Addressing common fears associated with open water swimming and providing practical tips and psychological strategies for overcoming anxiety.
Plunging into the world of open water swimming is as exhilarating as it is intimidating. The sheer mass of the water, the fluctuating conditions and the absence of pool boundaries can all be unnerving.
If you find your anticipation of swimming in the open water overshadowed by worry, know this – you’re not alone. This guide is here to arm you with insights as well as practical and psychological strategies to conquer open water anxiety.
Open water swimming brings unique fears into the forefront, including the dread of deep water, the anxiety induced by cold temperatures, the unease felt due to limited visibility, the concerns over marine inhabitants or getting sick from algae, and the fear related to the inability to complete the swim.
Now, the journey to defeating the fear begins with admitting it exists. There’s no room for fear-shaming or denial, only acknowledgement and acceptance. On the acceptance of your fears, you lay the foundation to conquer them. Let’s address each in turn:
Fear of Deep Water:
Facing the fear of deep water requires a structured and gentle approach. Start your journey by swimming near the shoreline, steadily progressing outward into deeper waters as your confidence begins to bloom. Experiment with exercises such as calmly floating on your back which encourages trust in the buoyancy of water.
As an added reassurance, TriSwim provides tow floats for hire during swim sessions, elevating safety to ensure an environment of trust for all participants. If you need a tow float, we offer the on-site rental option for a minimal cost of £3. This combined approach of steady progress, practice, and safety measures will aid in your pursuit of conquering the fear of deep-water swimming.
Fear of Cold Water:
It’s natural for the body to tense up in cold water. Carry out a slow water acclimation process by standing in the shallows and splashing your body. Wearing proper gear, such as a snug wet suit, can provide additional comfort and warmth.
Fear of Limited Visibility:
In open waters, you might not always see the bottom – a stark difference from familiar pool environments. The best way to combat this is by gradually swimming in different water bodies with varying visibility levels. Employ visualisation techniques, like imagining the water around you being your friend, to cultivate positivity.
Fear of Marine Life:
The thought of unexpected marine encounters can trigger significant fear. However, it’s important to remember that incidents like attacks are exceptionally rare, as most marine creatures tend to steer clear from humans. Knowledge about the marine life in your swimming waters can also bolster confidence and dispel unwarranted fears.
Fear of Getting Sick from Water Algae:
The fear of falling ill due to water-dwelling algae is indeed a common concern for many. Although specific algae like the blue-green variety can produce potential toxins, their occurrence is relatively uncommon. At TriSwim, we place your health and safety as our utmost priority. Hence, we undertake rigorous swimming location assessments on a monthly basis to guarantee the water you swim in meets our stringent safety standards. This way, we strive to provide a safe swimming environment, so you can focus on enjoying the swim without undue worry.
Fear of Not Completing the Swim:
It’s perfectly natural to feel some anxiety, but it’s vital to remember that open water swimming isn’t about racing against the clock; it’s about embracing the journey. Encourage a confidence boost by maintaining a regular training routine that enhances your stamina.
Recognise the hard work you’ve invested in training prior to each swim session. Overcoming fears takes time and patience. Consider teaming up with a swimming partner or coach who can lend emotional support and help manage your apprehensions.
TriSwim always has lifeguards stationed at all our locations for your safety and encouragement. TriSwim is not just about swimming; it’s about a community of people with a shared love for open water swimming.
Our staff and fellow swimmers are all part of this network solely because they have a deep appreciation for the joy of open water swimming. Whether it be our staff or fellow community members, everyone is here to extend support, making the whole experience less about overcoming fears and more about enjoying the journey.
One key factor in managing open water anxiety is mastering relaxed and controlled breathing. Inhale deeply, and focus considerably on exhaling, helping maintain overall calmness. Remember that mental rehearsal is as important as the physical.
Visualise a successful swim, picture yourself gliding through the water with ease and calm. Repeat positive affirmations and implement a reward system for post-swim treats to keep yourself motivated.
Open waters can seem daunting, offering challenges aplenty. But remember, these challenges can be metamorphosed into opportunities for learning and growth.
Conquering fears is a journey and with patience, persistence, and the right strategies, you can transform your open water swimming anxieties into an adoration for the profound, liberating experience that open water swimming truly is.