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Thread: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

  1. #1
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    New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    I'm flirting with the idea of training for either a sprint or Olympic triathlon and am currently trying to get a base in each discipline. I had no delusions that swimming would be easy but after going to the pool today I feel blown away with its difficulty. My real question is how discouraged should I be from my initial performance today.
    Swimming 50m without stopping seemed to be just about my max. So I ended up just doing 25m at a time trying to focus on doing proper technique but even this felt very uncomfortable, short of breath etc. So for someone who has never taken swim or swam laps is this normal and how long would it take someone in my situation to develop the requisite amount of ability to start a tri training program?
    This is what alarmed me the most the triathlon training programs I have looked at I can definitely perform the first week of suggested training for running and cycling but swimming has 2x200m sets that I can't perform and certainly not comfortably. Even the 100-200m warm up seems too hard if it is without rest because as I said even when I tried to do lengths at a very slow focused pace I had trouble. The slow pace made me feel as though I was sinking I think.
    The book I am looking at has some base levels of ability before starting the program which for swimming is being able to swim for 20 minutes. I am assuming this means 20 minutes straight without rest which seems very difficult for me. So sorry for the long post but how long should it take me to improve to this level and what would be the best way to go about it? I have plenty of free time at the moment and can practice swimming as many days a week as is optimal. Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member Redbird Alum's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    Best advice is to get someone at the pool with you to work with you. Preferrably, someone who is also a triathalete or someone who is a swimmer. Even better if that person has a coaching background.

    My other advice is that you need to assume you are ready to start training when you start, and since you've already been wet once, and realize you need help, you are ready! Don't get yourself down about how hard it seems at first. Just like any other sport, it takes some time.

    Set your intermediate and long term goals realistically, get some local assistance, and enjoy the experience.

    With this forum, it's good to give some background as to your age, physical health, what you feel you can do well and what you struggle with. If you have a video of your current swim, you will get some quick and fairly reliable advice.


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    Very Active Member SolarEnergy's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    Quote Originally Posted by uggtrugg View Post
    I'm flirting with the idea of training for either a sprint or Olympic triathlon and am currently trying to get a base in each discipline. I had no delusions that swimming would be easy but after going to the pool today I feel blown away with its difficulty. My real question is how discouraged should I be from my initial performance today.
    Well that depends on who you're going to be working with as a coach right?

    Funny enough, a new candidate has recently (this week) joined my team. A triathlete wanna be. He can only manage 3 lengths of a pool at this point, with this sort of technique here....
    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OPHOXFl-7E"]YouTube- The Dude - 2010/07/06[/nomedia]

    I have to turn him into a fish within the next two months since he registered to his first triathlon which will take place, open water, in september of this year.

    That clip was taken at the beginning of his first swim lesson. He asked me if it was possible to have the lesson in shallow part of the pool since he still feels little scare of the dark

    I think it's going to do fine in two months from now.

    Find a coach, and you may be fine too.
    Last edited by SolarEnergy; July 8th, 2010 at 05:23 PM.

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    Very Active Member Slowswim's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    As a runner turned triathlete that had to learn to swim. I agree the the others, get a coach and fast. It one thing to learn good technique when you are young. It stays with you even when you are away from swimming. Learning swim at an "older" age is a double effort because you have a lot of bad habits to un-learn. IMHO, that's why so many triathletes are bad swimmers. They aren't willling to spend the time to get the technical aspects right. swimming is sooo much different than running or biking.
    I keep telling my coaches, "I am a sprinter" and "they keep saying you swim short races, but that is not the same thing." - Some Girl

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    Very Active Member arthur's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    As others have mentioned getting someone who knows what they are doing to look at your stroke will help you a lot. Don't worry about not being able to swim very far after your first try. With practice, it is easy to quickly increase how far you can swim without stopping. You should try the Zero-1650 in six weeks workouts or if you don't feel ready try the Zero-700 program at this website: http://ruthkazez.com/ZeroTo1mile.html

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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    :delurk

    I wouldn't be discouraged at all. I began my swimlife barely able to do 50m. For me, it wasn't so much that I couldn't get all the arms and legs going into something resembling a stroke; it was because I was out of breath and felt like I was having a coronary. I was in quite good shape and at a loss as to why this was happening.

    Well, I figured out many months later that it is all about breathing. This was my breakthrough in swimming.

    1. don't hold your breath at all as you swim; keep exhaling constantly. most people's instinct in the water is to hold their breath. keep exhaling constantly. keep exhaling constantly. something about lactic acid in the blood due to anaerobic activity, i believe.
    2. and once you exhale it all, get some air as often as you need it. as often as you need it. at no point during a nice, slow swim should you feel like your chest is going to explode.

    Once I got past the whole pesky "oh-dear-god-my-lungs-are-dieing" I was able to start focusing on my stroke technique. I am pretty much self taught, thanks to USMS forums and YouTube videos. Every time I went to the pool I would focus on whatever new swim thing I had learned about/read/seen that day: hand catch, body rotation, six- and two- beat kick, high elbows, SDK, etc.

    Practice a lot. And don't forget to exhale! Hope that helps; I wish I had learned that a lot sooner.

    :relurk

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    Very Active Member SolarEnergy's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    Quote Originally Posted by partyhat View Post
    Well, I figured out many months later that it is all about breathing. This was my breakthrough in swimming.
    Very smart comment.

    It's possible to keep the energy expenditure very low whilst swimming. Similar to that of walking. But even walking becomes challenging if you don't breathe right.

    Well said!

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    Very Active Member nkfrench's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    I see plenty of novices who keep their head high, hold their breath for 3-4 strokes, stop to breathe; otherwise swim as fast as they can, then struggle to finish 25 yards.

    Breathe every 2nd armpull so you get plenty of air. Exhale fully and continuously between inhales. High head position makes hips and legs sink. And if you're wearing loose flapping swimwear get a snug-fitting real training swimsuit.

    You also may find that one day it all "clicks" and you get a breakthrough moment where you can swim as far as you want.

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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    I'm looking to do some triathlons and what to get better with my swim stroke. I found a few great workouts, https://thetriathletehub.com/swim-wo...r-triathletes/ however, I'm looking to see if there are any recommendations on how much time to spend in the pool each session. If I'm working towards an Olympic distance race. thanks.

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    Very Active Member Sumorunner's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    I only do sprint tris because I can't run a 10k any more, but I can swim 1.2 miles comfortably and I spend at most an hour 3 days a week in the water. I'd guess, just to finish 1.5Km, never mind how well, you would need 2 hours a week.

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    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    Quote Originally Posted by triswim5584 View Post
    I'm looking to do some triathlons and what to get better with my swim stroke....
    Way to go on digging up an old thread. But...IRT the tri swim...as a frequent tri participant for three decades I will tell you this. Keep doing whatever you're doing in the pool. But you need to get in the open water. Not necessarily for "workout's" per se...but just to acclimate yourself for what it's like swimming in open water. You might think it's no big deal, but for some swimmers it is. I've witnessed the the best high school and collegiate team swimmers go to swim in the open water and just freak out. Can't see the bottom, there are no lines to follow, aquatic creatures, plants, currents, weather. All of that can cause anxiety, fear, and paranoia. Maybe it won't be like that for you. But diving in at the start of your first tri is not the optimal time to discover if it is or isn't.

    Good luck

    Dan

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    Very Active Member miklcct's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    It makes a great difference if the sea is calm or not.

    On a calm sea, the swim is no different from a pool, however, when BF 4-5 wind is blowing, you can't even see the target which is 100 m away, and will definitely swallow a LOT of water in your swim.

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    Very Active Member ForceDJ's Avatar
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    Re: New to swimming want to do a triathlon

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerrychang View Post
    Different people may have different choice,what suit you would be the best for u.I like dream pairs water shoes from their site ,the shoes are light-weight and very comfort
    In a sprint tri...I don't even waste time on a wetsuit. IMO and experience...the minuscule time saved in the short swim is countered by the time spent taking it off. I prefer to wear a one-piece tri suit throughout the entire race. The less you have to take OFF and/or put ON in transition(s)...the more time you save.

    Even in calm open water...the swim can be tremendously different from the pool. If a person doesn't have experience swimming in open water, some of the things that can have a definite impact their swim are things like water/air temperature, navigation, currents, wind, creatures and plantlife in the water, other swimmers, sunlight (in your eyes), etc. As I mentioned above...I've witnessed the best of competitive pool swimmers completely freek out in the open water. Maybe none of that will affect you. But it's best to find those things out before your race.

    Dan
    Last edited by Rob Copeland; May 6th, 2019 at 10:02 AM.

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