Whether swimming is your new passion or a necessity for your triathlon addiction, here are 10 tips that will help you when training and racing in the water.
1. Keep Your Goggles On
Learn to keep your goggles over your eyes for at least an hour without removing. A swimming workout often includes a warm-up, a main set, then kick or pull and finishing with a warm-down. After each set, they tend to put their goggles on their forehead and reset their goggles on the next set. A long-distance race does not allow for this luxury. Get used to keeping your goggles on.
Hint: you can squint your eyes to allow a small amount of water to seep in. This water will slosh around your goggle lenses to keep them fog-free.
2. Practice Sighting
In order to increase your ability to sight in an open water race or triathlon, practice sighting in the pool. On every fourth lap, throw in a few sightings while swimming across the pool. Look up two to three times and try to keep a streamlined position by not dropping your hips and legs. Attempt to look up in one smooth motion within your arm cycle. If you want feedback on technique, ask your coach or lane mates to check out your sighting technique and give you some constructive criticism. It’s important to continually improve this part of your swimming technique. If you sight once every 25 yards in a full Ironman triathlon, that is 169 sightings during the swim.
3. Practice Pulling Straight Back
As your hands enter the water, your fingertips (with a flat palm) should immediately begin pointing straight down. Focus on pulling straight back as you roll your shoulder or take a breath. Your hands should not cross over your center line at any point in the stroke.
4. Purchase Fins
If you have a cross-over kick, purchase a pair of fins and focus on kicking efficiently without crossing one foot over the other. Fins will also help increase your ankle flexibility.
5. Purchase a Swimmer’s Snorkel
When practicing with a swimmer’s snorkel, you can concentrate on your arm stroke and body rotation more easily. Competitive swimmers use this type of equipment all the time. So should you.
TIPS FOR RACE DAY
1. Bring an Extra Pair of Goggles
Always keep two pair of broken-in goggles on hand–a clear set and a dark set. Use the clear set of goggles for rainy, cloudy or foggy days. Use the dark set for bright, sunny days. Use both pairs of goggles during your pool practices so you are equally comfortable with both pairs.
2. Use Silicon Ear Plugs
Marathon swimmers and surfers who train in cold water frequently use ear plugs to limit irritation and help prevent ear infections.
3. Bring a Small Towel
A small throw-away towel is convenient in order to clean your hands after applying Vaseline or other skin lubricants to your chaffing areas before the start. Carry it with you just in case you bump into another swimmer or get something on your goggles, then toss it just before the start.
4. Talk to Experienced Swimmers
Look for those alpha athletes who warm-up before the race. They are a great resource for questions you might have about the course, such as what direction the currents are going or what to expect out in the water. Tell them that you are a newcomer and are looking for a few good tips from experienced swimmers. They will appreciate the compliment and be happy to share their knowledge.
5. Understand That Insomnia is Part of the Journey
Most people get nervous before a competition. Understand that you may not sleep well the night before your race. Get a good night’s sleep in the week leading up to the race, but don’t stress if you can’t sleep well the night before. Wake up, get prepared and enjoy the big event.