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Advise needed for race day swim cramp!

Hi All 

I've just completed my first 70.3 (first triathlon full stop) and am now starting training for the next one.  My problem is with the swim, im not the best swimmer or the fastest and not having any experience of swimming in a group didn't help (yep didn't follow that advice either).

So started the swim, couldn't get a rhythm so reverted to breaststroke and moved to the outside of the pack (I had already positioned myself for the 55min finish group). My intention was to swim like that to the halfway mark then when the group had dispersed brake in to front crawl but the second I did my right calf completely cramped up, so I swam arms only until it freed off then had another go, same thing, so ended up swimming the entire course breaststroke! I finished in 59 mins so quite surprising for an inefficient stroke, but no good log term as just sapped my energy levels.

so my question is any advise as to what the cause is and how to stop this happening?  I have read about causes but nothing seams to fit.  Any advise welcome.


  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    Just a few thoughts. Do you get calf cramps when pool swimming? Can I assume you wore a wetsuit on your 70.3? Did you wear calf guards underneath? So early on in the race I think dehydration or illness can be discounted especially as you reported no cramps during the bike or run.

    I don't think the rough and tumble nor the breaststroke are like causes. When frontcrawl kick your feet should be plantar flexed (pointed). This means your calf muscles are at the limit of their range of movement which is when they are at their weakest and so most likely to cramp (the fatigue model of cramping).

    If the only time your calves cramp is when wearing a wetsuit or wetsuit/calf guards then somehow they could be interfering with your calf muscle actions. Solutions include strengthening your calves at full plantar flexion (calf raises up onto your tip toes or tip toe walking), swimming more in your exact race gear (remember do nothing new in a race - thats what training is for), not wearing calf guards for the swim and ensuring an unrestricted wetsuit fit around your knees and calves (use lots of body glide/baby oil to lubricate and position the wetsuit. One thing I would recommend is a sports massage with a focus on your legs.

    Let us know how you get on
  • Hi Harry

    many thanks for our reply, I did indeed where calfgards under my wet suit, and i'm thinking from your response that this was a school boy error!

    im back open water swimming this sunday, so ill see how I go without the calfgards.

    thanks again

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Let us know how you get on
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