July 23, 2012



==Event 1: Swim==

Swimming is BY FAR the event I've been most nervous for. You want to know my swim experience prior to signing up for the Tri? Zero. Ziltch. Nada. NONE. I hadn't ever learned how to competitively swim. Form was never something I associated with swimming. Suntanning...that is. Not form. And though it helps my looks, it's not gonna help with the race.

In February I started to attend our rec center's weekly Master Swim class. I highly, very HIGHLY, recommend taking these classes. Master's swim is a group coached swim class. Our coach posts a workout on a white board and then walks around addressing various questions and watching for how we can improve our swim. It helps swimmers of all levels. Without this class, I am 90% sure I wouldn't be prepared for the race on Saturday. It's been a HUGE part of helping me tackle the swim event.

So what can I relay here that would be important to know?

(1) Go to a Master's Swim Class, whether you are planning to do a Tri or if you just want to get into better shape.

(2) Swimming has been the BEST workout. You should take it up! (It's full body! And it rocks!)

However, if you can't or don't have a Master's Swim Class and want to start swimming (which you should) here are a couple things I know now that I didn't before:

Freestyle Stroke

East Canyon Reservoir
  • Prevent a shortened stroke on one side by breathing every third, fifth, seventh, etc. stroke. Basically rotate which side you take your breath.
  • Keep your head down! You want the water to hit the middle of the top of your head.
  • Rotate. Keep your shoulders and hips aligned. You should pretty much be on your side with every stroke. This lengthens your stroke and prevents drag. 
  • Kicking is mainly what causes the need to breath. Kick less (for triathletes), pull more. (Pull is the arm movement to propel you forward.
  • Play catch up. Keep one arm alway outstretched in front of you, only bringing it into a pull once the other hand catches up and replaces that arm.
  • Lay your head on your outstretched arm when you take your breath to prevent lifting your head and causing drag.

Useful Drills

  • Sidekicks: When you take a breath and are on your side kick 6 times before returning to your next stroke. This builds your form during breaths.
  • Fist: Form a fist with your hand and swim. This is so hard. It's amazing how much a flat hand pushes you forward. Without a flat hand this drill will build your forearm strength and movement which also helps propel you forward.
  • Fastkicks: Keep your pull the same tempo while you kick as fast as you can. Be prepared to be exhausted after this drill, but it builds your kick power!

Tips and Tricks

  • Before each swim session put a dab of baby shampoo in your goggles. Spread it around and then rinse it out. This will keep your goggles from fogging up.
  • Putting on a swim cap is a pain. But here is a tip...place both hands inside the swim cap. Spread your fingers and extend the cap, then move your hands over your head allowing the cap to cover your hair and once over your head remove your hands. Wa-la!
  • Swimsuits are NOT cheap, but you can make them last by alway --ALWAYS-- showering before and after a chlorine pool swim. Don't EVER put it in the washer and dryer. Always handwash with cool water and a very gentle detergent. Don't twist and ring your suit...just roll it up in a towel and then hang dry.
  • Don't forget to drink water. Swimming is a workout like any other. You need to stay hydrated.

The DREADED Open Water Swim (OWS)

Forget all that you've learned...it goes out the window in open water. I had my first and only open water training session on Saturday. Needless to say, it wasn't my favorite thing. Put your hand out in front of you. I couldn't see that far. And the "ick" factor for sure messed with my head. Lastly, don't forget the fear of fish. Yep, I swear there were piranhas in the lake. 


That's the description that goes with open water swimming. So here are some ways to practice getting ready for an open water swim in a pool and hopefully decrease some of the panic:

... Set your stuff up at the deep end. During rest between intervals and sets, do not hang on to the wall
... Look at the far end, close your eyes (so you can't track the line on the bottom of the pool), take several strokes and see where that gets you. This is also a good way to see if you have stroke imbalances and tend to pull to the left or right.
... Keep practicing to increase the number of strokes you can take before needing to sight the far end of the pool.

Plus, swim in your wetsuit BEFORE the race. It's a different experience. But, one I think you'll be happy with...thank you buoyancy!

Recommended Resources

How many of you swim? Anything you'd like to know or add here?


  1. Ok of all your posts this one is killing me the most. I LOVE swimming and want to go swimming right now! I'm going to make Josh take me swimming while my Mom is here. I might not be able to actually swim but I can get in the water and float around and that would feel awesome!
    I am SOooo excited about your Tri and can't wait to hear how it goes. Go Gen!!!!!

    1. You should totally go. I swear just smelling chlorine puts me in a better mood.