Top 3 Tips to Banish Swim Anxiety

Hey reader! Did you take the Anxious Triathlete survey yet?                                                                              Yes? Then skip ahead to swim anxiety banishing awesomeness!                                                                  No? Go take it now!

I hear it time and time again. People think a triathlon looks fun- if only you didn’t have to swim. I get it. It took me YEARS to get up the guts to get in the pool and start working on my swim. Even now I have more than my share of days when water anxiety creeps up and I flat out don’t want to swim. So today I’m sharing my top three things to remember when anxiety starts creeping up on a swim workout

  1. No one is looking at you.

Except the lifeguard, and for that you should be grateful. But seriously. 80% of the people at the pool are focusing on their own workout. Unlike being in a gym, you can’t let your eyes wander to check out the competition. You’re focused on that line at the bottom of the pool, and that’s about it. Chances are they don’t even know you’re there. The other 20%? 10% of them are there to goof off and swim for fun. They’re paying no attention to those athletic folks. The last 10% are sitting on the sideline, wondering how these people (you included) can swim like that. Rockstar status.

      2. Just keep counting.

Swimming is like dancing: you get in a rhythm. You breathe consistently based on stroke rate (think every 2 if you’re just breathing to one side, every 3 if you’re practicing breathing on both sides). So count! When I swim I count my laps and I count my strokes for breath. One, two, breathe left. One two breathe right. One two breathe left. It’s weirdly soothing.

3. Consider it to be resiliency training.

When I really really REALLY don’t want to swim, I make deals with myself. I tell myself to stay in the pool until x time, whether I swim or not. Or, complete 1000 yards and I can call it a day. These are days where I know that I’m not getting a great workout in. But I am training my brain to set goals and achieve them, to overcome the voices that tell me to quit. It is the most valuable skill you can cultivate as an endurance athlete.img_5543


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