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2019-05-29 7:36 PM


2

FREMONT, Ohio
Subject: newbie swimming questions
My first sprint triathlon is coming up in a few weeks, and I have a few questions about the swim. I'm comfortable in the pool, but only swam competitively in pools, never in open water.

I'm doing a sprint tri outside of Toledo OH on June 16th. The swim is in a small man made lake, just inland from Lake Erie. There were approximately 400 finishers of all the waves of the race last year, so a relatively small race.

During my training, I've been finishing a 750 in approximately 15 minutes, at about 70% effort. Realistically, what time does that translate to in an open water 750 swim? I realize that in the pool I'm not fighting waves/current/kicked in face/swimming wrong direction, but I'll also have adrenaline and taper in my favor. Thoughts?

Current water temp in Lake Erie close to the race site is 61. I'm assuming the lake the race is in will be similar, but a little warmer. Given that race day is less than 3 weeks away, I doubt water temp will be 65 or much over. I'm going to need a wetsuit, right? I'm trying to get away with not having to buy/rent one, but I'd also rather not make my first tri experience miserable due to lack of proper equipment.

Thanks for any advice.


2019-05-29 8:23 PM
in reply to: mithesaint

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
Depends a little if it's yards or meters and the caliber of the race, but my guess is 15 minutes would put you somewhere toward the middle to back of the middle of the pack in a typical local sprint. Certainly there will be people who swim much faster, but also those who swim considerably slower. I would definitely need a wetsuit for water in the low to mid 60's or I would be miserable. There are probably some hearty souls (Canadians? Norwegians?) who would disagree with that, but I think in most of my races with similar water temps (such as Couer d'Alene 70.3), pretty much 90-95% of people were in wetsuits. Low to mid 70's would be getting more into the "wetsuit optional" range for most people. I would rent one and try it out before race day if at all possible.

Open water times can be very hard to predict. If it's a small race, accurate course with no chop, you navigate well and don't panic, then you might be a bit faster than in the pool owing to wetsuit buoyancy, drafting others (if you can) and adrenaline. On the other hand, you could be considerably slower if you have navigation issues, have to take some short breaks to get your bearings or catch your breath (it happens sometimes, even to experienced athletes), the water is choppy or the course is long, etc. I don't do many sprints, but thinking of Olympic distance, my times (at similar swim fitness levels) have ranged from just over 26 minutes (about a minute over a hard pool 1500) to 31 and change (5 minutes over). Go figure.
2019-05-30 9:49 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
I have never swam in the wetsuit, because I keep refusing to spend money on it The coldest water I swam in was 56, and I often swam in lower 60s. I did the following preparation:
- cold water baths every evening. Start slow. I started with 5 minutes (that was all I could've handled... eventually I was able to stay in cold bathtub for 20 minutes, and even added ice.
- if you have access to the gym with sauna: I stayed in sauna for almost 20 minutes, and then got into cold shower. Back to sauna, cold shower again.
- I ate a lot of avocados and dark chocolate. A cold water long distance swimmer told me that you need a fat (to keep you warm in cold water), but healthy fat (avocado, dark chocolate). I did not made me fatter, and I cannot say how much it helped me with cold water experience, but these two are healthy foods anyway, so it didn't hurt.

As for the times, It's hard to say, given all variables. I had one sprint where my open water was faster than my pool time, but I have no idea how I did it, especially giving the packed start.... The other time I was in a perfect shape, but the lake was so temperamental that I had the worst time ever, because I was not moving at all (thanks to the waves...)
I still add approx. 30 seconds per 100 to my expected open water time, but I do longer distances now, so it would probably not be the case for you/for sprints.

Don't overthink it for your first race. Once you do it, you will have an idea. If you can do a practice swim somewhere, that would be helpful. If you need to know for estimating your finish time, you may keep it at 15 or add a minute/two. If you happen to do it faster, you will have those extra minutes off your time, or have extra for transition have fun and keep us posted after the race!
2019-05-30 1:50 PM
in reply to: 0


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Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
Have swam triathlons in the 60-65 degree range around here including a 61 degree half Ironman. Would not do it without a wetsuit. In fact, on the half I was maybe one of 20 swimmers (out of 2000) that wore sleeveless wetsuit with full length legs. It can be done, but might have been nice to have sleeves for a swim of that length. For shorter swim sprints I have been OK with colder water and sleeveless. You can probably grab a sleeveless long leg wetsuit on Amazon for around $100. I did not see the need to drop $400 on a wetsuit, but that is just me.

Edited by HaydenHunter 2019-05-30 1:54 PM
2019-05-30 2:31 PM
in reply to: HaydenHunter

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Master
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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
Just yesterday there were deals on Xterra Volt sleeveless for $59. Not sure of the size range; I got one earlier this month for $79 and the full range of sizes was available. You might want to check out their website.
2019-05-30 4:45 PM
in reply to: mithesaint

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Franklin, TN
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions

If it's in the 60's, you'll want a wetsuit.  If the wetsuit fits properly you'll not only be more comfortable "temperature-wise" but you will also swim faster with the better body position the wetsuit gives you. 



2019-05-30 5:04 PM
in reply to: JoelO

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Highland Park, Illinois
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
You made me curious as to why you would advise to absolutely have a wetsuit for 60s temp. Is that absolutely necessary? Is there anything that could happen to your body for a long distance with lower temp?
2019-05-30 5:38 PM
in reply to: #5259348


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Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
As others have said, open water can be a different beast. I train in open water as I don’t have a pool close by, so I’ve never had the chance to compare pool to open water times (I’m slow either way!).

Don’t worry about your times in your first triathlon. Just focus on controlling what you can and have fun. You may blow your pool times out of the water, pun intended. Or you may find that you have an adjustment and are slower.

I would certainly get a wetsuit for temps that low. You’ll enjoy the buoyancy, especially if you have trouble with sinking legs, and warmth. I purchased a sleeveless wetsuit for under $75 on eBay and a full wetsuit off a triathlon buy and sell group on Facebook for around $60. You should be able to find a basic, beginner wetsuit new for under $150 or so. People spend a lot more than that trying to get aero advantages on the bike. You are almost guaranteed to save time, and more importantly, energy by wearing a wetsuit.
2019-05-30 5:44 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Franklin, TN
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions

I'm sure there's a few people, yourself included, that don't have a problem swimming in 60ish degree water.  I do this for fun and swimming in those temperatures would not be fun without a wetsuit.  Plus, you're giving up free speed if you're not using one when it's legal to do so.  In this particular instance we're also talking about someone's 1st triathlon and all that entails.  A wetsuit will relieve some of the anxiety related to the swim by providing comfort, buoyancy and speed.

2019-05-30 6:17 PM
in reply to: marysia83

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Eugene, Oregon
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
It's very individual and depends on things like metabolism, body composition, acclimatization, swim speed, air temp, etc. but yes, some people would become hypothermic and/or more subject to cramps without a wetsuit at those temps. Probably not to a fatal extent, but personally after getting too cold on a swim, especially if air temps are also cool, I have struggled with cramping on exit from the water, difficulty getting my hands working in transition, and trouble controlling the bike in the early miles due to shivering uncontrollably. The latter could definitely be a safety issue. Plus the issue of comfort. Many, not all, people, would find a wetsuit more comfortable for water in the 60's.
2019-05-30 8:43 PM
in reply to: Hot Runner


2

FREMONT, Ohio
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
Wow! Thanks for all the advice. It's very helpful for a newbie who really hasn't realized what he's getting himself into!

Seriously, I'm not that worried about my time. I'm not in great shape yet, as this is a "couch to triathlon" type of thing, and expect to finish around 1:45 or so. Back of the pack, and that's fine for the first time. Maybe after I drop 30 lbs, quit my job, and improve all parts of the tri, then I'll be near the upper middle! Mostly just curious what to expect. I'm pretty sure what to expect on the bike and run, but the open water part will be new.

Thanks for the heads up on the wetsuit. I managed to pick up a sleeveless wetsuit for $59 plus shipping. I'm pretty happy with that. The rentals I looked at were $65, so I'm ahead already.


2019-05-31 8:57 AM
in reply to: mithesaint


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Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
Since you are looking for other tips on your first open water tri swim, you should keep in mind that getting in the water to swim a bit or at least splash around a few minutes before swim start helps most folks. At a minimum, splash some water on your face. It can be daunting to plunge your body and face in cold water at the start of the race, bodies thrashing around you, if you haven't been in the water first to warm up. I am sure others can elaborate on this.
2019-06-03 3:26 PM
in reply to: mithesaint

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Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
I would recommend a wetsuit!

Typically my race effort is around 10 to 15 seconds per 100 slower on race day.
You have to also account for sighting. If you zig zag a lot, it ads distance and time. Race time will show you slower, even though you may have swam 1000 instead of 750...

Don't count on adrenaline. It can be your enemy at the swim start if you go full bore and peter out, then have a panic moment when it's hard to catch your breathe.

Do a good warm up before the start, either on land or warm up swim.

Sight your markers before you start to have an idea where you are going in the water.

Pace yourself at the start.
2019-06-03 10:54 PM
in reply to: JoelO

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, Kowloon City
Subject: RE: newbie swimming questions
Depends on if it is low 60s or high 60s. If it is in high 60s (e.g. 67+), there is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY I will use a wet suit due to concern of overheating; if it is in low 60s I will decide according to the race distance. For example if the swim is only 750 m I will definitely not use one unless it is compulsory.

Also, a wetsuit is a burden in T1 and can make you freak out at race start because of the constriction.
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