Before you put your cap on in an open water competition, you need to prepare yourself physically and mentally.
Summer, sea, sport, competition – these are perhaps the four words that best define the beginning of the swimming cross events in Lanzarote. Every year sees an increase in the number of local and visiting swimmers who want to participate in one of the open water swimming competitions held on the island.
Swimming is a sport that requires the dedication of a lot of time, but if you’re serious about your training you’ll be crossing the finish line of a swim with a smile on your face in less time than you think. In this post we offer a little guide that will help you to know whether you are ready to sign up for your next open water event. Like a duck to water!
Confidence and safety
It will probably take some time from when you first think about swimming in an open water event to signing up for your first swim. In swimming you must have confidence in your abilities in the aquatic environment, be in good physical condition so you know you can face the sea without fear, and be sure you are ready to swim with other swimmers. Swimming in company in the days before the race, over the course prepared by the organisers, will give you security and confidence.
”If there is a dream or goal you want to achieve, you have to pursue it 100%. Give everything you’ve got to your goals.” -Alia Atkinson.
Bear in mind that ocean currents and weather changes can favour swimming or make it more difficult, but it is better not to go with an idea of the weather situation you are going to encounter during the competition – you have to be prepared for possible variations on the day of the race and know how to adapt to them.
Pace and distance
In order to be able to face a race with the guarantee that you will cross the finish line, you must be demanding in your training so that you don’t suffer in the competition. During the course of the cross, it is very important that you maintain a constant pace that is in accordance with the times you have trained for, at least until the last few metres of the race. If you then feel strong enough you can increase your speed and shave a few seconds off the time you had planned to finish. In the first few crosses, your only rival is yourself, so don’t let yourself be carried away by what the other participants are doing, your goal is to finish the race.
”There will always be obstacles that will come your way, stay positive.” -Michael Phelps.
We recommend that your first crossings should be between 1,200 and 2,000 metres, so that you can gradually get to know your body, without exceeding one hour of competition time. Then you can take small leaps and dare to take on more demanding challenges, such as the Travesía a Nado “El Río” (2.6 km), the Travesía Playas de Papagayo (5 km) or the Travesía Internaciona La Bocaina (15 km).
Places to train in open water
Although most open water swimming training takes place in the pool, you also have to go out into the sea once or twice a week. For 365 days a year, Lanzarote offers a large natural pool known as the Atlantic Ocean where you can train for your competitions. There are several places which are the most frequented by local and foreign swimmers because of their accessibility or the weather.
”The only side effect of training too much is that you get fitter. There’s nothing wrong with that.” -Mark Spitz.
Playa Chica, in Puerto del Carmen, is perhaps the favourite place, due to its calm waters and good weather that always invites you to get into the water. Marina Colón, in El Cable, is another of the most popular places, especially among local swimmers, with easy access and several beacons that mark a triangular circuit over which you can train in laps. The entire south coast of the island is also ideal for training. It is important to always carry a buoy to ensure you are visible in the sea.
Most importantly, ENJOY!
When you’re wearing your cap with your bib number on and are just seconds away from the starting gun, don’t think negative thoughts. You’re there because you know you can do it. Run into the water and start taking those first strokes in the competition. Enjoy the adrenaline rush when you are just a few metres away from your goal and cross the finish line with a smile on your face.
”Enjoy the journey, enjoy every moment, and stop worrying about winning and losing.” -Matt Biondi.