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And, in addition to logging lots of miles on the run and in the saddle, it also means getting comfortable on the swim. Train in open water and do point-to-point tracks, forcing yourself to be out in the soup on your own.
Training in open water allowed me to understand for myself how to effectively adjust stroke and form when there are different tides, choppiness, etc. This helped me get more comfortable with cool water temperatures, and had the bonus effect of helping ease muscle soreness and promoting recovery. Keep an eye out for your fellow racers, but I know that for me, the thought of jumping into open water and going straight into the swim almost gave me a panic attack the first time I did it. For a long swim, in particular, that makes all the difference.
During my first open-water swim, I zigzagged all over the place because I thought I was swimming straight when I definitely was not. It wasted a ton of time and energy. That may mean going to the backstroke or breaststroke for a bit to catch up and help you be more deliberate. Practice putting the wetsuit on, swimming with it, and taking it off. If you buy a wetsuit, make sure it is one designed for triathlons and open water swimming.
Swimming laps in a pool can be monotonous after a while, as you follow the stripe at the bottom from end to end. That point is usually a buoy in the water but can also be a feature on the land.
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Sighting is not a natural motion and should be practiced. A couple sighting tips are to find something on the land to fix on, not just buoys you can then have a more consistent focal point and to use good quality goggles. A secret of many experienced open water swimmers is to always use brand new goggles on the day of the event.
12 Week Triathlon Swim Training Plan – PDF
They will not fog nearly as much as older ones. You can save the older ones for your pool swims.
The combination of a foggy goggle and a sun glare can make sighting very difficult. You can also sight based on swimmers next to you — just stay in the pack — but it is still a good idea to occasionally sight for yourself. It can be easy to let your good swimming technique go by the wayside when you are swimming in open water, especially if you are in a tightly packed group of swimmers, or if there are waves.
Keep your form strong, however, because it will help you with your tempo see the next point. Remember three things:. That feeling of fully stretching out and getting into a nice tempo is the point when many experienced triathletes will say they feel like they have relaxed. It often takes a couple hundred meters to find that feeling. Just keep focusing on your breathing, taking consistent, deep breaths in and out. If your breathing is relaxed, the rest of your body and mind will follow. There is no substitute for being in great swim shape.
Be sure you have trained for your open water swims.
Practicing in the pool is practical. It is also more effective when you want to develop your technique and build your swim fitness. So your ability to transfer what you do in the pool into open water will determine how successful you are. But there are subtle adjustments that you must make and practice in the open water to ensure success on race day. Sighting: The easiest way to swim the shortest distance. Swimming a straight line is the easiest way to improve your swim time on race day.
Increasing the frequency of your sighting strokes is the easiest way to make sure you stay on course. As a guide you should be practicing to sight ever strokes during your race swim. This can vary on conditions and your experience but the range will cover most AG triathletes. Frequent sighting will help you swim straight, guaranteed. Recall the technique section where we talked about how lifting your head causes your legs to sink which results in extra drag.
If your sighting technique is not correct, the more you sight, the more susceptible you are to sinking hips and working against extra drag. Sighting is a technique skill that you must practice regularly during your pool and open water swims. Here is how to sight correctly and stop your hips from sinking:. Lift your head only as high as necessary to sight — think of how a crocodile peers above the water. Only your eyes need to come up, not your whole head. Do not breathe while looking forward. Separate your sighting and your breath.
Sight forward then turn your head to the side for a breath. Sight then breathe. Arch your back while lifting your head so your legs and feet stay up near the surface to limit your resistance. If you want to transfer your speed from the pool to open water you have to learn to deal with swimming in a crowd or a pack. If you swim by yourself, choose the busiest lane to complete your workout in. Or purposefully swim at the busiest time of day at your pool. It will frustrate you and irritate you, but you will learn to deal with it before it happens on race day.
If you swim with a group, practice swimming side by side, or in a line behind each other. Get comfortable being in close proximity to other swimmers. The more practice you can get with swimming in a crowd the better prepared you will be on race day. To help prepare my triathletes we will race an Open Water Swim Race in the weeks leading up to their race. We treat these races as open water training days.
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Time and results are not important, but the experience gained is invaluable. Open Water Practices: Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. How you deal with any of these variables will come down to how experienced you are with them. Experience comes through practice.
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The more you practice in open water, the better you will get at handling the variables that you will face in triathlon swimming. The simplest way to prepare:. Most triathletes LOVE their wetsuits. But swimming in a wetsuit can feel very different to swimming without one. The first time you put yours on ever or after a long break it may feel a little weird. Your highest priority when looking for a wetsuit is comfort and fit. Your wetsuit must fit you correctly!
A poor fitting wetsuit will:. A few things to consider when buying a wetsuit:. You should be able to breathe deeply in and out.
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Without it altering or restricting the movement of your chest. Finding the best fit for your body and your stroke mechanics before you buy is so important. And by test, I mean actually swim in it. The brand or suit is a minor detail in comparison to fit. Today, most of the suits in the mid to upper end offer similar benefits buoyancy and warmth.
Your priority is finding what works best for your body and stroke. Once you have your suit, your need to get in enough practice time prior to race day. You must be completely comfortable in it. I have a client that comes from a very competitive marathon running background.