220 Triathlon Magazine - - EXPERT TIPS -


Want to tackle a 3.8km Ironman swim? Then prac­tise in open water at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity. Most Ironman triath­letes will be swim­ming for a min­i­mum of 60mins with­out stop­ping: you sim­ply can’t repli­cate that in the pool. Ev­ery time you reach the wall, you can have a rest and gain im­pe­tus from the push-off. With­out be­ing truly ded­i­cated to open-water ses­sions, triath­letes of­ten strug­gle over the 3.8km dis­tance, not through lack of fit­ness, but be­cause their back and arm mus­cles are sim­ply not con­di­tioned to the con­stant turnover.


Whether you’re training in open water or pre­dom­i­nantly lim­ited to pool swim­ming, I be­lieve most triath­letes should be prac­tis­ing in their wet­suits at least once a week. You might feel silly be­cause you stand out – and pool swims may have to be lim­ited in du­ra­tion be­cause of over­heat­ing – but, due to the in­creased buoy­ancy pro­vided by the added neo­prene thick­ness, your body po­si­tion in the water com­pletely changes when you wear neo­prene, and you need to adapt and be com­fort­able with this. Just check that your pool al­lows wet­suits.


Don’t just rely on fol­low­ing the feet in front of you come race day. All triath­letes need to be able to sight and sight­ing only im­proves with prac­tice. Many age-groupers swim ex­tra dis­tances un­nec­es­sar­ily be­cause of poor nav­i­ga­tion skills, but whether you choose to sight be­fore or af­ter you take a breath, re­mem­ber the higher you lift your head, the lower your hips will drop. I sight more at the start of the race to clock where the lead swim­mers are. Then a rule of thumb is ev­ery 20-30 strokes, but sight more fre­quently if you need to build con­fi­dence.

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