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Okay, here we go:
- Pre-swim warmup – Some people do a warmup in the water, some don’t. Really up to you. I do some dynamic warmups – arm and shoulder circles, high knee kicks, jumping jacks, etc, to bring my heart rate up. I also like jumping into the water to get acclimated to the water temperature.
- Wetsuits – You are not required to wear a wetsuit for Jamestown, but I would recommend bringing down a wetsuit with you and assessing the situation on race day. The race is 5 weeks away, and right now, the water temp (62 degrees) hasn’t quite warmed up due to the cold spell we’re having this week and next. This doesn’t leave much time for the water to warm up before the race. If there are moderate waves, you most definitely want a wetsuit because it’s pretty scary swimming through waves hitting you on all sides without the buoyancy protection from your wetsuit. If the wetsuit is constricting, you either need to swim with it more often to acclimate to it, or get a different size or type of wetsuit. You can get a bigger size or go sleeveless. Certainly, if the race conditions allow for it and if you don’t want to wear a wetsuit, go ahead and skip the wetsuit.
- Swallowed water – You need to get used to swallowing water, breathing in water, choking on water, and missing your breath. These are all things that will more than likely happen in a race, but you need to learn how to deal with it and remain calm. If you’ve been swimming on your own and taking up an entire lane to yourself, you will never have been in the situation where you have swimmers close to you, ahead of you, behind you, and on the side of you. If you do DC Tri Masters Swim, you will be pushed out of your comfort zone and get used to swallowing water, etc etc.. I’ve done Masters Swim and at the beginning, I would feel like I’m drowning because I was stressed by the swimmers around me and I would swallow water or get water into my nose, etc etc. But I got used to it, and then it was no longer a big deal when it happened and I no longer panicked.
Gripping power while cycling and feet numb. If you’re hands are numb, your hands are either cold and you need to wear gloves. Or you are locking in your arms straight on the handlebar. You need to loosen up your arms so there is a slight bend to your elbow, and also shake your arms every 10 minutes or so, to relieve pressure. If your feet is numb, it’s likely that your feet is just cold from your wet feed out of the water and the cold air temperature. You can either make sure you dry your feet completely at transition, or put thicker socks on, or double socks.
- Jamestown water conditions – Race is in a river, but the race organizers say the swim will go with the current, so it’s likely that the current will actually make it easier for you to swim. The water is also murkier and colder. Other than that, it’s not much different than Lake Anna. It’ll have waves like Lake Anna if it’s windy that morning.
- Sighting – if you are not good with sighting, just make sure you sight more often so you don’t go too far off course.
Ultimately, with the open water swim, everyone has a different learning curve. I saw three NTPers who were among the slowest swimmers in the pool, but were able to overcome their fears and complete the sprint or oly swim at Peasantman. They were among the last people to come out of the water, but they finished the swim course. One of them kept standing at the shallow end until he was told that if he didn’t swim, he had to get out of the water. That pressure did it for him and he pushed his fears aside and swam towards the next buoy and then the next, until he completed the swim course. It was rather amazing to see that happen.