"It's crunch time for me to get comfortable enough in water to participate in a Half Ironman on September 9. I've done 2 open water triathlons and the swim was a disaster in both. Although I made it through with the help of the kayak and kayaker, I never want to feel like that again in water, i.e., scared to death, feeling like I am going to drown if I don't get to a buoy or kayak, can't breathe, you get the picture. I can swim quite well in a pool, but put me in open water and it is panic with a capital P!!!!!"
Triathletes are some of the hardest working athletes we know. We've done tri's, ourselves.
Many triathletes push themselves too hard with the swim: they push to get into the water, push to get air, push to forget the fact that they're in deep or dark water. It makes swimming the most difficult sport to race and train for. It doesn't have to be so hard.
Is it more difficult to say, "This is scary" than it is to train? Let's face it, pushing yourself through fear in water when you don't feel (and aren't) safe doesn't help you improve this part of your tri. You need to besafe and feel safe.
How about learning to be comfortable in the water? It's the only long-term solution. And it's the only thing that can make your tri and your swim training really fun. If you're okay in a pool, but not in open water, your mind says, "The water's dark, it's deep, I don't know what's in it, I don't know where the bottom is, there are no sides, it's big."
None of these things matter to someone who understands how the water works.
None of these can get the best of you if you know how to remain in control. These two skills, learning how the water works and how to remain in control are what make our work different from the rest of the swimming instruction that's out there.
You don't have to push yourself to get air. Nor do you need to push yourself to stay afloat or get through the water. The water does most of the work for you. Come and learn how to be at ease in water—open water or pool—to let the water hold you up, and to move through it without effort. Then train and get faster. Triathlons are all for fun.