/ Triathlons

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subtle on 09 Jan 2013
Thinking of first triathlon later this year, the run and the cycle do not bother me but the swim scares me - can only do the breast stroke

Will need to get into the pool and do soeme serious swimming training first, but is it worth trying to learn the crawl or just stick to the breast stroke and try improve on speed?

Any other tips for a first timer?
Dom Brown - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle: what Size triathlon? if it's olympic distance i'd think you'd want to learn front crawl. if it's a smaller one then you may be fine.
biscuit - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle:

I am doing my first tri later this year as well.

Crawl seems to be the way ahead. Lots of preparation at open water (scary ! )swimming whilst wrestling 200 other swimers who are elbowing you in the face and swimming over the top of you.

It appears from what experinced friends have told me that the open water crawl is different ( breathing both sides, sighting, straight arm lift out of water and different leg kick ) but lots of stuff on you tube and tri web sites to put you on the right track.

I guess the further the swim distance the more important to get it right.
subtle on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to Dom Brown:

it's a 1500m open water swim - comfortable that I could finish it by breast stroke, just not particularly fast
Dom Brown - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to biscuit: if you're not to keen on the Idea of wrestling the other swimmers or your pace isn't great try and keep to the back of the pack at the start line and then work your way forwards instead of having half the pack swim over the top of you.
edunn on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle:

Depends what distance you'll be doing and how seriously you want to take it. Crawl is the fastest (most efficient) stroke and you will almost certainly find yourself out of the water at the tail end of the group if you're doing BS.

For a sprint distance tri, you might not see too much of a difference, but anything longer then you are giving yourself a distinct dissadvantage.

I would say that it's worth getting lessons (or teaching yourself) to swim front crawl. You can always default to breaststroke on the day if you are not comfortable doing it.

If you're looking at doing a few events over the season (or the years), then crawl is the way forward.

Best of luck.

LastBoyScout on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle:

Plenty of people do breast stroke, but probably not for that long - although I've certainly done it in races for a bit of the swim, for a breather.

Get the best wetsuit you can afford - second hand or ex-rental will be fine - and learn to swim in that, as you will float much higher in the water in it and at a different attitude.

Biggest thing to overcome (and this is where I struggle) is the very cold water on your face and cold air in your lungs makes it hard to breathe and settle into your stroke.
Blinder - on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle: At least you will come out of the water fresh! The first couple of tris I did, I dreaded the swim (still do). There is no shame doing breast stroke. I remember being at the back of the field overtaking people doing front crawl when I was doing BS. Maybe think about doing a hybrid.

When you get on the bike you can start kicking ass.
Toby_W on 09 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle:

I've seen people in Ironman races swim breaststroke so don't worry about that. It's the least importand leg of the race and I'd say just relax flog yourself on the other two bits and try and enjoy the whole thing. You'll do a PB and next time it won't be too hard to beat.

I'm a pretty good swimmer and the thought scared me a bit to but after my first Ironman in Switzerland I think I'd still be nervous but the mass start with 2500 or so people going into the water is a noteworthy and memorable moment in my life. Truly incredible and actually rather fun

I hope you have a great time.


steveriley - on 09 Jan 2013
How's your breathing? A lot of confirmed breastrokers can't relax and feel they're drowning. I was always better at breastroke as a kid but taught myself to be comfortable crawling long distances. At least you can save your legs in a longer tri with f/c. After the swim you won't need your arms much, so you can afford to batter them

It's probably more important to just give it a go and have a bit of fun though...
Paul035 on 10 Jan 2013 -
In reply to subtle:

The most important thing in my experience is to train in open water as often as you can. I didn't.

Don't think simply churning out the lengths in a pool will prepare you!

and practice swimming with others as often as you can - get used to feet kicking close to your face. Agree with start at the back if you're not a strong swimmer and take it steady.

In terms of breast stroke, I had a bit of a shocker in first open water swim tri as had done all training in pool.. a combination of so many people battling for position, murky water you can't see more than a foot in front of you and the turbulence from someone kicking right in front, as well as not being able to see where to go meant I couldn't get into any rhythm going. Practice sighting A LOT!

I started doing breaststroke and actually found it a lot easier... the number of crawl swimmers who must have swum far greater distances because they were zig zagging all over meant I didn't suffer too much. As the race strtched out a bit I got space and settled into crawl.
Christine on 10 Jan 2013 -
In reply to subtle:
I'm in the same position. I only started swimming front crawl last summer. The single biggest improvement in my swimming has been joining a club (it's improved my running, too) and going to their coached swim sessions. This also gives access to open water sessions with lots of others (too wimpy to go on them yet). If you are worried about clubs being full of would-be professionals, they are not, there are a wide range of ages and abilities, certainly here in Kendal, and people are very generous with their tips and advice.
SerenGib - on 10 Jan 2013
JamButty - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle: Agree with comments re OW swimming, it is very different, and swimming is my best discipline in a tri.
Other thing to do is get used to running off the bike, it is very odd, so after every bike ride go for even a short run to get used to it.
Oh and read up on transistions - trying to find your bike amongst 1000+ others can get interesting!

Have fun they're very addictive!
Bobbsy - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle:

I've signed on for my first in June, after years of procrastinating over having to train for the swim. Just got on with it, started getting in the pool last July - could swim one 20m length and had to stop to rest, struggled to do 10 laps...kept plugging away, by October was up to 1km in 50m pool, all front crawl. I think breast-stroke is more tiring.

Sign up, take the plunge, and get in the pool 3 times per week!
Ee on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle: Check out your local Tri Club,always a good place to start.Maybe a try-a-tri would be a good short term goal especially as to you not being overly confident on the swim front. I myself did a good number of tri's up to and including Olympic distance either as breastroke only or 50/50 with a very slow and inefficient freestyle.Nobody will take the p*ss if you turn up and are doing breastroke,from my own experience!
Best of Luck,Hope you enjoy.
andy - on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle: And most important of all - remember to wear sunglasses at all times and in all weathers. Even at night.
Nick Russell on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to subtle:
> (In reply to Dom Brown)
> it's a 1500m open water swim - comfortable that I could finish it by breast stroke, just not particularly fast

It's not just a question of speed - breaststroke is really inefficient. It wouldn't take much effort to learn front crawl to a sufficient standard to do 1500m faster and with less energy than you could do it currently. How long do you have to prepare? I'd recommend getting some lessons, swimming relies so much on technique.
Toby_W on 10 Jan 2013
In reply to Nick Russell:

Just to add if you can't really do crawl I think you'll really enjoy learning as with a little coaching and practice you'll get dramatically faster and feel better in the water. Also a lot of people who learn later swim better as they have no bad habits.



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