It’s funny; shortly after I post about not swimming, there are some water-related updates to share. Go figure.
With the offseason in full swing, I eased off the structured training, reflected on my races, and pinpointed areas for improvement. Based on results, it’s no secret my bike needs the most attention now. (And a new tri bike only fuels the fire, right?) My run calls for improvement as well. And what about my swim? It can be summed up in one phrase: wannabe swimmer.
Centered on proper technique and muscle memory, swimming requires years of experience spent honing form to be as efficient as possible. When I joined the triathlon world, I figured this portion of the race would be my Achilles heel. After all, I had zero competitive swimming background and simply thought I’d be joining the pool party too late. My mantra was even “survive the swim.”
However, since logging one official season of training, my swim improved a lot. Granted, I’m nowhere near being a fish, but this discipline has proven to be a strength. During my first few races, I attributed my swim time to being a fluke. Sure, I passed folks whose waves began before mine and exited the water in the lead group, but this was due beginners’ luck, right?
It looks like that isn’t quite the case, though.
Growing up in Central New York, I took swimming lessons as a kid and spent plenty of time in pools and lakes. My hometown has a lake as does my alma mater. In fact, during my senior year, my room overlooked Seneca Lake. (And a half-Ironman takes place there too. In case you’re curious, the run course goes through campus. Just throwing that out there.) Basically, for almost as long as I can remember, I’ve had a view of a body of water. Maybe because I spent so much time in the water as a kid and maybe because I’ve always been around it, swimming in the open water doesn’t intimidate me.
Also, according to the book Racing Weight: How To Get Lean For Peak Performance by Matt Fitzgerald, I have some characteristics that prove beneficial in the water.
Let’s see: Swimmers are typically tall—check. Swimmers typically have long torsos and arms—check. Swimmers have large feet—check.
So the combination of my water background and body characteristics have led to some OK performances in the water. As the season progressed, I got moved to the fast lane in my original training group. And like I mentioned, I usually do well in my age group in terms of the swim. You don’t win races during the swim, but there’s an adrenaline rush when you come out of the water in the lead packs. That’s pretty cool. Plus, I need the time cushion to offset my bike!
Anyway, I haven’t been spending a ton of time in the pool lately. And I’m OK with that. The bike especially and the run need those workout hours. However, I’m pumped to have finally reached an elusive wannabe swimmer’s rite of passage—I learned how to flip turn!
Back during the season, one of my coaches broke down the process into four phases, and I made it through the first two. We never revisited the concept, but two weeks ago, one of my teammates gave me a flip-turn clinic. Not going to lie, I feel pretty legit throwing down those turns—even though I can only do it for 200 yards right now.
As the real swimmers know, doing flip turns eliminates the extra breath you can take before pushing off the wall. Plus, you’re not only missing that breath, but you’re also blowing out through your nose, which means you’re using more oxygen. Basically, this means you get gassed quicker. Ah, another triathlon learning curve. But that’s what the offseason is for, right?
Finish this statement: I’m a wannabe _________.