Expect The Unexpected
The open water is not the pool. The open water can be cold, rough, foggy, is filled with marine life and humans on boats, surf skis and stand-up paddleboards. If you expect the unexpected, you will remain unflappable during your races – and will perform better. Those with the proper mindset will retain a mental edge over their competition.
Before your start, try to remain relaxed – but confident that you are ready after months of training and planning. It is not easy and may not come to you naturally, but you can fine-tune your mindset just as you can fine-tune your swimming technique. Breathe deeply if your heart is racing. Close your eyes and meditate or say a little prayer or mantra of your liking. Talk to a friend – or even confess your nervousness to a fellow competitor. Most competitors will give you some words of wisdom – and may even confide in you with their own stressful thoughts.
After the race starts, many things can—and will—go wrong. Getting stung by jellyfish, tripping on the shore, stepping on a rock, and swimming into a buoy are just a few examples of unplanned mishaps. These occurrences are frustrating for everyone. If you run into a plastic bag or lock arms with another athlete, these occurrences can temporarily shatter your focus or perhaps even self-confidence.
Racing in the open water can be a constant series of unexpected events that can disrupt your focus, rhythm, and confidence. When stuff happens, try to maintain good stroke mechanics. Slow down a bit and catch your breath. Or, if you are very nervous, continue to eyeball your competition or the lifeguards and safety crew on the course. It is better to stop and tread water a short bit and refocus on your stroke, positioning, and navigation.