I’ve been looking forward to and been anxious about this for a while. Grey skies, rain showers and a generally chilly outlook have not inspired me to get into the water. But knowing I have a couple of open water events coming up later in the year, I need to get the practice in.
So, last night, I was back for the opening of the open water season at QE2 lake in Ashington. Run by the VO2 Max Racing guys, it’s a great way to get used to open water swimming in a safe environment with canoe support and coaching if you want it.
I usually suffer from the shock of the cold and really struggle not to hyperventilate, so my first swim of the season has been a bit of a struggle. But I warmed up a bit on land, then took my time just getting used to the water, splashing it on my face and trying to relax before I swam and I was fine.
It was really nice to feel relaxed and not have to tell myself to calm down all the time. I swam nice controlled front crawl with my head in the water, breathing steadily and managing not to veer too far off course. Previously I’ve counted strokes, aiming for 6 then 12 and building up, but I was straight into swimming between buoys without a rest.
It did help that the air and water temperature were similar about 12C I think and a good deal warmer than my first dip last year. And I tried out my neoprene cap for the first time too.
I swam two loops of the course, roughly 400m with rests at each buoy, and was tempted to do another lap. But I’d decided that 20 minutes would be enough if I was struggling, so I thought it better to get out after 20 minutes and leave with a good experience, than push on and risk tiring myself into a bad one.
Next week, I’ll try swimming with the coached group and plan on staying in longer. But it’s the best start to open water swimming I’ve had in the past two years.
Other posts on open water swimming:
My first open water swim