Our first open water swim practice had the Dallas and Fort Worth North Texas triathlon teams gather 9AM Saturday morning at Rockledge Park on Grapevine Lake.
Everyone wore a wetsuit, those going to Hawaii for Lavaman borrowing from TNT alumni and other fellow team members. I tried out my new sleeve-less wetsuit recently arrived in advance of our race at the Lone Star in Galveston.
The prevailing sentiment of the entire group was, "Holy crap, this water is cold!" And it was.
58 degrees Fahrenheit cold.
I don't know how far we swam. I was in the water for just over 30 minutes and opted not to take a second lap, though a few fellow "halfers" did. Most everyone overcame the shock of cold water on their face and did the distance very well. The whole point of the exercise to gain experience in the open water which is very different from pool swimming in a number of important ways, including:
- You can't see the bottom or even your own hands in many cases.
- You can't stand up if you're tired.
- You can't stop and rest at the wall.
- You're surrounded by dozens of other people.
- Your surroundings are almost invariably unfamiliar.
- You can't swim in a straight line without "sighting" - periodically looking up during your stroke and navigating.
For certain, my sighting needs help! My swim experience from Lone Star 2007 is proof of this. I have a hard time swimming in a straight line which is only exacerbated by cold and fatigue as my swim form breaks down and my stroke tends to cross my body. Knowing these things in practice will surely help me avoid them on race day. And practice will help me improve; we're back in the open water this next weekend for a practice triathlon.