Mindset Matters: Is fear stopping you from swimming in open water?


Is Fear stopping  you from swimming in open water?


Picture this…you’re standing at the edge of the water with a hundred other people, all waiting for the starters’ gun. Poised and relaxed ready for your race to begin…Hang on! Rewind a few words…did you say ‘relaxed’??


Is that how you feel? No! You feel sick with apprehension at the thought of getting into the open water. You are terrified! Your heart is racing and you are sweating, and wondering if you can just quietly back away and get out of this nightmare…Sound familiar?


You have trained for this race for the last few months but yet here you are, on the brink of panic…why? Because you have a fear of swimming in open water. This is a common fear. Many people in the triathlon community talk of the swim leg as their least favourite and for good reason, they associate it with fear.


Fear of what? The unknown…the ‘what-ifs?’


Let’s look at some common fears & hacks that can support you:


  1. I won’t make it; I’ll run out of breath, I’m not a strong swimmer

Hacks: support from life guards if needed; floating on your back; swim at your pace; & don’t try to keep up with others at a different stage


  1. I’ll get squashed going around the buoy

Hacks: positioning yourself; sitting yourself on someone’s feet


  1. I can’t see the bottom

Hacks: visualise a clear path


  1. I might get lost/off track

Hacks: practice sighting; pick a swimmer and sit on their feet


2 powerful techniques for facing fear:


  1. Visualise:

See your self starting the race, & then mentally rehearse the race. You can set yourself up for success by getting your mind familiar with what’s to come. And by success I mean your desired outcome (which could be to finish the race or win it, success is very personal). During the race how do you want to feel? (Calm? strong? excited?). Feel these things in your body. Imagine the scene, the sounds of the crowd, the colours & the movement around you. Create for yourself a clear image of what it is you want to achieve. See yourself swimming the entire race and doing it well, and then watch in your mind as you exit the water strong, with a smile on your face and a feeling that you’ve done a great job as you head to transition.


  1. Breath work:

As you do your visualisation work, breathe. Breathing is a powerful tool in shifting states. Your body can be instantly transformed by taking a few big deep breaths that support relaxation, which then allows your mindset to shift from tense and closed, to relaxed and open. When you are in a more relaxed state you are more receptive to positive thoughts and images.


Your mind believes what you think, in other words what you are picturing in your mind and what you are thinking will become your reality. This is really powerful because it means that you can create anything by using the power of your mind (thoughts and images).


Realise that you are in control of your body and mind…when you give away that control to negative and fearful thinking, you give away your power to achieve.

This article is obviously about open water swimming but it can be applied to any area of your life! Create it in your mind, and it becomes reality!!

Have you ever had any experience with using the power of your thoughts to visualise something that you’d like to create in real life? Leave a comment  below and let me know, I’d love to hear!

Sam x



About sam wheatley

I am an Intuitive Life Coach for women who are seeking inner peace. I help them to find clarity and uncover the self-love that they’ve been missing from their life so that they can reach that beautiful calm inner place that helps them to be happy, healthy and whole.

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