A number of people under estimate the swim portion of a triathlon. They think they can just wing it, just make it through that part to get to the biking and running. In talking with my friends in the sport, more times than not, they come from a running or biking background and kind of fell into or decided to take their racing to another level by doing a triathlon. The common part is that most of my friends (not all) don’t have a swimming background. I’ve heard this in general from my reading in the sport of racing triathlons.
So talking just in general, I hear that swimming is their least favorite and that they just want to get through it. They don’t care if it’s messy, ugly or inefficient, just that if they survive the swim then they will be OK. No you can’t win the race in the swim portion, but you can loose it or not make the time cutoffs if you screw it up.
I’m a little different, growing up I didn’t run, I was a swimmer. To me the pool is wonderful, awesome and “easy” in a not so easy sport. I swam summer swim team from the time I was 11 until I graduated high school. I was in the pool every day of my entire summer for years.
So over 6 years ago (I think, lol have to go look that up) I started running to make positive changes in my life. It took another almost 2 years for me to start racing in triathlons. For me the biking and running have never been easy and I fight for every gain that I can get.
In the pool I am free. I absolutely love being in the pool. It’s the closest thing to flying that you can get here on land. I am terrified of heights so I’m good with this kind of flying. Now this doesn’t mean it’s easy for me, just easier and I see the improvements much faster. Last year I did not swim at all. I didn’t do this on purpose, combination of stress and my job had me not doing a number of things that I love. I made a promise to myself to change things for this year and I have. I’m back in the pool training for an olympic triathlon this spring and love being back.
This doesn’t mean that my swim stroke is perfect by any means. It’s little changes and important tips that have already helped me to improve my efficiency in my swimming.
There is a lot to think about as you are swimming laps. Keep your elbows high, head down, strong arms on your underwater catch, rotate your body and keep your feet at the top of the water. It’s a lot and overwhelming and all important. So I’ve been working on my strong arms so that my underwater catch or the strength of my stroke is better. In just making a few changes I’ve sped up my 100 yd time by over 20 seconds. So between my weight training and working on my efficient stroke it’s really making a difference. So if you are struggling with your swim, don’t just say “I will just make it through” find a qualified person to help you. Small changes in your stroke make huge differences in the water.
I’m going faster, farther and with less effort. So I hear my running friends talk about how they found a groove while out and instead of their 5 mile run they did 10 or 12 miles because they felt so good. Yeah that never happens to me while running, but it does happen in the pool. Once I am warmed up which can take 200-400 yds some days, I can just go and go and go. Today I was back in the pool after being sick and doing nothing for an entire week. Not only was I faster but went the farthest I have so far this year. Just keep swimming and don’t be afraid to ask someone who knows what they are doing for help. Little changes can make a huge difference in the start of your race and this applies to all sports not just swimming.
For me, do you want to know who helped coach me on my swimming technique?
It’s this pretty lady – Kim Bramblett who is a coach with Multisport Performance Coaching.