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Open Water Swimming

I did my first open water triathlon last year.

Couldn't believe how much easier wearing a wetsuit made it to swim. I started at the back, all nervous having worn a wetsuit let alone swimming in one.

Within seconds I was bashing my way through.

However my lungs were good, my breathing was good, albeit heart was nervously pumping of not knowing what to expect. But then all of a sudden my arms got REALLLY tired.

Why is this? I never struggled with my arms before, and it felt like I was doing all the work carrying a ton of weight. So I had to revert to breast stroke to get the lactics out my arms. Then once gone I started crawl again, then it happened again. So the loop continued, and I didn't do as good as I could have.

Is it becuase a different tecnique is required, is it nerves, or is it lack of strength in the arms?


  • Um, I'm no expert but I have had the same problem as you (at Blenheim last year). At London I had no worries and breezed all the way through the swim. Looking back I think it was one of three possible problems at Blenheim:

    i) I started too fast - adrenalin kicked in and I swam for Britain without taking enough breaths. At London I started slower and breathed every other stroke (I do every third in training, so this gave me more air).

    ii) The wetsuit was either too small or, more probably, was not put on properly - you need to pull the legs right up into the groin and the chest right up into the armpits. Otherwise it goes tight around your neck and acts as a drag on your upper arms every time you reach forward for a new stroke.

    iii) The water was bloody cold at Blenheim (and toasty at London). This might have made the arms seize up a bit - it certainly made my hands cold!

    Whatever the problem, next time you'll cruise it.

    Good luck


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