Preparing for the Swim

Here we are, in the middle of winter in Colorado, and it was 75 degrees yesterday.  Wow.  It is great weather to do just about any activity, and I was lucky enough to get in a nice ride earlier this week.  However, with my training plan starting on February 21st, I am still working through some strength training, and even more importantly, preparing for the swim.


The Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon swim is 1.5 miles.  I have not swam that far since finishing Ironman Boulder in August 2014.  For the remainder of 2014, I focused on the bike.  In 2015, it was all about the run.  I made dramatic improvements in my running technique that translated directly to performance.  In August 2014, for 10K, my pace was about 9:50/mile.  As of the early 2016, I could hold a pace below 8:00/mile.  Encouraged by this success, for 2017, I will build on this by improving my swimming.  This, hopefully, will round out my triathlon skill set, and allow me to compete more effectively.

When I raced in Ironman Boulder, my swim was catastrophic.  I was aiming for a 1:20-1:30 swim time, but ended up swimming 2:06, coming too close to the 2:20 cutoff than I was comfortable with.  I felt horrendous, and cramped nearly the entire swim.  My legs were so compromised by that point, that it impacted the remainder of my race.  My 13 hour target became a 15:36 result.  I have heard a saying that goes something like, “you can’t win the race in the water, but you can certainly lose it.”  I am living proof.

That said, I want to prepare for the swim as though my life depended on it.  Once I’m in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay, with who-knows-what in the water around me, I’m sure I’ll be glad I approached the preparation this way.

I am doing two main things to get ready for the swim, and many minor things that should contribute to my swimming success.  The first thing I did was to obtain a solid training plan.  I referenced that in the previous blog, and got the plan from Hypercat Racing in Ventura, CA.  The second thing I am doing is using knowledge gained by listening to the ‘Tower 26 – Be Race Ready’ podcast.  The podcasts can be found at or in iTunes.  These are great podcasts, and are focused exclusively on triathlon swimming.  As far as minor things, I am remaining very focused on critical strength training, core training, and nutrition.  I have always known that core training will help my swimming, but once I really got into the technique, it’s clear how much core is required to remain efficent.

In the coming weeks, we’ll talk about progress.  In the next post, I won’t be talking about swimming specifically, but instead I will discuss the difference between efficiency and power, as it relates to each of the three individual triathlon sports.  Hint: fitness + technique = performance.

Thanks again for reading, and until next time…