General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Any "real" triathletes here doing marathon swimming as well? Rss Feed  
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2019-02-08 4:05 AM

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Subject: Any "real" triathletes here doing marathon swimming as well?
I am not a real triathlete. I do aquathons solely as a cross-training between two of my favourite sports - sprint orienteering (where I need running speed) and open water swimming (where I eventually want to become a marathon swimmer). I don't do full triathlons because I don't want to bother with a bike as it does not help with my main sports.

I'm interested whether serious triathletes and serious open water swimmers mix together. Although there are a lot of similarities between the swim leg of triathlon and marathon swimming, there are some major differences as well:

- Real marathon swimmers don't swim with a wetsuit, the use of one is considered an assistance and no longer considered "natural"
- It is not allowed to hang to anything for support in the process, unlike in triathlons
- Apart from marathon swimming races, there are also "solo swims" (like swimming the channel) as well.

There is also a major difference in body shape between the common "open water swimmer", and the common "triathlete" as well. Specifically, "open water swimmers" usually have some fat ("bioprene") in order to keep warm in cold water, where "triathletes" race in wetsuit in such temperature.

Therefore I am very interested if there are any serious triathletes also doing pure marathon swimming (or pure open water swimming greater than IM distance) as well. If you also do marathon swimming, please tell us what's your motivation of doing that (e.g. to cross-train, to challenge yourself, etc.), if it helps your triathlon performance, and what's the difficulty for you, as a triathlete, to do marathon swimming?

2019-02-11 10:15 AM
in reply to: miklcct

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Elmira, ON
Subject: RE: Any "real" triathletes here doing marathon swimming as well?
I started OWS last year and have done some in excess of IM distances. I don't fit the mold of the stereotypical marathon swimmer of being "big." It is a stereotype as many of those who do marathon swimming are actually quite fit and lean. But I do concede many are by definition overweight, and even obese. I think they trade off swim intensity for a slow meandering pace that they can continue perpetually. Any fat swimmers I know are usually excessively slow too, technique notwithstanding.

I'm (6' 3", 185pounds) And anecdotally adding this long distance swimming and doing these competitions last year alongside my triathlons helped my swimming. I was clocking the fastest swim times I ever have in competition. I think much of this has to do with getting better at sighting, experience with waves, current, etc. I simply added one OWS minimum a week in place of a pool swim. Because it is one of the three disciplines in Triathlon there is a direct pay off to that much swimming. the old saying goes "Swimming will never win you the race..but it will lost it for you." Maximizing your swimming in lieu or at the sacrifice of the other two disciplines isn't a good idea. The cycle and run can make up much more time and really win the race.

That aside, OWS's and long distance swimming is simply "fun." There are some great social circles, and that's encouraging for any athlete to keep motivated. Lots of competitions around Southern Ontario and they fit in nicely between triathlons. I personally dont see any downside in pure swimming sports. Its all money in the bank for triathlon, so long as you dont sacrifice the other two disciplines. A side note, I also compete as a Masters Athlete in the winter through Masters Swim Ontario for the same reasons.
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