Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Romina Imwinkelried is a young professional marathon swimmer from Santa Fe, Argentina who competed for the first time outside her native country last weekend on the 2014 FINA Open Water Swimming Grand Prix circuit.

She was quiet and pensive before the race – not unusual by young swimmers in their first major overseas competition.

How does one find the optimal balance between being psyched up and too nervous? How do you spend time in order to assure you are as well-prepared mentally as you are physically? It can be difficult.

Some athletes visualize success; some say mantras; some purposefully lower their expectations. Different people have different approaches. But how can you visualize conditions, situations and circumstances in a sport like open water swimming when so many things can be unexpected? How do you visualize getting stung by a jellyfish or getting sloshed around by heavy surface chop?

One great way to help you visualize what you might encounter in the open water is to talk with experienced swimmers. Ask them how it feels to get stung and what they did. Ask veterans about their roughest and most difficult swims. Experienced open water swimmers are great at describing the conditions they have faced. They remember innumerable details and often describe their feelings in meticulously exhaustive and precise specifics. They can help you through situations you may not have faced yet.

Imwinkelried is still young with a long career ahead of her. She may be pensive, but she is prepared.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association