Ironman Swim – Change your race day dynamic
Kevin Portmann chats to The Kona Edge about his Ironman swim where he shares the benefits of investing in a swim coach as well as joining a Master’s group.
On this edition of The Kona Edge Kevin reveals his favourite swim workouts.
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BRAD BROWN: Let’s chat some Ironman swimming now. Kevin you mentioned the bike is your strongest. Tell me about your swimming prowess.
Your times aren’t too bad but obviously front end of the field they’re probably not right up there with the lead pack. Is it something you work particularly hard on?
Stay close to the chase pack in your Ironman swim
KEVIN PORTMANN: Yes, going into this pro season it’s definitely a big focus of mine. I actually started working with a swim coach for the past 6 weeks and it’s been great. Definitely the front of the pack is so fast, but if you can get close to the chase pack like I was in Mont Tremblant, it just changes the dynamic of the race drastically.
If I can get to where I’m comfortable swimming with the chase pack and consistently swimming with the chase pack, that would be a big win for me. I’m not scared about thrashing my legs on the bike because I really enjoy pushing on the bike. I think the power and the strength will come with time.
But yes, that swim is something that I want to work on and get better at. It’s going to take time. I want to be faster but I need to be realistic. Patience is a virtue and I need to give time for my swim to come together.
Master’s program will teach you how to push your Ironman swim
BRAD BROWN: You mentioned getting a specialist swim coach. Other than that, is there anything that you’ve done over your Ironman career that you think has given you significant gains in the water?
KEVIN PORTMANN: I definitely upped the volume and I joined a Master’s program. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with it, if it’s the same concept in South Africa. Essentially you swim in groups in the mornings.
Especially here in Oceanside there is a very good Master’s program where people are extremely fast. You just have to hang on for dear life on some of the sets. Just being able to keep up with the guys and push myself in the pool has helped me tremendously.
Open water Ironman swim sessions are more enjoyable
With my physical abilities in the water as well as mental abilities to be able to stick with them; mentally it’s a good thing.
BRAD BROWN: Favourite workout in the water, what do you love doing?
KEVIN PORTMANN: Open water swims are definitely my favourite just because you don’t stare at that black line in the water and you don’t do flip turns. So anything between 30 and 45 minute workouts.
With my swim coach what we do, is we do drills in the open water or we do relays where you have to take the lead on the swim or draft off of someone.That makes the swim practice a lot more interesting and a lot more enjoyable.
When you go in the pool and you do a 30-minute straight swim and you do flip turns, it’s mentally super challenging. So yes, definitely open water swims are my favourite workouts.
Good quality gear goes far in your Ironman swim training
BRAD BROWN: Fantastic. Gear wise, what do you swim in? Wetsuit wise, goggles wise, what do you use?
KEVIN PORTMANN: Ekstar is the wetsuits that I use. They’re actually based out at San Diego and they were kind enough to help me out with a wetsuit this year so my first sponsor.
I have nothing but good things to say about the wetsuit. I don’t know if I’m good enough to really tell the difference between wetsuits. There are some that are really good. Obviously the cheapest versions of the wetsuits you can definitely tell the difference but the wetsuit that they provided me with is a very good wetsuit for me to swim in.
BRAD BROWN: Fantastic, Kevin I look forward to chatting about your bike next time out but we’ll save that for another day. Thanks for your time today on The Kona Edge.
KEVIN PORTMANN: Thank you.
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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