100 Tips for a Successful Triathlon

Swimming


                                                    Timberman Sprint 2014

The swimming leg of a triathlon is almost always an adventure. You will find yourself kicked and elbowed. The water can be choppy and make it hard to see buoys. Volunteers on the course may block your view of buoys. Currents may make navigating a challenge. The water may be so shallow for a good part of the course that it is faster to walk. I once found it was faster to pull myself along by the thick underwater plants than to swim. Another time the river was full of jellyfish 8-10 inches in diameter. It was like swimming through floating plates, but the jellyfish only stung mildly and the burn only lasted for a half hour or so. The water can also be very cold and cause hypothermia, either while you are in the water, or after you begin to bike, cold and wet.

Improve your swimming with a professional swim coach.

Swimming is a highly technical sport that is almost impossible to learn properly without expert advice. Your pleasure from and interest in swimming will be greatly enhanced if you can swim more than one stroke well. Free style is fastest for most people, but it helps to swim breast stroke if you are having trouble navigating on the swim course and need to get your bearings. Excellent books on swimming technique include Fitness Swimming by Emmett Hines (Second Edition , 2008, Human Kinetics, Inc.).

Practice two to four days a week with a mix of fast swimming, and slow swimming to work on technique

Above all, concentrate on keeping your head and chest down and legs up. Learn drills for proper stroke, kick, and rotation

Learn to kick properly; a good kick does make you faster in endurance swimming

Think of the swim as a contact sport; it helps to cope with swim starts

Use saliva on the inside of your goggles to keep them from fogging; nothing else works as well

Swimming with a good wetsuit is always faster

Modern wet suits deteriorate over time. They become looser and allow more water to pass along the body, thus providing less protection in cold water. They also tear more easily. Ten years is a good lifetime.

Volunteers at some races help pull off wetsuits after swim

To take advantage, pull down the upper part of the wetsuit , lie down in front of volunteer and let them grab the wetsuit around  the waist and pull.  It usually comes off in seconds.

                                      Wetsuit Pull

Always warm up for the swim, either in the water or by doing pushups

Many people have a difficult time during the first 10-15 minutes of the swim. Part of the problem is the crowded conditions, but in addition, not being completely warmed up can contribute to uneasiness and even hyperventilation. Some people leave their wetsuit unzipped to try to prevent these feelings. A good warmup before the swim start is probably the best preventive technique.

Protect your feet from athletes foot, plantars warts and other foot problems at the pool by always wearing flipflops when out of the pool

Look for a pool that uses ozone as the primary disinfectant

These pools use  less chlorine which is a common cause of allergic reactions.  Ozone is a powerful disinfectant that can work just as well or better than chlorine.  It quickly dissipates, so in the United States some chlorine is added to the water as a residual disinfectant, but at lower levels than if it is the primary disinfectant. I mitigate my allergic reaction to chlorine by wearing a nose plug.

Use shampoo, conditioner and soap that restore oil to the skin and hair to mitigate the dryness caused by chlorine.

Rotator Cuff injuries are very common among swimmers and can be prevented with simple, quick exercises.

See, for example, http://www.bodyresults.com/e2rotatorcuff.asp  A more unusual approach is to strengthen related muscles by briefly holding a single lotus position each day.  I have found this very beneficial.  See

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/health/02brody.html