Open Water Swim Clinic with JackRabbit Sports

In the several triathlons I’ve done, the swim has usually been the most humbling part for me.

Open water swimming can be really scary, and I was NOT prepared for it my first time. It’s gradually gotten better, but I knew I still needed work on it. 

So when I saw that JackRabbit had open water swim clinics, I was ALL OVER IT.

As it turns out, it was a good thing I did after Saturday’s shitshow of a ride. 

I took the train out to Brighton Beach and walked over to the beach. It’s a very Russian area, and I was dying to bust out my high school Russian skills and ask for some borscht, pojalusta. But there was no time for borscht, so I just went to the beach instead to meet the group.

There was a group of 18 of us, and we put on our wetsuits and headed down to the water. At first, we just walked in and treaded water, getting comfortable with the water. Just chilling there…I can handle that. I love the ocean. Our instructor was John Stewart (not that one, different spelling) of Race Day Coaching, and you could tell he just loved what he did. He was smiling the entire time. 

What, you want us to swim? We were out maybe 50-100 feet, and he had us just start with swimming back to shore. We took off and headed back for land. We did this swimming back and forth quite a few times to get comfortable, and I found myself getting comfortable surprisingly quickly, thanks to a more efficient stroke after my sessions with Sam. I’ve always felt pretty comfortable in the ocean, and I’m feeling more comfortable in the pool, so adding the two together worked out very nicely, though I quickly learned that I might need to breathe to the left instead of the right if a big wave was in my face. 

The next thing we worked on was sighting.

Coney island

Since Coney Island was in our view, we practiced sighting this tower.

We’d swim across, trying to keep it in our view when we peeked our eyes up. In order to sight, we were taught two methods: the one I prefer involved slightly lifting your eyes, then breathing as normal, and repeating. He told us to sight every stroke, but I found about every 4-6 strokes worked for me.

We also worked on some drills where we swam with our eyes shut to see how straight we’d naturally go. By some miracle, I went pretty damn straight!

After the previous day’s crappy workout, I felt an overwhelming sense of peace and calm feeling strong in the water, even on a choppy day. The NYC Tri will be in the Hudson River (ew), which will be pulling us downstream, and the HIM will be in a lake, so I’m happy to know that I swam in tougher water than I’ll be racing in. 

And it was certainly a relief.

Once class was over, well, I was at the beach, so I laid out my towel and laid in the sun before jumping back on the subway, thankful that the beach can be just a subway ride away.

7 comments on “Open Water Swim Clinic with JackRabbit Sports

  1. Runwright

    I’d like to do a triathlon someday too but right now I am terrifyingly far away from being able to pull off that open water swim. I am loving these posts about your training and rooting for you!

  2. Jane Rosales

    Would you recommend the clinic for beginners (i.e. no experience open water but can swim in a pool)? I signed up for the clinic but I don’t even have a wetsuit!


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