triathlon, two weeks from now.

It was also the first time that I would try my new wetsuit, well not that new since I bought it second hand but new to me. I was a bit nervous, I had no idea how it would be, what the lake water temperature would be. I was wondering if I would be able to see the bottom of the lake or if I would swim without seeing anything. A lot of new stuff and I was a little bit nervous about all this. But since I have my first triathlon ever in two weeks I needed to get out there and swim in open water at least once before, to make sure I won't freak out on race day.

We got there and I touched the water to see how warm cold it was. Anyway, I put the wetsuit on, which by itself was an experience. By the time I was done with that I was already sweating and I was not as scared as before to be cold. I figured that this wetsuit was pretty warm since I had it on me for 5 minutes and I was really hot.

And off I go, my wife is sitting on the beach and watching me go into that cold water probably thinking that I really am nuts. My feet tell me that it's cold but I try not to listen to them. Then my hands tell me the same, but I tell them to HTFU and I just keep going. At one point I am in 3/4 feet of water so I just start swimming. OMG! My face is pissed at me because it is so damn cold. I just try to swim but HTFU about the cold but it's not that easy. Every here and then I can feel some cold water getting into the wetsuit, and when I say I can feel it believe me I was feeling it.

I just kept swimming, freestyle mostly, and when my face was too cold I would turn and do some backstrokes just to get some sun, and then back to freestyle. I swam 15 minutes maybe, then came back to the shore to unfreeze my face, hands and feet. Then I went back into the water for another 10-15 minutes maybe and swam a little more. The water was not as cold when I got into it the second time, I guess I was slowly getting used to it.

I am really happy that everything went well. I didn't have any pain or problem with my wetsuit. I could swim with it really easily and not feel any problem with my shoulders. At some point during the swim I stopped focusing on the swim and more on what was underneath me, and at that time my mind could see all kind of stuff that was not really there. I don't know why I am that way though, instead of just enjoying the moment I try to freak myself out. I was happy not to swim in the sea, I am sure I would have imagine at least 20 great white ;)

The only thing that was different from when I swim in a pool was that I felt out of breath a lot, I am not too sure if it was because I was swimming faster than usual. Or if it was because I was nervous, or because the water temperature was colder than usual. But it was weird to feel out of breath like that, even if I was trying to slow my pace a little bit.

I remember when I was young, we had a summer house by the sea and I used to swim in the sea a lot. Never really swam that far from the beach and I could always see the bottom, but the water was crystal clear and it was nice to always see everything. When I got into the lake yesterday that feeling of seeing everything was not there at all. The water was not that clear, I could barely see the bottom of the lake with 7-8 feet of water.

When I got back home I checked the temperature on my pool to have an idea and it was 55, so I figured that the lake was at best 55, maybe colder ;) But whatever the temperature I had fun and I am happy that I finally did my first OWS. Now I am getting more and more ready for my first triathlon in two weeks.


  1. MAN look at the water. It looks so inviting, even though common sense screams COLD.

    I remember my first OWS. I was scared stiff. Once I got in the water and settled, I was 2/3 of the way across the pond before I knew it.

    Next time out try this. Bring a bottle of warm water to pour down the neck opening before you get in the water. It will stay warm under your suit while you swim in the cold water. On old scuba trick.

  2. Kudos to you! I'm terrified in open water - learned that during my first/only tri unfortunately ;)