various thoughts / observations re the swim (rather long post)

Discussion in 'Triathlon' started by Kevin Draper, Jun 21, 2003.

  1. Kevin Draper

    Kevin Draper Guest

    Firstly thanks to those who replied to my message some time ago about open water swimming.

    I did my first tri (olympic distance) last week at Windsor and whilst I was pleased with my overall
    time I was disappointed with the way I dealt with the first part of the swim. The conditions were -
    I imagine - about as benign as they ever get in open water swimming - water 19C, no current, still
    air, beautiful morning. But I got myself in a bit of a state at the start and didn't really settle
    down at all until halfway. In part this might have been attributable to the overall melee and hassle
    of having people bumping and all the rest of it at the start but I'd be kidding myself if I said
    this was the only problem.

    I have noticed that when I start swimming whether in the pool or in open water it always takes me a
    good 20mins to get properly settled, to calm my heart rate, to stop panicking (i think I only have a
    mild panic but it seems to be enough to set my heart rate up and make me lose my rythmn).

    I just couldn't get my head down and get into a rythmn at all. However after 20 mins I did relax and
    the further I went on the stronger I got, to the extent that by the end of the swim I was really
    loving it and didn't want it to stop. I was totally 'in the zone', relaxed and actually recovered
    some respectability for my swim time with the second half.

    The main point is that in terms of effort and comfort I always end up feeling stronger, more relaxed
    and faster as I go on. I can't see anyway around overcoming this in the actual race - I don't think
    I would be able to go in the water for 20 mins before I start.

    So I'm looking at a way of training myself to deal with this better. I'm just not sure if it's
    mainly psychological (controlling the mild panic attacks) or physiological? I'm not 'scared' of
    water and I actually come from a surfing background (where I tend to have similar experiences in the
    first 20 mins of each session) so I'm comfortable being in open water even in conditions that would
    scare most people.

    I feel like I'm a reasonably strong swimmer overall and have improved my technique and reduced my
    stroke count in the last 6 months in the pool. I can swim 1.5K in 28mins in the pool (even with my
    dodgy start) but my time in the tri was around 32mins - I reckon the second half of the swim was
    around 13mins (i'm just guessing but my first half was so slow I was expecting my overall time to
    be much slower than it turned out to be) - I was overtaking so many people and felt like I was
    really flying.

    Any thoughts?
     
    Tags:


  2. "Kevin Draper" <[email protected]> wrote in
    news:[email protected]:

    > Firstly thanks to those who replied to my message some time ago about open water swimming.
    >
    > I did my first tri (olympic distance) last week at Windsor and whilst I was pleased with my
    > overall time I was disappointed with the way I dealt with the first part of the swim. The
    > conditions were - I imagine
    > - about as benign as they ever get in open water swimming - water 19C, no current, still air,
    > beautiful morning. But I got myself in a bit of a state at the start and didn't really settle
    > down at all until halfway. In part this might have been attributable to the overall melee and
    > hassle of having people bumping and all the rest of it at the start but I'd be kidding myself if
    > I said this was the only problem.
    >
    > I have noticed that when I start swimming whether in the pool or in open water it always takes me
    > a good 20mins to get properly settled, to calm my heart rate, to stop panicking (i think I only
    > have a mild panic but it seems to be enough to set my heart rate up and make me lose my rythmn).
    >
    > I just couldn't get my head down and get into a rythmn at all. However after 20 mins I did relax
    > and the further I went on the stronger I got, to the extent that by the end of the swim I was
    > really loving it and didn't want it to stop. I was totally 'in the zone', relaxed and actually
    > recovered some respectability for my swim time with the second half.
    >
    > The main point is that in terms of effort and comfort I always end up feeling stronger, more
    > relaxed and faster as I go on. I can't see anyway around overcoming this in the actual race - I
    > don't think I would be able to go in the water for 20 mins before I start.
    >
    > So I'm looking at a way of training myself to deal with this better. I'm just not sure if it's
    > mainly psychological (controlling the mild panic attacks) or physiological? I'm not 'scared' of
    > water and I actually come from a surfing background (where I tend to have similar experiences in
    > the first 20 mins of each session) so I'm comfortable being in open water even in conditions that
    > would scare most people.
    >
    > I feel like I'm a reasonably strong swimmer overall and have improved my technique and reduced my
    > stroke count in the last 6 months in the pool. I can swim 1.5K in 28mins in the pool (even with my
    > dodgy start) but my time in the tri was around 32mins - I reckon the second half of the swim was
    > around 13mins (i'm just guessing but my first half was so slow I was expecting my overall time to
    > be much slower than it turned out to be) - I was overtaking so many people and felt like I was
    > really flying.
    >
    > Any thoughts?
    >

    I'm a big beleiver in always getting a warm up swim in before the race. As you've mentioned, it's
    probably not practical to get 20 minutes of warmup, so you'll also want to work towards reducing the
    amount of "adjustment time" you need to get comfortable.

    The only suggestion I have there is to find a way to get some practice in open water outside of
    racing. You'll want to find a place where you can swim in a group or under the supervision of
    lifeguards. Acclimatizing (sp?) yourself to open water should help reduce the time it takes you to
    get warmed up.

    I've just noticed that you said it takes you 20 minutes whether you're in the pool OR open water.
    You may need to increase the "potency" of your warmup. Try hopping in the water, swimming easy for 2
    minutes, fairly hard for 5, then easy again for 3. Concentrate on your form through the whole
    warmup. See if this 10 minute version gets you there any faster.

    Tom
     
  3. Andy D

    Andy D New Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2003
    Messages:
    10
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    Congratulations on your result, 2:33 is a great start. Nice day for it too!! It was my 4th open water race and second olympic and I find that the first is by far the worst! (I had the same trouble at last year's Nat Relays, had to stop as I was hyperventilating. After some breaststroke to compose myself I was fine, and as you say, really got into a rhythm.)
    The main tips I can offer are:
    - Don't go berserk for the first few minutes.
    - It's better to finish strong than struggle for the last 1/3 cos you blew your arms to bits early on.
    - Be aware. Look to see if there's big fat juicy gaps and drafting opportunities to be grabbed. Also, check to see if the pack is heading the right way!
    - Breathe deeper, exhale strongly. At the same time, lengthen your stroke and reduce cadence to try and maximise efficiency.
    - Be confident. Don't settle behind someone at a comfortable pace if you feel you can go faster and still be ok.
    - Expect a bunfight at the start. Smile if you avoid it all!
    - If your current swim sets are mainly short-ish (say 100m/200m) reps then try and fit in an extra session in the week that is based on longer, more aerobic distances (400m/500m/+..!) (Or vice versa).
    Hope that is of use. Basically the panicky feeling is an adrenal response. Control it by focussing on the whole swim, then your plan at T1, then the rest of the race. Don't get caught up in other racer's issues too much!

    AD

     
  4. Kevin Draper

    Kevin Draper Guest

    thanks Tom and Andy, I appreciate the comments, advice and ideas and will be having a go at
    training myself to get used to a short warm up and longer swims. I'm also wondering about focusing
    on something else in order to slow down my breathing - I'm sure that the more I focus on my
    breathing the worse it gets. I think the idea of concentrating on breathing out properly is also
    important for me.

    anyway plenty to think about and implement.

    cheers,

    Kevin.

    "Andy D" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:[email protected]...
    > Kevin Draper wrote:
    > > Firstly thanks to those who replied to my message some time ago about open water swimming. I
    > > did my first tri (olympic distance) last week at Windsor and whilst
    I
    > > was pleased with my overall time I was disappointed with the way I
    dealt
    > > with the first part of the swim. The conditions were - I imagine -
    about
    > > as benign as they ever get in open water swimming - water 19C, no current, still air,
    > > beautiful morning. But I got myself in a bit of a state at the start and didn't really settle
    > > down at all until halfway. In part this might have been attributable to the overall melee and
    > > hassle of having people bumping and all the rest of it at the start
    but
    > > I'd be kidding myself if I said this was the only problem. I have noticed that when I start
    > > swimming whether in the pool or in open water it always takes me a good 20mins to get properly
    > > settled, to calm my heart rate, to stop panicking (i think I only have a mild panic but it
    > > seems to be enough to set my heart rate up and make me lose my rythmn). I just couldn't get my
    > > head down and get into a rythmn at all. However after 20 mins I did relax and the further I
    > > went on the stronger I got, to the extent that by the end of the swim I was really loving it
    > > and didn't want it to stop. I was totally 'in the zone', relaxed and actually recovered some
    > > respectability for my swim time with the second half. The main point is that in terms of
    > > effort and comfort I always end up feeling stronger, more relaxed and faster as I go on. I
    > > can't see
    anyway
    > > around overcoming this in the actual race - I don't think I would be able to go in the water
    > > for 20 mins before I start. So I'm looking at a way of training myself to deal with this
    > > better.
    I'm
    > > just not sure if it's mainly psychological (controlling the mild panic attacks) or
    > > physiological? I'm not 'scared' of water and I actually
    come
    > > from a surfing background (where I tend to have similar experiences in the first 20 mins of
    > > each session) so I'm comfortable being in open water even in conditions that would scare most
    > > people. I feel like I'm a reasonably strong swimmer overall and have improved
    my
    > > technique and reduced my stroke count in the last 6 months in the
    pool.
    > > I can swim 1.5K in 28mins in the pool (even with my dodgy start) but
    my
    > > time in the tri was around 32mins - I reckon the second half of the
    swim
    > > was around 13mins (i'm just guessing but my first half was so slow I
    was
    > > expecting my overall time to be much slower than it turned out to
    be) -
    > > I was overtaking so many people and felt like I was really flying. Any thoughts?
    >
    > Congratulations on your result, 2:33 is a great start. Nice day for it too!! It was my 4th open
    > water race and second olympic and I find that the first is by far the worst! (I had the same
    > trouble at last year's Nat Relays, had to stop as I was hyperventilating. After some breaststroke
    > to compose myself I was fine, and as you say, really got into a rhythm.) The main tips I can
    > offer are:
    > - Don't go berserk for the first few minutes.
    > - It's better to finish strong than struggle for the last 1/3 cos you blew your arms to bits
    > early on.
    > - Be aware. Look to see if there's big fat juicy gaps and drafting opportunities to be grabbed.
    > Also, check to see if the pack is heading the right way!
    > - Breathe deeper, exhale strongly. At the same time, lengthen your stroke and reduce cadence to
    > try and maximise efficiency.
    > - Be confident. Don't settle behind someone at a comfortable pace if you feel you can go faster
    > and still be ok.
    > - Expect a bunfight at the start. Smile if you avoid it all!
    > - If your current swim sets are mainly short-ish (say 100m/200m) reps then try and fit in an extra
    > session in the week that is based on longer, more aerobic distances (400m/500m/+..!) (Or vice
    > versa). Hope that is of use. Basically the panicky feeling is an adrenal response. Control it by
    > focussing on the whole swim, then your plan at T1, then the rest of the race. Don't get caught
    > up in other racer's issues too much!
    >
    > AD
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > --
    > This forum is a gateway to the rec.sport.triathlon usenet newsgroup. Any
    posts you make in this forum will be propogated to usenet.
     
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