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2009-08-04 8:26 AM

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Subject: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
I'm planning on doing my first sprint(Iron Mountain) in about 2 weeks.   I've only recently (2 months ago) decided to get off my lazy butt and get back into shape.   I ran in High school and biked a bit in college so I picked those back up quick!  But, Id put off swimming for the first month.  Because really, its only 500 yrds................   I did swim alittle in a friends pool, but its only 10 yrds at a time.   Being so short i never focused on breathing while swimming, I just took breaths at the turn arounds.   When I decided this was going to be much harder than the other 2 legs and Id better get on the ball, I swam in our local lake and ended up with a killer ear infection in both ears.  A week later, when it had "cleared up", I hit the lake again.  Well......the ear infection came back with a vengence!! So there went a solid 2 weeks without touching water!  And, despite all the "how to breath" videos I've watched, I still cant breath without drowning myself.  So now Ive got 2 weeks to learn how to swim.     Help!  What do I do?   Im thinking I may end up swiming this thing on my back like a fool.  

On a side note.  When I  swam laps with the budy whos doing the tri with me, I did the first 100 yrds in the time it took him to do 60.   Then I ran out of air........


2009-08-04 8:33 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim

Don't do it.

No one wants to pass someone back-floating 25 yards into it.

But then- its not my name by the results- its your name.

2009-08-04 8:39 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
onevette80 - 2009-08-04 8:26 AM I'm planning on doing my first sprint(Iron Mountain) in about 2 weeks.   I've only recently (2 months ago) decided to get off my lazy butt and get back into shape.   I ran in High school and biked a bit in college so I picked those back up quick!  But, Id put off swimming for the first month.  Because really, its only 500 yrds................   I did swim alittle in a friends pool, but its only 10 yrds at a time.   Being so short i never focused on breathing while swimming, I just took breaths at the turn arounds.   When I decided this was going to be much harder than the other 2 legs and Id better get on the ball, I swam in our local lake and ended up with a killer ear infection in both ears.  A week later, when it had "cleared up", I hit the lake again.  Well......the ear infection came back with a vengence!! So there went a solid 2 weeks without touching water!  And, despite all the "how to breath" videos I've watched, I still cant breath without drowning myself.  So now Ive got 2 weeks to learn how to swim.     Help!  What do I do?   Im thinking I may end up swiming this thing on my back like a fool.  

On a side note.  When I  swam laps with the budy whos doing the tri with me, I did the first 100 yrds in the time it took him to do 60.   Then I ran out of air........


Before you got the ear infections, how far were you able to swim in open water non-stop?  The part above that's bolded is what concerns me.  If you're not comfortable swimming 500 yards, how do you expect to do it in a race?  I hate to be harsh but you're putting yourself at serious risk if you think you can just muscle your way through it, considering the other details you've provided.  With running, you can walk, with biking you can slow down or stop, in open water, it's just you keeping yourself a float.

The short answer, you're not prepared.  If it were me, I'd ask the race director if I could just do the bike and run or drop out completely and properly prepare yourself for the next race.  Good luck!
2009-08-04 8:41 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
Here are some tips from a swimmer turned triathlete1. While you are swimming, your breathing should be just like when you are running, in other words when you run you don't run 20 yards while holding your breath and then exhale and inhale in one step. When you are swimming you should be exhaling when your face is under water. Don't waste your time when your head is above water exhaling, that is for the inhale. Slow your stroke down and breath correctly rather than go all out for 25 yards then have to doggie paddle the rest in a breathless panic.2. Swimming all or part on your back still counts as long as you make it out of the water without the help of a jet ski!! The swim is the hardest part for most people, you won't be the only one.3. After you swim (RIGHT after) rinse your ears out with rubbing alcohol by tilting your head to one side and putting a few drops in your ear, wait a few seconds then repeat on the other side. That will prevent your ear infections. You can also try it with a 1:1:1 mix of rubbing alcohol:white vinegar: water but then you smell like salad dressing.4. On race day, hang back at the start and let most of your wave get ahead of you. You will be more comfortable at the back of the pack focusing on your breath than at the front or middle of the back focusing on not getting kicked in the face or run over.Good Luck

Edited by guppie 2009-08-04 8:43 AM
2009-08-04 9:11 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim

When I swam in open water I didnt want to get too far out so I would swim 100 yrds out and back.  I swam 200 yrds at a time only breathing every 30 yrds or so.  That distance didnt seem to be a probablem until I was at 150 yrds and my HR had gone north of 130.  Im sure, if I could find a comfortable pace and figure out how to breath on a regular basis, 500 yrds total wouldnt be an issue strength wise.   Reading all the techniques to breathing is much easier than actually doing it.  I just keep swimming without breathing hoping I will become more comfortable in the water and then magicaly one day The breath will be natural.............
Ive bricked the tri distances together for the bike and run distances several times.   Im pacing 22-23 mph on the bike and then running 2.5 miles at a 8 min/mile, with my last mile in the low 5s.  I know thats not amazing but I feel like being at this point in 2 months time is pretty dang good.  keeping my HR at 160 until that last mile, so im not killing myself either. 

2009-08-04 9:27 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
"I just keep swimming without breathing hoping I will become more comfortable in the water and then magicaly one day The breath will be natural............."

You can't swim without breathing!  Really.  Would you run without breathing?  Seriously.  Either find someone to do the swim for you and have a relay team, or find a duathlon.  Being unprepared on the swim is hazardous for you and the other swimmers around you .  Please reconsider.


2009-08-04 9:42 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim

You have two weeks.  Sounds like you need ear plugs so it doesn't happen again.  I've never had that issue.

I was like you a few months ago and had never swam before.  Based on you being good at the other two sports, I would dedicate myself to learning to breath every stroke.  Just pick your good side and do it.  It will take a few days, but you'll get used to it.  Then, you can gut out the 500 yards and do the race.

If you're anything like me, I'd much rather go through a severely painful experience then drop out now unless I had a legitimate injury.

That being said, you need to take a serious look in the mirror about a week from now and do a status check to see if it is coming together for you.  You aren't just out there swimming around by yourself in a triathlon.  You are getting pushed around with people on all sides of you and the water churning.  I remember being stressed out and underprepared for an OWS when I did my first Tri in June and by the sound of it, I was way more prepared then you.

Do you have a wetsuit?  That will help automatically position your body appropriately in the water when you are turning to breathe...

Edit:  I just want to be clear on this point.  If it is not there, then don't force it.  It is dangerous and brings negative publicity to the sport when people are unprepared for the swim and then something bad happens to them...



Edited by acumenjay 2009-08-04 9:46 AM
2009-08-04 9:43 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
rowdypaint - 2009-08-04 9:27 AM "I just keep swimming without breathing hoping I will become more comfortable in the water and then magicaly one day The breath will be natural............."

You can't swim without breathing!  Really.  Would you run without breathing?  Seriously.  Either find someone to do the swim for you and have a relay team, or find a duathlon.  Being unprepared on the swim is hazardous for you and the other swimmers around you .  Please reconsider.


I was being alittle sarcastic.  But thanks.
Ok.  Hows this?  I can swim 500 yrds non stop if I lift my head strait up and breath.   But we all know how inefficient that is, requiring more work to go a slower pace.  Eventually Having to keep my head up just to keep my breath.    Im not presenting ANY danger to myself or anyone else.  The only potential is I fire another swimmer up.  They'll get theirs when they get in my way on the bike.    Im just looking for the best info on breathing techniques.   If I could just use a snorkel............

Edited by onevette80 2009-08-04 9:46 AM
2009-08-04 9:54 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
onevette80 - 2009-08-04 9:11 AM

When I swam in open water I didnt want to get too far out so I would swim 100 yrds out and back.  I swam 200 yrds at a time only breathing every 30 yrds or so.  That distance didnt seem to be a probablem until I was at 150 yrds and my HR had gone north of 130.  Im sure, if I could find a comfortable pace and figure out how to breath on a regular basis, 500 yrds total wouldnt be an issue strength wise.   Reading all the techniques to breathing is much easier than actually doing it.  I just keep swimming without breathing hoping I will become more comfortable in the water and then magicaly one day The breath will be natural.............
Ive bricked the tri distances together for the bike and run distances several times.   Im pacing 22-23 mph on the bike and then running 2.5 miles at a 8 min/mile, with my last mile in the low 5s.  I know thats not amazing but I feel like being at this point in 2 months time is pretty dang good.  keeping my HR at 160 until that last mile, so im not killing myself either. 



The other details are irrelevant.  If you can't swim 500 yards, you're going to be in serious trouble on race day.  For reference sake, take a look at this:

http://www.virtual-swim.com/3d_mv/top_btn/free/2000wc_400/2000wc_400_q.html

You can move the cameras around in each module if you need a different view.  Take note of the body roll, the streamline (feet and hips are not sagging), kick is steady but not too fast, and as your arm is extended, roll your upper body away from that arm so you can turn your head and breathe.

Here is my revised recommendation:  Buy some wax ear plugs and get back out on the lake.  Go 50 yards out and back trying to work on breathing every other stroke (as shown above).  Once you've figured out the breathing, go 100 yards out and back.  Then 200 out and back, then 250 out and back.  You should be out there every day for the next two weeks working on this.  If you get to a couple days before the tri and you still can't make it further than 100 out and back, I strongly urge you to reconsider doing the tri.

2009-08-04 10:00 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
onevette80 - 2009-08-04 9:43 AM

rowdypaint - 2009-08-04 9:27 AM "I just keep swimming without breathing hoping I will become more comfortable in the water and then magicaly one day The breath will be natural............."

You can't swim without breathing!  Really.  Would you run without breathing?  Seriously.  Either find someone to do the swim for you and have a relay team, or find a duathlon.  Being unprepared on the swim is hazardous for you and the other swimmers around you .  Please reconsider.


I was being alittle sarcastic.  But thanks.
Ok.  Hows this?  I can swim 500 yrds non stop if I lift my head strait up and breath.   But we all know how inefficient that is, requiring more work to go a slower pace.  Eventually Having to keep my head up just to keep my breath.    Im not presenting ANY danger to myself or anyone else.  The only potential is I fire another swimmer up.  They'll get theirs when they get in my way on the bike.    Im just looking for the best info on breathing techniques.   If I could just use a snorkel............


Best info on breathing?

Breathe out when your head is in the water.

Breathe in when it's out of the water.

You do not lift your head straight up to breathe. When your right arm is coming around for the stroke... and your elbow is a little bit behind your body... turn your head to the side with your chin going back towards your shoulder. It doesn't have to touch the shoulder...just turn back towards it slightly.

If you can't swim the entire distance... don't do the tri. Open water swimming is dangerous. If you can swim the distance and not die... then good luck!


2009-08-04 10:04 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
I've actually seen the snorkel in races and I believe it is legal (ridiculous but legal). I would bail out if I needed a snorkel to swim 500M.

Fail to prepare...Prepare to fail.


2009-08-04 10:10 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim

craig0812 - 2009-08-04 10:04 AM I've actually seen the snorkel in races and I believe it is legal (ridiculous but legal). I would bail out if I needed a snorkel to swim 500M.

Fail to prepare...Prepare to fail.


Yeah......  That was a joke too........   Does anyone in here have a sense of humor??? 

Im guessing youve all been kicked in the face by newbies once too many times?

2009-08-04 10:36 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
onevette80 - 2009-08-04 9:43 AM
Ok.  Hows this?  I can swim 500 yrds non stop if I lift my head strait up and breath.   But we all know how inefficient that is, requiring more work to go a slower pace.  Eventually Having to keep my head up just to keep my breath.   


If you can do this, do this.  You'll be slow, but if you can do the 500 this way, do it.

Don't worry about efficiency - that is for when you start practicing more than 2 weeks to your race.  Just start at the back of your group, do what you know how to do, and enjoy passing up 500 people on the bike.
2009-08-04 10:38 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
onevette80 - 2009-08-04 10:10 AM

craig0812 - 2009-08-04 10:04 AM I've actually seen the snorkel in races and I believe it is legal (ridiculous but legal). I would bail out if I needed a snorkel to swim 500M.

Fail to prepare...Prepare to fail.


Yeah......  That was a joke too........   Does anyone in here have a sense of humor??? 



That question has come up many times (and they were serious).

Tone is very hard to discern from short text messages.
2009-08-04 10:39 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
onevette80 - 2009-08-04 10:10 AM

craig0812 - 2009-08-04 10:04 AM I've actually seen the snorkel in races and I believe it is legal (ridiculous but legal). I would bail out if I needed a snorkel to swim 500M.

Fail to prepare...Prepare to fail.


Yeah......  That was a joke too........   Does anyone in here have a sense of humor??? 

Im guessing youve all been kicked in the face by newbies once too many times?



Well, you have to understand... newbies... especially people with 9 posts on here... ask some crazy but VERY SERIOUS questions.

If people aren't assuming it's a joke, it's because they don't want to treat you like you are asking stupid questions or making stupid comments- they are trying to be nice.

While you are joking, some newbies are not. Thus, we have to consider the lowest common denominator when reading posts.

2009-08-04 10:48 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
I knew the snorkel thing was a joke, as was my response. As long as you're safe then you can doggie paddle if you want. Just start at the back and no one should really care. You don't sound like you're scared to death or anything, so do whatever you need to and finish the race. Just try to plan a little further out next time to avoid the unknowns that always come up when preparing for a race. Good luck.


2009-08-04 10:57 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim


I was being alittle sarcastic.  But thanks.
Ok.  Hows this?  I can swim 500 yrds non stop if I lift my head strait up and breath.   But we all know how inefficient that is, requiring more work to go a slower pace.  Eventually Having to keep my head up just to keep my breath.    Im not presenting ANY danger to myself or anyone else.  The only potential is I fire another swimmer up.  They'll get theirs when they get in my way on the bike.    Im just looking for the best info on breathing techniques.   If I could just use a snorkel............


I swam 750 meters in a race with my head out of the water the whole time, this was due to me freaking out and for some reason not be able to put my face in the water.  It took forever and my neck hurt like the dickens the next day but I made it through.  Certainly it would be best to get your breathing more consistent but this could be a last resort.
2009-08-04 10:57 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
You guys are right.  It was probably hard to tell that I was joking.  Im sorry. 

I feel like Ive come a long way on the bike and run!  And I would have been more prepared for the swim if the ear infections hadnt happened!  But  being toward the very end of the season, Im affraid if I dont do this one, Ill lose interest over the winter.  
From what Ive read there are only about 80 people doing this event so It should be relatively easy to stay out of everyones way. 
2009-08-04 11:10 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
Ride your bike to a public pool with lanes and swim.  You have to get down a useful method of finishing if you hope to complete the race.
2009-08-04 11:18 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
"Yeah......  That was a joke too........   Does anyone in here have a sense of humor???  Im guessing youve all been kicked in the face by newbies once too many times?"

No, we actually don't have much sense of humor for people who are woefully unprepared for OWS.  After reading countless posts of triathletes who get into trouble in the swim and either have to be rescued or end up dying, I really don't have patience for this.  Maybe I'm just being cranky, but OWS is nothing to joke about. 

Yea, maybe you can smoke me on the bike and the run, but I'm going to be pretty unhappy when I have to swim over you as you bob along on your back trying to figure out how to breathe.  Check into duathlons.  With your strenghts on the bike and run, you will be a superstar.  And that was not meant as sarcasm.  Duathlons are way tougher and I have a lot of respect for those who can run/bike/run.  I'd rather swim, personally.
2009-08-04 11:51 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
Please don't do it.  You will have a negative swim experience and possibly be put off the sport for life.  I understand that they have Iron Mountain every year, so make it a goal for next year.  In the meantime, learn to swim.  Practice in a pool of at least 25 yards and get comfortable.  Please, for the sake of the race director, the rescue personnel and everybody else, just be smart.


2009-08-04 11:55 AM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
If it makes you feel better, I have a similar problem.  I desperately, DESPERATELY want to do my first tri, a local weekly sprint tri, but cannot swim all the way to the buoy, which is 200 meters out.

I made it about 150 meters out and back yesterday, so am almost there.  I am hoping to reach the buoy during today's "flail." :-)   (The good thing about being such a poor swimmer is the 10 minutes of swimming at least leaves me plenty of energy for a bike or run every day.)
2009-08-04 12:27 PM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
rowdypaint - 2009-08-04 11:18 AM "Yeah......  That was a joke too........   Does anyone in here have a sense of humor???  Im guessing youve all been kicked in the face by newbies once too many times?"

No, we actually don't have much sense of humor for people who are woefully unprepared for OWS.  After reading countless posts of triathletes who get into trouble in the swim and either have to be rescued or end up dying, I really don't have patience for this.  Maybe I'm just being cranky, but OWS is nothing to joke about. 

Yea, maybe you can smoke me on the bike and the run, but I'm going to be pretty unhappy when I have to swim over you as you bob along on your back trying to figure out how to breathe.  Check into duathlons.  With your strenghts on the bike and run, you will be a superstar.  And that was not meant as sarcasm.  Duathlons are way tougher and I have a lot of respect for those who can run/bike/run.  I'd rather swim, personally.


You wouldnt have to "swim over me as I bob" bc I fully intend on letting everyone else go in front of me.  If something happens and I pass a few, Yeah.  And I am fully capable of swimming 500 yrds without assistence.  I would just like to figure out how to do it more gracefully.   I feel like if I could get a rythm down with the breathing, I would actually be a very strong swimmer.   I was in no way saying I would be able to pass ANY of you guys on the bike!  I do figure there will be several other first timers in this race. 
2009-08-04 12:52 PM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
You can always do breaskstrokes or backstrokes, or whatever you feel comfortable, the entire way. 
I know an multi-IM finisher who backstroked all the way in one of his HIM races.  It's not mandatory to freestyle in the swim leg of a tri. 

Safety is the most important.  Only you know your ability. 
2009-08-04 9:04 PM
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Subject: RE: First tri in 2 weeks Having major problems with swim
I had completely over complicated my learning to breath!!   I had watched all the technique videos before I ever started to think about getting into the water.   Soooooo, when i finaly got into the water I was thinking about what pitch my elbows were coming out of the water, my kick, how close my chin got to my shoulder, making sure my stroke through the water was strait back, etc.  Plus trying to exhale completely every 3 strokes.   Thats ALOT to think about!  Today I started from scratch.  Took a breath on every stroke and didnt worry about anything else.  I swam slow! 3min/100 yrd slow.  And had a good amount of water go up the nose. I got comfortable with that and then spaced my breaths out to 2 strokes.   I did have to stop twice as it seemed all the water going up my nose was coming out of my eyes......  is that even possible?       I had no problem swimming the 500 yrds so I did an extra 100 for good measure.  I think Ive got it now!!!  Surely in 2 wks I can smooth things out and bring my time closer to the 2 mins/100 yrds.  I was swimming VERY slow!
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