General Discussion Triathlon Talk » First triathlon - olympic Rss Feed  
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2014-04-23 2:23 AM


Subject: First triathlon - olympic
Hi, I wanted to get some advice on my first triathlon.
I've been playing sports my whole life, mostly basketball, so I'd like to think that I'm relatively fit. I want to try out doing a triathlon.
Initially I though about doing the Olympic event, but then decided that I should do a sprint first to see how I go and then do the Olympic. The timetable for the events in Australia have not come out yet, but looking at the previous season it seems that the sprint will be in Nov and Olympic in Jan.
Am I being too optimistic in thinking I can do both?
My biggest weakness is swimming, at the moment I can't do more than 100m without rest. I know my technique is really bad, but I will put in the time in the pool.

2014-04-23 6:25 AM
in reply to: leok31

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Subject: RE: First triathlon - olympic
Hey there - I can only give you my experience.

I started triathlon because I was a terrible swimmer (nothing like the fear of public humiliation as motivation!). The first time in the pool I couldn't make it one length without holding onto the side of the pool and sucking air.

I had limited pool access so didn't do much Jan-Apr. Apr-May I did swim lessons. From mid-May to mid July I was in the pool almost everyday. I worked up to the distance I needed (300 meters) and then to 400 meters for a tri that September. It seemed like a big jump at the time!

Next year I vowed to do 2 Olympics along with 3 or 4 sprints. First problem was I was going from pool swims to OWS. Second was the huge increase in distance. The first Oly was ok - I had practiced in the lake where the tri began and was familiar with the water. The second was a disaster. I panicked and did a lot of back/side swimming. Physically I was up for it, mentally not so much.

I do think I needed a whole year to improve my swimming to the point I could manage the Oly. That's just my experience but hope it helps!

2014-04-23 6:42 AM
in reply to: leok31

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Subject: RE: First triathlon - olympic
You really need to get in the pool, probably best to get some coaching. A sprint swim is generally in the 400-500M range, while an oly is 1500M. 1500M is nothing to sneeze at. Further, there is more than the distance, there may be current, wind, and of course other swimmers kicking you. Certainly not an unobtainable goal by any stretch but you need to have a significant level of confidence and competence in the water even for a sprint race, more for an oly. Almost all newbs have this as an issue, I assure you are not alone.
2014-04-23 7:57 AM
in reply to: leok31

Subject: RE: First triathlon - olympic

My first tri was an Olympic distance and I went from pretty much zero on the swim. I'd say, including getting some instruction, it took me about 4 months of swimming 2-3x per week to be able to do the mile in the pool. But as others said, open water is a different beast. Especially if you will be in a wetsuit. Prepare for that, too. 

You don't say much about your bike/run. My question is whether this is a challenge for yourself, you want to have fun, basically what motivates you? Do what you want to...not what people think you should do. 

2014-04-23 8:12 AM
in reply to: leok31

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Levittown, PA
Subject: RE: First triathlon - olympic
7 months until your first sprint tri "should" be enough time to get your swim in good enough shape to finish. Before last year I never knew how to swim. When I started training I went to the pool 4x - 5x a week religiously. Consistency is the key. If you are in relatively good shape as you say your are, you should be able to get your way thru the bike and run portion of a sprint. You might not be feeling great at the end of it, but you can pedal slowly if need be and you can walk if need be, but you can't do either if you don't finish the swim. Get to the pool more, get swim lessons if you have to, but I can't say it enough....... just get to the pool as much as possible. Good luck
2014-04-23 9:06 AM
in reply to: leok31

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Sarasota, FL
Subject: RE: First triathlon - olympic

You have plenty of time to prepare, but as others have suggested, you need to be consistent in your training and probably need to get some help with your technique.  The old rule of thumb that I follow is that you need to swim at least three times of week to improve, twice a week to maintain, and once a week you actually lose ground.

My other advice would be to take stock and do an honest evaluation of your progress & ability just prior to the race.  Being nervous is normal, but if you can't comfortably do the race distance in your training sessions, then you need to reconsider doing the race.  There are no "race day miracles";  if you can't do it in training, then you're not going to do it on race day. 

Good luck with your training.


2014-04-23 9:18 AM
in reply to: RedCorvette

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St Catharines, Ontario
Subject: RE: First triathlon - olympic
What is you comfort level in the water? I had similar swim performance. I could manage a fairly long swim doing breast stroke with my head out of water but 25s and 50s of crawl were a mess. 3 or 4 months of 2x per week has got me up to about 1600m of pool swimming.

However I ask about comfort as I did do my swim survival badges as a kid in England. Lots of time spend treading water wearing heavy pajamas. So my water confidence if things are going badly is very high.

From my experience I think you have enough time to rain for sure. Just be sure to build in enough training focused on water confidence, skill in a wetsuit, OWS etc.
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