6 Tips To Overcome Open Water Fears | Steps To Beat Swimming Anxiety & Race Day Panic

August 16, 2019 0 By Bertrand Dibbert

(intense music) – Fear has helped the
human race to progress to where we are now. And knowing when to protect
ourselves from danger is obviously essential. But when fear becomes irrational it’s not an advantage to our safety and in a sporting context it’s not going to benefit our performance. – Yeah and it actually makes
absolutely no difference whether you’re a weaker, novice swimmer, or someone on the opposite
end of the spectrum, who perhaps is swam their entire life and perhaps even competitively. This fear of the open water and swimming in the open
water it not rational and it is quite hard to understand really. So actually there’s
some specific techniques and some coping mechanisms
that can really help us to enjoy this experience of
open water a little bit more. Which, we’ve got a number
which we’re going to share with you today
we’ve tried and tested to really crush those fears for you. (upbeat music) – It’s really helpful to remember that you can’t actually keep
your head above the water when you’re out of the depth
without having to swim. Now we all float to a different amount, but you add in a wetsuit
and we’re pretty much all going to be buoyant. Especially with salt water, you’ll find you’re even more buoyant. But it’s a good idea to
practice just getting comfortable with floating and
keeping your head above water, when you’re still in the shallow waters so you can actually stand if you need to. So start off by swimming a few strokes and then just flip over on to your back and just try and relax in that position. Imagine, trying to push
your stomach up to the sky and that will help just lift your hips. And yes you want to keep your
head up, but not all of it ’cause as soon as you
lift your head right up, your legs are going to sink. So try and put your head
back and relaxing up. This should just keep your
face out of the water. But, obviously if it’s wavy, it’s going to make it a little bit harder. And then have a play
around with your breath. So take a deep breath in and
you’ll feel your lungs inflate and it’ll actually make you
a little bit more buoyant in the water. Obviously, you do need to let the air out so you’re going to feel
yourself drop slightly, but play around with
that and just start to feel as relaxed as you can and as you get a little
bit of very gentle leg kick when you’re floating on your back or just help your legs to float as well and before you head out
into the deeper water, just practice this several
times until you’re nice and confident so you know
how to control yourself when you get into that deep water. – Open water swimming can
sometimes be peacefully clear, as we’ve got here Vobster. But other times, you
could struggle to even see your hand entering the water. But, even if it a lovely and clear, at some point very often, you
will lose sight of the bottom and it’s this big unknown and
it’s drastically different to swimming in the pool. And it’s something we want
to make sure you get used to. And it’s going to sound very basic, but if you stand shoulder
depth in the water, submerge your head slowly in the water and then start taking a look around and start getting used to that feeling and the environment around you. Breath out a little bit to help you relax and this will really help you, just get used to that feeling
of being under the water. But, when you’re actually swimming, you can very often see at
least part of your arm, if not your whole arm and
your hands entering the water. So try to focus on this
and the things that you can actually see. – For the next step from standing with your face in the water, is actually having your body horizontal with your face in the water. So for this, just venture out where it’s a little bit deeper,
take a deep breath, and then lie face down. If you put your arms and legs
out into a star position, it’ll just help you float
and try and relax in that and look around so you’re really
familiar with your surroundings and when you need to take a breath, simply stand up and get your breath back. And to progress this, you
can actually use a snorkel so then you can stay in that
position for that much longer and you can concentrate
on just having a nice, controlled breathing and
when you’re in that position, just gently add in a
little bit of leg kick. And when you’re comfortable,
you can then add your arms in as well. – Now, no matter how comfortable
you are in the water, you should always have a
buddy watching out for you from land, or better, actually
in the water with you. But if you’re actually a
little bit nervous about open water swimming then you
can take this a step further and have a few friends swimming with you because that feeling of
safety in numbers can really help your confidence when you’re
swimming in the open water. But also to help with this,
actually by swimming in a group and focusing on keeping
up with the other members of the group, tracking their feet, can also be a really nice distraction. Before you know it, you are
happily swimming in open water. – There are also more specific
distractions techniques that can work quite
well in the open water. So think back to when
you’re training in the pool and you’re trying to
meet these really tough turnaround times, well your
brain doesn’t really have much chance of worrying about
those dishes that you’ve not washed up at home, for example. So the same crosses over
when you come to open water. Try to do some really strong efforts and you’ll find you’re
concentrating so hard on that that fear will hopefully
go out the window. Also you could do this
with concentrating on maybe a drill that you’re doing, or on sighting or maybe
even catching your stroke, anything that occupies your brain and doesn’t let it have chance
for your imagination to run away with you. I don’t know if there’s any
science behind this one, but it’s something that I find, if I’m swimming in cold water, then I actually have less chance to worry ’cause I’m so concerned
about trying to stay warm. Although, if you could avoid cold water I would still recommend that. – Now for some, the fear
of open water swimming may simply come from the
fact you’re in a vast, open space and you’re
worried you might now be seen by other water users such
as boats, kayaks, etc. So you want to make sure you can be seen and that’s where something like swim float or a tow buoy can come in really handy. They’re really easy just to blow up, attach around your waist. You won’t even notice the thing’s there, all whilst being easily seen. In addition to that,
why not add in a nice, brightly colored hat. – Open water swimming
conditions can vary drastically. You could have a completely
calm, still, clear lake to swim in or it could be
choppy, murky sea water. Whatever it is, you need
to get familiar with that and try to become relaxed
in that environment. So, say you’ve got a sea swim coming up. It’s a good idea to try
to head to the beach with a group of friends
and just play around in the shallows and in the waves. Maybe try and catch some
and do a bit of body surfing and maybe even take a body board. Any thing that just
starts to get you familiar with those surroundings, so
when it does come to race day, you’ll be more prepared and more relaxed. Again, for flat water, just
go stand in the shallows. You could maybe even
just play a game of ball, mess around with your friends
and you’ll soon find that you’re swimming in those
conditions and not even noticing it and then when it does
come to pure swimming, that confidence should cross over. Sometimes there is just no logic
reasons of open water fear. As I know from my parents frustration, as a child I was a competitive swimmer, very competent in the swimming pool. But take me to the lake on the open water and I actually didn’t
like going out of my depth and there was no reasoning behind that. But it’s something that
I’ve had to work on and I actually found
that going scuba-diving has helped ’cause it’s
just getting me to relax in the water. But, it’s such an individual thing so you’re going to need
to experiment to find out what can help you. – And another factor with
open water swimming actually, all those added bodies in the water. Unlike pool swimming we don’t have the 5 seconds or 10 seconds gap between you and the person in front of you. You also don’t have those
lane ropes to make sure we swim in a straight
line so you may end up bumping into another swimmer, which can be really quite off-putting, particularly if your in
the middle of a race. So, we really suggest trying
to replicate that situation and trying to swim in
close proximity to some friends or training partners. And also just remind yourself of that, there will be other people in the water that are feeling just the same as you and actually anyone that bumps into you, more often than not, they’re
probably just as scared of you, as you are of them. – Yeah, completely. Well, I think that leads
off to say, good luck, because being able to
overcome your open water fear really is a game changer. Getting out of the chlorinated pool and into fresh or sea water is such an exhilarating feeling. It’s also really good
for your mental health. So, if you’ve enjoyed this,
give us a thumbs up like and hit the globe on
the screen to subscribe to get all the videos here from GTN. And if you want to see a
video on open water tips that’s kind of tailored to racing, we’ve got a video on that just down here. – If you’d like to find out
what you should be taking to an open water swim,
you can see our Open Water Swim Kit list by clicking just down here.