Thankfully there is Meetup.com
I found the group OC Triathlete Ocean Swimming group. Swimming is my main weakness, and I needed experienced people to help me. Its a Free group which is great, because often meetup groups or training groups make you pay $ which sucks.
I learned how to swim a little less than a year ago. I've only done pool swimming and freestyle. I figured if I can swim a mile in the pool I'll be decent enough to swim 500 meters in the ocean.. WRONG!!
I'm so thankful for this group. When I first arrived, I was greeted by a group of super friendly people. Some people have the goal to train, others just to swim. For me, it was to swim in Open Water for the FIRST time.
I met Kate and Bill. I told them this is my first time ever being in Open water and swimming in a tri wet suit. They were super helpful and offered to stay with me through the swim. Kate warned me,
"The first time always sucks". And she wasn't kidding.
1- Drag your feet in the sand when you walk in. This prevents you getting stung by a Sting ray.
As I stepped in, I realized how awesome the suit is at keeping you warm. I didn't feel the cold water at all. After getting into the water and the ground disappeared, we started swimming. I got about 15 strokes in, before I started freaking out. The water is so murky, I couldn't see anything. Waves kept splashing over my face and I drank so much sea water. I paused and Kate asked me if I was ok.
I didn't lie,"I'm so scared right now" and started to panic.
I was half way to the buoy, and half way from land. I couldn't breathe properly and I kept thinking, "I'm not too far to to turn back, go back!" but I really wanted to make it to the buoy else the day would've been pointless. Kate suggested
2 - to do the breast stroke it helps you breathe and relax you.
3- Close your eyes when you put your face in the water so the murkiness of water isn't frightening.
After a few minutes and I stopped panicking, we trekked forward to the buoy. I paused again to rest, I was so tired at this point. Kate suggested,
4 - Don't fight the water
I was so tense and scared. I was wasting so much energy fighting the water. The wetsuit is amazing at keeping you afloat.
5 - Don't focus on the distance, just count your strokes.
It looked like the buoy was really far, but it was probably less than 20 strokes away. So I closed my eyes, and counted. Before I knew it I touched the buoy!! I was so happy.
After that, I wanted to go back to land. Kate and Bill swam back to shore with me. They didn't have to, but they wanted to see me to safety. They were such genuinely kind people and I'm so grateful to have met them.
I was so exhausted because of my breathing. Also the suit makes it harder for you to breath too. I almost made it to shore before I was too exhausted, Kate let me hold onto her while we made the last few kicks to shore. I couldn't thank them enough.
it was definitely an "interesting" experience. As I swam my brain kept yelling at me, "What are you doing? Why are you doing this? Quit Quit QUIT, return the suit and withdraw the race application!" If I didn't invest all this time and $ into the suit and race entry, I would've quit, and never looked back.
I know next time won't be as bad. I want to get better, and I know I can. I RSVP'd for next Saturday, so we'll see how that goes. Kate said she was only swimming in open water for 6 weeks. So I hope to be as confident as her in 6 weeks.
We'll see.. :-D