First of all…hello new readers! A few lurkers came out to say hello and I am so glad you did! I love having you here and will be over to check out your blogs soon 🙂
Last week Heather asked me the following question: do you have any tips for tri newbies (especially in terms of swimming)?
This sparked an idea in me to do a post series about Swimming. For those of you new to triathlon or thinking about getting into triathlon, pay attention 🙂 And for those seasons triathletes, maybe you will benefit too…especially if swimming isn’t exactly your strong point, which by the way is the case for many triathletes.
I feel fortunate that I am a strong swimmer; I have been swimming since I was under a year old and went into the sport of triathlon with an upper hand over competitors because of that experience. One of the best things about blogging is sharing knowledge and experience, thus Swimming 101 with OneLittleTriGirl was born 🙂
Swimming 101*- Tips For Beginner Triathlete Swimmers
- Know how to swim!- This may seem obvious but having both volunteered at and participated in triathlon, I see all too often that not everyone who is in the water actually knows how to swim. At one event where I was life-guarding, I had a guy grab my kayak and tell me he didn’t really know how to swim. Ranking safety among everything else you must know that if you cannot swim, and you enter water, you could drown. Last summer, I wrote a whole post on this, which you can read here.
- Practice open water swims- Very likely, your swim training will mostly consist of pool work. And that is fine if you are planning on an indoor triathlon. Otherwise, plan to spend time in the open water. Open water consists of a lake, a bay or an ocean. In a pool, you have the luxuries of pushing off, using the sight lines and being able to stand if tired. Those luxuries are gone in the open water. The open water is dark (no sight lines) and far more rough than a pool, especially in the ocean where you have to contend with waves and currents. Additionally, in a race situation there are people all around you and you have to fight through paddling arms and kicking legs. Try to find community OWS so that you get a real feel for race day. And please, never swim alone.
- Invest in good goggles- Good goggles are a must have! And you don’t have to spend a lot of money for a quality pair as goggles are relatively on the cheap side. Each person is different so there is no one pair that fits all; the most important things are comfort and visibility. I have been using Finis Revolutions and I really like them because they are lightweight, stay on really well and don’t leak. I have not personally tried others but I have heard good things about TYR, Aquasphere and Speedo as well. I am thinking about buying a pair of Aquaphere Kaiman’s for this season because I am interested in trying out the smoke lens. I’ll review them once I try them and get back to you. Swimmers: Do you have a favorite pair of goggles to recommend?
- Learn to breath bilaterally- This is the most efficient way of breathing during a swim. It is easy to get in the habit of only breathing on one side, but breathing bilaterally will help you balance your stroke. Additionally, looking left and right in the open water will help you see better where you are and keep in line with the swim path. As an added bonus, bilateral breathing eliminates stress on both your shoulders and hips. I was a one-sided breather for a long time and it was tough to break the habit, but once I did my swimming improved greatly. Learn this way so you don’t have to re-teach yourself later!
- Wear a wetsuit- Before I get into this, I have to admit, I have never used a wetsuit before. In fact, I just got my first one in the mail today!! (It was a Christmas gift-thanks Mom and Dad!) I never felt I needed one because I am confident and unafraid with my swimming; I got one because I do not have a desire to swim in freezing water without protection and I have a race in May when the water will be brrrr cold. And that is just one good reason to get a wetsuit. For beginners, a wetsuit can act as somewhat of a safety net because they will keep you boyant and you can easily float if necessary. Furthermore, because of the added boyancy, they also make you faster which I am very much looking forward to!
Hope this helps!
*Stay tuned for Part 2 of Swimming 101 which will include sample pool workouts, swim drills and a FAQ.
Any other Tri-newbs out there? If so, feel free to ask any questions and I will include them as part of the FAQ.