Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving the swim

I am trying something new today and I will start with the fact that I don't really know what I'm doing. So I'm following my standard rules and leaping in with both feet without doing any research or anything.

One of the blogs I follow has a "link up" So, I'm trying the link up. That's what I'm doing. Yup. Read on go ahead it won't hurt.

Tri Talk Tuesday triathlon blog linkup 

Ah the swim. The Swim is my nemesis in the triathlon. My training mates always find it odd when I say that because among my core group I'm considered a strong swimmer. But that to be honest is just because none of them are swimmers. Except my coach he grew up swimming and he knows that I'm not a swimmer.

The swim and specifically the swim start and turns are the things that make me nervous on race day. So what do I do about it?

Practice Practice Practice
I'm not a swimmer so I train with a masters program. The guy who leads us through our paces is a former all american swimmer and he's a nice guy. I know he's a nice guy because he doesn't point and laugh when he asks me to do backstroke and I nearly drown making it through the distance. Let's not even talk about breaststroke and to be perfectly honest I don't do fly. I don't know how and while I'm open to learning I haven't mastered it (understatement of the day).
My pool. Don't be intimidated by the word masters. It just means grown ups. So all masters programs will have all levels from awesomesauce to beginner.

So, 2-3 times a week I haul my non-swimmer butt to masters swim practice and I do whatever Coach D. tells me to. I ask questions if I don't understand and other than not swimming butterfly (I swim free for those) I do everything he says. I don't question it and sometimes I don't do it very well but I try my best. If and when I fall behind or miss an interval I just chill for a minute and catch the next one. I also take feedback from the other excellent swimmers around me.
Not really a graphic about swimming but it is a picture of a pool and I really like the message.

Sprinting is the one thing that has made a huge improvement in my swimming. Specifically sprinting followed immediately by 100 easy - no break. That has taught me how to lower my heart rate while swimming which is super helpful in the case of anxiety or if I have to buckle down and swim fast to get out of a crowded situation and then keep swimming.
I'm getting wrinkly in my old age. But this is just after I swam a 100 in 1:23. Painfully slow by swimmer standards and yet my own personal best. 100 all out is just really really hard that last flip turn I'm just totally out of air and I'm a big fan of air to be honest.

Get in the water - the open water that is
I live in Miami and the ocean is open all year long. Swimming in the ocean in the open water is not like swimming in a pool. It's just not. So part of my routine is to swim in the open water whenever possible. That helps it feel easier and normal and keep me calm.

One of the things that it's good to practice in the open water is wearing your race clothes.
Swim the distance
For me I have to do this. It's a mental thing. I like to swim the distance before the race. You don't have to do this I know and most people don't do this before a race. But I like to because it gives me a lot more confidence on race day.   Swim anxiety sucks and so I'll do whatever it takes to avoid it.

On race day
On race day if I can look back and know that I did my workouts and that I can swim the distance I will be calm. I will start on the outside of the start wave because I hate the dishwasher.   But then I will keep my head down and swim. I don't look at my watch I don't worry about what's around me (other than staying on course) I just pick my rhythm and go until it's time to stop and then I'm sooooo happy.

So those are my tips.

What scares you in the triathlon swim? 

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on your personal best at the 100. I've trained with several groups here in Miami and i can tell you NONE of them are as fast as the guys in your group. The other teams are "triathletes swimming" this is "swimmers swimming" so dont compare apples to oranges. You are doing great ... thanks for the tips! I'm most afraid of the start, once I find my rythm things seem to be okay ... but the start is always terrifying.