I’ll admit it; I kind of freaked out. My first open water swim of the year had a bumpy start.
I crawled down the dock ladder into the water and immediately tensed-up as chills ran through my body. Sure, it’s finally summer here in Minnesota, but the lakes are still a bit chilly. I was wearing a wetsuit, but the water was pretty cold. I turned towards the lake, put my head down, took a couple strokes and that’s when I kind of freaked out.
I’ve been back to the gym over the last month swimming in the lap pool, but it’s been about nine months since my last swim in a lake. I had somehow forgotten that once your head goes under the lake water, you really can’t see much. The unknown felt confining. Combine that lack of vision with the cold water temperature and I immediately thought, “What the heck am I doing out here? What if I can’t do this anymore?”
For those that know me well, I can sometimes be a little dramatic about things, even jumping to the extreme end of a conclusion like I did in the water. I didn’t quit though. I treaded water, caught my breath and swam a couple 30-40 yard laps in the bay. I found a groove and knocked out 16 laps total, including eight without the wetsuit. I had never swam while wearing my tri top before and wanted to know how that felt without the suit before Trinona, my first race of the season.
I’ve struggled getting the compression tri tanks on during transition. They’re tight and get bunched up when I pull it over my shoulders. Plus I’m dripping water, tired and short of breath after the swim, which I’m sure adds to the dressing awkwardness. This year, I thought it would be nice to skip that part and just be dressed before I swim, like most other triathletes do. Heck, that’s what the tri outfits are meant for. I’ve just never done it that way before – just shorts for the swim and then the top for biking and running. So now I’ve tried it and I know what it’ll feel like on race day (always a bad idea to try something for the first time on race day). The lack of warmth without the wetsuit was very noticeable though.
I’ve also been contemplating skipping the wetsuit for Trinona since the swim is a shorter one (0.25 miles) and it would save me a good chunk of time in the first transition. However, that genius idea was before jumping in the lake yesterday. Feeling those shivers all through my body is giving me second thoughts. I’ll wait to hear the race day water temperature before making that call, but at least I have the option.
All in all, it was a good day in the lake. I’m glad I got that open water refresher before my first triathlon of the season this weekend. The limited visibility really messed with my head, but the rest of the swim was much smoother after finding a calm and settling into a groove. That calm will be much needed on race day!