This is how Aku Oja took 40 minutes off his Ironman Swim time
This is how Aku Oja took 40 minutes off his Ironman Swim time

This is how Aku Oja took 40 minutes off his Ironman Swim time

This is how Aku Oja took 40 minutes off his Ironman Swim time

On this edition of The Kona Edge we head back to Finland to chat to Aku Oja just how he managed to shave 40 minutes off his Ironman swim time.

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BRAD BROWN:  Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown and we head back to Finland where Aku Oja joins us.  Aku, welcome back, thanks for joining us today.

AKU OJA:  Thank you for having me again.

BRAD BROWN:  You’re most welcome. Aku, let’s talk about the swim. Has the swim, as part of a triathlon, did that come pretty easily to you?

Your Ironman swim your greatest challenge?

AKU OJA:  Definitely not! That’s been the most difficult challenge for me as I didn’t have any background for swimming. I’ve always been able to swim, but didn’t do front crawl at any time and didn’t pretty much enjoy swimming because the water is always so cold here in Finland, even in the swimming pools. I basically got into swimming when I signed up for my first triathlon, so it’s a challenge for me every time.

BRAD BROWN:  Have you seen big improvements in your swim from when you started to what you’re doing now? Your first Ironman, what was your swim time and what’s your best swim time now in an Ironman?

AKU OJA:  Well, my first time was that 1:40-something in Ironman Switzerland, but that was non-wetsuit swim and I wasn’t well prepared for the masses and everything. I actually did another Iron distance race after that, just four weeks after my first Ironman race, I did another one in Finland, I guess I had a swim time of 1:16 then, so obviously I did a lot better four weeks later, with less crowd around me and being able to use a wetsuit, but back to the other swim question, my best swim time is now currently 1:02 in Majorca, a non-wetsuit swim, so yeah, I’ve been able to bring it down a good 15 minutes or so, if we don’t count the devastating Switzerland swim.

BRAD BROWN:  You have to count that swim, they all count!

AKU OJA:  Well yes, then I’ll bring it down a massive 40 minutes.

BRAD BROWN:  I love that. What do you attribute that improvement to Aku? You obviously spend a lot of time in the water, but are there certain things that you’ve done that you feel have really improved your swim?

Try various workouts to give you the Kona Edge in your Ironman swim

AKU OJA:  That’s interesting Brad for you to mention that obviously I spend a lot of time in the pool because I really don’t! Because it’s logistically hard to get in, especially in the weeks when I have kids, because I can’t leave them alone for a couple of hours to disappear in the pool. I cannot use my cellphone during swimming, so I’m not free to bring them. So I would say I probably manage to average something like two swims a week. There are periods when I’m able to get like three swims a week, but yeah, that’s not a lot, averaging 2-3 swims a week. Still, we’ve been doing a ton of different kinds of workouts to find out what gives me the best benefits.

BRAD BROWN:  You mentioned your coach in our first chat, have you got help with regards to your technique? As you say, it’s one thing being able to swim, but it’s a totally different thing being able to swim crawl and swimming crawl that you’re effective in the water and you’re as efficient as possible.

AKU OJA:  Obviously my coach has had a good impact on my swim improvements. We’ve done a couple of video sessions for looking at my technique when we meet face to face at some training camp or stuff like that or sometimes I video my swim and send it over to him to watch out and comment, but other than that, I haven’t really had much hand-to-hand guidance on swimming technique.

BRAD BROWN:  What sort of workout do you love doing in the pool?

AKU OJA:  Like my favourites?


AKU OJA:  I guess I really like those hold pace efforts, be it 100’s or 50’s, you can really gauge yourself, where your swim is at, doing those 21 x 100’s or 40 x 50’s or stuff like that and really pushing the pace, seeing where you’re at. I can say I kind of enjoy those maybe the most. I’m not too like concerned about long efforts also, but we don’t tend to do those too often.

BRAD BROWN:  What do you hate about swimming?

AKU OJA:  The water temperatures! Actually getting in the pool, that’s always the worst part. I don’t know, the logistical issues, you have to get somewhere, shower, get in the cold pool, get out, shower, get back home, it’s too much hassle to get it done.

BRAD BROWN:  I love that. Aku, thank you so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge, much appreciated. We look forward to chatting a little bit about your bike and what you’ve done on the bike the next time we chat, thanks for your time today.

AKU OJA:  All right, thank you, bye.

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About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.


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