There are various challenges in triathlon but the one which haunts most aspiring triathletes is the fear of swimming. It’s natural for those who can’t swim and but even those who can swim, they too get panicked in the water. Have you registered or thinking of participating in a triathlon? Fear not, you may be the most novice swimmer yet you can master it very quickly.
The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do
Set a goal
To achieve anything, a goal is a must and the same applies here too. If you want to participate in a triathlon, then register as soon as you can. Just that commitment is more than enough to give you that push. You certainly won’t be eager to waste that registration fee, will you?
Part of my growth from a novice swimmer to a confident one took place because of this. I registered for a Half IRONMAN in 2017, and although I couldn’t make it that time, the motivation was enough to start jumping at the pool to reach the other side. Back then, I struggled to reach the end of a 25-meter pool.
Next, I set aim for the Bangla Channel and I failed at my first attempt in 2018. But that goal pushed me hard enough to build myself for endurance swimming. Later on, I did achieve the goals that I have set. Commit yourself first and the result will follow soon.
Once you set your goal, be confident.
Start being comfortable around water. The biggest phobia we have is the fear of drowning. Do you know you won’t drown no matter how hard you try unless you panic?
In fact, next time you go to a pool, go to the deepest end of the pool and with a deep breath, try to sink. You’ll notice that the water will push you the surface automatically. This drill is called the sink down drill and is mostly used to get comfortable in the water.
Another fear most novice swimmers face is keeping the head under the surface of the water.
The fact is, looking up and swimming incorrectly is very inefficient and tiresome.
Funny enough, too many times I get asked isn’t it scary putting the head underwater or can I see anything underwater. Well, that’s the whole point of being comfortable, you don’t become anxious about what’s under you or how deep the water is or not being frightened whether something will snatch you to its very depth. If you can keep the nerve, swimming will become very easy for you.
There’s a simple drill to overcome this fear. Whenever you’re in the water sink your face horizontally in the water and breathe the air out in the water. Then rotate the head slightly to the left or right, take a breath in and then again breathe out in the water. Keep doing it regularly and get used to the sensation of sinking the head underwater.
As you get more comfortable, try to relax your muscles in the water. The human body is designed in such a way that it’s very hard to drown unless you’re in distress. Our body is 90% of water anyways. Hence the less muscular stress, the more you will float.
Your next drill should be to loosen yourself and try to float in the water. Try increasing the duration without touching the floor. This will also increase your stamina and your buoyancy in the water. Learn floating techniques from a fellow swimmer or from YouTube.
Upon reading this far, have you gone to these steps? Are you making friends with the water? If so, it’s time to learn the proper swim techniques. Start with the front crawl technique. More often than not, freestyle is the fastest and most efficient swimming method.
Mentor is crucial for any novice swimmer
To master the techniques of the freestyle, find a mentor. It’s important to tune your swimming technique from the very beginning to avoid picking up bad habits. Start with the basic drill and stay patient. Remember, if you get impatient and start distance swimming too early, you may injure yourself badly. Hence take your time and focus on accuracy first.
YouTube is also a great medium to learn swimming. I have acquired the majority of my swimming lessons from watching various tutorials and guides. Figure out your weaknesses and search for the swimming drills to help you resolve those issues.
Wear proper swim clothing
Proper swimming attire is crucial especially when you’re at the beginning phase. You don’t want to wear baggy shorts and develop poor forms in the process. Also, it will make your swimming experience unpleasant as a novice swimmer. So, spend some money on good quality swim gears and goggles.
In addition to those, you can purchase swim specific tools to improve your swimming faster. Aids such as pull buoy, flippers, snorkel, etc. will help you develop a smoother and proper swimming motion which in turn is going to build your ability to swim longer with less effort.
Swimming is a very technical sport, no doubt about it. But the success of swimming mostly depends on the confidence and getting past that uneasiness of being in the water as a novice swimmer. Shake away the negativity and enjoy the tranquility in the water. Don’t fight with it or fear it, you’re only going to lose against the mighty nature. Rather embrace nature and conquer it from within.
By the way, I indeed crossed the Bangla Channel in my second attempt. Click here to read on my experiences on that epic day.