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2015-04-14 4:07 PM

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Subject: Swim tips
Hey guys,

I just finished my 2nd triathlon and it was an olympic distance in Kemah, TX. A couple road blocks I ran into were sighting, breathing and getting into a good rhythm and HR within the first 500m. I saw many people around me with similar issues and all wanting to quit. For some reason in the beginning it feels like no air is getting into my lungs and I can't seem to control my HR from spiking. I stop, relax, breath under water and try to stay calm but the initial start kills me. I also feel like the wet suit is squeezing the life out of me but then when I get into the groove and relax its okay. I guess I'm just wondering what some of you do to stay calm, poised and ready to swim. Also any sighting tips would be greatly appreciated. New Orleans HIM is 5.5 days away and I'd like to swim the 1.2miles and not 1.5+++ (I swam 2000m instead of 1500m at Kemah).

Edited by lyttleviet 2015-04-14 4:09 PM


2015-04-14 4:26 PM
in reply to: lyttleviet

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Subject: RE: Swim tips
Alot of folks like to get in the water for a few minutes, swim a few strokes, get your face wet and under, and that solves all the issues. Others I've seen can deal with their anxiety by seeding themselves within the wave/crowd appropriately, so you're not in the crazy frenzy up front which by itself will cause some of those symptoms.
2015-04-14 4:28 PM
in reply to: Climbinggonzo

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Subject: RE: Swim tips
Originally posted by Climbinggonzo

Alot of folks like to get in the water for a few minutes, swim a few strokes, get your face wet and under, and that solves all the issues. Others I've seen can deal with their anxiety by seeding themselves within the wave/crowd appropriately, so you're not in the crazy frenzy up front which by itself will cause some of those symptoms.


I def don't get in the front. I know I am new so I wait and let the faster group go first. ill def have to try that.. Jump in, relax, float a bit, breath under water then start. I think its the combination of HR spike + me trying to take off at a pace thats too fast without realizing it. Even when I attempt to control it in the moment its not effective and I end up straddling a kayak for a minute or two just to calm down and try again.
2015-04-14 4:28 PM
in reply to: lyttleviet

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Subject: RE: Swim tips

It WILL get better with experience. Open water anxiety is a common thing with people who are new to triathlon. How much open water swimming do you do outside of racing? If the answer is not much, I'd recommend getting plenty of practice with it. For some people it's the idea that they can't see the bottom, for some it's the chop/waves. Whatever it is, a little practice will go a long way. As you know, the mass start can be hectic, so don't be afraid to start a little bit further back to avoid the crowds. Get a good idea of what the buoys look like. Are the turn buoys a different color than the rest? You'll need to be making judgements in the split second that you look ahead in between strokes. Swim the course before hand if you have the opportunity to do so.  It's easier to see a demonstration on sighting than to describe it. Take a look at this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LNxtdnQu1cU

Best of luck, it looks like you've got a fun race season!

2015-04-14 4:31 PM
in reply to: lyttleviet


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Subject: RE: Swim tips
Originally posted by lyttleviet

it feels like no air is getting into my lungs and I can't seem to control my HR from spiking


Oh boy, do I know this feeling and I eagerly await responses. I tend to only have the problem:
Either in open water or/AND colder water.

The open waters I've done have been cooler. The pools are so 'short' I know I'm going faster so I'm a little more 'ready' for the breathing hard thing.
So I can't say for sure if it's cooler water or just the open water.

Some of it's excitement, that I know. 3 open water last year. First was fairly warm, and I've done that race before and had a chance to swim it a few times before the race. A little longer. .6 mile. Had moments where I felt "settled" Second was cooler and sprint length, nibbling the edge of wet suit legal, but not. I made sure to get in and swim some warmup, and at least feel the water. Didn't seem to help. 3rd one was downright COLD air temp, so no way was I getting in and sitting around waiting for my wave....when I finally got in, the water felt downright warm due to the cold air temp. First time in a wetsuit. It was a full mile. And just a few weeks after the sprint swim. By the last half mile I was very settled.

I'm hoping it's some experience kicking in. I've been in the pool consistently 3 days a week for two months or so. I'll get to swim that .6 open water up to 8 times in May and June (just got the email). Hoping for even more changes.
2015-04-14 9:31 PM
in reply to: lyttleviet

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Subject: RE: Swim tips

I'm not an expert by any means but a few things that helped me overcome my race excitement/jitters have been:

When putting on your wetsuit make sure you pull it up higher (tight to your crotch).  This helps with my sleeves, breathing and shoulders but your photo shows a sleeveless wetsuit so it may not be as helpful to you but give it a try.

I usually start out my swims feeling a bit hyper and wondering, "What the heck was I thinking?" but you'll figure out some routines to help you calm yourself and it will get better.  If your heart rate is elevated just slow down your pace for a couple minutes and keep swimming.  In a short time you'll find your rhythm and start to feel comfortable. I find I start out easy and get settled in by about 300m.  I also swim in open water 3X/week all summer (mid May to mid Sept) and always swim the lake of any new race to get comfortable in the water.  Usually an easy 30 minutes a day or two before the race.  If you can find a friend that swims close to your pace then practice draughting off each other.  During an Oly last year I was passed by "squadrons" of women draughting off each other (like geese flying in V formation) so it is a great way to increase your swim pace.

For better sighting there is no substitute for practice and I always have several pairs of goggles with me - some clear and some smokey black or mirrored to cut down on glare.  Most times I wear the blackened goggles in open water and clear goggles in the pool.

In our area our local lakes are usually calm early in the morning but we swim when it is choppy as well to get comfortable with it (unless it is too rough then we just go for coffee).

Have fun at each of your races and write up race reports so we can see how you make out.



2015-04-14 9:38 PM
in reply to: wenceslasz

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Subject: RE: Swim tips

For sighting, if there are trees in the distance or telephone poles or anything bigger than the bouys that are in the same sightline, aim for those.  They may be easier to see.  If not, sometimes I use the position of the sun to help.  For example, if I'm swimming and the sun is supposed to be off of my shoulder while I swim, I should be staring at it when I breathe.  If it's out of that position, I sight and reevaluate where I'm going. 

2015-04-15 6:56 AM
in reply to: lyttleviet

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Subject: RE: Swim tips

Do you practice sighting when you swim which I am guessing is in a pool.  Spend a few mins practicing each swim.  Pick something on the wall at each end you want to use as a land mark.  If you practice it enough it can become a natural part of your stroke.   

Lift your head as much as you need to see.  For me that's about eyes above the water line to maybe nose.   Sight and turn my head to where it would normally be when taking a breath and finish stroke.  

2015-04-15 8:06 AM
in reply to: Goggles Pizzano

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Subject: RE: Swim tips
Thanks guys for all the tips! I actually swim 2-3x a week in a pool and have only had the chance for open water 3x this year including the last tri. Unfortunately the lake is 45 minutes away and just recently opened. Looks like its just a matter of sitting in the water and pacing myself much slower than what feels normal to get the nerves to calm. I'll actively try to work on sighting in the pool moving forward. The volunteer on the kayak also noticed my left arm drifting which I felt once he pointed it out. It just isnt as strong as the right so it wasn't pulling straight. I appreciate all the feedback, thank you!
2015-04-16 4:37 AM
in reply to: lyttleviet


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Subject: RE: Swim tips
Originally posted by lyttleviet

Thanks guys for all the tips! I actually swim 2-3x a week in a pool and have only had the chance for open water 3x this year including the last tri. Unfortunately the lake is 45 minutes away and just recently opened. Looks like its just a matter of sitting in the water and pacing myself much slower than what feels normal to get the nerves to calm. I'll actively try to work on sighting in the pool moving forward. The volunteer on the kayak also noticed my left arm drifting which I felt once he pointed it out. It just isnt as strong as the right so it wasn't pulling straight. I appreciate all the feedback, thank you!


Are you putting your wetsuit on right?
2015-04-16 8:56 AM
in reply to: zedzded

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Subject: RE: Swim tips
Originally posted by zedzded

Originally posted by lyttleviet

Thanks guys for all the tips! I actually swim 2-3x a week in a pool and have only had the chance for open water 3x this year including the last tri. Unfortunately the lake is 45 minutes away and just recently opened. Looks like its just a matter of sitting in the water and pacing myself much slower than what feels normal to get the nerves to calm. I'll actively try to work on sighting in the pool moving forward. The volunteer on the kayak also noticed my left arm drifting which I felt once he pointed it out. It just isnt as strong as the right so it wasn't pulling straight. I appreciate all the feedback, thank you!


Are you putting your wetsuit on right?


Yes, I had it double checked by teammates. Yesterday I swam 2750 meters practicing a better stroke with the zipper technique. I also tried the high elbow technique I found on here and it seemed to work well. My buddy taught me how to sight a bit better and I feel okay for New Orleans.. The weather shows flooding 100% t-storms all week and 60% for Sunday's race so we will see how it all goes. Thanks all!


2015-04-16 9:05 AM
in reply to: lyttleviet


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Subject: RE: Swim tips
I did the Kemah Olympic also. It was my first Olympic distance. I only started swimming last May and was one of those "can't swim 25yards without stopping guys". In the 5 sprints I did last year, I had to swim on my back for a portion of every one of them.

For this race my mantra was "SWIM SLOW". I practiced this during some open water sessions and it really helped to control by breathing. If I found myself getting out of breath I tried to slow down more. This isn't that hard with a wetsuit on.

I did the whole thing (1.1 miles due to the boat anchoring away from the start) without flipping onto my back, resting on a kayak or taking any other breaks. About a 2:15 pace for me which is fine. I wasn't even very tired when I got out of the water. If you read my race report you can see that I kind of wanted something left in the tank after each leg since it was my first Olympic and I wanted to enjoy it.
2015-04-16 12:40 PM
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Subject: RE: Swim tips

Feeling like you aren't getting enough air is actually due to not getting all the CO2 out of your system as opposed not acutally getting enough air.  I find it helps to really focus on a strong exhale underwater before turning your head to breathe.

It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the start and go out too fast.  I've been guilty of that in the past and paid the price.  I work in practice on ingraining the feel of a pace I know l can sustain for the entire distance - it usually feels super slow when starting out.  I'll try to do a race distance time trial once a week in the month leading up to the race.  I equate it to running at an aerobic or 'conversational' pace.  I just try to swim at a comfortable, steady aerobic pace. 

As far as sighting, I like to swim out to the first turn buoy during my warm-up and pick out a distinctive sighting landmark (tall building, radio tower, etc.).

When I sight I lift my head to take a quick orientation 'snapshot'  and then again the next stroke for a more focused look.  I normally try to sight about every 10 strokes.  I'll practice in the pool by putting a drink bottle on the end of my lane as a sighting target.

Speaking of counting strokes,  I know it takes me around 20 strokes to go 25M.  That helps me to gauge how far I've gone, or have to go, without the visual references of the lane lines and walls in the pool.

Good luck.

Mark

 



Edited by RedCorvette 2015-04-16 12:43 PM
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