Overcoming Fear In Open Water Swimming

Part 4 of 9 – Managing Real Fears and Danger

Fear is suppose to be a healthy response to danger. We don’t want to do away with the necessary triggers and healthy responses to it. We need it to survive and to succeed. What we want to do is train so that we recognize real dangers, practice appropriate responses to them, and after each experience refine our understanding and responses even more.

List Your Rational Fears

Here’s a short list of rational fears of real dangers that came to my mind- things that are based on facts- that we may encounter in our favored body of wild water.

  • Physical exhaustion
  • Injury
  • Boredom or Anxiety Attacks
  • Succumbing to exposure
  • Weather, climate
  • Water conditions
  • Collisions with boats or swimmers
  • Wildlife and creatures, microscopic organisms even
  • Getting lost
  • Mental exhaustion

Some of these dangers are in the environment around us and some of them come from within ourselves. These are real dangers that must be taken into consideration and prepared for. However skilled and fit we become, at best we’re still visitors to the great blue (or grey, or murky brown). We need to be prepared not just in fitness of body, but to know the ways of that water, about how to swim through it, and how to manage our body and mind while doing so.

I want to present a 3-part strategy to managing rational fear and dangers in open-water swimming.

  1. Technique
  2. Focus
  3. Familiarity

We want to train in such a way that we understand how we can exercise control over our exposure to these realistic dangers and so we that have a skilled response when we voluntarily or accidentally have to face them.

We’ll look at the first part, Technique, in the next essay…

Here are the topics covered in this series:

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