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Old 07-11-05, 03:26 PM   #1
clfjmpr44
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Open Water Training Swim...Whoaa Nelly!

Have my first Tri of any kind coming in September in Delaware. It is a sprint Tri with 0.5 mile open ocean swim, 16-mile bike and a 5k run. Like most Tri folk, the bike and the run are second nature, but the swim is a little foreign, especially after I practiced in the ocean this weekend.
Maybe I wasn't swimming far enough out, but the wave rolls were pretty interesting to contend with, and that is without another couple hundred people trying to do the same thing in the same place. I found it really hard to freestyle without my head above water. Any tips on open ocean swimming would be great, total newb here...
A
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Old 07-11-05, 04:27 PM   #2
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Well, it's good that you're practicing! You definitely need to get out beyond the break, but depending on the conditions you'll still experience some rolling and choppiness. It can be really hard to find your rhythm when you feel like you're in a Maytag. The thing is, when you swim head up, you get tired, AND you don't maximize your pull. So you've got to force yourself to put your head down. Pick a number of breaths you feel comfortable with, then pick up your head and sight your target when you hit that number. For example: if you breathe every 3 strokes, pick up your head and sight your target on every 4th or 5th breath. This will still allow you to correct your course if you need to, but will let you settle into your rhythm better. (When you practice, and there aren't any big orange buoys or balloons, it's a little harder.) As for the people around you, that's generally just at the start, and then you'll find yourself with a bit more space as the faster people and the slower people sort themselves out.

Other tips are to be wary of following anyone in front of you without checking for yourself where you are (for obvious reasons). As for entry and exit - practice "dolphining" on the way out. I don't know what the Atlantic is like but we have shallow bottoms for a long way here and there comes a point where it's too soon to start swimming, but too late to be running, so you sort of dive, then jump forward off the bottom, then dive again (obviously a very shallow dive...). And go deep when you go under waves. As for coming out of the swim, practice body surfing. You'll be amazed how fast you can get in this way if you catch a wave or two! Hope this helps. Good luck!
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Old 07-11-05, 04:36 PM   #3
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Thanks for the explanation H20, that was really informative. I was out past the break but there were still big swells. I was amazed at how tough it was. Then that whole swallowing salt water thing didn't help either. I've got some time, so hopefully with enough practice, ocean and pool, I can get it down to a somewhat respectable form.
Thanks again,
A
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Old 07-11-05, 05:00 PM   #4
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Here's a thought. If you can get down to a beach in the early morning, the beach patrols do their training swims/rows. These guys/gals are awesome in the surf. Talk to them. Th beach patrols all race in summer series, they can walk you through a lot of the strategy and will be probably pretty happy to do so.

Start training in the ocean if you can get there. H20 chick is right on the money with what she said, particularly that your gain up is on the entry and exit.
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Old 07-11-05, 07:36 PM   #5
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another key tip: watch the crossover of your entry. while this is a point of stroke technique that can be corrected in the pool, i've noticed that new swimmers with too much crossover tend to throw off their body alignment and swim off course. i've been ocean swimming since i was a wee 14years old and actually get away with citing about every 10-15 strokes.
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Old 07-12-05, 12:52 PM   #6
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I would LOVE to do a race with swells big enough to bodysurf in on!!! The atlantic's kinda wussy that way. Well, as long as you're not out there saying hi to Dennis or Emily.
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Old 07-25-05, 08:51 AM   #7
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Update,
Had my second open ocean training swim this weekend and it went a lot smoother. Sure I still did some head up freestyle, and I threw in a little breast stroke for a change of muscle group, but I completed the half mile and felt I could keep right on going. No struggling this time at all.
I did the swim with a buddy this time who has trained in a pool extensively (I have not). He is training for the same tri, but bowed out of the ocean training swim 100 yards into it. I guess the pool and the ocean really are that different...
So for all you tri folk, will I be the only person head out freestyling some of the course? Will I be the only person throwing in a little bit of breast stroke here and there for variety?
Thanks in advance...
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Old 07-25-05, 08:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clfjmpr44
So for all you tri folk, will I be the only person head out freestyling some of the course? Will I be the only person throwing in a little bit of breast stroke here and there for variety?
Thanks in advance...
Okay, I can't really call myself a "tri folk" yet, having only done ONE, but I feel relatively safe in saying NO, you won't be the only one! I saw all kinds of interesting stuff - sidestroke, elementary backstroke, treading water, and a full-blown back float. I think sprints attract first-timers and lots of first-timers are weekend warriors who will have much less experience than you. You're gonna have FUN, don't worry!
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Old 07-25-05, 09:00 AM   #9
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some people do breaststroke the whole time. some people mix it up. some people do it in segments between each buoy. you can hang onto kayaks in the race, so do whatever works for you. for a lot of people getting through the swim is all that matters. i suck it up on the bike, so people pass me FLYING in most races, because they're so happy to be out of the water and on to (for them) the good part.

that said, in my last race it was so choppy (disclaimer: EXTREME EXAMPLE) that my very experienced teammate ended up getting seasick, err...losing his breakfast...in the water, then breast-stroking the rest of our 1/2 IM swim. he a) still finished and b) did really well, even after that 1 hour swim of misery. props to everyone who soldiers through these things!



[edit: you should have your head out every few strokes anyway, to check for your mark. otherwise you'll be the one leading half the pack on some secret vector of your own, and end up swimming much further than necessary. practice spotting your mark when you're doing OWS's. oh, and like h2o chick said: HAVE FUN!!! it's just water, and then you get to zoom away in the other two segments]
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