How To Stop A Triathlon Swim Panic Attack On Race Day


We’ve been talking about the effect that panic has on transferring your speed from the pool to open water.

Panic on race day is one of the biggest reasons why triathletes fail to convert speed from the pool to open water. In the last post I showed you two ways that you can help avoid panic on race day.

But what happens if you do start to panic at some point during the swim on race day?

Here are three ways I deal with panic.

stop triathlon swim panic attack

3 Ways to Calm Down From a Panic Attack On Race Day

1. Clear Your Mind Of Negative Thoughts

Close your mind off to to any negative thinking. Negative thoughts have a habit of spiraling downwards and getting worse. Feeling a little short of breath can quickly lead to thinking you’re in a life threatening situation!

Don’t allow any thoughts that don’t serve you to linger. The easiest way to do that is to be task oriented, which leads us to number 2.

2. Stay Task Focused.

end triathlon swim panic attack

Don’t allow your mind to get overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. Don’t focus on how far you still have to swim. Or the fact that everyone is swimming away from you! It will only make things worse.

Focus on the very next thing that you need to do to get your swim done. It’s usually to take the next breath and start your next stroke.

Do that. Then do it again.

Focus on the things you can control. The things you’ve practiced many times over. Is your body in a good position. Is your hand getting a good catch on the water? Are you sighting well?

You will finish the swim one stroke at a time. So take that first stroke, then the second, then the third.

3. Breathe

If at any point anything doesn’t feel right or you’re not comfortable, check your breathing. Panic and breathing are very closely linked. Re-gain

Make sure you are in control of your breathing and that it is regular and consistent. Calm yourself and center your thoughts. Now you are ready to rock and roll!

Panic attacks prevent many triathletes from reaching their full potential in the water. Learn to love the open water. Your pool speed will transfer over much better when you do!

Any questions, email me or put them in the comments.
– Rory

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Related Advice & Tips:

This post is part of a series on swimming well in open water. Read the rest of the posts in the series here:

Part 1: The Six Culprits Of Slow Open Water Times
Part 2: How To Prevent An Open Water Swim Panic Attack Before Race Day
Part 3: How To Stop A Triathlon Swim Panic Attack On Race Day
Part 4: How To Swim Straight In Open Water
Part 5: Wetsuit Tips For Open Water Swimming