I was in SF last week and got a chance to swim and run there in hopes of seeing how Escape from Alcatraz would feel like before I register for the lottery on Sept. 1. I could probably deal with the waves and the cold water for the race, but I had trouble dealing with the salty ocean water on the swim. Everytime I breathe in or out through my mouth, I get a bit of salty water swooshing around my mouth, and I end up feeling either super dehydrated or like I want to puke because of the salty taste. Inevitably, I also swallowed some ocean water during my swim and it sucked.
So any advice on how to make swimming in salty ocean water not suck? I also tried adjusting my breathing technique by breathing out through my nose, which helped a little, but not enough as I would still get some water in when I breathe in through my mouth. thanks in advance!
First up - I think there's no way to prevent any salt water from getting in. You can't predict where the ocean waves are going to come from and you may get hit with one now and again. Having done Escape from Alcatrez in the past and numerous ocean swims, there's definately a big difference in the dynamics of the waves from lake/river open water swims. It's something you may just have to practice and get used to.
That said one, you should be able to limit the amount of water ingested by properly exhaling. It could be you're taking in so much water because you're not exhaling enough under water. When your face is in the water don't think about it as holding your breath. Think about getting into a breathing rhythm (similar to running). When you turn your head to breath I suspect your exhaling and inhaling before taking the next stroke and while inhaling taking on water. You want to lengthen your stroke out and really concentrate on forcfully exhaling out before you turn your head to breath. If you find yourself rushing your stroke to get to a breath you're probablly not exhaling enough. Bilateral breathing (breathing every 3 or 5 strokes) may also help both in lengthening out your stroke and giving you a little more time to exhale while your face is in the water.
I can't help you with swallowing the brackish water other than to say: "don't swallow the water" but that's not very helpful.
The one tip that I got unfortunately after I raced Alcatraz a few years ago but which would have helped me a lot as my stomach felt very queasy for the duration of the race: upon exiting the water in the race, you have a small T1/2 (half) where you have a pair of throwaway shoes for the long run to the main transition area. In the bag at your T1/2, have a bottle of water. This is not for drinking. This is to rinse out your mouth with. Rinse out your mouth at least 3-4 times (not swallowing the water, but spitting it out). This will get rid of the brackish contents that inevitably get into your mouth during your swim breathing.
The trick would be to work on not swallowing water during the swim and then just rinse out your mouth at T1/2. That's about the only trick there is. I'm sure even Andy Potts gets the brackish water in his mouth, it happens to everyone.
I would also add that you should spend more time than you usually do thinking about the direction that the waves are hitting you. If you can breathe to the side opposite the worst of the waves, you'll reduce the chance of swallowing water as you swim along.
In terms of helping with the saltiness that you do encounter, one of things I had success with when I swam Alcatraz was putting petroleum jelly on my face and my lips. I was using it to help keep my face a bit warmer, but it also helped protect my mouth from the salt water.
Good luck on the lottery! It's a fun race.
Go out to Sandy Point and do a bunch of swims to get used to that saltiness. Over time, it may become less bothersome. That's what I did when I was training for IMFL. IMFL is an ocean swim. Saltiness was never an issue for me during that swim and I hydrate a lot during the swim :)
Do you need swim lessons? ;)
Thanks, I'll let y'all know if I get in through the lottery! I'm so excited and scared.
If you're looking for more practice with the salt water and choppier waves Dewey Sprint Tri is a great race out on the Eastern Shore in Deleware. Its the week after Nations. There's also one in Bethany Beach the week after that. I really do enjoy ocean swimming but being able to breath on either side is incredibly important to avoid breathing into the swell. I've gotten rolled coming out of the water with the waves crashing, not sure if you'll have to worry about that?!?!? just something to be prepared for mentally.
I'm thinking of doing the Dewey Beach Sprint Tri as well (mainly trying to get one of my non-tri Dewey friends to do a tri with me). David, this thread made me nervous in that I might have already missed registration and the first lottery drawing for Alcatraz. Hopefully we both get in!!!!
Thanks again for all the advice. I had second thoughts about signing up for Alcatraz after my practice swim in SF, but I've got a plan now. I'll swim in the Eastern Shore beaches in the winter to get used to cold and salty ocean water! Also, good prep for Norsemen too at some point!
Hey Stef, can you do Bethany Beach instead bc I would be up for that? The Dewey one conflicts with Savageman. And yes, sign up for Alcatraz on Sept. 1, but FYI, my friend just told me that the registration fee is a whopping $425. I didn't know that, so that might be the only race I end up doing in 2015! Better start counting my pennies and eating PB&J's EVERY SINGLE DAY! Also, the first drawing coincides with my birthday. It might be a very sad birthday if I don't get in through the lottery. :(
First off: PB&J is awesome and it is one of my lifeforce foods (that, poptarts and pizza). Pinching pennies or not... you know you'll be eating it. ;)
I can't do the Bethany Beach tri because it conflicts with 70.3 Princeton. Sigh. That stinks. Would have been fun to do that together. We'll figure out another salt water event that we can do! Yup, September 1. Hopefully you'll have an awesome birthday and get in! ... and by the power of association, I will get in as well. :D