Tri Challenge: Diana Nyad on staying calm in water
July 7th, 2011
02:44 PM ET

Tri Challenge: Diana Nyad on staying calm in water

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.

Swimming a mile in the Hudson River. It's a daunting prospect for most anyone but Kas Seerla is especially anxious about it. Before the 6-Pack went to Hawaii in April for a week of triathlon training, Kas had never been swimming in open water before. Her time in Hawaii taught her that she's capable of swimming long distances but she needs more mental confidence to stay calm in the water. Who better to give her tips on how to do that than Diana Nyad!

61-year-old Nyad is in the final stages of preparing for her "Xtreme Dream" of swimming from Cuba to Key West without stopping. When she goes, she'll swim more than a hundred miles over the course of a few days. Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently spent some time with Nyad and asked her how someone like Kas could stay calm while swimming in open water.

According to Nyad, it's all about staying in control. When Kas recently raced the swim leg of a local triathlon, she accidentally swallowed a whole gulp of water. At one point she felt caught in the middle of a pack of swimmers. When obstacles like that pop up, Nyad says,  stay in control by side stroking your way out of the herd, finding your own space, and switching to a safety stroke, if necessary. Swim slowly, breast stroke, float on your back – whatever you can do to lower your heart rate, clear your mind, and stay calm.

Nyad also recommends keeping your focus mentally. To distract herself from various physicals obstacles, one trick she uses is to pick a song and sing it to herself – over and over, from start to finish. She also suggested that swimmers like Kas visualize a concrete block in front of them. Grab the block and then pull yourself forward, over and over, until you've reached the finish line.

If you want to know about Kas or Diana's journeys, watch "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." this Saturday and Sunday morning, at 7:30 ET.

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.