When I did my first triathlon, I was not fully prepared for the open water swim. I started off way too fast, I swallowed a ton of water, I had to stop and hold onto a lifeboat, I stood up and started to “run” at a snails pace when the water was waist deep and I felt absolutely exhausted after the swim. Can you relate? To help you avoid those beginner triathlete mistakes, this post will help you train to be ready for your race day swim so it’s easier than expected, instead of harder.
Here are my three biggest preparation tips for a beginner swimmer to practice before race day. By the way, these are all good tips, but I’m leaving the best for last.
Go Farther Than The Race Requirement
This is an excellent tip for a few good reasons. First of all, it will give you a big boost of confidence and help remove the fear and doubt that many triathletes hold toward an open water swim. If your swim course is 400 yards, and you have been training to swim 600 or 700 yards, no problem, the swim on race day will be easier and over with before you know it.
Along with that, you’ll usually swim a little bit father than the course anyways. That’s because of things like zigzagging, currents, and rounding buoys.
Practice Constant Swim Starts
Not every one needs this tips but it’s a huge one for me. If you’re like me, it takes a couple hundred yards before you warm up and find your groove with your swim. Most swim workouts will tell you to take a couple warm up laps, stopping and resting between each one. But the thing is, most race either don’t allow you to warm up in the water ahead of time, or it’s very inconvenient to do so.
So try this: during your swim workouts, start slow and steady and don’t stop between your first few laps to rest. Consider this your warmup and continue onto complete your minimum distance. This will help you get used to swimming without a warmup, just like you’ll do on race day. So start slow and ease into your pace.
Zero Recovery Sprint Intervals
This swim drill will transform your swim endurance!
High intensity intervals are great for any sport and I especially like using them to get faster running. But here’s a really great way to boost your swimming capabilities when it comes to endurance in open water.
Now normally when you’d do an interval set for swimming it looks something like this: you hustle it up and swim faster than normal for a lap or so, and then you stop and rest to catch your breath before going again. Keep the same technique in mind, however, this is how I want you to try it from now on in preparation for your race:
Swim hard (I mean hard, it’s a sprint!) for one length of the pool. (Go for a full lap if you don’t feel hypoxic (out of breath) after only one lap.) Hit your flip turn and blast off the wall. Now on your length back, slow your pace down and focus on controlling and lowering your breathing back to normal before you turn and sprint again.
Here’s the clincher. The reason you’re doing this is because it’s difficult to regain control of your breathing in the deep water once you’ve lost it. This drill helps teach your body how to relax and regain a rhythm after sprinting for a pass, rounding a buoy, choppy water, exiting a tussle, or whatever else might rear up in a swim race.