More Fitness-Related Stuff Ahead (You've been warned)
This is one of those stream-of-consciousness, trying to get my thoughts out into words blogs and if you skip it, you wouldn't offend me. But if you have any insights, leave me a comment!
After work last night SNG and I went to a local lake/water park with about 60 yards of distance available for open swimming. I wanted to go so I could try to learn how to open-water swim. I learned two things: leopard-print bikinis always make a person look trashy and open water isn't the problem.
Being an (arguably) good scientist, I have varied several factors to try to figure out why I can't swim in open water triathlons.
FACTORS UNDER MY CONTROL:
Wetsuit vs No Wetsuit
Pool vs Open water
FACTORS I CANNOT CONTROL:
Crowded water (feet and hands and tooshies everywhere)
After experimenting with the two factors I can control, I've determined that
I can swim in a pool and open water just fine
I can swim with or without my wetsuit just fine (and the wetsuit is faster)
So the triathlon problem has to be either water temperature, which I know affects breathing because cold water causes heart rate to spike, or race-day jitters, which also causes heart rate to spike, or the crowds.
Race-day jitters should wear off after a few minutes, so I don't think that's it. And as slowly as I've had to swim in these races, the crowd is eliminated as a possible factor pretty early on in the race. I think the problem is water temperature. As long as the water stays cold, heart rate (and therefore respiration) stays elevated. I need practice swimming in cold, open water.
On the non-scientific front, the lake/water park is almost empty on an evening after work and it's just about the most fun you can have on a hot summer evening. If they have wireless internet, I'm definitely going to try to telecommute from there a few days a week. :-)