If you prepare emotionally and physically to expect the unexpected, you will be able to adapt to nearly every situation due to weather, winds or waves, or anything due to human error, marine life, or course layout changes.
In particular, changes in the water temperature, the race course, the swim direction, or the weather conditions can result in deep frustrations. What can you do? What is the only thing you can do? Accept the situation and keep moving forward.
For example, the water temperature can suddenly drop several degrees overnight. Are you prepared for that? Do you have a wetsuit or a thicker wetsuit? Do you have ear plugs or two swim caps? Run a bit before getting in that colder water.
Swimmers who follow the two Golden Rules understand the possibility of water temperature fluctuations and many other changes, none of which are under your control. You should mentally prepare to swim in a wide range of conditions and temperatures well before race day. Practice open water swimming on a miserably rainy day. Practice open water swimming on a particularly windy or rough day. Practice swimming without goggles, in case your goggles or swim cap come off during the race. Are you prepared? Are you prepared to swim when you have an upset stomach or a headache?
Some athletes bring different swimwear to their races to handle every possible condition; others simply bring the “expect the unexpected” mind-set. They remain unworried instead of allowing stress to negatively affect their performance.
Sometimes, unexpected weather or operational problems lead to unscheduled or unannounced changes to the course layout. Rain and fog can reduce visibility, and buoys can lose their moorings. Timing systems, and their backup systems, occasionally fail. If you accept these challenges, you can gain an upper hand relative to your competition.
Above all, know that you are in the open water to enjoy yourself and accept the challenges as they come.
Enjoy the course!