Trying to "Fake" the Swim
I just wanted to share this experience from the swim portion of my first triathlon, several weeks ago. Since I have put in some hours in the water and am looking forward to redeeming myself!
So I trained pretty hard with my biking and running. Figured I could just “fake” my way through this simple swim that wasn’t even really a quarter mile. Without any pools available and the local beaches opening several weeks late this year (budgetary I assume) I have honestly entirely neglected this part of my training.
I was looking forward to swimming in a pack of kicking and splashing bodies, though it might be fun. I consider myself a big enough guy to hold my own, and I have never considered myself claustrophobic. The first 50 yards were OK. Then I turned my head to breathe and caught a mouthful of water. Coughing I tried to recover the best I could just in time to get my goggles kicked. Had to stop to readjust goggles. Got back into my stroke and realized the pack was now gone. My form was the next to depart me, and by about 80 yards in I was digging deep into my swimming bag of tricks. You name the stroke, I probably did it. I was flustered, tired, and starting the race in the back of the pack. Trying to stay positive, I prided myself on the fact I was still moving forward and I was breathing enough air to keep going.
I took comfort in the company of the back of my wave, about a half dozen other guys who were having just as bad, if not worse of a time of it. I actually passed a guy doing a breaststroke, albeit a really slow one. Then I passed a guy who was doing a full backstroke, arms pinwheeling gracefully in the sky. So we struggled and splashed and flailed and tried not to drown and actually started closing in on the final buoy. Just then someone in a yellow cap (the second wave group leader) came upon our sad water logged group and passed us like we were swimming backwards (we may have been, I’m not entirely sure).
I found inspiration in his swimming competence and regrouped myself mentally and did my best breaststroke I could to the finish. Oh my god that was the longest 6 1/2 minutes of my life. I thought for sure we were in the water at least 45 minutes. Is this what it feels like to cross the English Channel? Exiting the water I was winded, embarrassed, but extremely well hydrated.
What would you do differently?:
Perhaps before my next race I should try swimming. And by swimming I don’t mean like what I do in my backyard pool chasing down the beach ball that floated down to the deep end. Actual swimming over a distance and for a prescribed period of time. After all, I do know how to do the breaststroke, and I have always considered myself a competent swimmer. Now it’s time to put in a little endurance work.
The local beaches are now open and I have a “homeswimmer” swimming tether on order so I can practice in the backyard pool. The swim is not something you can just fake your way though if you don’t regularly swim longer than 10 second in a row.
Eric from Connecticut
Thank you for contacting TriathaNewbie.com, congratulations on finishing your first triathlon and thanks for sending us your story!
Selfishly, we’re thrilled you survived the swim, so we could use your email as a testament on why it’s SO important to train adequately for the swim. Kidding. We’re thrilled you survived for your sake too! We cannot impress on everyone how important it is to properly train for this part of the race as it is the only leg you can literally and figuratively get in “over your head.”
On a serious note, you should check out Outside The Box: A Total Immersion Swimming Program For Success In Open Water with Terry Laughlin. It will help you swim much more effectively and give you more energy for the bike and run. You can click here to read an excerpt. We’re sure you’ll love it!
How did the bike portion go? We remember your emails from a few months back asking about bikes and camelbacks. Hopefully that leg went a bit smoother. (Read Eric’s reply)
TriathaNewbie.com Recommended Resources:
Triathlon Swim : – Get the low-down on gear and read tips for training and events.
Triathlon Bike: – Learn how to structure bike workouts, find safety tips and read recommendations on great bike gear.
Triathlon Run : – Get the ultimate skinny on running sneakers, running gear, safety tips and much more.
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