Beware of the Lake Zombies

You KNOW they are out there …. 

Waiting ….

Lurking at the bottom of that lake in front of you …. 

The one you are about ti dive into and swim 1.2 miles through ….

They are a sneaky bunch too, because they won’t bite you … no … this type of zombie is like a cat … toying with it’s prey … messing with their minds.

They will lightly tap your foot …  as if to say “we are here … but you keep swimming … everything is FIIIIINNNNNEEEE” …. 
Swimming fears and anxiety are part of the triathlon experience. From what I hear from most of the racers I know it is very common, even amongst seasoned veterans. It makes those of us whose anxiety about open water swims is very real feel a bit better to know that it affects us all. The issue is how to get around the anxiety and fear, get in the water, and have a great swim.
You can read the books, the magazines, all of which say the same basic thing.
“Find a mantra and repeat it over and over”
“Keep telling yourself ‘it’s just like the pool'”
Yes, good advice I guess. None of it works though. At least not for me.
Maybe it is because my mind is too strong to be fooled by silly mantra’s and mind tricks. Or maybe it’s the opposite, that it is too weak to break through the anxiety and fear I feel when I enter a race and face the water. I am not sure what it is, because I do very well in the pool. I’m no Michael Phelps, but I can hold my own. And in OW I am ok with a wet suit, because I know I am not going to sink. But take that suit off me, and especially if I am in fresh water, and wow does that anxiety issue come flooding back. All the training goes out the window, and I start flailing like a 5 year old just being thrown into the deep end. Everything in my head is saying “JC!!! Stop Panicking!!!! You have DONE this before!!!!” but it’s no use. My brain is as stubborn as the rest of me. So on my back I flip.
I know others have these issues also, but I am not sure how they fight through it, because I honestly get to the point where I cannot breathe. And nothing I do calms it down. The ONE thing I have found that seems to help is beng able to get in the water for a good 20 minutes or so and acclimate. the few times I was not able to do that, Florida HIM for one, I had issues. So if they ALLOW it, GET IN THE WATER.
Now, please know I have had a few great swims in races, so it’s not an all the time occurrence. All but one of my races at Crystal River have been great, and even the one bad one was not a panic issue but more of a rough water, fighting though current, issue. ALL of the races at Fort DeSoto have given me problems, even with wet suits. Madeira Beach? Not a problem. Ironman Florida 70.3 … HUGE issue but mostly due to Frenchie trying to drown me, but to be honest I was struggling when that happened, so may have actually worked in my favor.
So, does it help to know that others have the same issues as you newbies do when it comes to the swim? And if you are seasoned, how do you get through the anxiety issues?
I guess the bottom line is to take what the day gives you and get in the water, try to block out the race atmosphere, and race YOUR race. If you do all of that you should be FIIIIIINNNNEEEEEE.  

One thought on “Beware of the Lake Zombies

  • August 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Totally agree with getting in the water to acclimate! It makes a world of a difference. I’m a little worried about Ironman Florida this year b/c of all the jellyfish (sharks don’t scare me…just jellyfish. ha). At the pool today, I thought I’d start visualizing jellyfish to help my mind “prepare”. It lasted about 8 laps…and then I saw two spider zombies on the lane dividers and jumped out of the pool to go swim at the opposite end…away from the spiders.

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