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HEEELLLLPPPPP Swiming Advice needed

Hi All,

I'm sure this has been posted a million times before but I wondered if any of you could help. On the 1st of August (16 weeks time) I have entered the Afan MTB Triathlon (http://www.ukmtbtri.co.uk/events_afan.html) 1500m swim, 30k mtb & 10K off road run.

I'm pretty good on the bike (5th in the bike leg of an offroad duathlon late last year against a biggish field standard) and I can run quite well (sub 19 min (and reducing, aiming for sub 18 in the next 4 to 6 weeks) 5K after a 10K bike ride - the commute to work) but I swim like a brick. I bike every day monday-friday (commute - on and off road 10K each way) and I run 3 times per week - two of which are brick sessions.

Re the swim, I can swim 400 mteres easily but I have a mental block getting past that - although I can happily do 200 metre sets up to 1000/1200 metres.

I'm in the process of sorting my trianing schedule for the next 16 weeks and I really need advice on swimming the 1500 comfortably - i.e. not thinking I'm going to drown.

Just so you all know, I can do about 2 sessions per week (32 session left) in the pool and I can't afford lessons. My plan at the moment is to:
x200m warm up
x400m set
x200m set (and repeat until about 1800/2000m)

then in the next session
x200m warm up
x500m set
x200m set (and repeat until about 1800/2000m)

then in the next session
x200m warm up
x600m set
x200m set (and repeat until about 1800/2000m)

etc until the middle set is the right distance enough. Finally in the last session few switch to doing the big set first as per a race situation. I'm also trying (don't laugh) to calm down and visualise completing the distance and not stressing out (which has caused me problems before).

Am I being crazy doing this or can anyone help me with some good advice? Help anyone? All advice happily received except for quitting as my little boy will be watching.

Thanks in advance,



  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    You hit the nail on the head with the mental block.
    You know you can do the distance,but why the mental block?

    There are countless training plans available to get you through the distance,but few deal with the psycological aspect of throwing your arms around in an enviroment that is totally alien to us.
    My advice(grab large amount of salt,more than a pinch),would be to visualise your pool swim the day before,just before you go to sleep,think of an easy swimming stroke,relaxed,and smooth.(do not think of sets).Visualise swimming up to the wall and turning,count the lengths,do not stop when you reach your,400m limit,but continue,easy and relaxed,slower than you would normally swim,saving your energy for the next few hundred metres.Counting the lengths as you turn.Hopefully by the time you get to 1500m,you will either have a mental picture of a swim session,or your partner is hearing a loud snoring,interuppted by numbers!!!
    Visualisation is usually the key to help mental blocks.
  • Hi Jon,

    Thanks for that - glad I'm not going crazy. I was thinking last night about how I try and break quicker times/acheive further distances when running and it's exactly as you said, I visualise the run breaking down the smaller segaments and movements to remind myself (and my body) how I can do this.

    I'll start working on it - for once I have enough time to prepare for the swim so hopefully it will work.

    Thanks for your help it was really appreciated.

  • Trust me, you won't have a problem completing the distance. In a swimming pool you often stop every 10 or so lengths because you can. In the middle of the lake you can't stop, so you don't. You'll also be wearing a wetsuit, which makes you pretty much unsinkable and means that you'll be breezing along 10% faster than normal anyway. Finally, that competitive urge of being in a race - where no-one else is stopping - just helps you settle into a rythym. I hadn't swum a full 1500m before my first OD, but I actually felt better the longer the swim went on. I realised that stopping every few lengths in the pool meant that I never got into a rythym and hence never started "eating up the metres" and enjoying myself.

    The one thing that could scupper your swim is if you don't practice swimming in open water and in a wetsuit before the race (I didn't before my first lake swim, and it was a hyperventilating disaster - nearly 19mins for a 750m swim). Both are fine once you're used to them, but the coldness of the water, and the initial constriction of the wetsuit, can unnerve you at first.

    Good luck
  • skunkskunk Posts: 4
    Id also say get in the pool more. If you swim twice a week with no specific drill training then shorly you wont improve. Id say swim 3 times a week or if you can 4 times per week, and include drills.

    I also find after 400m i get into the zone and warmed up and just keep going.
  • Thanks Guys, all massivley useful. Just someone else whose been through this telling me I can do it is worth it's weight in gold!

    Have a great season,

  • Just a quick update to say a huge thanks.

    Last night I went for my first serious session in the 15 weeks i have left. 200 metres warm up as planned, then I was due to do 300 metres, then 200m sets. In the end I did a straight 1500 metre set after the warm up.

    I feel like I went out to run a 5K and ended up doing a marathon by accident! To be honest it was all down to the advice from here, just sorting my head out and soaking up the tips.

    It wasn't massively fast but i didn't care I was just concentrating on stroke after stroke.

    So thanks everyone - I've acheived my goal 15 weeks early so I now have plenty of time to concentrate on technique (then speed) rather than worrying about the distance!

    A HUGE HUGE thankyou.

  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Well done Mike,
    your son is going to be well chuffed watching you cruise through the water.
  • Hi All,

    Just a quick update - you may remember I posted for help on this forum because of an offroad tri I have in August in Afan.

    Well, yesterday I did a sprint off road tri (400m, 15K, 5K) as a warm up and to see where I am and won (not massively impressive, v small field but the time was OK, 1:18 which for that course appears to be a top 3 time year in year out). The swim went OK, I exited 3rd and the advice really helped. I have to be honest work has been hectic over the past few weeks so the training took a knock, but all your advice really helped! My wife was watching and said if I could just sort my steering out so that I don't swim further than the other people then I should be OK.

    Massive thanks, I did get the whole hyperventilating thing at one point, but I managed to get through it (one stroke at a time). More practice needed (as ever) but I feel I'm going in the right direction.

    Thanks again,

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