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Jonathan Barboza
May 24th, 2013, 12:53 PM
Hi,

I'm signed up for the maryland swim for life on July 13. There is a 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 mile option and I've chosen the 5. I've read as many of the previous posts here as possible on training. But, I would still like to ensure I'm on the right track and would appreciate some advice. I can always change which distance I'm doing if my training doesn't go well.

My Background: I'm a triathlete but I'm awful at swimming. I'm doing this swim to force myself to get better at swimming somehow. I've done some 1.2 mile swims in half irons and pure open water events. I can currently swim 2 miles in the pool without stopping. Recently I've been practicing the Total Immersion method in an attempt to become more efficient. I swim 4 days per week: 3x1500yd + 1x3000yd.

Goal: Just finish the 5 mile swim under my own power.

Questions:
1. How long should my "long swim" be in order to complete this event? How much should my weekly yardage be? Keep in mind that I've just learned the Total Immersion method and I'm still not that great at it. So, i've been trying to spend a few days a week just focusing on form.

2. Would it be advisable to wear a wet suit? I have a 5/3mm full wetsuit. Water temps are projected to be mid 70s. The wetsuit would give me an advantage and is permissible if the temp doesn't rise above 78F. But, in the mid 70s, would I overheat?

3. Does anyone have any other thoughts on training?

Thanks! :-)

-Jonathan

ViveBene
May 25th, 2013, 08:51 AM
Becoming competent at swimming is not the same as forcing oneself to swim 5 miles.

In my opinion, you do not have the endurance in the water to finish a 5-mile swim (though you might). Open water experience does not appear in the history other than as part of a tri.
My recommendations:
1. Be reasonable. Have a goal you are reasonably sure *now* you can complete in a few weeks. You want it to be fun, too! A 1-mile or 2-mile distance is as honorable as a 5-mile distance.
2. Get open water experience in various conditions, especially temps cooler than expected.
3. The workouts on this forum under "The Water Is Open" are very helpful. (I also add in something from the Animal Lane and the High Intensity sets from time to time.) One must be a USMS member to access the workouts.
4. Double the weekly yardage, if you have time. Swim thoughtfully ("mindfully," as Terry Laughlin would say) by understanding why you are doing each part of the workout the way you are.
5. Opinions differ on whether one should swim the entire distance in advance; most do, and more than once.
6. (Wetsuit or not.... Wetsuits don't give an advantage; swimming competency does. You might be too warm.)
7. Finally, I would think of the swim as a swim, not as an adjunct to improving tri times. Grasping the whatness of the activity itself could be salutary.

Good luck, and have fun!

ViveBene
May 25th, 2013, 08:57 AM
Quite a lot of the answers to your questions are right here:
http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?20306-what-does-it-take-to-swim-big-distance

Jonathan Barboza
May 25th, 2013, 10:29 AM
Thanks for the very good adtheice. I have a few responses for the sake of conversation:

RE 1: I think I could push myself to do 3mi right now. when I finish my 2 mi swims I don't feel tired or depleted. before the event I can change which distance I'm swimming. so maybe I should try shooting for 5mi and if I feel my training isn't up to par, I can change it.

RE 2: easy enough. I live near some beaches and it is always cold up here.

RE 4: did you mean to double the yardage over the next 7 weeks?

RE 5: for running marathons, the longest workout is 20 mi. so I figured I'd swim 4 miles as my longest workout before the event. it's this an ok idea?

thanks again :-)

ViveBene
May 26th, 2013, 01:29 PM
Well, I'm not an expert. So I'll just say, I'd be concerned about what happens in miles 3, 4, and 5, and ty to prepare logically.
:)

Jonathan Barboza
May 26th, 2013, 06:56 PM
Well, I'm not an expert. So I'll just say, I'd be concerned about what happens in miles 3, 4, and 5, and ty to prepare logically.
:)

You have 1800+ posts... that's got to count for something! :D

I will try to get at least one 4 mi swim in before the event day. Then I will only have to worry about what happens between miles 4 and 5 because that will be the only foreign territory (other than the fact that this is in a much warmer body of water than I'm used to, there might be wind, etc. It is virtually impossibly to simulate the event day perfectly, but that is ok).

I did get to read that other post where the swimmer wanted advice on swimming a 38 mi swim. There was a lot of good advice in there that could be adapted to a shorter 5 mi swim like the one I am attempting. I am not sure that intervals are worth doing but would like advice on those. I was thinking of incorporating them in the middle of a 1 mile swim workout. I hear that they are not as bad as running intervals which really leave the athlete beat up. I think the longer 3+ mi pool days should not have intervals. But again, I'm not sure and would appreciate any advice on this from those who are more experienced :).

Thanks for everything thus far! :)

Jonathan Barboza
May 26th, 2013, 07:00 PM
...I'd be concerned about what happens in miles 3, 4, and 5, and ty to prepare logically.
:)

OH! I think I understand what you mean here. I think you may have misunderstood me. What I meant before when I said I could swim 2 mi comfortably now is that this is my current capability and that I intend to increase the volume until the event day. I wasn't asking if being able to do a 2 mi swim would allow me to swim 5 mi. That would be crazy. haha.

I'm going to try to do this each week:
3 days of 1 mi
1 day of LONG SWIM (long swim start's at 2.5mi and will increase over the next 7 weeks until ~4 mi)

ViveBene
May 26th, 2013, 08:55 PM
Number of posts correlates with working at home more than with anything else. <smile!>
Here's a tip: Plan to sprint some part of the distance. This you can practice in a pool and in open water. English Channel swimmers might sprint 15 minutes out of 60. My sprint pattern for an OW meet is 21 strokes at regular speed, 9 sprint. The trick is not to drop back slower than regular.
In your position, I would build up to 2 miles for a daily swim (3-4 x/wk), doing interval training (sprinting) and work all 4 strokes. It is hard to build up quickly, but you may be underplaying your strengths right now and so find it easy just to jump to 2 miles. Another approach is to swim to tiredness, not exhaustion, keep around that plateau, maybe back off a little, for a week, then increase the distance until you get tired again. You'll be able to find the bonk point and push it out a bit further each time.
For myself, I prefer to do the full length at least 3 times before a meet, partly for confidence and partly to be sure I have fluids and nutrition dialed in correctly.
(One could, of course, just go out and do 5 miles now to see what happens.)
And for the real experts: www.marathonswimmers.org (http://www.marathonswimmers.org)

Jonathan Barboza
May 28th, 2013, 05:48 PM
The 9:21 Sprint to Normal stroke ratio seems like a cool idea. I'll try it out in practice. Doesn't this tire you out though? For running marathons and bike races, I normally don't go hard, then slow, then hard again. I usually try to maintain a constant level of effort and then toward the end, if I have anything left in the tank, I pick it up.

I also like the idea about swimming "to tiredness not exhaustion" and then increasing this slowly. This is similar to how I train for triathlon. I usually have 3 hard weeks of training followed by 1 easy week of recovery.

As for doing the entire distance. I might find time to do it before the event. Like I might do the entire distance 1.5-2 weeks out from the event. if I have time. Thanks for all your advice. I'm definitely new to swimming (even though i've been doing it serious for over a year now). I'm learning new things all the time and hope to continue learning. :-)

Kevin in MD
May 29th, 2013, 11:36 AM
Hi,

1. How long should my "long swim" be in order to complete this event? How much should my weekly yardage be? Keep in mind that I've just learned the Total Immersion method and I'm still not that great at it. So, i've been trying to spend a few days a week just focusing on form.

2. Would it be advisable to wear a wet suit? I have a 5/3mm full wetsuit. Water temps are projected to be mid 70s. The wetsuit would give me an advantage and is permissible if the temp doesn't rise above 78F. But, in the mid 70s, would I overheat?

3. Does anyone have any other thoughts on training?

6k per week isn't really enough to be a good triathlon swimmer.

Build your longest pool swim up to 5 miles long with only the nutrition you can carry on you. Last time I did it there were kayakers with water but you couldn't count on them being at any particular spot.

Build your longest open water swim to 3 miles.

Get our weekly volume to 12k.

Do that and you'll have a fine race.

As for wetsuit. totally up to you and what you are trying to accomplish.

mjtyson
May 29th, 2013, 12:57 PM
Doing two miles in a pool is vastly different from doing 2 miles in open water.

Many of us marathoners swim in one session farther than a swim marathon (10K). I wouldn't equate marathon runner training to open water swim training. At least, not too much.

Rob Copeland
May 29th, 2013, 01:29 PM
My Background: I'm a triathlete but I'm awful at swimming. I'm doing this swim to force myself to get better at swimming somehow. I've done some 1.2 mile swims in half irons and pure open water events. Iím having a tough time envisioning an awful swimmer swimming 1.2 miles in open water. So itís hard to give any thoughts on training. I do suggest working with a coach on both stroke and open water technique. If your stroke is technically bad and your goal is a 5-miler, then fix your stroke before you jump up your yardage.

Franco P
May 29th, 2013, 02:38 PM
First of all, this is always a fun event which I have had the pleasure of doing a few times.

I didn’t see you mention your speed but it may be something to consider before attempting the five mile. The time limit is 3.5 hours and you should be prepared to go slower than a five mile pool swim. This race starts at same time every year so tides may or may not be in your favor. A few years ago when race was shortened to two miles due to storms, I remember swimming against a stiff current and it taking me 38 minutes to go out for first mile. The way back only took 19 minutes. That one worked out to around my normal two mile time. The next year I was swimming the five mile and I recall swimming against the current for the first couple of miles but that the tide changed and I seemed to be swimming against it on the way back as well. My time was about 25 minutes slower than I would have expected. Just something to keep in mind.

The Chester River is shallow where you will be swimming and temperatures seem to be warmer than the Bay. Only a few wear wetsuits and they are usually swimming in the one or two mile. It may make you a little faster but most likely will make you miserable. You would probably be the only one in five mile with a wetsuit. Temps have been relatively cool this spring but should be warming up quickly. Some years the event is held in June and I think that is why they estimate mid 70’s. I would guess temperature in low 80’s by race day. The Tolchester Beach Station on Chesapeake is the closest to Chester River to look out for temps.
http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/catl.html (http://www.nodc.noaa.gov/dsdt/cwtg/catl.html) I would figure a few degrees warmer in Chester.

There typically isn’t much chop on the Chester but you should be prepared to swim against the current. I would agree with Coach Kevin on getting your yardage up but think you would benefit greatly by mixing some interval training in with your yardage. In every swim where I have faced adverse conditions, I always felt it was the intervals that got me through it and not the yardage.

Good luck. I have another swim that day or I would be there.

Jonathan Barboza
May 29th, 2013, 10:48 PM
6k per week isn't really enough to be a good triathlon swimmer.

Build your longest pool swim up to 5 miles long with only the nutrition you can carry on you. Last time I did it there were kayakers with water but you couldn't count on them being at any particular spot.

Build your longest open water swim to 3 miles.

Get our weekly volume to 12k.

Do that and you'll have a fine race.

As for wetsuit. totally up to you and what you are trying to accomplish.

thanks for the advice. I really do need to up the yardage. as for the wet suite, I'm just trying to do whatever will give me the best chance of finishing :-)

Jonathan Barboza
May 29th, 2013, 10:50 PM
I’m having a tough time envisioning an awful swimmer swimming 1.2 miles in open water. So it’s hard to give any thoughts on training. I do suggest working with a coach on both stroke and open water technique. If your stroke is technically bad and your goal is a 5-miler, then fix your stroke before you jump up your yardage.

well maybe I'm not "awful". I'm just awful compared to my bike and my run vs the rest of the field. :-). I might get a coach at some point. using the total immersion swimming DVDs, I've been ding much better.

Jonathan Barboza
May 29th, 2013, 10:58 PM
[QUOTE=Franco P;287628]First of all, this is always a fun event which I have had the pleasure of doing a few times.

I didn’t see you mention your speed but it may be something to consider before attempting the five mile. The time limit is 3.5 hours and you should be prepared to go slower than a five mile pool swim. This race starts at same time every year so tides may or may not be in your favor. A few years ago when race was shortened to two miles due to storms, I remember swimming against a stiff current and it taking me 38 minutes to go out for first mile. The way back only took 19 minutes. That one worked out to around my normal two mile time. The next year I was swimming the five mile and I recall swimming against the current for the first couple of miles but that the tide changed and I seemed to be swimming against it on the way back as well. My time was about 25 minutes slower than I would have expected. Just something to keep in mind.

is there a site that I can use to predict the current on race day and time? by the way, thanks for all the advice. if it is going to be lower 80s I'll definitely skip the wet suit :-)

Jonathan Barboza
May 29th, 2013, 11:39 PM
according to this site: http://gofishingforum.net/tide.pl?month=7&day=12&year=2013&days=2&location=Chestertown%2C+Chester+River%2C+Maryland&lat=39.2067&lon=76.0633&submit=Update+Charts

if I'm reading it right for 7/13 at 9am, the tide should be coming in, thus assisting the swimmers swimming up river. then at 1130 it turns around and pushes us back out on the return leg.