Ironwoman Wednesday: The Open Water Swim

It’s time for another Ironwoman Wednesday with From Couch to IronwomanIronwomanStrong and me, Lean Green Island Girl. This week we’re talking Open Water Swim!

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The Ironman dreams, or shall I say nightmares, have started. I knew it was bound to happen, since I’m less than 2 weeks away from my first half ironman, and of course my nightmare was centered around the open water swim.

We were minutes away from starting Ironman Puerto Rico (maybe that should be a 2015 goal race?) when they announced a change in the swim course. Instead of swimming in the crystal clear water, we would now be swimming an out and back course straight into the dark blue water.

My heart dropped and I woke up completely freaked out!

I’m an island girl and I love the beach and ocean, but for 25+ years I had an intense fear of dark water and preferred lounging on the beach, in the clear water near the shore, where I could see my feet!

While I can now comfortably swim in rivers and lakes and even enjoy open water swimming, my deep blue ocean fears still linger.

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Can you blame me? This is what I grew up swimming in!

I actually never thought I would swim in a river or lake, but when I decided I wanted to step it up from sprint triathlons to the Olympic distance and eventually aim for an Ironman, I knew I would have to say goodbye to pool races and  overcome my fear.

I started slowly first signing up for the White Lake Sprint Tri, because I had been told that the lake is super clear. It seemed  like the perfect way to chip away at my fear and it was….although not for the reasons I originally thought. White Lake, which was supposed to be a nice warm race, ended up being 53 degrees! I was so cold the entire time, I forgot to be scared of the lake!

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Conquering my fear at One Wave Swimming’s Sandy Point open water swim

OWS at Sandy Point, Jamestown International, the Nation’s Triathlon and Chesapeake Man followed. I was scared before the start of each race, but jumped in anyways and had a blast! I swam in the Potomac, and it is my favorite open water swim to date! Ask any DC resident if they’d swim in the Potomac and they’ll probably give you a gross look. How’s that for overcoming a fear of dark water!

By the way if you want to swim in the Potomac, registration for both the Sprint and Olympic distances of the Nation’s Tri is OPEN! Register here and leave a comment on the blog for a discount code (valid thru 5/28/2014).

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That’s me in the middle at Nation’s Tri conquering the Potomac River!

A few weeks after my last race of the season, I got my first tattoo. I know I don’t need a tattoo to celebrate the fact that I have overcome my fear of dark water, but the tattoo represents so much more than this one fear.

photo-2When fear washes over you, it becomes such a debilitating factor, so I wanted to always remind myself that I am stronger than any fear that might wash over me, that I can do anything I set my mind to and that there is no reason to let fear get in your way! Same goes for you! If you have a dream, don’t let your fears get in the way!

I love the water, I love swimming and since letting go of my fear I have been able to do so much! I’ve snorkeled way further off shore than I ever thought I would and have seen beautiful things. I swam with seals in San Diego and in rivers and lakes all over the place and I had to courage to sign up for an Ironman!

Swimming with seals in San Diego!

Swimming with seals in San Diego!

My half Ironman is 1.5 weeks away and I get to go back to the lake I had many many chances to swim in when I was an undergraduate over a decade ago, but never did. I cannot tell you how excited I am to go back and finally jump in!

How do you feel about open water? Anyone share my fears? Or have you always loved open water?


Join us next week when we talk about all things bike related!

8 comments
  1. I’m glad you got over your fear! I’ve never really had a fear, other than in really rough water. I don’t mind not being able to see, I just trust that there isn’t anything down there haha. OWS is so much better than pool swimming, and this is coming from a former competitive swimmer!

    So exciting that your first Half Ironman is coming up, yay!!

    • OWS is def better than pool but I still don’t completely trust when I can’t see! I just love swimming so I figured time to man up and just hope whatever is down there leaves me alone! I am do excited about Raleigh 70.3!! 🙂

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  3. Love your tattoo! I’m still working on getting over not being able to see in murky water. Love swimming in the clear stuff though!

    • Thank you! When I jumped into the Chesapeake Bay this weekend without even thinking (it was def murky), I looked down at my wrist and smiled. It’s so empowering, but Curacao’s crystal clear waters win any day!

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