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Swimming advice

I am preparing for my first triathlon (Blenheim) and have done alot of reading on each of the events. I would probably consider swimming to be my strongest event and an luckily enough to be confident at front crawl, (discovered many friends are having swimming lessons on this technique ready for the race).

I wondered is it best to use your legs or not? My training so far I haven't but understand that I need to keep them high in the water to stop drag. Would using a float help with this or should o be kicking ?

Please help!!


  • BlinkybazBlinkybaz Posts: 1,144
    Hi Tee (and I dont mean sandwiches with the crust cut off)LOL

    Good question, As your first tri will be OW and you will be in a wetsuit its best to use your legs as little as you can. They will be doing the rest of the event for you.
    A wet suit will keep you legs near the top due to bouyency being in the hips. Have you swum in a wetsuit yet? Its a bit different. My first time I found i was not rntering the water properly with my arms each stroke due to my body being higher in the water.

    If you are fit enough and want to nail the course then use your legs but most swim coaches will tell you dont get that much power from the effort you put in with your legs.

    Good luck and welcome to the forum!
  • TeeTee Posts: 4
    Thank you. I have not swam in a wet suit yet, little cold!!! But I am joining a local tri club so I can train in open water in a couple of months. I have an ok fitness (get round a rugby pitch for 80 minutes anyway!!!) I think I will continue without the legs because I will definitely need them especially as my weakest event is running.
  • BlinkybazBlinkybaz Posts: 1,144
    The club idea is a good bet. You will also get some buddies to help you along. Which you need sometimes. I reckon they will do club cycles and running training so you can get good advice and training.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your progress and your first race report.

  • TeeTee Posts: 4
    Thank you . Will let you know how I get on.
  • I had exactly the same point of view this time last year,

    My first tri was blenhiem last year and it was absoulty stunning!

    I differed in the fact that my swim was (and still is) the most dreadded part, my inability in the water was staggering - but by finding a club and hitting it hard managed to smash it.

    Also owed a huge amount to Dan from Sim for Tri, would recommend the whole team actually. this year I think I'm going on one of their Spainish camps in La Manga!

    Good Luck Mr. Tee
  • I did Blenheim last year and I LOVED it! It was a very hot day & totally amazing. The lake was refreshing....long run up a steep hill when you exit the water.
    Not doing it this year as I couldnt justify spending over £70 for a Sprint. No goody bag either
  • marriotmarriot Posts: 4
    Hey buddy, Swimming is the best one to keep health and staying fit... I think the person's who do the cardio and swimming at it's best those have the best physique and fitness in their bodies well.... Swimming is the best one exercise....
  • vybermanvyberman Posts: 28
    I only started last year and this year is my first real season. Swimming was my weakest discipline, so i have spent the winter trying to sort it out.
    I got a book called total immersion, there is a video called "freestyle made easy" too.
    But if you go to you tube and type in "total immersion swimming" and "TI swimming drills" there is a wealth of info on tweaking your freestyle.

    This video in particular is a favourite of mine http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJpFVvho0o4
    Notice the lack of kicking! In one of the other videos the coach says something about that kick creating tension across the whole body as you take the stroke and roll from one side to the other. And it's the roll which creates power rather than the kick....well if he says so I guess it must be right?
    But in terms of keeping your legs up close to the surface in the wake of your body, that's done by pushing the head down in the water and using the chest as a see saw style float. Notice the Japanese guy in the video has his head way under the water...

    Not sure how the head under the water thing works in open water while being punched by other athletes and keeping an eye on where your going though? I have yet to do an open water race so I really cant say what its like.
    My pool swimming has improved no end though! The pool attendants (who swim for local clubs) told me the other day they would worry about racing me now...and so they should!!! ;-)
  • vix1987vix1987 Posts: 11
    Hi All,

    I hope you don't mind me tagging on to this discussion - im doing my first ow sprint in July and at the beginning of the year i had a few lessons to learn how to front crawl...

    i was really happy with my progress as i couldn't even swim one length but now i seem to have hit a wall - i cant seem to constancy swim i.e do two lengths in a row with out having a rest because i am so out of breath....i dont no what i am doing wrong as i am breathing out under water and alternating which side i breathe on and practising twice a week...

    Has anyone else found the swimming this hard and have any tips? im starting to panic now and its so frustrating because i do enjoy the swimming!!

    PS happy sunny easter
  • vybermanvyberman Posts: 28
    I was in exactly the same place with my swimming! 2 lengths and I was shot!

    I think it was 50% technique and 50% psychological. I started back in July last year. went on like it for a few months and really started to get down about it.
    Then I started to learn that TI stuff. My stroke improved as did my speed. But I was still stuck on distance.

    So I told myself a little while back that having sorted my stroke out I must be doing something else wrong. And I was, I was thinking about it!When I first started, I stopped because I had no choice. But this became more of a habit governed by the ends of the pool and how many times I reached one or the other!
    So then when I stopped I started to make a serious effort to analyse how I felt, and asked myself, if I were this out of breath on a bike or run would I be stopping now? Answer was no! So why would I be stopping now? I think it's simply because my brain and my body both expected the rest!

    My thoughts on it.
    Stop counting lengths, buy a lap counter and dont look at it until the end.
    Try some open water swims, with no ends to use as way points, its easier to keep you resolve strong!
    Analyse how out of breath you are when you do stop. And if your not gasping for your next breath as if you life depended on it, ask yourself exactly what was in your head to make you stop? Was it because you needed to, or was it because that where you usually do and therefore you gave into it???

    Its far easier to get into a panic about air when your face is in the water. Its a lot easier to "zone out" when running for example, swimming is literally in your face!

    I would also try going swimming more often! maybe 4 times a week rather than 2.

    But before you take my advice, bear in mind that I am a total novice, and my reply is based upon my "experience"
  • MarshalMarshal Posts: 4
    Good piece of advice guys and i will follow it because i was desperately looking for some good swimming advises and here i have got it.

    personal trainers orange county
  • LancsRiderLancsRider Posts: 205
    Firstly if you are having trouble completing more than a couple of lengths it can not be a fitness thing so I suspect it has to be a problem with your breathing. If you only partly exhale under water then every time you breath in you will draw in air you have previously processed in your lungs. In a short period of time this means you will have a lack of oxygen to fuel your activity, as a result you may start to try and draw in even more air next breath.

    Really try to push out all the air you can whilst your face is in the water, and try hard to work through the first few lengths until things settle down. I always find the first few lengths to be difficult much like satarting a run for the first km or so. When you get into a rhythm at a steady pace you will find you really do not need to draw in that much air and that breathing becomes quite relaxed. In this state the limiting factors will be fitness and strength not technique. The secret is to try an relax into your swims, not to shock the system by going hard from the gun. Try spending a few minutes just getting relaxed in the water breathing out whilst under water at the pool end so your body and mind settle in to what is going to be expected from them.

    Hope this helps a liitle, good luck.
  • RockRock Posts: 2
    Hi all. Just found this thread (and forum).

    I'm in exactly the same position. I'm pretty confident in the water, breast stroke no problem and am quite fit. However, my front crawl technique is dreadful. I've been training every day for 3 weeks now and have progressed well (I now do a length in about 30s) but I still run out of breath after 3-4 lengths. My head goes light/dizzy and when I stop I'm panting out of breath the same as I would after a fast run.

    Thanks for the tips. LancsRider has some very interesting points. Tomorrow I'm going to try to simply just push past the 4 lengths mark and see what happens!
  • nivaghnivagh Posts: 595
    Breathing out while you swim is also important as otherwise you will raise your trunk in the water, which lowers your legs and causes drag.
    Don't fully expel the air from your lungs until you turn your head to breathe, though - if your lungs are totally empty then you have little choice but to breathe, and you may find you can't if it's choppy or if you get biffed. I keep a little bit back which I get rid of immediately before breathing in again.
  • RockRock Posts: 2
    Ok, well I tried it and made 20 lengths without stopping. However, I had to give up the bilateral breathing and switch to breathing every stroke after just 3 lengths. I'd love to be able to bilaterally breathe the whole distance.
  • LancsRiderLancsRider Posts: 205
    Well done for what sounds like a breakthrough.

    You need to understand that swimming is fundamentaly a 'skills based' element of triathlon. A lot of people find it hard to deal with the fact that their strength and endurance abilities can get them through the bike and run and that this is not transfarable to the swim. Ask yourself the question why should it? I remember in my arrogant youth declaring to a friend on taking up golf that I would soon be down to his handicap, even thouhg he had been playing for years. Hundreds of hours of practice later I had improved considerably but was still no where near competing with him. It might have been the case that I was extremly gifted and would start out at a good level, unfortunatly I was not, and as an average Joe I had an average skill level and simply had to put the work in if I was to get any better.

    The thing which makes triathlon more appealing than duathlons to me is that it includes a skills based element. I am not saying that there are not skills involved in biking and running. What I am saying is that swim training offers a totally different culture into my week. I think too many triathletes take the same go out and do the distance at a steady pace into all three elements of the sport, this is a potential mistake. As a species we are well adapted to run. The bike was designed with our physiology in mind, we are not designed to swim ,rather fish and mamals such as dolphins are. As a result swimming is a very difficult propositon for us to solve, even more so if you do not have a good natural body position in the water. See this as the challenge it is. It is a complex jigsaw which we need to work on piece by piece, and as such we need to have the right mindset if we are to build a decent stroke technique. Focus and patience is the key. Take it one step at a time. Practice and be very body aware of how you move through the water, this requires being in a mentaly relaxed state. At times I go to my pool to train and I am far too serious about what I am trying to achieve, in contrast my 6 year old son is improving at an incredible rate, why because he is having so much fun, it is important to remember to enjoy the journey.

    You will get better and one day you will find that going up and down the pool becomes a more natural process which requires very little mental thought. At that point you know you can get in the workout that you want whilst developing your skills to refine and quicken your swim times. I understand that untill you get to this point the whole process can seem highly frustrating, we have all been there, stick with it, stress free swimming is just around the corner.
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