Fear of Open Water

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by Fiona Lee

I attended an open water clinic on Sunday, organised by the triathlon training group and event organiser Tri-Factor, as part of their lead-up to the actual triathlon. While my life goal is to complete an actual triathlon, I do have a phobia of swimming and no prior foundation of swimming skills.

However, I also do recognise how it’s an essential life skill. When I signed up for the upcoming Tri-Factor series triathlon, I registered for this as well because I wanted to improve my skills, supersede my expectations, and be a stronger athlete.

So, at 8am, there I was, standing at the beach, and waiting for the coach to guide us through our drills. It was still pretty cool, and the tide looked friendly with gentle waves.

I thought that the crowd was pretty large for an open water swimming clinic, with more males than females in the group. Like me, a few female participants were looking at the open water with a little more than trepidation because it was their first-time swimming in the sea. All of us were here to prep ourselves for our upcoming races.

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For beginners, the coach leading the clinic, Eugene, taught us the techniques of swimming in open water. It was far different from swimming in a staid, placid swimming pool, and his lessons actually did help.

He covered how to sight in open water without drifting too far away, how to run into the water, how to jump further to cover more distance on your way into the sea, and how to stay mentally prepared when swimming. These tips are best worked when you are physically in the workshop to see and try it out yourself. I will definitely be using these tips when I practise swimming in open water in the next few events.

The whole event was very successful as all of us braved through the water and we managed to swim and supported each other before every set. It was something that we are certainly proud of.

Whether you are taking up the Freshmen distance or the Standard Distance, having open water experience is necessary and vital for safety and survival purposes. I sincerely am grateful for the Tri-Factor series (Orange Room) for doing a workshop like this so that we can bump up our skills, especially since most of us would not have had experience swimming in the sea. Master the techniques of swimming out in the open water isn’t easy, but I feel that I’m off to a decent start.

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