Almost all of us experience at least a bit of a panic attack in our first few triathlon swims, particularly when we start in a pack.  Though I no longer feel the same anxiety that I did when I first started, I still find myself dealing with the swim the way I did in my second race.  I always start far to the outside of the main pack of people who take off at the same time so there is open water between myself and them.  This performs two purposes: 1. I don’t have to deal with the thrashing of arms and feet that can knock my goggles off.  2. I am so much closer to shore which gives me comfort and is quite calming.  I know that if something goes wrong, I can just head for shore and get out of the water.  Another thing I do is switch to breaststroke and even backstroke if I feel a touch of panic coming on.  If I am on my back, I look at the sky and guess the shapes of the clouds.  Breaststroke gives me a constant view of where everyone else is.  What brings me the most peace, however, is getting myself to realize that the swim portion of the race is so insignificant compared to the rest of the event that I could doggie paddle the entire way and still get to my bike in plenty of time.  I am not in the Olympics.  With experience comes confidence.  The more you practice swimming in open water the more comfortable you will feel.  Also. When in the pool, try crowding up your lane with a couple of friends and practice swimming very closely to one another.

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