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KIMBERLYKJONES's Photo KIMBERLYKJONES SparkPoints: (10,136)
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10/27/14 10:32 P

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Hi GLADGAD: Thank you for sharing this. I'm a wannabe triathlete (goal race Fall 2016). I start my swimming lessons in November. Its very nice to have sparkpeople share their knowledge.

GLADGAD's Photo GLADGAD Posts: 5,690
10/27/14 1:29 P

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First of all, I wouldn't worry too much about being competitive in the swim portion of the race. NO ONE wins a triathon in the swim. However, I completely understand that you want to do the swim relatively easily and without a lot of stress.

The key to swimming is a good technique. If your BF is a swim coach, and you don't have a lot of freestyle swimming experience, then you will be learning the correct technique without already having to overcome bad habits. You may be surprised to find that swimming is more upper body and there's not as much kicking as you think. Watch some You Tube videos of the swimming pros and you'll see what I mean.

The biggest thing is to get really comfortable in the water regardless of what is going on around you. After you feel pretty comfortable swimming laps, have your boyfriend or another friend get in and while you are swimming, have them bump you, splash you, dunk you, and even kick you (not hard!) to simulate what race conditions might be like. At that time you'll want to be sure you react (or not) without touching bottom, as during the race you most likely won't have that luxury. Remember, too, that you don't have to do a freestyle during the race. I have seen backstroke and even doggie paddle. If you get tired doing freestyle, you can always revert to another stroke to rest.

While I play underwater hockey and don't really notice a lot of body contact (unless I'm kicked in the head), I don't much like it when I'm racing and will hang back and be one of the last to get in. I discovered that I used up too much energy trying to get through people or having them swim over me. So if during your training you get stressed by body contact, consider going in towards the last and slowly to avoid most of the people.

The other thing I want to mention is once you are comfortable doing laps, you'll want to learn to sight for open water swimming. Usually in a race you have to swim out to a buoy, then swim a certain length and then turn in back to shore at another buoy. The course is generally marked with buoys at each end and 1 or 2 during the length of the course. To ensure that you continue to swim in a straight line and don't stray too far off course, you need to pick up your head and spot the next buoy without slowing yourself down too much. I usually sight every 15-20 strokes. If you're on an open water course, there will be lifeguards out on boards who follow the group and you can sight them to make sure you don't go too far out. They will also herd in the strays.

Finally, try not to get frustrated when learning to put together all of the movements of the freestyle. It's not a natural movement for humans and takes some practice. You may want to get in the pool 3 to 4 times a week. Hang with it. It will come, and all the work will be totally worth it when you cross that triathlon finish line.

-Carolyn

"God gave you your body as a gift, so you should take care of it." - My Mom
AIMLESS_AM's Photo AIMLESS_AM Posts: 2,379
10/27/14 12:21 P

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I've made a goal to do a sprint triathlon in 2015. I've got the running down (finished my first marathon this year!), I'm a slow but capable cyclist, but my swimming is little more than a doggie paddle. My fiance is a former swim coach and has done the relay portions of triathlons; he is willing to work with me to at least get the basics down. We're starting our swim sessions in a couple of weeks and I'm wondering how we should start out. Does anyone have any tips for where to begin to learn to swim for the purpose of competing? Thank you all!

- Amy

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