Scared to swim in cold open water

I am now officially scared of the swim at Ironman Arizona. Up until today, if anyone asked me what I was most scared of, without hesitation, I would tell them that the bike scares me most followed by running 26 miles after biking.After today’s swim, you can easily add swim to that list.

Colleen, me, Will at Lake Bartlett after he swim

Colleen, Will and I went to Lake Bartlett for a quick swim today. The water temperature was around 64 degrees (brrrr). I wanted to see if I would be comfortable in my sleeveless or full-sleeve wet-suit. I wore my sleeveless wet-suit and swam from one bank (starting at Rattlesnake Cove) to the other bank which is about 300 meters.

As the three of us started swimming, I was cold at first. As I dipped my head in the water, it took my breath away. After a few hyperventilated breaths, I managed to start swimming at what I thought was a smooth, easy cadence. In less than 200 meters (in the middle of the water), I panicked. I stopped and started doing the breast stroke. I felt claustrophobic. I wanted to get out of the tight wet-suit, I wanted to get out of the water, I wanted to just stop and relax. I took a couple of deep breaths and removed my goggles. That helped. I was at least looking at the world without any filters. After about a minute, I put my goggles back on and finished my swim to the other bank. It was a very uncomfortable swim and all I had done was less than 300 meters.

After spending a few minutes at the other bank, Will and Colleen decided to do a longer swim around a couple of buoys while I decided to take a much straighter route back. My swim back was much more relaxed and easy. I decided to concentrate on my breath as I swam back to shore with easy, smooth, long strokes.

In the end, I ended up doing only around a third of a mile at a relative brisk pace. Wet-suits help with speed; they are buoyant and help in keeping the body horizontal to reduce drag. However, overall it was an awful swim. I couldn’t to handle the cold. How will I handle thousands of other swimmers swimming around me? How will I handle swimming 2.4 miles in open water? Yes, I am officially scared of the swim.

In the evening, I went for a short 30+ minute run around DC Ranch. I wanted to concentrate on my breathing to take my mid off the awful swim this morning.

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