Will need to get into the pool and do soeme serious swimming training first, but is it worth trying to learn the crawl or just stick to the breast stroke and try improve on speed?
Any other tips for a first timer?
I am doing my first tri later this year as well.
Crawl seems to be the way ahead. Lots of preparation at open water (scary ! )swimming whilst wrestling 200 other swimers who are elbowing you in the face and swimming over the top of you.
It appears from what experinced friends have told me that the open water crawl is different ( breathing both sides, sighting, straight arm lift out of water and different leg kick ) but lots of stuff on you tube and tri web sites to put you on the right track.
I guess the further the swim distance the more important to get it right.
it's a 1500m open water swim - comfortable that I could finish it by breast stroke, just not particularly fast
Depends what distance you'll be doing and how seriously you want to take it. Crawl is the fastest (most efficient) stroke and you will almost certainly find yourself out of the water at the tail end of the group if you're doing BS.
For a sprint distance tri, you might not see too much of a difference, but anything longer then you are giving yourself a distinct dissadvantage.
I would say that it's worth getting lessons (or teaching yourself) to swim front crawl. You can always default to breaststroke on the day if you are not comfortable doing it.
If you're looking at doing a few events over the season (or the years), then crawl is the way forward.
Best of luck.
Plenty of people do breast stroke, but probably not for that long - although I've certainly done it in races for a bit of the swim, for a breather.
Get the best wetsuit you can afford - second hand or ex-rental will be fine - and learn to swim in that, as you will float much higher in the water in it and at a different attitude.
Biggest thing to overcome (and this is where I struggle) is the very cold water on your face and cold air in your lungs makes it hard to breathe and settle into your stroke.
When you get on the bike you can start kicking ass.
I've seen people in Ironman races swim breaststroke so don't worry about that. It's the least importand leg of the race and I'd say just relax flog yourself on the other two bits and try and enjoy the whole thing. You'll do a PB and next time it won't be too hard to beat.
I'm a pretty good swimmer and the thought scared me a bit to but after my first Ironman in Switzerland I think I'd still be nervous but the mass start with 2500 or so people going into the water is a noteworthy and memorable moment in my life. Truly incredible and actually rather fun
I hope you have a great time.
It's probably more important to just give it a go and have a bit of fun though...
The most important thing in my experience is to train in open water as often as you can. I didn't.
Don't think simply churning out the lengths in a pool will prepare you!
and practice swimming with others as often as you can - get used to feet kicking close to your face. Agree with start at the back if you're not a strong swimmer and take it steady.
In terms of breast stroke, I had a bit of a shocker in first open water swim tri as had done all training in pool.. a combination of so many people battling for position, murky water you can't see more than a foot in front of you and the turbulence from someone kicking right in front, as well as not being able to see where to go meant I couldn't get into any rhythm going. Practice sighting A LOT!
I started doing breaststroke and actually found it a lot easier... the number of crawl swimmers who must have swum far greater distances because they were zig zagging all over meant I didn't suffer too much. As the race strtched out a bit I got space and settled into crawl.
I'm in the same position. I only started swimming front crawl last summer. The single biggest improvement in my swimming has been joining a club (it's improved my running, too) and going to their coached swim sessions. This also gives access to open water sessions with lots of others (too wimpy to go on them yet). If you are worried about clubs being full of would-be professionals, they are not, there are a wide range of ages and abilities, certainly here in Kendal, and people are very generous with their tips and advice.
Interesting article: http://www.dcrainmaker.com/2013/01/how-to-kick-start-your-way-to-your-first-triathlon.html
Other thing to do is get used to running off the bike, it is very odd, so after every bike ride go for even a short run to get used to it.
Oh and read up on transistions - trying to find your bike amongst 1000+ others can get interesting!
Have fun they're very addictive!
I've signed on for my first in June, after years of procrastinating over having to train for the swim. Just got on with it, started getting in the pool last July - could swim one 20m length and had to stop to rest, struggled to do 10 laps...kept plugging away, by October was up to 1km in 50m pool, all front crawl. I think breast-stroke is more tiring.
Sign up, take the plunge, and get in the pool 3 times per week!
Best of Luck,Hope you enjoy.
> it's a 1500m open water swim - comfortable that I could finish it by breast stroke, just not particularly fast
It's not just a question of speed - breaststroke is really inefficient. It wouldn't take much effort to learn front crawl to a sufficient standard to do 1500m faster and with less energy than you could do it currently. How long do you have to prepare? I'd recommend getting some lessons, swimming relies so much on technique.
Just to add if you can't really do crawl I think you'll really enjoy learning as with a little coaching and practice you'll get dramatically faster and feel better in the water. Also a lot of people who learn later swim better as they have no bad habits.
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