In my head I had been picturing my ironman swim as a semi-leisurely couple of laps of the lake and I was focussing my training on making sure I could manage the distance comfortably… this weekends swim session made me realise just how wrong I was.
I was really excited about a proper swimming lesson with a coach and was hoping to learn some new techniques.. I am not a brilliant swimmer so I need all of the help I can get! We got in the water and ran through a couple of cool drills to learn about drifting and picking up our speed (you’d be surprised how hard it is to swim with your eyes closed in the middle of a length and still keep on breathing!) and then it was time for the swim around the buoy challenge. During my time swimming around the dock in London and also at the Blue Lagoon I had never had much problem swimming around a buoy, I never really learned to sight I just followed everyone else, and I couldn’t front crawl at the time so it wasn’t really a problem. However when there are 20+ people in a 25 yard pool all swimming for the same point it is very different to a cruise around the dock. There were arms, legs, and feet EVERYWHERE. I was swallowing water, coughing and spluttering, and making up new swimming stokes left right and centre.
This was definitely a wake-up call for me because I had never thought about the beginning of the swim when it is frantic and stressful like that… and after a few times of the drill I think I learned how to deal with that situation as a slower swimmer so here are my top tips (that I gained from the guys at Parker Performance):
- Practice freestyle swimming with your head out of the water. It will give you a HUGE advantage if you find yourself stuck in a situation like that.
- Dont panic. If you need to switch to breast stroke for a few strokes to get your breath back just do it and pick back up when you feel ready.
- You can apologise all you want but nobody can hear you so you’d be better off saving your breath
- Definitely practice being in this environment before you consider racing. If I hadn’t experienced this session and it had happened on race day I am not sure I could have pulled it back.
Next week I am focussing primarily on running as the marathon approaches but hopefully I will also be able to get another ride and a couple of swims in. I know for a fact I will be alternating between heads up and heads down sets because it really is a crucial skill to master.