General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim) Rss Feed  
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2016-11-03 1:00 PM

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17

Naperville, Illinois
Subject: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Hi everyone,

I'm a runner turned (hope-to-be) triathlete who has been cycling for over a year and swimming for a few months. For next year, I'm currently signed up for 4 indoor triathlons over winter and 2 outdoor sprints (400m swims) in July/August where swimming is in a pool-like, outdoor quarry. So far, I can swim continuously for about 2,000 meters at a fairy slow pace (1 mile takes me about 37 minutes). I'm really starting to get comfortable in the water, especially after a private swim lesson with a triathlon coach.

So here it is:
I'm considering signing up for the Chicago Sprint which has a 1/2 mile swim, but I'm seriously questioning just how much an open-water swim might be a bit of a shock versus pool training. There's a Super Sprint with a 400m swim, but the bike and run legs are extremely short and would probably leave me unsatisfied. Am I crazy for considering a 1/2 mile open water swim at this point (less than 1 year out)? It would be my first open-water swim and Lake Michigan isn't the calmest water.

Just wondering if anyone might have some advice for me before I rush into something I might regret. Thanks in advance!


2016-11-03 1:20 PM
in reply to: 0


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Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Originally posted by mdsfx
Am I crazy for considering a 1/2 mile open water swim at this point (less than 1 year out)? It would be my first open-water swim and Lake Michigan isn't the calmest water.


No.
You are not crazy.
You will most likely outperform expectations.

37 minute miles in the pool is probably easily at or above most middle of the pack racers (depending a bit on AG)....for sure in 'local' races....and probably in most of the more popular races as well. There's always 'emerging' swimmers. In every race, there's always just one person who can't find someone to crawl over. For point of reference....my 1.2 mile swim for Muncie 70.3 was 36 minutes in a wetsuit. Good enough for top 3rd of my age group. (40ish)

That being said....swimming in open water is VERY different. And depending on how they start the race, that can make a huge difference too.

I find swimming in anything but open water....BORING. I don't care...dirty river. Gungy lake. Wavy lake (which Lake Mich can get)....I'll take all that over a pool any day.

Some people have open water 'freak outs' (which are still pretty mild as freakouts go....in almost all cases). There are times you hear about people who just "couldn't do it" and had to grab a kayak and get help. I think in a lot of cases, that's a combination of swimming skill/fitness and freakout. Most of the people who seem to have that freakout....(again, it's generally quite few...or almost statistically non-existent)....usually win the mental battle by relying on the fact that they've got some swim fitness and have been working on it for x months. Then the confidence takes over.

Cold water can be shocking. And even as I've gained experience in swimming in colder water....I still have to fight and concentrate to get my breathing right. And often it takes me several hundred meters to get my groove going. Take every chance for a swim warmup....even if it's just to get the initial shock out of the way. I'm guessing Chicago is a wave start? I've never done a massive mass start. Nothing's ever been as 'bad' as I thought it would be in terms of contact. The only time I've thought it was "bad"....was when I wasn't expecting it to be bad. And maybe that's because I'm a decent swimmer and getting better....and am fast enough to be with the people who aren't afraid to mix it up...and I'm not afraid to mix it up. Rubbin is racin.....right?



Edited by jhaack39 2016-11-03 1:28 PM
2016-11-03 3:20 PM
in reply to: mdsfx

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Master
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Falls Church, Virginia
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
I put in about a year of pool training, and my mile swim time was similar to yours. My swim workouts were averaging about 2500 yards, three times a week. I had an Oly coming up in September, so I signed up for an open water 1.2 mile swim in the Potomac River. Go big or go home, right? A couple weeks before I went to a local lake and swam a bit to get used to the idea of being basically blind underwater. All went well. I even nabbed myself a top 3 AG spot (albeit in a non-competitive event.)
Get a couple practice swims in. Don't give yourself any expectations as far as pace, since pool pace and OWS pace can be quite different. You'll do great!
2016-11-03 3:52 PM
in reply to: #5203904

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17

Naperville, Illinois
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Thanks everyone! I'm now signed up for the longer sprint
2016-11-03 7:20 PM
in reply to: #5203931

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, North Carolina
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
You should be good fitness and speed wise but don't let the race be your first time in open water. Get a few practice swims in. I'm determined to get one a week in this spring/summer.
2016-11-03 10:54 PM
in reply to: mdsfx

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Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Originally posted by mdsfx

Hi everyone,

I'm a runner turned (hope-to-be) triathlete who has been cycling for over a year and swimming for a few months. For next year, I'm currently signed up for 4 indoor triathlons over winter and 2 outdoor sprints (400m swims) in July/August where swimming is in a pool-like, outdoor quarry. So far, I can swim continuously for about 2,000 meters at a fairy slow pace (1 mile takes me about 37 minutes). I'm really starting to get comfortable in the water, especially after a private swim lesson with a triathlon coach.

So here it is:
I'm considering signing up for the Chicago Sprint which has a 1/2 mile swim, but I'm seriously questioning just how much an open-water swim might be a bit of a shock versus pool training.


It seems to me that you can do it with your current level. I think the mental game will be the hardest thing. You won't be able to see the bottom (probably) and that seems to freak some people out. I would recommend staying to the outside and maybe even waiting a bit before you start. Let everyone else fight in the beginning and just take your time.

Then just hit things really hard on the cycling and run.

Mental readiness might also include being ready for all your plans to be thrown out the window! For example, if there's much of a crowd and you're getting tired out fighting with everyone, maybe swimming breaststroke for a while would be recommended. I've been doing triathlons for two years and only did the swim two times according to plan. Every other time something came up that messed up all my planning (the rope disappearing so that I had to sight looking at an island in the distance, so many freakin' people that I swam more than half the distance doing breaststroke, etc.).

Good luck!


2016-11-05 6:48 PM
in reply to: #5203950

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Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
My first open water swim was part of a 70.3. I would not advise anyone to do their first OWS in an event, but i wanted it and went for it. It was wetsuitlelegal, and, if not, i would not have attempted it. After 300 or so yards, i saw someone to my left (my preferred breathing side) and noticed this person seemed to be sighting well and i followed this person to the exit. It worked well and i had a great time (for me ). I wasn't trying to draft and stayed at least ten yards or so away as not to interfere with their race. Best of luck to you!
2016-11-06 12:15 PM
in reply to: mdsfx


44
25
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Originally posted by mdsfx

Hi everyone,

I'm a runner turned (hope-to-be) triathlete who has been cycling for over a year and swimming for a few months. For next year, I'm currently signed up for 4 indoor triathlons over winter and 2 outdoor sprints (400m swims) in July/August where swimming is in a pool-like, outdoor quarry. So far, I can swim continuously for about 2,000 meters at a fairy slow pace (1 mile takes me about 37 minutes). I'm really starting to get comfortable in the water, especially after a private swim lesson with a triathlon coach.

So here it is:
I'm considering signing up for the Chicago Sprint which has a 1/2 mile swim, but I'm seriously questioning just how much an open-water swim might be a bit of a shock versus pool training. There's a Super Sprint with a 400m swim, but the bike and run legs are extremely short and would probably leave me unsatisfied. Am I crazy for considering a 1/2 mile open water swim at this point (less than 1 year out)? It would be my first open-water swim and Lake Michigan isn't the calmest water.

Just wondering if anyone might have some advice for me before I rush into something I might regret. Thanks in advance!



Out of curiosity is the quarry swim part of the Naperville Sprint Triathlon ?
2016-11-06 12:19 PM
in reply to: #5204105

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17

Naperville, Illinois
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
It is! I've been swimming there recreationally with my family for two years. Love the place. Think I visited Centennial Beach 40 times this year.
2016-11-07 6:27 PM
in reply to: mdsfx

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Member
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Franklin, TN
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)

You should have no problem....that's just 880 yards.  You'll probably need a wetsuit given that it's in Lake Michigan.  Make sure you swim in the wetsuit before the race.  You'll also want to practice taking it off too so you don't waste a bunch of time in T1.

2016-11-09 7:27 PM
in reply to: #5204134


44
25
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
You will do fine then. There is a Triathkon group in Naperville Called Experience Triathlon that does open water swim practice once a week during the summer at Centenial Beach. I don't think you have to be a member to participate. Maybe pay A small fee to do it.

That race is awesome. I did it in 14 and 15. Moved to Florida this summer. Might do it again someday. It's a great race with lots of local support.


2016-11-09 10:23 PM
in reply to: mdsfx

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1402
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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Definitely go for a "regular" swim! Chicago Tri is an awesome race
I did Sprint last year with a very minimum experience (and pool only) and managed very well. My best friend did it with me and it was her very first tri - no open water experience, minimum swim training.

I actually want to say that with swimming 2,000 meters already and having 4 triathlons before the Chicago one, and also the fact that you are biker & runner, why not trying the Oly course....? The good thing about the swim in Chicago Tri is that it's a closed harbor, so no worries about waves or anything crazy with the water. I did that distance this year and had fun (I am not a good swimmer).
2016-11-10 5:28 AM
in reply to: mdsfx

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Pfafftown, NC
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
This ought to make you feel better......

I'm not a runner......or a cyclist.....or a swimmer. 1 yr ago, I couldn't promise you (I couldn't do it) I could swim 200yds. I swam 3-4X/wk (starting with about 1200yds/session....and progressing to 3K....MUCH of that with a pull buoy, just to make the workouts in some fashion) until my first tri of 2016...a 300 yd pool swim tri. I got through that, just fine (though I freaked at about the 100yd mark). I did 5 other sprints, including 3 pool swims of 300 yds/m.....a 500 m lake swim.......a 600 m ocean swim. I did a 1K m international, an open 1.2 mi. lake swim.....and two half ironmans....all in 2016.

So yes......you can do this. Get in the pool and swim as much as you can.
2016-11-10 7:59 AM
in reply to: #5204572

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17

Naperville, Illinois
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Wow, I love the support here. My confidence has probably tripled from these replies. I'll keep putting the training time in. I swam 2000m yesterday and only stopped because I had to get to work
2017-07-12 3:45 PM
in reply to: mdsfx

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17

Naperville, Illinois
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Just wanted to say thanks again to all of the feedback I received here late last year. I just completed my second sprint in Lake Zurich, IL (surprisingly placed 57th of 418) and with the Chicago coming up soon after Naperville, I'm so glad I went regular Sprint distance as opposed to SS. I'm actually somewhat considering switching to Olympic at this point.

Open water swimming is quite an experience, but I kind of love it!

2017-07-12 4:12 PM
in reply to: mdsfx


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Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Originally posted by mdsfx


Open water swimming is quite an experience, but I kind of love it!




Amen, brother.
Seriously....I look at it this way. If you're at work and someone called you and said "Hey, let's bail from work and go swim laps."
You're response..."Yeah...right."

But, if someone says "Hey, they got an open water swim at Lake Suchandsuch, wanna blow off work and go?"

You'd at least consider it.

If you wanna switch....go for it.


2017-07-12 4:54 PM
in reply to: mdsfx

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Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
If you can get down to the Ohio St beach on a Tuesday morning at 5:00 am, Endure It! (a Naperville/Westmont Tri store) has open water swim practice in Lake Michigan.
2017-07-12 4:58 PM
in reply to: #5204617

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17

Naperville, Illinois
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
Thanks for the heads up! I actually went to them for my bike fitting
2017-07-12 5:09 PM
in reply to: mdsfx

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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: RE: Beginner Advice on Tri Distance (swim)
There is also a small group of open water swim fanatics who swim in lake Michigan on Saturday at sunrise. The sunrise is magnificent and there is no crazy traffic in the lake Come join us, it's a great experience. We swim from North Ave (the actual street, not a beach) to Oak beach. back and forth is about a mile, but you are not onligated for any distance, you do whatever you feel like swimming.

https://www.facebook.com/openwaterchicago/
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