I am a life-long athlete - I have been an avid runner and cyclist for many years, and after some serious encouragement from friends, decided to do a sprint tri. The running and cycling are not a problem. However, before last week, I had never swam (swum? funny verb...) before in my life. Last week I became a member of the local pool, and have alotted two or three days a week to swimming. As of now (after my third lifetime swim) I can do 150 yd freestyle in a time of 3:45, but that's about all the distance I can do without stopping at this point.
The sprint tri I want to do is 400 meters, and it's in April. My friend is a competitive swimmer and is teaching me proper technique, but I'm not sure of the best way to to build my swimming endurance, and how much more I should be able to do pre-race - 500m? 600m? 800m?
Any advice would be greatly appreciated
Can you wear a wetsuit in your race? The wetsuit will give you some additional buoyancy so you can relax your stroke and go for a longer distance (typically, without a wetsuit, you need to keep your stoke rate/speed high to keep your body planing through the water). Have you learned any other strokes besides the crawl? (ps, no such stroke as the freestyle...that name caught on because most people do the front-crawl in a freestyle event as it's the fastest stroke...freestyle means just that, you're free to use any style...sorry, pet peeve) Personally, I use a ton of breststroke in my swims...over a long distance I'm faster with that, my crawl just sucks. Be aware, you may get some funny looks, and maybe a few comments.
As for building endurance...time, time, time...laps, laps, laps. If you can, try to relax your stroke a little bit, and try breathing every third breath (this can be tough, especially for a beginner, but you'll save the energy you're using to breathe). Learning to do this will really come in handy as you'll be forced to learn to breathe on both your right and left side...never know when you'll need to sneak a breath in, and on what side that will be). Other simple drills would be to work with a kickboard for some of your laps to help build the efficiency of your kick...and likewise using a pullbuoy (floaty thing that you put between your knees so your legs float and you can focus on your arm/hand work). I've heard people talk about practicing your crawl with a closed fist, to really get a sense of how to get some propulsion from your forearm...but that might be a ways out for you if you're just starting.
If possible, I'd look at adding a day or two to your routine...tough, I know. If you can't add additional days, can you do morning and afternoon 1 or 2 of your days?
Lastly, how's your abs workout? When I swam competitively, my coach stressed that abs were the core to everything. We'd sprint one length, get out, do 10 crunches, dive in, sprint back, get out, do 10 pushups, dive in, etc. We'd do probably 4-5 sets of this at least once a week. Can't say whether it made a difference, abs work was always a part of our routine, and I never competed under a different coach without an abs routine. Can't hurt though...right?
If the race is 400 meters and it is in April and you can currently do 150 with-out stopping, you will be fine. (I assume you don't do 150 and get out of the pool) The key to distance is form. If your learning the correct form, you will be able to increase your distance quickly once you master proper form. (you never master it, but you will get the hang of it). I'd try for 600+ yards in the pool so you will be very comfortable in the open water. Its a bit intimidating and very easy to go to hard early in the swim.
Here is a web-site that has free training plans for beginners. Consider reading the swim section of the plan.
Also, most sprints are 800 yard swims and after the 1'st you will be hooked, so be ready to step up to 800 yard swim.
The race organizer said that the water tempurature will be right on the limit for wetsuits, so they won't know until closer to the race if wetsuits will be legal. I can breaststroke, but the forward crawl (sorry about that!) is a whole lot easier and faster for me. I will try swimming long distance with it though
Thanks for the drills, I will try them tomorrow morning. I can fit a third day in, so I will do that.
Out of habit, I do an abs workout almost every day, but I will be sure to keep that high priority.
Thanks so much for your help!!!
HI TRI. i have good news for you. i did my first triathlon last year-600 meters swim- and it only took me two months to build up to 600 meters. i had never swam before, or at least i had never swam laps before, but honestly, i could actually do a whole mile comfortably by the time the race came.
Now the bad news- i had no fear at all going into it, but for some reason when i got out about 100 yards, i totally freaked out. I stopped and almost turned around! i did keep going, but most of the time i was in panic mode. I guess this is common. i had nowhere to practice the open swim, and i guess you really should try to do that!!
i am now up to almost two miles now, so hopefully when i do my next sprint, probably march, i wont panic again. Gosh i hope not!
Good luck Tri.
Thanks - as per your prompt, I found an open water marked course that allows triathletes to practice! I will be sure to use it - thanks so much. I would have never thought of a psycological (spelling?) difference between open water and pool, but that makes total sense.
Good luck on your next one!!!!
Open water can be a bit scary...but most races will have boats along the course monitoring the swimmers, so help is never far away (if that's what it takes to keep your mind at ease, go with it). I grew up swimming in lakes, and swimming across lakes, so it was never a big concern for me until I did my first ocean swim. I'll admit I had a moment of panic, but that passed as I started focusing on my swimming. I've been swimming almost my entire life (started around 2 y.o. and I'm 32 now), so I just had to reassure myself that swimming is swimming no matter where you are.
One thing I forgot to mention about building endurance. In my opinion, swimming in a pool is far more tiring than open water. All of the turns at the wall take energy away from your swimming. It's amazing how much easier a continuous swim feels when you're not changing direction every 25 meters (or 50 meters if you're lucky enough to have access to an olympic sized pool).
Last year was my first sprint tri. Ive always been ok with the biking and running and said hey its only a quarter mile. But it was in the bay and the water was 57 degrees and I didnt get a wetsuit. Now Ive been swimming three times a week ever since. Only thing is due to my schedule Im only in the pool for a half hour at a shot. My swim last year was 8:41 1/4 mile which Im told for never training isnt awful but the swim **** near broke me. It was a wading start and for 57 degrees I already had no wind at all. I did every stroke you could think of but I did finish, and I did make up for the poor swimming with excellant biking. Does anyone think there is a way to decrease my overall swim tim with only being in the water for a half hour each session?
57 is really cold. Good or bad swmmer could have issues. Consider getting a wet-suit, you should be able to find a good deal this time of year. Warm or cold the wet-suit should help your time. Here is a link to a web-site with training plans. I think you may find 1/2 will be more than sufficient for a sprint race.
If you do get a wet suit, were it a few times before your next race. They take a little getting used to, but then they are great.
The advice on open water swimming is true. I live in Northern Michigan so I must practice in a pool til the water gets to where I can't walk on it (yuck yuck). I wear a two piece wet suit. Vest style top and pants. If you get a suit, wear it for a short swim and find the "rub" areas. Purchase some Glide , which looks like a deodorant stick and rub it on the skin in those areas everytime you wear the suit and it will stop the chafing. I was able to wear the wet suit for the super sprint in Chicago. It does give you some more buoyancy (?SP). Practice a few times without it so you are ready either way. I am lucky enough to live within a short bike to the water. Practice even if it is wavy, may be so on tri day too. Open water swim is easier. I have a kayaker with me (old lifeguard, I just can't help it) Be safe and enjoy!
I too am new to tri's. What would you recommend as a suit (non-wetsuit). I live in hot muggy central Florida and a full wetsuit isn't necessary. Is there a swimming/running short that is recommended?
Louis Garneau, Speedo and 2 XU all make very good tri-suits. Either one piece or 2 piece. I prefer the Louis Garneau Shark 2 piece. Check out SBRSHOP.com or Trisports.com for some good deals on 2008 stuff.
I am used to wearing them because for a better part of my life I was a surfer, well I surfed. I was niave to think 8 mins in the water was going to be easy, but I did not take into consideration the wading start. I had no wind by the time the whistle blew! I am currently looking for one. I feel like the quality of workout I get in the half hour is pretty good, my program is 9 laps quarter mile at steady 80% pace, 2 cool down laps, 1 at a time all out sprints 100% maybe 8-10 laps, then another 1/4 mile 9 laps at 80%. For now its all the time I can afford. Swim mornings, work, gym on the way home, eat dinner relax with the family most nights, others I have JiuJitsu and Saturday is my long run day.