Training for first Tri but new to swimming

15 messages
20/09/2012 at 18:05

Hi, I'm 39, already a fairly experienced runner (4 marathons, PB 3:21), and I cycle. Having been through the injuries...over training...poor shoes etc...you name it!  I'm now taking swimming lessons and basically it would be a dream come true if I can get from zero to being able to swim 1.2 miles front crawl for a Half Ironman.

Can anyone suggest where I could start with any good resources, books, etc...or what I should perhaps look out for in terms of common injuries.  It would be great to be a bit wiser and try to navigate round the potential hazards ahead...as I didn't do with running!

Cheers, Paul

20/09/2012 at 21:22

The SwimSmooth website has lots of good info, think they do books etc as well. I've just had my first front crawl lesson in 30 years (or ever, I'm not sure!) so I'm in similar boat to you... except I'm stupid cos I've signed up for iron distance next year 

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20/09/2012 at 23:46

paul the hard part is learning to swim. once you have done this it is very easy to swim a long distance as you can go very slowly and take breathers after lengths of the pool.  soon you can reduce the stops until you can go slowly for the entire distance with no stopping. also swimming is non-impact and hard to get injured from. if you are just starting i dont think you need to worry at all about injury. gl

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21/09/2012 at 11:21

Might be worth looking around for local tri clubs, they often have pool sessions over the winter and open water sessions in the summer.

My local clubs coached swim is cheaper than a swim at the public pool!

They've got me from not being able to put my face in the water to 400m front crawl in just 8 lessons.

Edited: 21/09/2012 at 11:22
21/09/2012 at 12:30

Rustman - thanks I will check that site out...Ironman phew! Good luck with your training!

- I'm hoping distance will come once I get my technique right as you say.  I'm lucky my gym does swimming classes and our instructor is great.

AliBear30 - would be great to join a Tri club but I haven't been able to find one locally.  However there is a swimming club that swims in a local lake so I'm going to give them a try once I build my distance up a bit.

Thanks for the replies

21/09/2012 at 12:55

Paul, as a runner and cyclist you'll have the base fitness needed for swimming, but - as others have said and it bears repeating - it's important to remember that swimming is probably more about the skill and technique than the fitness. 

A worldclass runner is about 90% mechanically efficient, meaning that 90 of every 100 calories expended produce forward motion. An amateur runner may be well below this. Because water is 900 times thicker than air and highly unstable, a world-class swimmer is only 9% mechanically efficient and an amateur is well below this. So, the path to swimming improvement is not to make more energy available through improved fitness; it’s to waste less energy by improving your stroke. If you can increase your mechanical efficiency even slightly from, say, 4% to 5% that will translate into a huge improvement in your swimming capacity and speed for the same effort.

 

21/09/2012 at 13:01

Build up gradually or you can get shoulder injury. Technique is also really important as said above.

Swimming is probably the one element that most people are poor at to start with, but it gets quite easy after a while. I was similar to you a couple of years ago, while still not quick, I have done 5k in openwater so it is not so hard if you stick at it. Also remember that swimming is a relatively short part of Ironman, so don't worry if your not great at it - it's fun catching some of the 'fish' on the bike/ run stages.

21/09/2012 at 13:20

I'm also contemplating my first Tri: can I ask a silly question. I enjoy swimming, but mainly breaststroke. I know front crawl is more efficient and faster, but I find it really difficult to maintain it for more than a couple of lengths, while I can happily swim all day with breaststroke (well, comfortably over a mile in an hour). I know I should seek out some coaching (I'm looking in to it) but in the meantime, would I look out of place swimming breaststroke?

21/09/2012 at 14:26

Singleton - thanks, I can see how that can make a huge difference.

Rob - "catching some fish" - love it!

Dan - I don't know, I'd like to do frontcrawl all the way. Might be worthwhile booking some lessons as perhaps it is just technique?

21/09/2012 at 14:34

Dan - You wouldn't be the only one swimming breastroke at most events, even Ironman. Only word of caution is to check if there is a cut-off time and that your pace would get you under it.

21/09/2012 at 14:46

Dan - nothing wrong with breastroking a tri swim (I was overtaken by one at Windsor one year and I'm not the slowest of swimmers - more mid pack - that peed me off!).  but 2 things to be wary of if you do (on top of the cutoff concern):

1. if it's a wetsuit swim, the wettie isn't conducive to a breatstroke kick - it will reduce efficiency.

2. a breastroke kick will tire the legs for the bike.  the nice thing about swimming crawl in a wetsuit is that you can almost dispense with a kick as the wettie gives the legs buoyancy, so you don't tire yourself for the bike.  makes a big difference in reality.

so - get some crawl lessons.  

Blisters    pirate
21/09/2012 at 14:58

Cr@p swimmers R Us. Great thread, get on board.

I'm a complete noob to this game too. I could swim 25m crawl after a fashion but was knack'd by the end of it. Then I could do another. By signing up with the local tri club and getting proper coaching, plus regular visits midweek to the pool I've moved ahead. I've got a fairly lightweight upper body mass so can't just add more power to overcome inefficiencies. My last pool swim was 2000m in 54 minutes. It's not a brag because that's quite slow, but I was only at the 25m stage in May this year. As Alibear says, zero to 800m in about 8 sessions, not all of those were coached. Once you get the hang of the timing it gets a lot easier.

The more you do it, the more like second nature it becomes and the less you have to think. One of the biggest single factors was the leg movement., ie primarily using the thighs to simply elevate the body in the water, rather than trying to "kick". (Try to breath air, too. That helps)

21/09/2012 at 15:28

Really helpful: cheers. I will go ahead with getting some FC lessons. In the meantime, I presume lunchtime swims of mainly breaststroke are not going to hurt.

21/09/2012 at 15:45
Blisters wrote (see)

My last pool swim was 2000m in 54 minutes. It's not a brag because that's quite slow, but I was only at the 25m stage in May this year. As Alibear says, zero to 800m in about 8 sessions, not all of those were coached. Once you get the hang of the timing it gets a lot easier.

That's quite reassuring - it's the swim I'm most worried about (along with the cycling and running of couse...  )

21/09/2012 at 16:35
RustMan wrote (see)

That's quite reassuring - it's the swim I'm most worried about (along with the cycling and running of couse...  )

Once you've got those 3 sorted, the rest is easy...

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