Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Post Where We're All Learning to Swim Without Dying

Swim Training Ironman Florida
Geek at Swim Clinic
So now that we have nearly a full year to train for our Ironman (rather than the 9 months we thought we were going to have when doing Kentucky) we're all taking time to ease into training instead of jumping in head-first.

The swim was a place we knew we all could use some help. All three of us are at a different level of confidence and ability. I signed up for a five-week swim workshop with a local triathlon coaching group.  I was pretty confident in my ability to swim going into that first class.

Geek with Coach Juliet
I was much less confident coming out.

After a warm up, the class had a 50-meter all-out swim. The coach praised the fact that I was a good sprint swimmer, with relatively good sprint technique. I was pretty excited about that and attributed it to the fact that I was raised in southern Florida where they basically threw you in a pool immediately after birth and left you there until adulthood.

But then the bad news came: an Ironman is not a sprint in any way, shape or form. She warned that if I was going to swim 2.4 miles in the most effective and least-calorie burning way possible (relying more heavily on core and upper body so I could save my legs for the biking and running) I was
going to have to completely retrain myself in how to swim.
Swim Training Ironman Florida
Hippie & Princess


So that's what I've been doing for the past three weeks since starting the class. At first the rolling from side to side was awkward and seemed like a ton of more work. But when Coach explained the physics of it (terms like drag, pitch, and recovery have now become regular part of my vocabulary), I could understand. And I admit, I'm getting better at it.

Hippie and Princess are taking swim classes also. More updates on them soon.

Three random things we found out about the IM swim that reassured us:

1) You can use any stroke you want at any time. Need a break from freestyle? Breast stroke is fine. Even backstroke is allowed. Go figure.

2) If you're in trouble (or if you just need a rest) you are allowed to hold on to one of the official kayak/canoe/paddleboards in the water and rest. As long as you aren't making any forward progress while holding on to the object, you can stay there as long as you want (but keeping in mind that there is a 2:20 cut off for the swim).

3) Unique to IM FL: It's a 2 lap course in the ocean. That means you start on the sand, run out (through the waves) and swim in a giant 1.2mile "U".  The end brings you back into shore, you run along the shore for a few yards and go back out for your second loop.  Crazy, but good to have a tiny little break in there.

A taste of the IM FL swim start:

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