Stupid open water swimming questions

Hi, I did my first sprint triathlon (outdoor pool swim) a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it.  I'm thinking about doing another one at the end of August, but this one is in a lake.

I learned to swim completely from scratch for the triathlon and can now do a pretty good, but slow, front crawl.  A friend from the local triathlon club has asked if I want to go along to one of their organised swims in the lake to have a go but I'm having a wobble about it.

Is it loads different swimming in a lake?  Is it harder to swim in a wetsuit?  What do you wear under a wetsuit?  Will I drown? (the lake is only about 5ft deep so I guess the answer to that one is probably not!)  Should I be worried that the lake has weever fish in it?

I guess I'm asking if I should just get on and have a go, or should I leave it until I'm a better swimmer?




  • IslandIsland ✭✭✭
    You'll be fine!

    The important thing is to stay relaxed... Don't panic. You can always roll on your back if you need a rest, but sounds like you'll be able to touch the bottom anyway!

    For just a training swim, wear a normal swim suit under your wetsuit. Swimming in a wetsuit is easier as it aids buoyancy.

    I had an Open Water phobia, was mainly scared of what might be in the lake. After a couple of go's ... I got over that and now much prefer lakes to pools..... Now I need to tackle my sea swimming phobia haha!

    DO IT!!
  • senidMsenidM ✭✭✭
    Not difficult, just a bit different. Wear a tri-suit, a sports bra under that, and both under the wet suit. You soon dry out on the bike.image

    Only problem I had 1st time was remembering to look where I was going, kept veering off into the reeds! So every 10 strokes or so, quick bob up and see where the marker buoy is.

    Other than that, the more you do the better get.
  • kaybeekaybee ✭✭✭

    Hijacking as also have a stupid open water swim question.  Doing first Oli in three weeks, open water.  Did same event as sprint last year, harder than a pool swim and daunting, but no problems once I'd calmed myself.  Anyway, read yesterday that you should be able to swim TWICE your distance in a pool as you would open water, as it's that much harder.  I can swim 1500m comfortably (if VERY slowly) in a pool.  Thoughts?  Thanks!

  • IslandIsland ✭✭✭
    ^^ Nah... Maybe if you're swimming alone.. But in a Tri there is plenty of safety kayaks around. No probs!
  • I find quite the reverse kaybee.... i'd rather swim a distance in OW than a pool any day!


    lets be honest.... its all prep for an Ironman on my 100th birthday
  • kaybeekaybee ✭✭✭

    Thanks for the replies - I didn't think it sounded right but I'm at the "oh god what have a I DONE?" panicky stage of my training.  Like I said, did the shorter version of the same event last year and couldn't fault the safety arrangements (loads of kayaks and bodyboards) so should be OK.  Thank you!

  • most people in my experience are a little nervous in OW to start with.... and almost without exception, within the first 10 or 15 times, end up MUCH preferring it.... relax and enjoy!

    lets be honest.... its all prep for an Ironman on my 100th birthday
  • LollipopLollipop ✭✭✭

    Thanks everyone, I'll just get on and enter it then!

    Good luck Kaybee!

  • ZouseZouse ✭✭✭

    Just to add - weever fish are a marine species, so you won't find them in a freshwater lake. 

  • kaybeekaybee ✭✭✭

    Thanks Mrs L!  Was your recent sprint Nantwich by any chance?  image

  • I have never swam the full distance for ironman in a pool apart from when I entered a swimming event..

    I never have problems swimming the distance in openwater.......partly because the wetsuit helps my crap swimming technique and partly because open water I relax and allow my inner child to enjoy the great outdoors......

    when I did my first half I hadn't done the distance indoors....I had just learnt to crawl so i just swam 20 strokes crawl and then 20 strokes breaststroke to recover and repeated this until I had done the full course.

    So go and do openwater as much as you can.the only way to overcome any fears is to address them and better with others in a friendly training session


  • AlGiffAlGiff ✭✭✭

    I'm with Magna Carter, much prefer distance OW swims to length after length in a pool.

    What does take some getting used to is the lack of anywhere to rest after swimming for a few mins, i.e. no side or end of the pool to grab onto.  In your lake Mrs L you could always stand up but I'd not suggest you rely on that as it could be deeper than you or others think.

    You don't sound an experienced swimmer so I'd suggest you start off small and aim to swim 100-200m (in a loop or from one side to another) without stopping.  Go nice and slow, don't worry about speed, just try and keep going without stopping.  Maybe try swimming some breast stroke to start with as it is easier to see where you are going.

    btw - you mention you have a wetsuit but it is one designed for swimming?

  • LollipopLollipop ✭✭✭

    Zouse - it's a marine lake, so it says you can wear foot covering because of the weever fish.  It doesn't say what though - wellies? Flippers? Shark slippers?!

    Kaybee - yes, it was Nantwich.  Have you done it?  I thought it was great.

    WildWill - image Thanks for that!  Now I don't have to imagine all of the things that could eat me!  image

    Thanks Seren - for some reason I thought it would be harder to swim breaststroke in a wetsuit.

  • LollipopLollipop ✭✭✭

    Thanks AlGiff - I haven't bought a wetsuit yet, but I will.  Which brings me to another stupid question... are there special swimming ones?  What do people normally do in a wetsuit?!

  • yes, swimming wetsuits are very different from other types.... much more flexible in the shoulder area to allow you to swim properly.

    You can get swimming booties, but personally, i'd just avoid putting my feet down!

    On the subject of 'things that can eat you'...... remember this simple fact. There is nothing, and I mean nothing in a lake, or even the sea shore (bar a few exotic locations in warm places) that isn't dramatically more terrified of you than you are of it..... all wildlife in the water will be doing its best to scarper a long long way away long before you get anywhere near... they just want to be left alone in peace, and really really don't want to interact with you at all.... you have NOTHING to worry about. It's a mantra that can help keep you calm when needed

    PS... this isn't a 'stupid question/concern'.... pretty much everyone I have ever spoken to about this, shares a little fear of what 'lurks' beneath the surface to start with... its human nature, and just takes a little time to overcome... those that deny such fears are either superhuman, or just, well... fibbing! image

    lets be honest.... its all prep for an Ironman on my 100th birthday
  • mathschickmathschick ✭✭✭

    yes, special swimming wetsuit. People generally pee in their wetsuits to warm themselves up image

    you can hire one for the season or buy one - if you think you are going to get use from it then buy one. But, I would say, you need to try it on, so go to a shop. Lots of shops will price match to the internet (eg look up prices on wiggle and then try to haggle in the shop). It will feel very tight. You can wear your tri suit/swimming costume under the wetsuit. Swimming in a wetsuit feels different to swimming in a costume - so get one soon and get used to swimming in it

  • AlGiffAlGiff ✭✭✭

    Was thinking on the drive home about other things to think about....

    Your shallow marine lake (is it West Kirby?) could have seaweed in it, either growing up from the bottom or floating on the surface.  If it does you can expect to either touch it with your hand or it touch you, i.e. you swim into it.

    It can be a little off-putting especially if it touches or sticks to your hat/face.  A little shake of the head will usually dislodge it, if not try to grab it off while swimming keeping nice and calm.


    Mrs Lollipop wrote (see)

    What do people normally do in a wetsuit?!

    Now theres a question, it depends what YOU think is normal, one Pirates "Normal" is an others disgustingimage


  • If you are worried about weevers you just need some aqua shoes/wetsuit boots or something to walk into the lake. You could even use cheap waterproof sandals and chuck them back to land once you're in!

    It will probably be fine though - I bet most people will go in with bare feet.

  • Can I add a quick question to this - I'm aiming for my first fun distance triathlon in a few months, complete newbie, just realised it's an OW swim. Rules seem to suggest I don't need a wetsuit as it's only 200m - I can do that in around 6-7 mins in a pool so I'm hardly even in the water! Would people advise having a wetsuit anyway? Thank you
  • I'd be surprised if they'd have a fun tri in cold water. Best advice would be on the triathlon website? Whatever most people do would work. 

    Must admit a wetsuit for 200 metres sounds like it'll take you longer to get out of the suit than do the swim. 

  • edited April 2017
    often, even the fast and experienced guys and gals won't use a wetsuit for 200m swims... as Cougie says, the gain in swim speed is offset by the time to take it off in transition!...

    People swim all year round without wetsuits too... mad when they do it in Jan, but they do!
    lets be honest.... its all prep for an Ironman on my 100th birthday
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