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New Swim Equipment, Now What?

See improvement in the water when you properly use your new swim equipment

Congrats! You just registered for Rookie Triathlon, the first triathlon of your life! Time to start training for the 300m swim. Purchasing swim equipment will help you improve in the water. Once you get all of your swim equipment, you probably have some questions about using it all. What’s a kickboard? Are you placing your buoy properly? What about your paddles? Here are some training tips that’ll help you get acclimated to your new swim equipment. We also provide some swim equipment recommendations!

Use our insight to get acclimated with your swim equipment!

Rookie Tri participant enters Decker Lake. Credit – Ed Sparks

PaddlesSwim paddles should fit within 1-2 inches of space around the edge of your fingers for maximum pulling power. Make sure to enter the water with your hand at a slight angle when swimming with paddles to reduce resistance against the paddle.

Buoy – Place the swim buoy between your thighs and try not to kick while you are pulling. The buoy will help stabilize your lower body. This allows you to rotate your hips and shoulders more effectively without the help of your kick. Pulling with just the buoy (no paddles) will help you focus on your “catch” in the water. Adding the paddles is a great way to increase your upper body strength.

FinsFins should fit snugly around your foot, but not tight. When kicking with fins, make sure to keep your legs fairly straight and use your hips to kick (without too much bend in the knee). The fins should help propel you through the water while keeping your upper body relaxed. Fins also help with ankle flexibility, which is very important in swimming.

Kickboard – The streamline kickboard helps beginner swimmers glide smoothly through the water as they develop the kick. Focus on keeping your lower body and the board on the surface of the water to reduce drag while you are kicking. Aim for small, quick kicks with your legs.

Mesh bag – Putting your swim gear in a mesh bag will help prevent lost or misplaced equipment. It will also allow your equipment to dry quickly after swim workouts.

Rookie Triathlete: Part 4: Swimming

Swimming is coming along, slowly, but surely

Swimming has been more difficult than I imagined during my Rookie Tri training. I knew swimming would be difficult as it’s easily my weakest discipline. It feels like such a foreign concept to me, continuously inhaling above water and exhaling below water, all while trying to keep my hips/legs from sinking. As difficult as swimming has been, the progress I’ve made has been tremendous. I’ve dedicated more energy to the swim than I have the bike and the run and it shows.

When I first started I was doing everything I could to get from one end of the pool to the other, expending way too much energy. Barny, my coach, likened this to learning to run long distances using only speed workouts. There was no pacing, no patience. The improvement stems from using a pool buoy and kickboard. The pool buoy helps your hips stay elevated in the water so you can focus on using your upper body with minimal kick. The kickboard gives your upper body a rest so you can focus on tiny kicks and keeping your feet below the water’s surface. I also feel it working my core.

swimming

Incite Elite goggle set, with nose plug!

My first swim workout took place with a co-worker at the Townlake YMCA. Every swim workout after that has taken place at Big Stacy Pool. That place is a hidden gem and not many people use it during lunchtime (when I normally go). The facilities are nice, the water is cool, and you can take a quick shower after your swim before going back to work. Big Stacy Pool is 33.3m long. Each swim workout has gotten progressively longer for me, working on form, breathing, and endurance.

Full disclosure, my first swim was without a nose plug. I tried swimming without a nose plug, honest. No matter what I did, water would get in my nose. For Valentine’s Day, my wife got me this sweet Incite Elite goggle set that came with ear plugs and a nose plug (YAY!). The nose plug is a lifesaver. I’m not sure if this is normal for beginner swimmers or not. For me, the difference between using a nose plug and not using a nose plug is night and day. I have noticed that it slid a little bit during a few laps. It might still be in an adjustment to my nose process. I’ll keep an eye on leading up to race day.

I’m going home for Easter weekend and will attempt my first open water swim in Lake Mexia. I’m not sure what to expect or how far I’ll go, but it’ll be a nice gauge for me to see where I am outside of the pool.

What were your first swim experiences?