Even though is not my strongest at the moment, the swim is the part of the triathlon that I like the most, I only remember one time that I panicked or had a bad day on the swim, even with cramps the floating part has no comparison with the others.
During the winter of 2007 a group of nice people and very handy swimmers joined every Saturday morning for a dip, usually not more than a two or three km of swimming, then muffins and coffee and longer swims as the weather got more gentle (the following summer we did as long as 11km), they were getting ready for a 9km swim. I joined them because I loved the sea swim.
It helped me lots, and I've sorted my unique open water swim cycle (three strokes-right hand side breath-three strokes- left hand side breath-two strokes - left hand side breath-two strokes-left hand side breath head up-and start again) during that winter and also tought me a lot how to navigate in any conditions.
I am not fan of cold water, and some days we had as low as 11.3 C (52F) but the idea was to stick to it and be able to say "I've done back to back seasons" and it was an experience I would happily repeat if it wasn't for this triathlon thing. Nat joined us every now and then and the photos are hers.
I heard somewhere that they're doing midday swims most days of the week and the constitutional dip on Saturdays, the group is bigger over summer but the core guys (Vic, Jim, Geoff and Hamish) are always there, one of them is getting ready to swim the straight that separates the two islands of New Zealand wich is an epic swim to do. Today I took my lunch hour to meet and swim with this guys after a long long time, and it was just as nice.