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All of our events are open-water swims. Open water swimming is very different to swimming in a clear warm swimming pool, but with the right preparation and practice you don't need to worry! You'll need the following kit to get going:
A swim cap serves several functions: it helps us keep track of you, it helps keep your head warm and it lowers water resistance and saves you vital seconds in the water. You will need to buy one to train in although you will be provided with one at our events to race in.
We are often asked if wetsuits have to be worn at our races. But the wearing of wetsuits in triathlon is governed by British Triathlon rules and is totally dependent on water temperature one hour before the start of the race.
Water temp = less than 14 degrees
- wetsuits are COMPULSORY
Water temp = between 14 degrees and 22 degrees
- wetsuits are OPTIONAL (ie you can choose whether to wear one or not).
Water temp = above 22 degrees
- wetsuits are BANNED
We do say that wetsuits in fact help with buoyancy and warmth, so we strongly recommend that you wear one if they are optional. We will keep you updated with water temperature as we get closer to the event. Whilst any type of wetsuit (long, short, sleeveless, etc) is ok we would recommend swimming in a triathlon wetsuit. They are designed not only to keep you warm, but also for swimming in whereas general purpose suits (like those for surfing) can actually make it harder!
We would recommend that you practice swimming in you wetsuit before you race. There are a number of open water swim sessions available.
Are an absolute must to enable to see where you're going and will make a notable difference to your swim. Many triathletes race in contact lenses, but it is vital that your goggles don't leak!
Which goggle is right for you?
The trick to getting a good pair of goggles is selecting a model that fits your face and your eyes, and of course makes you look the business in the water!
Step 1 - Seal
To test the fit you should firstly apply the goggle to the face without the strap in place and test the seal the goggle provides. If a split second of suction is provided then you have a strong indication of a good fit (careful of those eye balls though, goggles are known to have awesome suction!)
Myth: Tightening the strap will ensure your goggles give a good fit.
Fact: The goggle straps sole purpose is to hold the goggle in position, not to provide the seal. Adjustment of the strap may be necessary, however avoid the temptation to pull the strap too tight, this will simply create uncomfortable pressure on the delicate eye area, not to mention unsightly panda eye effect!
Step 2 - Fit
Once you have found a good seal you should fit the headstrap by careful adjustment and then focus on two areas:
• Comfort around the nosebridge, the goggle should sit comfortably around the nose and create a good seal.
• Seal around the eye should sit comfortably and not wrap too far around the corner of the eye. This can be tricky to gauge so use mirrors to check for gaps.
Step 3 – Style
We always recommend trying 2-3 different models, this will help you compare fit, comfort and validate your purchase decision.
Don't overlook technique work, especially early in the season. Try incorporating some stroke work into every work out that you do during January and February and get into a habit of counting the number of strokes it takes to complete a length.
Training Technique Tips
Don't overlook technique work, especially early in the season. Try incorporating some stroke work into every work out that you do during January and February and get into a habit of counting the number of strokes it takes to complete a length. Aim to reduce your stroke count but maintain a similar speed.
Good technique will help you to swim faster whilst conserving energy. Try to remember the following:
• Your head position should be looking down and slightly forward
• Your hand should enter the water tilted so that it is thumb-down
• Roll your body down to the side of the entering hand, using your shoulder to push forward
• Rotate your hand around the thumb position, moving the hand into a thumb-inwards orientation - you should start to `catch´ the water at this point
• Keep your elbow high as if pulling `over a barrel´ - perform this part of the stroke slowly
• Bend your elbow to pull your hand under the centre line of your body
• Push your hand past your hips, applying force to get the maximum length out of your stroke
• As your arm recovers over the water keep your hand relaxed and your elbow high
• Use your natural body roll to bring your face into a position to breathe rather than moving your head independently of your body
Swimming a length with a high number of strokes might be slightly faster, but you will get tired more quickly and your stroke will be less efficient.
Have you ever heard of pool golf? This is where swimmers count their number of strokes per length and aim to reduce their scores. Apparently, Welsh Olympic medallist David Davies can do a length of a 50m pool in 9 strokes!
Pool golf is a good drill to do in the pool every so often. Try swimming 8 x 1 length, swimming your normal stroke for the first length. Count your strokes as you swim. Then try to reduce the number of strokes on every subsequent length. By the 8th length your stroke will be really slow and deliberate, but you might find that you have hit your optimum stroke length on the 3rd or 4th length.
Focus on the following to lengthen your stroke:
• Stretch forward at the start stroke and pause briefly before starting your under water pull
• Pull your hand under the centre line of your body
• Pull your hand all the way past your hips
• Recover your arm over the water with your elbow high
Over emphasise the high elbow position as your hand passes your shoulder and head during the recovery phase of the stroke. This drill should stop you swimming with your arms too wide or flailing like a windmill. If you find it difficult you should consider some shoulder flexibility work.
Distance per stroke
Try to get the maximum distance from every arm pull. This means really stretching out at the front of your stroke and pulling all the way past your hips.
Swim with your left arm stretched out in front of your body whilst your right arm slowly performs the arm stroke. Concentrate on kicking at a high kick rate and breath to the arm that is performing the arm stroke. Do this for one length. Repeat the drill on the other side. This drill will help establish stroke balance.
Swim towards the wall
When you see the T on the bottom of the pool use your arm to pull you through a somersault just in front of the wall Place your feet on the wall and stretch your arms forward (in the direction that you want to go) push off the wall and twist onto your front. Don´t forget to kick your legs.
You can break this down by first practicing a somersault in the water, then try doing a few strokes and somersaulting before you get to the wall.
Next, try this next to the wall and get your feet to connect with the wall. Make sure that you don´t approach the wall too slowly - you´ll need some momentum to enable you to perform the turn.
Once you can get your feet to connect with the wall, you can practice getting your body into the right position to perform a streamlined push off.
Do you often get cramp when you´re swimming? No one really knows what causes cramps, but there are several factors associated with them:
• Over exertion (i.e. longer duration or higher intensity than normal)
• Inadequate warm up or stretching before exercise
• Extreme heat and cold temperatures
• Salt imbalances after sweating
• Low blood sugar
Gentle stretching can help relieve all types of cramp. You can also try applying ice (wrapped in a towel rather than directly onto the skin) as this will numb the area and increase blood flow when the ice is removed. Gentle massage and replacing lost fluids may also help. Never forget your water bottle: drink after your warm up, in rests if doing intervals and between sets.
Try these tips to prevent cramp:
• Increase the intensity and length of your work outs gradually
• Take your water bottle to the pool and ensure that you stay well hydrated
• Maintain your glycogen stores (your body´s store of energy)
• Replace lost energy after your work out by eating complex carbohydrates such as pasta and bananas
• Stretch before and after exercise to help prevent the muscle´s susceptibility to cramp