As a triathlete, part of the competition is braving the open water. Having feelings of stress just before entering the water is completely normal. But what if you give in to panic? Here are some tactics you can use to stay calm (or normally stressed) before the open water part of a triathlon or during an open water swimming competition:

1)   Accept the anxiety you are feeling. It is very normal to feel stressed before your first open water practices or races. They’re part of the process so just go with them.

2)   Practice open water swimming as much as you can and in groups. Simulate the race by swimming close to each other so that you can practice your stroke, your breathing and your mindset when in a packed and narrowed situation. Try swimming in the middle then on the outside and make constant contact with swimmers next to you during the laps.

3)   When practicing in open water, try to do it during various weathers, temperatures and wind (i.e. testing turbulence and waves).

4)   When practicing, also practice sighting which is always knowing where you are heading.

5)   Plan some lessons with a specialized open water swimming coach and learn from his technique and how to deal with open water challenges.

6)   Before the big event you’re competing in, participate in smaller open water events to help you get used to the atmosphere of an open water race.

7)   Control your negative thoughts by practicing replacing them with more positive and reassuring ones.

8)   Have informative conversations with open water swimmers or other triathletes to see what are their coping strategies.

All of the above will help you stay physically and mentally strong for competition day so that you can achieve and enjoy this amazing experience.

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