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Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Helena's Big Adventure. Chapter 3 - Swimming

I find swimming to be the most challenging of all tri disciplines. Perhaps there are a lot of us with the same problem.

I think of myself as a reasonably good swimmer - I was swimming in lakes as a kid and had some swimming lessons at young age. I think the best teacher I ever had was my grandmother. At age of 86 she’s still swimming, looking a bit like a big cuddly hippo (don’t tell her I’ve said that, after all she’s a lady). She had a good method to teach me how to breathe properly for breaststroke. And I am quite good at it. But that’s it! I have never done swimming as a sport! I’ve run, I’ve cycled, but swimming has always been just for fun.

When talking about front crawl, breathing always has been my problem so I never really done much of it. It’s  was always just too much trouble to learn. Now, however, I need to get good at it if I want to finish my first triathlon and move on to doing more reasonable distances! 

Breathing problem number one is that to begin with I was only able to take a breath on my right side. Thanks to Ben Hallam (yes, he’s very helpful and resourceful) I now can take breath on my left side too. My reason for wanting to learn was simple; two strokes were just too short for my breath and four were too long. So I needed an option of breathing every three. Another reason is that sometimes in a race there might be splashing next to you on one side or sun may be in your eyes. The drill Ben showed me was simple enough so I tried it and it worked! It goes like this – three strokes, a breath and glide for a while on that side before switching. This is close to what I do:

Looking back to what I was doing wrong, I think it was just a bit of fear so I tended to rush and ended up choking. When doing this drill there is a bit more time to spend on the same side as you breathe so you can calm down and prepare for next set. Now that I have improved my breathing within 3 weeks I was able to do 200m without need to stop and rest. So happy! 

Looking at other people in the pool, it looked like it’s much faster to turn around using tumble turn. I started to consider learning it, but then decided not to. Even thought my first triathlon is in a pool, rules state that tumble turn is not allowed. 

Other thing I was struggling with was finding swimming goggles. Had to throw my old ones away,because they where fogging up. Tried few things but nothing helped. I am now trying my third pair and they are good so far. Now I know not to buy very expensive ones straight away, because there might be need to go for a new pair soon.

I have invested in a pull buoy too. It is a good way to get your legs floating so you have more time to concentrate on your arm and hand action. One minus of it is that it doesn’t allow hips to rotate as well, so I don’t spend a lot of time using it. 

While doing a bit more research on breathing I came across this video: I found it very helpful.

This is it this time!