Hey all, I'm relatively new to triathlons and I have an olympic tri coming up in a few weeks and had some questions. I've done the swimming leg of an olympic tri once before about 3 years ago, but does anyone have suggestions for ocean swims? Any techniques I should be aware of? Any tricks for keeping your line?
When I did the swimming portion a few years ago, it was pretty chaotic and I ended up zig-zagging alot, which I think was terrible for my time. I was second in my heat but I was pretty disappointed overall with my time (31:00).
I've been doing more serious training this year than a few years ago, and I've been able to pace at about 20 minutes for 1500 yards in a 25 yard pool. Obviously there's a lot of variables, but what type of time variation should I be expecting with an ocean swim? I'll be a using a wetsuit for the swim portion. Should I be aiming for 23 - 24 minutes? Is that respectable considering my pace in the pool?
Thanks in advance.
Beware of heavy chop, or waves, be very careful breathing as waves can sneak up on you right when you gasp for air, not fun. Bury you head down and try not to take breaths for a few strokes while swimming through waves, thats about all the advice I have for an ocean swim.-----
Swim Start: As for the rest, I assume its a beach start right? If so then, start on the beach in a ready position, run into the water at a good speed, not all out, swing your legs over the water while leaning forward. Dive in when the water hits your lower thighs, with a streamlined dive, you may want to practice this, remember to keep your hands together pointing forward with your head down tucked between you biceps. You may even want to practice this start with a 50 meter sprint or approximately 25-50 strokes depending on your stroke efficiency, right after your dive to simulate the start.
Breathing/Drafting/Sighting: After you have established your line in the water you may want to consider drafting, this will cut anywhere from 5-10% off your time, you can stay off someones heels or hips but if you dragging off the hips, don't get to far beside them as this will make the drag less efficient. Also remember when drafting off the hip, this will also slow them down, so a win win there, especially if your struggling to keep up. Some, or I should say, most athletes don't like to have you scraping the bottom of there feet on every stroke either, so give it a little distance, to where you can still see and feel the bubbles from there kick. Never swim side by side, both off you will be slowed and possible get your arms tangled. Drafting off the feet of another swimmer, prefferably larger with little kick is the most efficient. To swim a straight line its a good idea to adapt and alternate breathing pattern, meaning to be able to breath on both sides, this will balance your body and stroke. A good breathing technique is to, every 6-10 strokes, after you take a breath, trun your head slightly forward, with your eyes just above the surface, find your target and then continue on your regular breathing pattern. Remember when you do this, your lower body will naturallly sink in the water, slowing your down greatly, you can counter this with a strong kick while sighting in on you destination, or landmmark.
Swim Exit: As for the swim exit, at the end of your swim as you are getting ready to exit the water. Increase your kick to boost blood circ to your legs, prepping them for the next discipine. Swim until you can touch the bottom, stand up and your on your way, if it is still to deep to run, then dolpin dive(similar to the starting dive), till the water is at your knees. Its a good idea not to remove your goggles and cap till you get to T1, if you drop them in the water, then good luck finding them. Same for the wetsuit, don't undo the zipper till you are clear of the water, you will have a more efficient exit. If you practice these techniques in the pool and open water, you shouldn't run into anything you can't handle on race day. You mentioned a goal time for your swim based on a pool time, bad idea, throw your pool time away. You will have no idea of the conditions, start, or chaos at any particular swim start, you are right, there are many variables to consider. One thing you don't want to do is look at your watch at the end of your swim and be dissapointed as this may lead to demotivation or complete loss of your mental focus.
Notes: A couple more tips for your race day from my past experience, show up early, you don't need any panic to start your morning worrying about making it to the swim start on time...trust me. Oh, and stay away from fiber then night before and morning of. These 2 things I did successfully at my last race for the first time, and had the greatest race of my life. Just train hard, race harder, and most importantly, HAVE FUN! Good Luck!
It looks like Anthony has it pretty well covered. Just a point of clarification, if you want to draft, then go out hard and fast so you will be with the faster swimmers once you clear the surf, then keep up the fast pace for a couple more minutes. You will probably be a bit winded and a little tired, but you will recover to some degree as you begin to draft behind someone. If you go out fast, then everyone around you will be faster than you and you can draft off any of them. If you happen to pick someone you can't stay with, then the next person to swim by you will also be a faster swimmer and you can latch onto them and resume drafting. If you go out slow, the chances are there will be no one worth drafting off of, so then you're on your own.
You forgot the part about having some extra TP. I seem to remember a race that went badly due to the lack of TP. I will NOT go into details on this one... Suffice it to say there is one bathroom and a few thousand people that its not used to. Why worry about it?
Thanks for all the tips guys, I just had the tri last weekend and the swim went great. Water was obnoxiously choppy, and they were considering cancelling it because of the current and huge waves. Ended up 3rd in my heat out of 26 swimmers, so I was pretty happy with that.
Entry into the water was chaotic, but once I cleared the pack, there wasn't anyone left to draft. The current was really strong so I'm not sure drafting would have even mattered at that point. I followed the tips for breathing and they helped dramatically. I also popped my head out of the water about every 10 strokes and was able to keep a good line on the buoys.
I'll keep these tips in mind for next time, hopefully the water won't be so choppy this time and I can actually use some more of the techniques. Thanks again.
Pretty good, but unfortunately 10 days before the race we were notified that the bike had been shortened from the 36k originally scheduled to about 11k because the Delaware DOT decided that it wouldn't be safe for us to bike over one of their bridges. I was doing a relay with my wife (I was doing the swimming and biking, she did the running), so I only ended up doing the first two legs, but I've got the bug now and I'm aiming to start doing entire tri's by myself next year. Running really isn't my forte, but I figure I've got some time in the off-season to get properly trained.
Having a Tri- event change on you kinda sucks, they had an event here cancelled because the DoT thought it wouldn't be safe. Which is unfortunate since between last year and this year lots of money was dumped into the park into "upgrades" Apparently the upgrades made it impossible to hold a Tri there, since they cancelled it. What can you do though right?
I'm glad to hear you caught the bug though. I think most people that try them do, most people I talk to hear all the trining and say that's too much work, but once they do it and look and feel great they stick with it.
Good luck training in the off-season and make sure not to burn out!
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