Finisher denial: open water swim
August 4, 2018 6:47 PM   Subscribe

Howdy everybody. I just finished an open water swim and can't shake the feeling that I didn't swim the whole distance. Is this a thing? Help me believe.

It was 1 k: we were to swim around in a little 250 m square four times, each time touching this touch board thingy. They told me to go up to shore when I thought I was supposed to be starting my fourth time around. The computers say I finished. The certificate says I finished. It's the right number. I even came back and asked them to check if I really made it four times, because I thought I swam only three. They checked and said I was swimming at the same pace the whole time, and I swam the whole 1k. Why is this such a mindfuck, and why do I feel so sad? Should I eat more or something?
posted by sacchan to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
Maybe it's a little tiny bit of OCD, because to do the task right IS critical to finish, and probably not helped by exhaustion? I used to ride century rides and long-form events do mess with one's mind.

I'd take their/the computer/your certificate's word for it. You'll probably feel better in a day.
posted by randomkeystrike at 7:08 PM on August 4, 2018

Were you supposed to touch this touch board thingy at the beginning of each lap? Or at the end of each lap?
posted by aniola at 7:23 PM on August 4, 2018

Maybe a count how people got worked up about whether 2000 was ‘really’ a millennium change. You tapped it three times because your first tap was a completion and the forth was the finale without a tap?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:38 PM on August 4, 2018

At the...end? Swim lap 1, touch, swim lap 2, touch, swim lap 3, touch, swim lap 4, touch. I think I must have finished lap 3, lost count, and thought I was starting lap 3. I suppose being so bad at lap counting in the pool I have to count by repositioning my water bottle may make this explanation more likely.
Anyway, if they're having us tap this thing and recording it and can confirm I have tapped the correct number of times with a consistent pace, I must have swum the whole thing.
Fortunately I won't have to deal with this many laps in upcoming races.
Feeling a little better already. Thank you.
posted by sacchan at 7:49 PM on August 4, 2018 [1 favorite]

I routinely ride a bike route that involves three laps around a segment to hit my target mileage. You’d think I could count to three, but there have been a few times I doubted my own count (I’m logging my rides on a phone app, so I can check myself that way).

In other words, I can relate.
posted by adamrice at 8:33 PM on August 4, 2018 [3 favorites]

I have very definitely lost the ability to count while doing sports, so it's not just you! I would put it down to your brain being tired and working hard, trust the system, and celebrate your accomplishment!
posted by kalimac at 9:52 PM on August 4, 2018

Sounds like you got into the “zone”, very easy to do when relying on repetitive muscle memory.
posted by saucysault at 12:02 AM on August 5, 2018

I've done this too! Okay, when I was in high school but anyway. It was a lap running race around a field, I did really well. After the last lap, runners were supposed to peel off and run up a finishing straight. Did my laps, and basically, I could not believe that I had run so well, and convinced myself that I was a crappy runner, and I still had a lap to go. So I ignored the finishing straight and set off on another lap until people started yelling at me to finish!
posted by carter at 7:04 AM on August 5, 2018

Seconding saucysault getting into the zone combined with randomkeystrike's suggestion of a little bit of OCD. The counting would require conscious registering, 'the zone' which is normal when things get automatic, repetitive, takes you out of consciousness. That's why we like and need external checks, like apps, coaches, finish-lines etc. Maybe this discrepancy startled you, and scared you into thinking you hadn't done enough/hadn't done it 'right'. Getting into 'the zone', by making you less conscious, could result in an experience of losing control and therefore triggering a controlling response to that from you (trying to figure out, double-checking etc.). It's related to muscle memory, automaticity and dissociation of the conscious experience because it's boring and therefore conscious brain involvement is simply not necessary, and/or because it's annoying in some way (hard, physically painful), and this results in the experience of (partial) amnesia, all common phenomena that play a role when competence has progressed to a certain level. These automatic aspects make the conscious part of your brain feel it's missed a part, therefore it might not have happened, so you must still have x laps to go.
It's like driving the car the same route each day, and sometimes (especially when tired or distracted) that feeling that you missed a part, don't know how you've done that part of the drive. Sometimes this can be experience as un-safe, not-in-control.
I get this after finishing studies, it feels unreal that I've done all that work that I'd previously looked up to. And now it's over, leaving me feel a bit empty. As though I've missed something, "this can't be it, right?".
posted by Litehouse at 7:21 AM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Don’t know if this helps, but - I’m a runner, and I’m well-used to experiencing DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) after I’ve pushed myself significantly more than usual on a run.
But it took me years to recognise that I also get what I call ‘emotional DOMS’. It goes hand-in-hand with the physical kind, and is just me feeling incredibly sad/overwhelmed/unable to cope with the world for several days. As soon as I realise that’s what it is, I feel a little better, and it always passes in due course.
So even if your muscles aren’t sore, maybe you have emotional DOMS right now - your body is tired in a whole new way, and everything just seems bigger and sadder and more un-get-overable.
Take heart, because it will pass, and you’re awesome.
posted by penguin pie at 8:47 AM on August 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

I always have this feeling when swimming long distances.

Eventually you just learn to trust the technology, as it’s actually pretty sophisticated. And with the sort you describe, an undercount really isn’t possible, as you’d have to tap the board twice in a short order to have one lap count as two, and the systems are set up to disregard those sorts of double touches. Can you look up your split times? That should confirm it for you- if there’s one split that just shows a few seconds, then you missed a lap. If all of the laps are a few minutes, then you’re fine!

Also, the Olympic swimmers also have this problem, here’s the solution.
posted by susiswimmer at 9:25 AM on August 5, 2018

The results are up on website. Says four laps. All 4 laps somewhere around 8 minutes. (I am slow, but I finished!!)
I feel a lot better. I especially feel better knowing why I was so upset: because my perceived experience didn't match up with what really happened. And I remember actually thinking to myself "This is going to go on for a while, so should probably just zone out." I guess that's exactly what I did!
posted by sacchan at 8:29 PM on August 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

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