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  • Writer's pictureDoug Morris

How to Overcome a Panic Attack in Open Water Tri Swim

Updated: Dec 24, 2018

Less than five minutes into a triathlon swim leg your mind freaks out. You feel your survival is threatened. Adrenaline is mainlined into your bloodstream with other hormones. You start breathing uncontrollably. Your heart rate surges. And your blood pressure spikes. Next your lungs OD on oxygen. You panic. You want to get out of the water immediately and quit.

You’re experiencing a panic attack. Do you really want to throw away all that training and miss out on an opportunity to set a PR, earn a KQ, or beat your training partners? No? Then read on.

Think of the panic attack in the water as a flight or fight situation for your body. Your mind and body respond to acute stress with the drama exaggeration of a bad reality show.

The fright doesn’t last as long as you think and you can reduce the duration of a panic attack. You can even minimize the risk of occurrence on the swim leg of your triathlons. Here’s how.

Before race day get comfortable with a properly fitted wetsuit. It should be a chest, arms and legs hugging outfit which provides full range of motion for your arms, shoulders, and legs. Accept as a given the neoprene wetsuit will keep you afloat while defecting any arm blows or leg kicks to the body. Think of it like a thunder jacket for triathletes. It reduces stress and calms you down without drugs.

Panic attack when swimming

If a competitor strokes right over the top of you and you get pushed down in the water, don’t get pissed or panicked. In your thunder wetsuit you'll stay relaxed and float back up to the water line again. You won’t bark either. Oh the comfort and safety of this racing technology breakthrough.