Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Start your swim training early!

As I started out on this new triathlon journey I was given a piece of sound advice regarding triathlon training, advice that remains the best so far……….“start your swim training early”. I knew there were a few things I needed to be successful in a tri but first and foremost a swim coach was in order. I knew how to swim if I was put in a situation that required swim & live or don’t swim & deal with the repercussions. However, I didn’t know how to swim laps or swim competitively, so I searched the globe and found Katie at the YMCA who has become my life line to swimming. The first time I got in the pool to swim I looked like a giraffe trying to swim laps. This land dwelling girl found swimming to be very unnatural. I don’t know how many times I told Katie, “when I bike and run I can breathe whenever I want, but this swimming thing makes breathing a real challenge”. As a bit of comic relief on this balmy 115 degree day I have a video to share with you, I hope you get as many laughs as I did.
Video Coming Soon
As you can see and as I quickly discovered I needed to kick up the lessons and practice because there was a real possibility once I got out into the open water of Hayburn Lake for the swimming portion of the triathlon I might drown. I have been in lessons for 12 weeks now and think I have made some progress. I would still be smoked if Michael Phelps and I raced, but as I think about it anyone that races against an athlete so rare seems to come up a few strokes too short.
Video Coming Soon
Over the next few days I will share techniques I have learned, challenges I have faced, failures I have endured and triumphs that keep me going back to the pool week after week & day after day. In the mean time here is a small checklist of items that you may want to add to your training arsenal if you haven’t already.
Swim Coach: For any of you that are thinking about doing a triathlon non-competitively a swim coach may not be a necessity but certainly a great addition if you are not a solid swimmer.
Good Pair of Goggles: There are many, too many in my opinion, goggle choices out there. Different color bands, different color lenses, different brands, different shapes. Amongst all the differences the main thing you are looking for is fit, comfort, tint (this will help you with glare in open water swims) and NOT leaky. There is nothing worse than a leaky pair of goggles, trust me I am currently dealing with a pair right now. I have been told the best way to pick out goggles is by putting them on without the strap. The goggles should suction to your face, if they don’t then that pair does not fit the contouring of your face and you need to try on the next pair. Keep trying goggles on until you find the perfect pair. Remember you pay for what you get, so spend within reason, but spend at the higher end of reason.
Swimsuit: There are many different brands out there, but my best advice is go for comfort and fit over brand and look. I have a long trunk so Nike tends to fit me best, however your nearest sporting goods store should have a huge selection of swimsuit for women and men alike.
Wetsuit: Wetsuits are not required at most races, although Matt can attest that he was not able to compete in a triathlon this year due to not having a wetsuit. This purchase it totally up to you, but a purchase proven to be beneficial in some cases. A wetsuit will help in dealing with colder water and buoyancy, which at times will help with making the swim a bit easier.
Triathlon-Specific shorts: For race day it’s self, and if I can advice, at least a few swim practices leading up to race day you will want to wear triathlon-specific shorts. I advice wearing this to practice a few times for the simple fact you don’t want to be trying something new for the first time on race day. Triathlon-specific shorts are cycling shorts with thin padding to help cushion your toosh while competing in the bike portion of the race, but the padding is thin enough you will not absorb half the water in the lake like if you were to wear regular cycling shorts. Trust me you want that paddling!! Wearing tri shorts for the swim portion will also save you time during the transition (time you are transitioning between the swim and bike) in that you will not have to change into cycling clothes.
My small, uneducated and inexperienced advice on the swimming portion of a triathlon.
Happy Swimming,

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