View Full Version : Lake swim--and my wobbly progress...your input?

July 18th, 2005, 10:02 AM
Hi folks,

Recently did an "aquathlon" including a 1/4 mile swim/5k run. I'm more a runner than a swimmer at least at this point, but as the username suggests, I'm also looking for the swimmer in me. This event was a lot of fun and a way to wed the two interests together. I was quite happy w/ the run, which was my fastest time in the distance this year.

And I really wasn't too unhappy w/ the swim considering I'm a newbie at this business. But I'm interested in your feedback on how to improve on that.

A few facts: the lake is smallish (New Englanders might call it a pond) and very, very murky. I took a quick swim b/4 the start and felt some sort of rusty metal objects under the surface, so when it was time to start, I chose to start off to the deep side a bit. (Was told the deep side was about 8 feet.) Theoretically one could wade the "swim" section, but I had no interest in doing that.

My time as I came out of the water was actually fairly consistent w/ the quarter miles I timed during workouts, but I expected it to be a lot slower based on a few things:

--While I tried to make sure to "sight" every so often and correct my course, I still veered away from the other swimmers and almost outside the course boundaries.
--Seemed as if the shore was equally far every time I checked. Thought to myself, there can't be currents in a LAKE! But maybe if it's fed from a river or stream.... I'm not really sure about this particular lake, since it was my first swim there. A friend who did it noticed the same thing. (She's a more experienced open water swimmer and beat me on the swim...I came back on her during the run.)
--Near the end of the swim, I was hitting those rusty objects (haven't a clue what they were). Found that the depth would vary, sometimes thigh deep, sometimes over my head, and so having no wish to bang myself on something that could cause tetanus (even tho my shots were up to date), I alternated wading/swimming in the last 20-30 yards (not sure abt that distance, just a guess) and took my time a bit more to be safe.

Did some freestyle "sprints" (loosely defined based on my speed) during the swim (tho not at the end--felt too dangerous to swim too fast there). That might have made up some time, although I thought some of the sprints were taking me off course, despite some (probably not enough) sighting.

Soooo.... what would be your strategy for swimming under these conditions. Well, besides "I wouldn't swim under those conditions." ;) Despite the problems mentioned, I actually enjoyed the race and would do it again--liked how it cooled me off so the run didn't feel as hot and muggy as it otherwise would have. Just think I have plenty of room for improvement in the swim. The run brought me up 8 places. Now let's see how I do next year.

July 18th, 2005, 12:58 PM
Sounds like I'm in the same position, I'm a runner trying to be a swimmer. I'll be doing my first Open Water time trial this weekend in an unfamiliar lake ( no running involved ) so I hope I don't embarrass myself. I swam at a couple of tris last year, you can't beat just getting out and doing it.

Have Fun next time too !

July 18th, 2005, 04:08 PM
Heh, and I'm a swimmer trying to be a runner. I already have the cycling legs from years of bike commuting, but the running hurts. I just want to find my inner-trigeek!

July 18th, 2005, 05:36 PM
I swim a lake swim (1.15 miles) every year. The sound of those rusty objects under the surface are enough to unnerve me!!! The only advise I can give is.... find another lake.

July 21st, 2005, 06:32 PM
Hi folks,

Thanks for the replies!

Waves101...lol! only thing is, transition took a long enough time w/out having to make the transition from another lake to the run.... Be pretty tough to catch ppl! ;) JK. I know what you mean...not too many swim/run opportunities near where I live, and aside from the underwater hazards, this one was kinda fun--also well-organized. Looking to see if there are similar events in salt water also, tho.

btw, looks like I need to pay more attention now to my "inner fish" for a few days--fell and hurt my back (not even running, just at home....#$%@!--someone said to me "all that swimming and running you do and that's where you get hurt...at HOME?). Anyway, I need to be off running until I can have a chiro look at the problem.

At times like this, I'm VERY grateful I got into swimming! I'm still able to do hard workouts in water, and actually feel better at the end of a swim workout than when I start. The back thing slows me down a bit, but at least it doesn't stop me. Still, I have to admit, I do miss being able to follow a swim workout with a bunch of quarter miles on the track! (Yeah, you're right, I am nutz!) SOON!!

Kevin in MD
July 22nd, 2005, 01:18 PM
I think most people don't realize how often you really have to sight to swim straight.

My blanket recommendation for short swims (under 3 miles or so) is every 6th stroke. Work on it so it doesn't take too much extra energy.

July 22nd, 2005, 04:12 PM
Originally posted by Kevin in MD
I think most people don't realize how often you really have to sight to swim straight.

My blanket recommendation for short swims (under 3 miles or so) is every 6th stroke. Work on it so it doesn't take too much extra energy.

Thanks for the suggestion! Interestingly, in the ocean swim, I seemed to go off course a lot less than in the lake swim...but cd be just I was taking for granted I'd need to sight more in the ocean, looking out for currents, etc. Guard a bit more relaxed in a lake. Plus, in the ocean swim, the current was behind me, which made things a bit easier.

For sighting, I'd switch to a quick breast stroke, then back to freestyle. Tried the "tarzan style" head up crawl stroke but found it easier to see when I took a couple of slower strokes that the breast stroke allowed. But it would be great to increase efficiency in the crawl stroke so it would be second nature to sight without slowing down much.

July 23rd, 2005, 03:12 AM
I usually sight every ten strokes.

Switching to breast stroke every time you sight will really slow you down. I suggest you work on your "Tarzan" style.

Some exersizes:

- try swimming head out, looking ahead. start easy - just a few 25's with breaks, because even if it doesn't hurt while you're doing it, you'll probably have sore neck and shoulders afterwards. this actually helps with your general stroke as it gives you a chance to see your hand position as it enters the water. if you are crossing over, which can cause you to fishtail (or wobble) you can correct that.

- do some laps breathing every 3 strokes alternating right, front, left, front, right, front etc. again, not too many. take it easy.

- swim a few laps with your eyes closed. almost everyone has a stronger stoke either right or left which will veer you off in that direction. by swimming with your eyes closed you'll find out which way you tend to veer and can correct it.

- do some swimming in crowded pools with lots of kids playing... this will give you experience in dealing with unexpected waves, and dodging objects you my find in your way (like other swimmers).

July 25th, 2005, 05:40 PM
I agree with Marrryyy and suggest you try sighting on both sides. I do sometimes switch to breast stroke but i'm fast at it and switch for 10 or more storkes. I will switch to work different muscles and to pick out some new landmarks. I like to find something big I can reference either head-up or on a breathing side to keep me on course.

I would try to work sighting into your regular workouts so you always look every 6 or 9 (or whatever) strokes. It will become a habit and not throw you off.

I find at times I or the current will pull to one side or another consistently. In my first few "sights" I will correct this either by angling (in the case of currents) or changing my stroke a little. Pull a little harder or deeper on the side I'm veering to.

Now in the conditions you describe i would probalby be swimming a shallow breaststroke at the finish to avoid those "rusty objects"

July 26th, 2005, 12:22 AM
I sight every 4 or 6 strokes if I am somewhat alone. If I am in a pack, I will guide myself off of the other swimmers, but still sight every 12 strokes or so (fewer if the others are keeping a reliable course).

July 26th, 2005, 11:15 AM
Thanks everyone! Useful advice!

Bilateral breathing remains a challenge for me, but during my warm-up in particular, when using the pull buoy, I try to concentrate on sighting/breathing, since I'm least distracted at that point by trying for speed. Swimming in crowded conditions=my Y during the noon lap swimming period. But it's a VERY frustrating time to swim, so hard to bring myself to go then. However, maybe just for the practice and think in those terms--then it's all good!