As part of my journey to compete in Lavaman 2019, in conjunction with Team In Training, I get messages from the Team Coach. To get to know the members of the team better, he send out notes periodically and recently asked us about our swim.
These were the questions.
1. Can you swim 200yards without stopping?
2. What is your average pace?
3. Is becoming a more proficient swimmer important to you?
4. Are you worried about the 1hr and 10minute swim time cut off at LavaMan?
My responses(insert humor).
1. Define stopping. I train in a pool and there are walls.
2. Is a shark chasing me?
3. Always working on efficacy in the water. Drills in application to the swim.
4. No, not really. I want to swim fast to get out of the water. See question 2.
I chuckled with friends about the answers, and one said, ‘The coach does not knkw you coach or have to swim for your job’.
In ALL seriousness, the questions I found interesting. I may insert into the personal assessment for my athletes. I see many triathletes who struggle with the swim. I am in several forums where swim is discussed regularly. From beginners on up, at some point there is some drama related to the swim discussed. And yet, from time to time, less emphasis is placed on the swim.
The swim, while the shortest leg of the race, is first. It can set the tone for the entire race. Not all of us are able to shake off the results of the swim during the rest of the race, and keep going stepping into a new zone. Many of us carry that part of the race with us into the bike and run.
I remember one athlete telling me after his first season, he changed his entire approach to training for season two. He spent way too much time on the swim, in the previous season. I responded that he needed to spend that time and energy on the swim. He was learning how to swim, and how to be proficient in the water. He spent the appropriate amount of time on the swim, to lay a foundation from which to build. And his training should evolve as he continues on this triathlon journey.
As seasons are winding down in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the time to start considering improving your swim for next season. The off-season is a perfect opportunity to spend time developing or improving a swim skill that will carry you into the next season. The same holds true for the other weak links in your race. I personally would taper down over-all training, and focus on one or two skill sets on whcih you want to improve. From there start building into your preseason training. But many wait until preseason to consider skill development. At this time, you can only hope for improvement as your racing schedule commences and you have compounded poor skills into habits.
Take a moment to answer the questions asked of me. And self-evalaute your swim. Granted, you may not be preparing for LavaMan, but consider the races you are putting on your 2019 schedule. What are those distances, environments (lake, ocean, river), and time restrictions? How do you feel about your OpenWater swim vs your Pool swim? And how are you preparing?
What drills help you find your stroke, catch, and feel of the water? Are you using those to improve your stroke, or are you drilling through your race? How comfortable are you in Open Water?
Remember, I am here to help you. I can evaluate your stroke via video, or work with your privately (or in a small group).
The swim sets the tenor for the race. How ready are you?