Just keep swimming, just keep swimming swimming swimming
In the next three months we'll be highlighting each discipline in the sport of triathlon, kicking it off with the first of sport, SWIMMING. We all LOVE swimming. It's our favorite part of the triathlon. Am I right? Can I get a "heck yeah"?! Many of you reading this think I'm crazy, that I've lost my marbles because the swim, well, it sucks. It's such a pain to get to the pool to train, I hate the chlorine smell, I'm sure it causes cancer (like everything else), I can't breath, I feel panicky, I wonder if I'm going to make it out of the water, etc. etc. For many of us, we look forward to getting the swim portion of a triathlon over so we can enjoy the rest of the day.
Let's talk swimming to help make it an enjoyable experience both in training and racing.
1. PRACTICE: You have to get in the water. Yes, that's the secret to success. Feel better now? Okay, more specifically you need to get in the pool at least twice a week. The more the better if it's one of your weakest sports. The more you get in the water and train, practicing good swim form, the better you'll feel about swimming, I know this isn't really a well kept secret, but if you find yourself dreading the swim portion of a race, you should start working on it..NOW. Hire a coach to look at your swim form. A few helpful tips can go a long way to making your swimming feel easier. Call us a Blue Sky to set up a swim stroke analysis or swim lesson with one of our coaches for as little as $30. Trust me it will be money well spent. The less effort you expend in the swim, the more energy you will have for the rest of the race.
2. Integrate race specific swimming in to your training. DO NOT go and swim straight for 30 minutes! Yes you read that right. That has minimal to no value. To be successful in a race you should be able swim for the total amount of time it will take you to do the race. For example, if you will do your triathlon swim in about 45 minutes, you should swim in the pool, doing different swim sets, for 45 minutes. If you can swim 500 yards in 10 minutes, swim 4x500, with a warm up and cool down. Inject faster swimming intervals in your training as well. A handy swim set is 4 x 200, swimming the first 50 fast, then settling in to your normal swim speed. This will mimic the start of a race when we tend to start too fast and then have to slow down to get in to our normal swim pace. You can also join a local Masters swim team to have other people share in your misery...er I mean training. It's always more fun to have other people around. And you'll find that you push yourself harder without even realizing it! Our local Masters Team is Palmetto Masters. Check it out, it's a great supportive group of people:)
3. Open water swimming. I subscribe to the old adage: train like you race, race like you train. If you're going to be racing in the open water, you should incorporate open water swimming in to your training. Swimming next to a bunch of other people all going in the same direction at the same time can be intimidating. If you have the opportunity to practice this before race day I HIGHLY recommend it. If you don't have access to open water on your own, sign up for an open water swim race before your triathlon-- here in Charleston we have the Lowcountry Splash which is a great way to practice all the skills you'll need for open water racing. If THAT'S not possible, practice open water skills in the pool-- incorporate sighting into your swim stroke at least once during every 25 of a 200. Practice drafting with other swimmers, have everyone in a lane start at the same time (that one is kinda funny to watch, hehe), and wear your wetsuit in the pool at least once if you'll wear one in your race.
Hopefully you're breathing a little sigh of relief after reading these tips about swim training. If not, well then GET IN THE POOL!
By Siobhan Maize