Many people ask what I do for swimming and how they might be able to improve. I think the swim leg is the hardest for many triathletes, and people tend to brush it off because it’s the smallest portion of a race. You have heard this statement before: you cannot win the race in the swim, but you can certainly lose it. This is absolutely true! When I was starting triathlons, I was swimming once, maybe twice per week. Now I am swimming 3-4 times per week. My times and swim place are continuing to improve and I am not as tired when I get on my bike.
Swimming takes a lot of practice and time to improve. However, putting in the time and putting in the proper time will really help. Consistency in the water and good technique are crucial. Now during the off-season, it is the perfect time to work on your technique, build endurance and consistency, and find a team to practice with.
I swim at multiple different places.
- Sierra Marlins Masters (http://www.sierramarlins.net/SubTabGeneric.jsp?team=smst&_stabid_=14267)
- Open water swim clinics with Boost Swimming (http://www.boostswimming.com/)
- Swimstitute (http://www.swimstitute.com/)
- Lake Natoma – open water swimming!
Sierra Marlins Masters is a fantastic group to practice with. I am lucky that it’s 10 minutes from where I live, so it makes the 5:30am practice not seem so bad! But we are done by 7am, which allows me to get to work by 8. I love the team atmosphere of the group, and the motivating coaches with years of swimming knowledge. This puts confidence in both my coach and myself to continue training with them.
There are about 20-30 swimmers each morning, with a wide range of ability levels. We have swimmers in the Adult Learn to Swim program to post-collegiate swimmers, so there is typically someone there who swims your pace… or at least will be on the same interval as you! For me, there is always someone there to push me and make me work hard. Between having a coach on deck to give the workout and motivate me, and other swimmers to push the pace, I have re-gained my love for swimming.
Other reasons the Sierra Marlins masters team (or another high quality Masters swim team) is beneficial
-It forces me to swim all 4 strokes occasionally (yes, this is good for you triathletes!)
-The variety of workouts helps break up the monotony of training solo. I personally spend a lot of time running and biking on my own, so it’s nice to have a group of people to swim with and mix it up.
-Swimming in a lane with others gets you used to swimming next to someone, stirs up water just like swimming in the open water.
-Long Course Meters!
-Just meeting other athletes doing similar crazy things that you are, like waking up at 5:30am and swimming outside when its 35-degrees out (even though the pool is heated..).
Boost Swimming was new this year. I have taken advantage of their open water swim clinics at Lake Natoma and worked individually with them on stroke technique. Over the summer, we worked on a variety of important skills, including sighting, starts/finishes, buoy turns, and even doing TT’s! These clinics have been huge for getting me more comfortable in the open water and practicing skills I haven’t done before. It’s important to practice what you do in a race. Before this year, I actually have not enjoyed the swim leg, sometimes just dreading it. I was just happy to be done swimming and onto the bike. Doing these open water skills clinics have made me more comfortable and confident in race situations, increased my endurance, and improved my open water skills.
This 25-meter indoor pool has been phenomenal for me to get in other swim workouts on my own, whether it’s a recovery swim or a more specific training session. It’s a dedicated lap swim pool so there are always lanes open to swim in. Living in CA, it’s not as common to have an indoor pool, which is why I love going here. It provides relief from the blazing sun, or the colder CA mornings, and I can swim whenever I want or need to.
It’s nice to swim on your own at times. It allows you to focus on form and not push the pace faster than the prescribed workout.
Just great to get open water swimming in. We are lucky to have a nice lake close by!