Beginner Triathlon Training: Swimming In the Open Water

Hilary attempts to get on her wetsuit

This blog post was written in August 2014, right before my first triathlon in Florida. I had never been in the open water and went to the Open Water Swim LI Robert Moses swim. I was terrified. Here’s what happened:


My first experience in the open water was not fun. I met up with a group from Open Water Swim LI at Robert Moses State Park. I struggled to get on my wetsuit and then, inched my way into the murky water.  There was so much seaweed there and the water was so incredibly mucky, I had a hard time getting in.

Struggling in the open water

Bryan Krut, who runs Open Water Swim LI (OWS), saw me struggling. He pulled up to me on a jet ski and told me to climb aboard.  “I’ll take you out a little further so it won’t be that difficult to swim,” he said.

I attempted to swim but couldn’t get more than a few yards. Bryan was very helpful. He told me to try doing drills in the water and encouraged me to spot a location, so that I could see where I was going. He tried to calm me down and told me I was doing great for the first time, but I was still discouraged.

My second time was at Tobay Beach. I signed up for the Aqua Run and then realized I couldn’t do the event because my Captiva Tri was the same day.  But, they had an open water swim. So I decided to go over and check it out.

Tobay was much calmer than Robert Moses. I also found that getting on my wetsuit was a little easier than the first time. But I was slow to get it on and by the time I reached the water, the other participants were finished with the swim. The organizers for the Aqua Run had three police boats out and two people on kayaks in case anyone was in trouble.

I walked out into the water.  “How are you doing?” one of the men on the kayaks asked me.

Whoops I lied…

“Well, this is my first time in the open water,” I lied. (Even though it was my second, it was my first time at Tobay Beach.) “I’m a little nervous.”

He stayed with me.  Then another swimmer saw me and stayed with me too. I was swimming in Tobay Beach with a stranger and a kayaker who encouraged me to keep going. The whole fleet stayed with me until I finished. When I got to the beach, they all came off and gave me a high five. I was a little embarrassed. But, I got a private lesson!

Third open water in Florida

My third time was when I went to Florida this past weekend to see my Dad and Brother’s family. My husband, children and I stayed at the Marriott at Pompano Beach. It was a nice resort with a beautiful beach.

The first day I went out and the water was calm, like a lake. I swam with no problem. My husband and children were cheering me on.

(Sidebar, they never see me in the water. I just don’t go, well, now I go. And, when I’m in the water, I usually go in and come right out. They were surprised at how long I was in the Ocean.)

“Wow, mom, you’re doing so good. You have great form,” my daughter said to me.

“She’s right,” said my son, “Dad and I can’t keep up with you!”

It made me smile. I’ve only been swimming for 10 weeks and all that hard work was paying off!

The next three days, I made it my business to go out and swim back and forth between the buoys. They were rough days. It was nothing like the first day. The waves were big and crashed against me as I swam. The tide pulled me out and I had to fight the current. It was great practice.

I got myself into a rhythm, similar to the rhythm I get when I swim at the Recreation Center in Long Beach, NY.

I was pleased with my performance.  Maybe I’m finally getting this sport!