General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Sea swim vs Lake swim etc Rss Feed  
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2006-12-12 4:36 AM

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Subject: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc

How big is the difference between a sea swim and a lake swim for IM, effort wise and time wise? I live inland and have never swum in the sea (as in openwater swim).

I am doing IM South Africa next year (18 March) and the swim is in the bay at Port Elizabeth. Is there anything I can do to prepare for the sea swim?

ALSO, what bottoms do you wear for IM - 180km is very long to do in a tri-swimsuit??

Please help



2006-12-12 6:12 AM
in reply to: #621720

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
One advantage you will notice between lake swim and ocean swim is the salinity of ocean water keeps you much more bouyant. Of course the disadvantage is waves, tides, saltwater in your mouth, and if you are in south africa... great whites
2006-12-12 10:18 AM
in reply to: #621720

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc

As far as bottoms go, I change into my regular bike shorts. I do wear my bike shirt under my wetsuit. I tried light padded tri shorts one year and regreted it on the run, had to stop every other mile and get vaseline.

Good Luck

Chris

2006-12-12 12:09 PM
in reply to: #621720

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc

Can't help you on the swim differences- I always wind up in the lake.  Not on purpose, I just seem to sign up for the lake events.  That being said- I do have an irrational (or rational) fear of sharks.  And guacamole.  However...

I use tri shorts for the entire event.  No issues...

2006-12-12 12:19 PM
in reply to: #621720

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
Ok, I've raced in both, a 1/2 in the pacific and a full in a lake (DNF, missed time cutoff by 2 min), and trained in the pacific. They are different for sure. The ocean in my opinion has a predictable current and it's more rolling. The waves are bigger, the sets are constant and predictable, and the frequency of waves is less. What I mean is, in the ocean for example, I can get 10 strokes in before a wave hits, while in the lake, I could only get 1 or 2 in before the wave hit. The lake was more choppy, hitting me from all sides...I felt my stroke was always off and I had to sight every 2 strokes. Now, I only swam once in the lake and there were like 20-30mph winds so maybe that's not what a lake normally feels like.

Specifically for my ocean swims, if I look up, I can see 2 very huge waves between me and the bouy. But at the lake, I look up, and see 20 medium sized waves between me and the bouy.
2006-12-12 7:16 PM
in reply to: #621720

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc

The main difference is the waves, swells, chop, current, breakers that the ocean has.  Lakes can also have waves and chop, but usually don't have the breakers.  Once past the breakers I like the ocean swim.  Definitely get to the race a day or two early so you can practice in the ocean.  Also, if you are prone to sea sickness, large swells may make you sea sick.  Although, I know guys who got sea sick in Town Lake at IMAZ. 

I wear a tri top and tri shorts for the whole IM race.  I also wear a tri top and tri shorts in all my training.  Whatever you do, use the same clothing in training that you plan to wear in the race. 

TJ 



2006-12-12 7:19 PM
in reply to: #622554

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
You got to be kidding. One of the reasons I DNF'ed at Silverman was because I was terribly sick even after taking 2 dramamine beforehand. Isn't the swim flat there?

zia_cyclist - 2006-12-12 5:16 PM
Although, I know guys who got sea sick in Town Lake at IMAZ.
2006-12-12 7:31 PM
in reply to: #622556

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc

auto208562 - 2006-12-12 7:19 PM You got to be kidding. One of the reasons I DNF'ed at Silverman was because I was terribly sick even after taking 2 dramamine beforehand. Isn't the swim flat there?
zia_cyclist - 2006-12-12 5:16 PM Although, I know guys who got sea sick in Town Lake at IMAZ.

Yep.  Seasick in Town Lake.  It was the first year of IMAZ; a couple years ago.  There was some wind and the lake was a little choppy.  He chummed for fish with his pre-race nutrition after about 10 minutes into the swim.  Really screwed up the rest of his race.  Now, you have to understand he was living in southern, land locked, desert New Mexico.  I was living there also.  There wasn't an open body of water within 100 miles.  All of our swimming was done in the pool.

TJ

2006-12-12 10:05 PM
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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc

I live right near the ocean (as one might figure from my user name )  so I've swam in the ocean a good number of times, including in several triathlons.   

Time wise it all depends on the conditions.  I'm guessing you'll be wearing a wetsuit, so you get whatecer time advantage from that.  You are more buoyant in salt water, but don't count on that helping your time- any advantage there can be more than taken away by the water conditions- between the waves, the currents (including ripcurrents- very dangerous- which pull you out to sea) etc.  Waves in the ocean can be somewhat predictable at times and you can often see what will be a big wave coming when it is a distance away, though that can take some experience.  But I've seen the ocean enough times near where I live to know that the waves aren't predictable at all and do some strange things out there in the ocean, especially when the wind is strong and/or there's a storm somewhere within a couple of thousand miles out to see (yes a hurricane down by the Bahamas can make the ocean at the Jersey Shore not a place anyone should swim in). 

At one sprint I did this year, the ocean was really rough so they were forced to change the swim course.  I'm guessing that it was about 500 yards, which I did in 1:10/yard pace - which I can't do otherwise.  It felt like I was in there forever, but I took a good line and sort of bodysurfed in, letting the waves get me in. 

As far as how to handle the waves, if it's a beach start and there is a big wave or two coming, just wait 30 seconds and let them break before going in if you're concerned.  No sense taking the risk of getting knocked under by the waves (which you need to be prepared for that possibility- just stay calm, you'll be able to come up within seconds and you won't drown from that as long as you relax).  Generally, the worst place is by the breakers- where the waves are crashing.  If you're near there and a wave is coming, just go under it- like do breaststroke under the wave- to get by it.  Once you're past them, at least from what I've seen, it's not too bad.  When you come in, try to take advantage of the waves and sort of bodysurf a bit to move along faster.  If a wave is about to crash as you're coming in and you can't outrun it, to where you can't be knocked under it, then just go face the wave and go under it and come back up, swim some more and outrun the next one.

As far as the salt water, especially try not to drink it.  It's just not a good idea (there is a reason why they say to never drink the sea water if you're stranded out in the ocean).  You're most likely going to swallow some of it, which will make you thirsty, so listen to that.  You may also want to take a drink of water and spit it out to get rid of the salty taste.  Also, really do try to get under a shower/hose when you come out of the water (whatever they have there) as the salt water can bother one's skin. 

A lot of triathlon ocean swims are in protected coves, so some of it may not apply in your case.  In that case, you may have the best of both worlds, depending on the currents.

2006-12-14 7:25 AM
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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
Thanks for all the input guys!!
2019-05-15 5:27 AM
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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
Hi all, I've signed up for a lake race, while nearly all of my OW training is in the rough ocean. I want to have some reasonable expectation how I will perform in a lake rather than the rough ocean.

Is swimming in a lake easier or harder when compared to the rough ocean, if everything else is equal? If I can do the distance in the ocean am I good to go to the lake?


2019-05-15 8:07 AM
in reply to: miklcct

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
Probably better to start a new thread than revive a 2006 one...

Lake is generally easier than ocean. Of course, you could have a totally calm ocean (like in a sheltered bay), compared to a choppy lake (big ones tend to have more difficult conditions if it is windy) and that could change things around, but in general, my lake times are somewhat faster and tend to vary less than ocean swims (assuming courses are accurate, which at least in tri is a big assumption). Typically a difference of 3-4 minutes for half-iron distance (1900m) and 2-3 minutes for Olympic (1500m).

Some of that may also be due to where I'm racing--pretty much all of my ocean swims (but one that I can think of) have been in tropical water in SE Asia where wetsuits were not allowed; all my lake swims (mostly in North America) have been wetsuit-legal and I have worn at least a sleeveless shortie suit, and often a full. The extra buoyancy would probably provide some speed as well.
2019-05-15 8:26 AM
in reply to: Hot Runner

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
Originally posted by Hot Runner

Probably better to start a new thread than revive a 2006 one...

Lake is generally easier than ocean. Of course, you could have a totally calm ocean (like in a sheltered bay), compared to a choppy lake (big ones tend to have more difficult conditions if it is windy) and that could change things around, but in general, my lake times are somewhat faster and tend to vary less than ocean swims (assuming courses are accurate, which at least in tri is a big assumption). Typically a difference of 3-4 minutes for half-iron distance (1900m) and 2-3 minutes for Olympic (1500m).

Some of that may also be due to where I'm racing--pretty much all of my ocean swims (but one that I can think of) have been in tropical water in SE Asia where wetsuits were not allowed; all my lake swims (mostly in North America) have been wetsuit-legal and I have worn at least a sleeveless shortie suit, and often a full. The extra buoyancy would probably provide some speed as well.


The lake I'm going to swim in is large - however I train in rough open ocean as well, sometimes with BF 4 winds. Also, currently all my swims are non-wetsuit and I am unlikely to do any triathlons cold enough to where wetsuit is mandatory. Your case of using a wetsuit vs not is already not a fair comparison.
2019-05-15 9:36 AM
in reply to: miklcct

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
You will swim fine in the lake compared to the ocean. The lake temperature may be higher depending on what your typical ocean temperature is. I grew up in SoCal and the pacific can be quite cold but I have swam in FL where the water is even warm enough in January to not need a wetsuit. I've had some pretty choppy lake swims but if you're used to rough ocean swims that should be no problem for you. What I've found is that strong open water swimmers can pretty much handle anything that doesn't result in swim cancellations.

Performance wise I wouldn't expect dramatic changes in your pace. Overall time will be effected by the actual race distance and your siting skills.
2019-05-15 11:39 AM
in reply to: miklcct

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
I have done one ocean swim (in Australia) with full wetsuit, so I do have that for comparison. Still about 2:30 off my best lake swim time in full suit (for 1900m). Both races had fairly calm but not flat water; they were maybe six or eight weeks apart and I think fitness level was similar. The ocean swim was a world championship so I would hope/expect distance was accurate.

There are just so many variables involved in open water swim times, even when distances are accurate; really the only answer is, "It depends." For me it sometimes matters more what wave I start in, as far as drafting possibilities and whether or not I have to waste time with contact at the start and going around/through (over?) slower swimmers. That would be regardless of body of water, or wetsuit.
2019-05-16 3:35 PM
in reply to: JanaWiehahn

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Subject: RE: Sea swim vs Lake swim etc
You could have swells of several feet in the ocean. Be ready for anything!
I work in a lot of paddles, buoys and fin sets into my swims to build strength to overcome open water issues like extra sighting and waves/currents.

I bought some used speed suits off ebay and wear them over my tri suit for races if they do not allow wetsuits.


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