Hi, I love running (once my knees get better) and I love biking and can do both well enough. I want to start with a sprint triathlon and then move up, but I suck at swimming. I can probably only swim a tenth of a mile at best. Do you have any tips to help me get on my way?
Great to read that you want to tri. :thumb:
Originally Posted by youngbeginner
Lots of video online and there is always the opportunity to get a swim coach. FINIS has a great snorkel http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/...tm#color=10804 that allows you to practice form.
Congratulations on your desire to join the Triathlon family!! I was in your shoes just a few years ago! Now I love swimming! Swimming as it relates to triathlon,is very much a technique based sport, more so than a power based sport. The idea is to go thru the water as efficiently as possible. That means you need to be extremely streamlined. I would highly recommend that you pick up the "Total Immersion Swim" DVD. Somewhat dorky in it's presentation, but the information is spot on!! To get a idea what the DVD contains, go to YouTube where you'll find lots of videos.
If you decide that you really like the sport, access to a lake for OWS (open water swim) is extremely helpful!! I would say essential for long term success. You can't duplicate race conditions in a swimming pool. Once you start doing OWS's a quality, properly fit, triathlon specific wetsuit is very advantageous. First it let's you swim in much colder water. Secondly it provides strategically placed flotation so that your hips and legs stay close to the surface of the water. This let's you swim much more efficiently and thus quicker. Also the added flotation let's you relax in the water since you won't sink! Relaxed swim stroke means faster swim! Also the wetsuit makes you very slippery, decreased drag in the water, thus faster swim!
As OldTryGuy stated, the Finnis snorkel is very useful. It let's you concentrate on technique and not worry about drowning!! You can relax in the water and concentrate on you body position, arm catch ect. Also it let's you build up your swim specific muscles that you didn't know you had! :( When I first started, I would begin my training swim with the snorkel working on skill sets and getting completely warmed up and relaxed in the water. Than I'd dump the snorkel and concentrate on head positioning and breathing out thru my nose. After about 6 months, I no longer needed the snorkel.
PS: Throw out your bloomer swim trunks !!! Their like a boat anchor! I would recommend a tight fitting pair of Speedo Jammer swim trunks. The difference between the two is dramatic!!
Originally Posted by youngbeginner
I'm in the same boat. PF knocked me out of running this summer so I started riding again and then hopped in the pool. 50m pool and I could just barely make it from one side of the other without drowning. My first outing I did it 8-9 times I think. Went back again a few days later and managed 600m total, still not more than 50m at a time. Kept going back and finally did 100m, then 200m without stopping. Did 1k total!
Yesterday was probably my 20th time swimming and I did 700m without stopping and 2k total. It's gotten way, way easier. I'm pretty slow, but I can breathe and not feel like I'm about to drown.
I watched a lot of youtube videos on proper technique and am just taking my time building up. Like everything else, you just get used to it. My first couple of runs were only 1k, then one day I did 5k, then one day a 10k, etc. After a year and a half I was running 120k/75 mpw. I expect the same for swimming. Just a gradual progression.
Hoping to do my first tri next spring, maybe a sprint or two and then an Olympic. Just bought a P3 with a duraace srm on ebay so that should sort out my cycling (if I can make my legs pedal it fast enough!) :D.
Originally Posted by Ludkeh
This! As an example, I went from doing 100m repeats in a consistent 2:05-10 to 100m in 1:50-55 in one swim. The only difference? Jammers instead of my cargo swim trunks.
Wear a proper swimsuit, not beach shorts. Forget the snorkel. Swimming requires arm strength and flexibility in the upper body at least.
Each day swim one more length. When you can go far enough, then each day, swim a few lengths faster. When you can swim far enough and fast enough, you can complete the swim leg of the triathlon, three equal sports.
I wouldn't call them equal.
And I don't have admission to a pool. How much would something of the such cost?
I go up to a beach in Maine over the next few days, should I swim in the ocean?
The best way to really go about becoming a better swimmer is to join a local masters swim program. This will give you access to a pool and a coach. Prices vary by program. Many offer monthly or quarterly memberships and most offer you a few free trial swims.
You can find them here,
You will get actual coaching on technique and how to improve quickly. I have seen people come into our program who could not swim one length of the pool. In just months, they were able to easily finish a 1500-2000 yard workout in an hour.
If you cannot make a masters program work, then I will also recommend the total immersion DVDs. They can help give you a really solid swim base.
Swimming is a sport that will really benefit from the more times you practice. 3-4 days a week will really help significantly more than 1-2 days a week. Might be overkill for a sprint triathlon, but most people underestimate the swim and can experience serious issues in the water.
Focus on technique. Poor technique will hold you back more than poor fitness.
Learn a good technique, I use total immersion, which I've been told by 'real' swimmers is terrible, but it's super low energy, and get a wetsuit, that gives you enough buoyancy to only have to worry about going forward, not forward and staying above water.
everyone stinks at swimming when they start. when learning, it is best to do so in a pool without waves and predictable temperatures. competitive (even non competitive) swimming requires a lot of regular practice. 2-3 days a week. it's very different than just running or jumping on a bike. you have to be motivated and you have to have regular access to a pool. be prepared to share a lane and that takes some getting used to!
a) If you have big-name gyms around you, check the gym's web pages; sometimes you can print a (free) 1 day pass to come in and try them out. My gym has been known to negotiate with folks if they're willing to commit to a longer contract.
b) Our city park's pool is open for adults only for $1 per person from 6 to 7pm, weather permitting. It's an outdoor pool and not heated and therefore seasonal, but it is Olympic length and can't beat the price.
c) Check your local high schools for public swim times.
Last bit of advice -- don't wait until your swimming is "perfect" before you sign up for your first tri. Just seat some reasonable goals and go have fun.
YMCA's often have pools
Originally Posted by Zoxe
Many universtities also have public swims
in my area there a lot of community centers that have pools
and of course there are private clubs
prices vary by venue and locale
I'd consider doing some group swimming lessons to get you on your way. In particular look for group lessons teaching the total immersion technique, 8 groups lessons of this, plus practice, and you'll be dominating the fast lane of your local pool before you know it.
I don't recommend swimming in the ocean as a beginner. You're going to need to find a pool. Expect to pay between $30-50 for membership monthly. Maybe some have free trials. Practice on keeping your hips up, and when you go to breathe, don't look back but look side to side, and extend your arm at the same time while breathing. Their are many different forms of freestyle, you can dig deeper for stronger strokes, shorter, etc.
Get a speedo or jammers. Don't expect to be a master swimmer in a month, it takes a lot of patience and time.
Coming from someone who's swam for over 20 years competitively.
Originally Posted by squegeeboo
TI is great, I'm going back through the drills again. I feel like I can swim forever and with confidence, plus when I get out of the pool, I'm able to walk.
Swimming is very much about technique. Work on that with youtube, dvds, classes and books. Then work on getting swim endurance.
I just finished my first Sprint Tri a couple weeks ago and was super pumped! I bike and run regularly. I knew how to swim but never having swam laps in my life, started swimming about 2 and a half years ago for 3-4 months straight to get ready for a Sprint Tri that didn't happen until 2 weeks ago (Moving across half a country, a new baby, and a new job took up a bit of my time! :D). I hadn't been in the pool since those 3-4 months, and I did about 5 pool swims and a couple open water swims (one with a wetsuit) to get ready for this one.
1) How are you when you swim that 10th of a mile? A comfortable steady front crawl? A pretty out of breath rest-on-the-wall every length front crawl? A completely out of breath at a 10th of a mile swimmer? You really need to realistically assess your swimming level so that you can start safely. Me? My first swim was in the shallow end and 200m in I was spluttering and laughing at myself while walking on the bottom thinking "is this seriously this hard?"
Took me a good 4-6 weeks to be comfortable doing 1km swims (swimming 2-3x/wk), took me right around 30min. No swim clubs and some youtube videos. Depending on your level, like btpdragon first suggested (and what I should have done in hindsight), join a Master's Swim Club, should be easy enough to Google for you. I could only imagine how beneficial that would have been.
2) After you're comfortable with the distance in the pool, you should 100% do some open water swimming. Though I hate to admit it, even starting to swim in the deep end was a bit of a head game for me (and I'm really not one that's prone to being anxious). The jump from pool swimming to open water swimming is an even bigger head game in my opinion. The dark water, not seeing a bottom of any kind, temp. changes, waves, sun in the eyes at times, no re-assuring pool edge in site...it can be intimidating, do it a few times before race day...maybe you won't have any of those anxieties, but it's better to know it doesn't bother you beforehand, and have the time to get over any issues that might come up prior to race day if you do.
3)Goggles. Not sure why, but even my goggles fogging could wreck my concentration. Kept trying "spit" but that didn't work at all for me. What DID work was Johnson's and Johnson's Baby Shampoo. I put a tiny dab on my finger and lightly coated the insides of the goggles, then rinsed them in the water...worked PERFECTLY! For me No Fog=No Stress.
4) Get a Wetsuit!!! A Wetsuit won't save you if you can't swim to begin with, but in my case, any anxieties I may have had about the swim were totally erased after my first OWS with a wetsuit. I felt like a friggin' cork bobbing in the lake, and with my fog-free goggles I felt like I could challenge Michael Phelps!...well, maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but my confidence went up ten-fold. I borrowed the wetsuit for the race and am currently waiting for one to arrive in the mail so I can keep lake swimming 'til it gets too cold.
Good Luck with your swimming!
Young, welcome to the Tri community! Envy you for starting early. I started last year at age 64. I swam in my home pool (30') and thought because I could ride 100 mi easy that swimming and running would be a snap. WRONG! I joined a local master's swim class and found I was struggling to do 25 yds. Last Sunday I did my first Ironman event, IM Augusta 70.3, which included a 1.2 mi swim. I came out of the water 2nd in my Age Group, a position I held until mile 62 in the race. At mile 65 my hip acted up, and I had to walk the last 5 miles. But I enjoyed every minute despite the pain!
You are getting the benefit of lots of good advice from Old, Lud, iBike and the others. I've never used a snorkel for my swim training, but like other swim tools (short fins, pull bouys, hand paddles, kick boards) these can have a great effect IF you know what you are training for, and they don't become a crutch that you depend on. (You can use a snorkel in most Tri events, but you will not be eligible for any age group awards. That's how much keeing your head down in the water improves you swim techiques)
More than any other Tri event, technique is the key to success in the swim. Last October (2012) I couldn't swim 25 yds without being totally pooped. I'm now confident in my ability to swim a 2.4 mi Ironman swim. It will be slow compared to many, but I'm confident I'll be near a podium finish. And that's not because I'm that great of an athlete, but because I take instruction well, and I've focused on TECHNIQUE and EFFICIENCY not speed. I've subscribed to several PODCASTS on triathlon, like Endurance Nation, TRI SWIM COACH, FIT FAT FAST, and a host of others. Why not learn from others who have already made the noob mistakes?
Even though I was last in the water last Sunday, I found my self swimming over others who were swimming hard and inefficiently. I focused on a long, easy stroke, and keeping my body streamlined. If you have read about efficient pedaling on a bike, there are some keys to thing about in the pedal stroke to ensure you are "pedaling in circles" and not "mashing" Like pedaling in circles on a bike, an efficient swim stroke can be envisioned in a similar way.
I imagine my hand wiping fish slime off my palm on my hip as I bring my trailing had up out of the water. I drag my finger tips in the water, with my elbow pointing toward the sky. My hips have rotated so my shoulder, elbow, and hip are on the same plane, about 50 degrees skyward. As my had passes near my head, my pointed fingers plunge into the water about 8 - 10 inches in front of my head, and try to "spear" a fish about 3 feet in front of me. DAMN! I missed, but I reach to grab him with my cupped hand. I fail, but in desperation I grab a hand full of water, hoping to move closer the the elusive fish. Trying to be quiet and sly I pull myself forward, my hand not very deep. I imagine I'm crawling, trying to sneak up on the miserable fish. My hand accelerates close to my body, elbow bent and near the water surface, and I realize I have fish slime on my hand again. I pull it close to my hip, and wipe it off.
Meanwhile the same set of actions have happened with the other hand. If you are kicking, even a small amount, and keeping your head down in the water, you will be effieiently slicing though the water. As I mentioned, a snorkel will allow you to follow these steps with out having to worry about breathing. But once your body is trained, you need to learn to swim and breath properly.
A kick board can help here. Short training fins which float will help provide butt lift and speed that will give you confidence in your swim stroke. Find some training plans on line that meet your time allotments and fitness level. Follow them as close as possible. These allow you to build confidence and stamina, but THEY ARE ONLY TOOLS. You cannot depend on them in the long run. They are just training wheels.
IF you can afford it, HIRE A SWIM COACH. Even if it is in a group class. That's what I did. What I lost in 1 - 2 - 1 coaching advise I gain 10x in encouragement from the others in my class. YMMV.
Anyway, like Nike says, "Just DO it!"
And good luck!
BTW, it's better to swim 4 x a week for 15 or 20 min than one long 1 hr session!
Wow! Bobthib… that was awesome.. I have my first sprint Tri on Nov 24th. That was awesome, I will have to try the fish technique this weekend when I swim!
My first Tri went well, used a wetsuit for the swim. We had a mock tri a month prior to the actual event. During the mock tri I had a hard time with the swim. Must have been anxiety of open water swimming or something. My Mock tri time was 2hrs 24 min. the distance was a sprint. 1K Ocean Swim, 30k bike, and and a 5k run. I am not sure about the split times, but I had a hard time with the swim, avg 17 MPH on the bike and ran the 5k in 35 min. I went out with a local club and did a couple open water swims and tried to get over the anxiety, and it must have worked.
During the actual event my time was 2hr 8 min! made up little under 20 min. I had a great swim, felt great, and actually felt like I could keep going. Got to the bike and avg 17.3 MPH with a 18-20 knt wind in my face on the up hill part of the course. The run killed me, but still did a normal 5k for me in the 30 min range.
Thanks for reading.
Outstanding. :thumb: :thumb: Just the beginning.
Originally Posted by Smokinbbl
Smokin you were smokin! Barring any snafus, you usually perform better in the event compared to practice events.
Originally Posted by Smokinbbl
Regarding swim technique, check out www.swimsmooth.com They have a great animation of good technique, and a lot of good tips. At 20 min for 1K, sounds like you are doing great as it is.... :thumb:
I'm a swimmer myself and I don't think they make that big of a difference unless they are seriously out of form swim trunks, you can get nice onform short swim trunks made by Arena, TYR, Speedo ect without having to spend the extra money on Jammers because they do tend to be quite a bit more expensive and they are really meant more for use in a competiton rather than regular training.
Originally Posted by needmoreair