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Swim Club Blog: Don't Panic!!

The Endurance Store Swim Club provides you with simple swim training plans throughout the winter months. The plan runs October to October and is completely free. We only ask that you pre-register so that your training plans can be emailed directly.

Registration is free and you may unsubscribe at any time from the Swim Club and stop receiving updates. Overview of the swim plan be seen below, but before you start you need to complete a test to set your swim paces, then register and download the sessions. GO HERE to register for swim club.

It happens to everyone at some time or another and a panic attack in open water isn't a nice experience! There is a wide range of panic attacks, some may simply suffer from a shortness of breath for a few seconds, whilst others may suffer an extreme attack and need helping from the water. In can strike novices and experienced swimmers alike and it can happen at the most unlikely of times. So... what it is and why does it happen?

There is no single answer to the question, but from our experience of coaching open water for many years, here are our thoughts:

1. Open water is a different environment to the pool, there's a lot of things which can distract your attention. In particular, the cold water, the darkness, the choppy water and other swimmers around you (and crashing into you) make it very different to pool swimming. The basic issue here is that the more 'external stuff' you have to think about, the less you think about what's happening to you. This is the first and most basic thing to take into consideration. When you should be thinking about yourself, how you are feeling and what you are doing, you're actually distracted by other things which are happening around you.

2. One of the key things you forget to do is breathe out. Putting your face in cold water for some reason tends to discourage people from breathing out. They breathe in, but not out.

3. The cold water shock can often lead to shortness of breath and breathing rate becomes very rapid and shallow.

4. Wetsuits can feel very restrictive (they are supposed to feel tight) and this adds to the issue of shallow breathing.

5. Points 2-4 above result in swimmers breathing too quickly and not exhaling under the water, this leads to a build up of carbon dioxide in the body. You get rid of carbon dioxide when you exhale, if you're not exhaling fully, it will accumulate in your blood stream.

6. Carbon dioxide is responsible for heart rate and breathing rate. The levels of CO2 at any time, dictate your breathing and heart rate, whether at rest or during exercise. If levels increase significantly in the blood, it can lead to a rapid heart rate and breathing rate, resulting in a panic attack. All of this happens without you realising it, due to point number 1... you're not monitoring what's happening and you're not doing what you should be doing.

For better breathing and more relaxed swimming, here's out op tips:

1. Switch your thoughts away from external stuff. Zone in on your own body and notice what's happening. If you're not aware, you can't stop it going wrong.

2. Breathe out!! Relax and focus on exhaling fully under the water. Next time you swim, completely forget about breathing in, it will happen anyway. Instead, focus on breathing out as that's the thing which doesn't happen naturally. IMPORTANT - It is not a lack of oxygen which makes you gasp for air, it's a build up of CO2.

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For details of our Wednesday evening open water swim sessions GO HERE

Call in and see us soon!

The Endurance Store

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