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Yippidy Dippity
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So there's a couple of triathlons coming up (one in e a month, the other in two) which I would like to try. I've never done a triathlon, and well..that last time I swam was a couple of years ago. I am an avid cycler though (mountain and road) and I can run 5k no problem. The events I want to try:

1. 1/4 mile swim, 8 mile bike, 3.2 mile Run (end of august)
2. 0.75K swim/18 mile bike/3.1 mile run (middle of September)

I know I can do the bike/run part of them, but I am wondering if I'm going to jump in and just sink like a rock. I will be hitting the pool quite a bit for the next few weeks, so hopefully it goes well.

Anyway, are these events beginner friendly? I get the feeling my family will be waiting a half hour after everyone else has passed the finish line for me to come running in. Oh, and what do you wear for the swim? I assume you don't wear those swimming trunks you use to lounge around the pool with friends.

Any advice?
 

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Scary Teddy Bear
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Oh boy

pochtecatl said:
So there's a couple of triathlons coming up (one in e a month, the other in two) which I would like to try. I've never done a triathlon, and well..that last time I swam was a couple of years ago. I am an avid cycler though (mountain and road) and I can run 5k no problem. The events I want to try:

1. 1/4 mile swim, 8 mile bike, 3.2 mile Run (end of august)
2. 0.75K swim/18 mile bike/3.1 mile run (middle of September)

I know I can do the bike/run part of them, but I am wondering if I'm going to jump in and just sink like a rock. I will be hitting the pool quite a bit for the next few weeks, so hopefully it goes well.

Anyway, are these events beginner friendly? I get the feeling my family will be waiting a half hour after everyone else has passed the finish line for me to come running in. Oh, and what do you wear for the swim? I assume you don't wear those swimming trunks you use to lounge around the pool with friends.

Any advice?
Yes, most tri's are friendly too beginners, and to everyone else as well. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, make sure you can swim the distance PLUS easily in a pool. If you can't, or are having problems don't do them. You can't fake the swim, you can always soft pedal, or god forbid take a break on the bike, and you can always walk part of the run, but you cannot just fake the swim.....Most of the people who get ambulance assistance .....it almost invariably occurs during the swim due to lack of preparedness. SO hit the pool, just wear some tri shorts, or even your bike shorts when you swim...you want something with no drag. Otherwise, have a blast..they are very addictive.
 

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Yippidy Dippity
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Hah yeah I was going to make sure I could do the swim in a controlled environment before I registered. That's the only thing that has been keeping me from trying one of these, I never swim. I love biking so that's easy to fit in during the week, running at the gym is easy since I usually do it after some weight lifting. But, I don't have immediate access to a pool.

Thanks for the advice :)
 

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confirmed masher
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like physsatt said, make sure u can do MORE than just the distance you signed up for. I'm in the same position as you but decided to practice swimming well this winter instead of floundering in the water this summer. Once i'm confident in swimming more than the race requirement then I'll register...

from all accounts swimming in a lake is different from swimming in a pool... keep this in mind, the water is going to be a resistance factor depending on the wave direction, and you won't be swimming a straight line, rather you'll need to navigate yourself around the buoys while the water moves you... if i were you i'd try swimming in a lake before hand. one more thing... try biking and running consequently.... the transition is not as easy as you think.
 

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Race it in a Speedo. No, for serious. The first step to being able to swim is to get a speedo, board shorts will never give you the feel for the water. Then race in your speedo, the bike portion is short enough to not worry about a bike chamois.

Have some fun, tris are easy (just to finish, racing is another story), and you'll be addicted before you know it.
 

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Yippidy Dippity
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Yeah I definitely want to do it for fun, not race. Hopefully completing it! I really hope I can build up the swimming strength, otherwise I'll have to wait until next season maybe.
 

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pochtecatl said:
Yeah I definitely want to do it for fun, not race. Hopefully completing it! I really hope I can build up the swimming strength, otherwise I'll have to wait until next season maybe.
figuring you know how to swim, and know just the basic movements of freestyle.... don't sweat the swim at all. Register today before it fills up. Yes, go to the pool. Yes, swim a lot to prepare. But, no, swimming 400 meters, and 750 meters is not that far and you should be able to freestyle/side-stroke your way to the end no problem.

You probably aren't going to win your age group this year, but the experience you gain from competing in a couple of sprint tri's will help you immensely come next season.

Plus, I think you will really enjoy it which will provide you inspiration to swim through the winter.

Go do it. Sitting on the side lines is for posers. :D :D :D
 

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Scary Teddy Bear
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Kestreljr said:
figuring you know how to swim, and know just the basic movements of freestyle.... don't sweat the swim at all. Register today before it fills up. Yes, go to the pool. Yes, swim a lot to prepare. But, no, swimming 400 meters, and 750 meters is not that far and you should be able to freestyle/side-stroke your way to the end no problem.

You probably aren't going to win your age group this year, but the experience you gain from competing in a couple of sprint tri's will help you immensely come next season.

Plus, I think you will really enjoy it which will provide you inspiration to swim through the winter.

Go do it. Sitting on the side lines is for posers. :D :D :D
I was just saying be cautious. At lifetime just last month they pulled someone out of the water, and I think they were doing the sprint distance. And yeah, 400 meters is not that far, but for someone with virtually no swimming background, it's a long way. :thumbsup:
 

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Say no to speedos

climbandcycle said:
Race it in a Speedo. No, for serious. The first step to being able to swim is to get a speedo, board shorts will never give you the feel for the water. Then race in your speedo, the bike portion is short enough to not worry about a bike chamois.

Have some fun, tris are easy (just to finish, racing is another story), and you'll be addicted before you know it.
Please do not take this advice. Just get a pair of tri shorts you can swim, ride and run in. Bikini bottoms should only be worn by very fit women, and even then, not during a race.

Swim in a lake at least once. Do not start at the very front of a swim wave if you are not a fast swimmer, you will get run over. Survive the swim and hammer the bike/run. Put speed laces in your running shoes.
 

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physasst said:
I was just saying be cautious. At lifetime just last month they pulled someone out of the water, and I think they were doing the sprint distance. And yeah, 400 meters is not that far, but for someone with virtually no swimming background, it's a long way. :thumbsup:
Yeah, I know... and I agree with ya physasst. But sometimes I can find myself discouraging potential tri guys that it is tough and the swim can be scary. But in the end you just got to get out there and do it.

I have a friend of a friend who works for USAT, she was saying that USAT has been around since the late 70's in some form (I think there has been some name changes), but in the 2,000 plus sanctioned events they do every year, for multiple decades, they have never had one athlete drown.
 

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waterproof*
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I've never done a tri... so this advice is hearsay from a former WI age group tri champ, longtime cyclist etc.

His tip was, the big win for the swim leg was focusing on proper technique - even beyond muscular conditioning which is important, swimming is even more "technical" than cycling. If you can get a coach or watch some videos, it's free speed to swim correctly instead of flailing at the water.

Then, get on the bike and absolutely hammer. The run will hurt but hopefully you won't be passed by many.

A tri is on my list for next year, just b/c I want a better chest for the beach and tri chicks are hot... pure vanity, just like most things we do...
 

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Scary Teddy Bear
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Kestreljr said:
Yeah, I know... and I agree with ya physasst. But sometimes I can find myself discouraging potential tri guys that it is tough and the swim can be scary. But in the end you just got to get out there and do it.

I have a friend of a friend who works for USAT, she was saying that USAT has been around since the late 70's in some form (I think there has been some name changes), but in the 2,000 plus sanctioned events they do every year, for multiple decades, they have never had one athlete drown.

Unfortunately, that is not true...

http://blogs.tampabay.com/breakingnews/2007/05/st_anthonys_tri.html

I'm not posting this to scare anyone, that is certainly NOT my intent, but the swim is arguably the most dangerous part of racing a tri, and you should be prepared for it. That said, Tri's are an absolute blast, and I can't wait for my next one in September. :thumbsup:
 

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physasst said:
Unfortunately, that is not true...

http://blogs.tampabay.com/breakingnews/2007/05/st_anthonys_tri.html

I'm not posting this to scare anyone, that is certainly NOT my intent, but the swim is arguably the most dangerous part of racing a tri, and you should be prepared for it. That said, Tri's are an absolute blast, and I can't wait for my next one in September. :thumbsup:

You are right physast...What a shame. :(
 

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Definately SWIM

I tackled my first two sprint tri's last year (both with 1/2 mile swims in the open ocean). I also was not the strongest distance swimmer. i grew up by the beach but there's a world of difference body surfing with fins or surfing and swimming for 15-20 minutes straight.

I remember my first tri, i was the last of 100 to hit the water because I didn't want to get run over in the water by the masses. Once I entered the water and started to get my groove I passed 50 people. Some were back stroking, some treading water and some holding on to the bouys. So there are plenty of people who are ill-prepared for this type of stuff. That said, when I prepared I made sure I could do 25-50% more of the distance required and that was plenty. I'm training for my event again (trying to beat my mediocre time!) and just swam 1250 yards. I actually really enjoy swimming now but my run stinks big time. time to focus on that :thumbsup: .

Good luck and have fun. But like everyone else has stated, swim so it's not a shocker.

PS - if wetsuits are allowed, then I would definately get one. It makes you faster and safer. I can actually float without effort with my T1 suit. So, in a pinch, if there are any problems, I know I won't drown!
 

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Yippidy Dippity
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the advice everyone :)

I completely understand that some one you aren't trying to scare me out of it and such, the swim is potentially very dangerous. I think I'll do fine as I am pretty fit but you never know, so I'll go practice some, see if I will be able to do it or not.
 

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Yippidy Dippity
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Yeah.. So I just went to the pool. I'm a very weak swimmer! :cryin: I could go maybe five minutes then I would be exhausted, I'll have to work pretty hard for the next month and a half if I'm going to be able to do it.
 

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I've had the same idea to try a sprint distance tri.

Once I found out that I could run, I really started to want to do the tri. Well, I ended up with a really bad case of tendonitis in the left knee which kept me off of the bike, but landed me in the pool for rehab. At that point, I was biking 120 mi/week. Not huge distances, mind you, but I feel I have an ok set of legs and lungs to match. I was humbled on how poor I was at swimming. It made me re-think the whole thing and my entire level of fitness.

One thing I've read is that cyclists have a difficult time in the pool because our legs are muscle dense and therefore less buoyant - we drag our legs through the water. Someone on another forum said that I need to learn how to swim "downhill." Still trying to figure that one out.

I'm not even going to attempt a tri until I know I can swim 700 yds nonstop. That should cover me for most sprint distances.
 

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Scary Teddy Bear
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Yep

pochtecatl said:
Yeah.. So I just went to the pool. I'm a very weak swimmer! :cryin: I could go maybe five minutes then I would be exhausted, I'll have to work pretty hard for the next month and a half if I'm going to be able to do it.

just cause you have a good aerobic engine, or are in good shape doesn't mean you will be a good swimmer. Very different muscle groups and endurance required....Some pointers...

1. PICK UP the book "Total Immersion", IMO, the best book on distance swimming and techniques ever written.

2. IF there are Masters swimming groups near you..GO, don't be embarassed, you can learn a TON, and get some good practice in.

3. Swimming is not about muscle fatigue, swimming is about rhythm...ALL about rhythm, and it takes practice. It is the most technique dependent event out of the three in a triathlon. Form breeds efficiency, and efficiency, NOT strength, breeds solid swim splits.
When I am swimming now, I can get into a good rhythm and swim forever....or at least I feel like I can. I end up thinking about all kinds of things, it's kind of cathartic. I end up thinking about my daughter, and how I'm going to finish the basement, and work issues, etc. When you finish a good swim, you should be sweating, breathing fairly hard, and have only mild fatigue in your arms...cause if you are swimming with good techniques, your arms won't be working as hard as they do with poor technique.

4. IT WILL COME, when I started to train for my first Tri, I couldn't even swim 100 meters without being fatigued....and out of breath. LEARN the techniques, practice some of the TI drills, and keep at it. I swam twice a week, and within two months I was swimming 1500 meters easily. NOTE, I did not say fast, but easily. Now, I am working on speed drills and intervals in the pool to increase my speed.

5. HAVE FUN....enjoy the process, it's a blast. You'll get hooked on tri's, I know I did. My friend said it's cause I have exercize ADD. When you don't want to ride you swim, when you don't want to swim you run, etc....etc...etc..
Good Luck, and please feel free to ask any questions, some of us on here have been through it and will be happy to respond.:thumbsup:
 

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Cowboy up
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2nd the Total Immersion book. Check that out. If it is an open water swim practice some open water swimming to get used to not being able to see a pool line.

Tri shorts are best. Anything will work if you don't want to buy new stuff. But see below first.
Elastic laces can make the transitions quicker. Especially helpful if it is a cold morning and your fingers are not working so good after the bike ride.

Try to practice with whatever equipment you decide to use. You don't want to find out your shoes are too tight, or your shorts chaffe, or you ate too much breakfast to run the day of the event.
 

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Total Immersion is crap when compared to actually spending a couple hours with someone who knows how to swim (like ex-collegiate swimmer). If you are in college try to make some friends with swimmers and head to your local lap pool with them. Most swimmers can see what you are doing wrong/ recommend some pointers or drills. The stuff about cyclists having a harder time because of a lack of buoyancy is BS, look at any competitive swimmer and they probably have less body fat than you do. It's all about technique. Technique comes from time in the pool. Whatever you do don't get hung up on the details, the biggest problem with triathletes is that they forget to just do- instead of over analyze.

How many high school kids (who can swim faster than most triathletes) have ever read a book about swimming? From my experience- none.

Just remember for every pound of muscle you add to your upper body, you have to lug it up a hill. So focus on efficiency rather than speed.

4 tips for faster swimming
1. body rotation and reach. extend your arm forward as far as possible and rotate from your hips to get the maximum distance from each stroke.
2. Do not cross your bodies centerline, when you extend- don't cross in front of your face and when you pull don't cross over your torso
3. Keep your head down and learn to breathe with the least amount of disruption in your stroke. Breathe as often as you need to- you will not improve if your always gasping every couple of strokes.
4. Slow down to get fast and always, always, always: ask yourself if your stroke feels right. Never muscle through a set until you are so fatigued that you're practicing a horrible, lopsided, short, or jerky stroke.

Swimming is like riding a trainer in a white room with no windows, you need to keep yourself mentally active or you will fall apart. Remind yourself what distance you're on, analyze your stroke, or monitor your perceived effort- never let yourself stop paying attention or you will never improve, and then, before you know it, you'll be reading total immersion and looking for an external solution.
 
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