So, I'm sitting in the parking lot waiting to get on the bus to the ferry, and I'm trying not to freak out because of my nerves. Does everyone do this? Does it get better the more of these swims that I do?
You will develop confidence with each and every swim - understand that we all go through this! Remind yourself of the training you completed; the hours and time away from family and friends that you have sacrificed to get to your goal! Overlooking a large body of water is a daunting task, but in the end, you will remain strong, eyes fixed on the goal - give it everything you have, and never have any regrets! Stress can bring down the strongest athletes, so STAY POSITIVE AND KNOW YOU GOT THIS!
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.
With as stressed as I get before events, even ones I'm not concerned with results about, it's probably best if I avoid organized events like this in the future.
By the way, the big swim got cancelled due to the dodgy weather. They did something in the harbor, but I was checked out mentally, only did about a mile, called it and got out. I feel like a pretty mentally weak dipshit.
I always get stressed out before a race (10K or shorter). It never ceases to amaze me. It's not like I am getting paid to race. However, before long swims I am very relaxed.
Tim, if it's not too personal, I'm curious: Is it something specific you freak out about? e.g., animals, hypothermia, pain, failure... or is it more of an abstract, diffuse worry?
When I was younger, I frequently had problems with nerves at big pool meets. But for whatever reason I haven't had these issues with OW swimming. Like Bob, the longer the swim the calmer I am. I'm not sure why this would be... perhaps because in a long swim there's plenty of time to "make up" for any mistakes.
In general, it's a feeling of general anxiety. On the rare occaison I swim a pool meet, I have a lot of nerves then, too. Before Pensacola, I think I was nervous because I hadn't done a swim longer than about 5 miles and was lining up to swim 3 times that. Even smaller events that I'm using to build for other ones, I get the same nerves. For this swim, I think I've nailed down a lot of things that gave me a lot of unease. I've had a few days to reflect on it, and talked briefly with one of the guys who swam with me in Pensacola, and he seemed to think I was reasonable in my thoughts. I don't say this to be critical of the people, they seemed like good people, and I know they meant well.
*Crew Member - in Pensacola, my fiance paddled for me and managed my feeds, after I had trained with her quite a few times. For SAS, I had a volunteer picked out by the race organization. He seemed nice enough, and he was more than capable of following the instructions I had given him, but it was only my 3rd swim longer than 10k, and second 5+ hour swim. Also, he barely knew me from Adam, and I don't think he had volunteered to crew for anyone before (if he had crewed for anyone before, he didn't tell me that he had). This didn't help my peace of mind.
*Boat Pilot - I'm sure that St. Vincents has some sort of vetting process, but my pilot had never escorted a swimmer. They had been on the outside of the event before serving as a barrier between other traffic and the event, but they hadn't escorted a swimmer. Also not a good feeling.
*Assigned EMT - This girl was very enthusiastic, and was disappointed that the swim didn't go off. However, when she was asking me about stuff that had happened before (and my Mom was mentioning things that had happened in Pensacola), she was trying to offer suggestions how to fix them. Any other time, I might have appreciated it, but not an hour and a half before I'm about to hop in the water for an 8ish hour swim.
*Mom/Observer - I should have learned from Pensacola and asked Mom not to come, but that would have hurt her feelings, and due to a lot of family history that is too private to go into on this forum, I wanted to avoid that. She seemed a bit hurt that I had "fired" her (she used that word over the weekend, so I guess I will too) from being my crewmember. I had gotten up to Bridgeport late Wednesday night (off the train about 2:30 AM), she got in Thursday around lunchtime. Family has been on eggshells for a while, so that was two extra days of added stress trying to pretend to be interested about the goings on from home (some of which I was interested in, most of which I wasn't). She asked if I wanted to be told about the issues at home, which I had severed communications about in times past. I said I certainly didn't want to know before my swim, she alluded to them anyway. She asked how she should log it if I had troubles like the ones I had in Pensacola (documented thoroughly in my write up on that) on Friday evening. I didn't have an answer for that. I figured some of that would probably happen, but I didn't want to think about that all that much the night before the swim.
I'm sure that I come off sounding kind of like a prima donna. Perhaps I was a bit of one. But, I was dealing with a big effort ahead of me, in territory I'm not very familiar with. In my life, I've so far done 1 8+ hour swim, and 3 8+ hour bike rides, 2 of which featured stops to refuel. Also, given all the preperation I'd done, and the support I'd need, I don't think it's terribly unreasonable.
Going forward, I'll do whatever I can to at least make sure I have my crew member be someone I'm familiar with. Had I had a random volunteer observer, but Amanda (or someone else that I had trained with) managing my feeds, I would have felt MUCH more at east about everything. While I know my Mom loves me, and is concerned about my well being, with the extra stress she unintentionally brings with her, I won't invite her to participate in an event like this again in a role crucial to my success.
I'm disappointed that the weekend turned out so poorly (got home 3 hours later than I should have because of flight delays to top everything off), but I ended up learning a lot from it anyway that will put me in good stead going forward to whichever event I decide to swim, whether it's something organized or something I do solo and arrange the logistics of myself. I'm still reeling a bit, but I'll get back in the pool tomorrow, and might try a longish swim locally in the fall, although I probably won't publicize it to very many people beforehand.
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