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My First Ironman

I am having a bit of a panic as I have an Ironman in 4 weeks time in Barcelona.  It's my first one. 

My swimming is really weak - I have not focussed on it enough because I have found it incredibly hard.. and frankly - I am quite worried all together.  

I have trained about 10-13 hours a week for the last 5 months and my aim is to finish it only - not any particular time.  

I have done a fair amount of brick sessions such as 3hr bike followed by 1hr run etc. I've done London to Paris cycling and have done Brighton and back in the last few months. Running is my strongest discipline.   

Any advice on what I should really focus on for the last 4 weeks would be much appreciated.  



  • risris Posts: 1,002

    if you have confidence in the other disciplines and are worried about the swim then you could consider focussing some time in the water. but 4 weeks isn't very long and you may not have time to make any substantial improvements. 

    how bad is your swimming and what worries you? is it the time you will need, or the conditions, or something else? if you are going to focus on something to give you confidence for the start line then you need to be able to list out the things that are of concern and then work out how to change (coaching, practice in open water, etc)

  • bathtubbathtub Posts: 280
    Carla are you aware that there is a 2 hour 20 minutes cut off time for the swim at Barcelona?

    All the bike and run training you have done will count for nothing if you miss the swim cut off as you will not be allowed to proceed further.

    As ris states 4 weeks is not a great deal of time to make big improvements but I would concentrate on making sure that I would hit the swim cut off time.

    Good luck with your training and hope you have a successful race and become an Iron(wo)man
  • Thank you so much both!  

    I am worried about the time for the swim.  I have been practising in Shepperton Lake outside London and can do 2.25 km in 1hour, and have done about 2 sessions swimming a week, not all that long though.  

    I've literally studied the course for Barcelona to make sure I know everything about all the cut off times. If I use the 2h20 cut off, I would have to do 30km per hour on the bike for the first 90km, as there are cut off on those for Barcelona too.  (Not like the other courses it appears). 

    Anyway, although I might not be able to make a big difference in the next 4 weeks, was hoping to know how to focus on swim, do I do power training, or go out and swim 4km every weekend for the next 3 weekends I have left etc. 


  • bathtubbathtub Posts: 280
    I am not a coach just an old hand triathlete.

    If I was in your shoes I would want to swim at least one 4k swim pre race just for self confidence possibly 2 weeks pre race day, I would not do any power training but just steady 2k -3k swims at roughly ironman pace,

    Hopefully 220 forumite HarryD will be reading your thread as he normally gives expert specific training advice.

    Good luck
  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    Carla - it sounds like what matters is that you need to spend time in the water and know that you can be comfortable putting in the mileage.

    If you aren't a strong swimmer then power training is unlikely to make much difference if you don't have the technique and pacing to put that in the water efficiently over the distance.

    The key for me would be to try and swim 2 pool sessions per week covering 2-3k and an open water session. As Bathtub mentions, getting a full distance OW swim would be ideal focusing on relaxing your breathing, sighting and finding a smooth relaxed rhythm that you can maintain.

    You can still pick up a few tips from some of the swim training articles and if you focus on one of these for each of your session you should be able to make some difference.

    Easy ones to focus on are head position, extension (and avoiding arms crossing over) and shoulder flexibility.

  • risris Posts: 1,002

    i would suggest that if you are looking for some confidence gains then pool and open water time probably won't go amiss. if you can get some technique guidance then you might find you can improve your speed or endurance a bit, good feedback and implementation might see improvements in a relatively short period. 

    if you can get time in your wetsuit then more the better, it'll give you a sense of what will be what on the day. 

  • Thank you so much for all your advice. Much appreciated.
  • Hi Carla, 

    I did my first Ironman in Zurich last year and the swim was by far my weakest discipline. The best thing I did was get a one-on-one coached session, I saw the difference immediately. If you haven't swam in a pack before, I'd also try to get a taste of that before you go. Also the best bit of advice I got was to look up at every third stroke to keep an eye on what's around you. It's amazing how many people do an ironman without being able to swim in a straight line! Knowing if they are cutting across you will make the swim a lot easier. 

    Lastly don't panic. That cut off will give you plenty of time if you pace yourself properly, focus on your breathing and keep calm. 

    Good Luck! 

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