Swim faster without spending more time in the water
Discover the 4 most common swim killers and how to fix them so that you can shave minutes off your swim time.
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BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto this edition of The Kona Edge, it’s awesome to have you with us and we’re going to chat some swimming today. We head back to Denver in Colorado, we’re joined by Ellen Hart. Ellen welcome back, nice to chat again.
ELLEN HART: Thank you, thanks for having me.
BRAD BROWN: Ellen, let’s talk about the swim, you come from a running background, you’ve got a bike, out of the three disciplines, would you say the swim is your weakest?
Consistency is vital in your Ironman swim training
ELLEN HART: By a long shot, yes! There have been times when I’ve come out of the water in Kona, I don’t know, 15th place, 18th place, 10-20 minutes behind and I mean that requires some patience and knowing that it’s a very long day, but yeah, the swim is my most challenging discipline of the three.
BRAD BROWN: In your triathlon career is there one thing you’ve done in the water that you think has given you the biggest gains. If you had to pin it down to one thing?
ELLEN HART: This might overlap in some other areas as well but I think consistency and I think from when I started doing triathlon, this is my 10th year, until now, my times might not have gotten any faster and that’s partly because now I’m 58 instead of 48, but I have maintained sort of a strength on the swim that I didn’t used to feel.
Usually when I got out of the water I would feel really, pretty exhausted and then have to pull myself together for the bike and the run. I think because of consistency and I am consistent about it. Sometimes put in an extra little 15 minutes or half an hour of swim time that’s not on my true training schedule. Just for the feel of the water because I don’t have any kind of swim background, I never was on a swim team, I was never in a swim race in my life and so it’s just kind of foreign and I don’t like this business of not being able to breathe. Like you put your head under and you can’t breathe.
Then also the neural synapses are just really different because I’ve always had a fluidity about my running that I’ve never had with my swimming. But just trying to be consistent over time I think has helped me be a stronger swimmer, such that I have more left when I get out of the water, particularly in some of the longer races.
I will sign up for almost any race, there’s never been a race that I haven’t liked, but I will make myself sign up for the swimming races. So I think I’m maybe signed up for maybe 4-5 swims this summer in various lakes in the Boulder/Denver/Longmont, just in this whole area. There are quite a few swimming opportunities and I will take those and it’s not as if I expect to win. I mean I’ve never even placed in a race in my age group, seriously.
Make your Ironman swim training fun
It doesn’t really matter, it’s more experience and it’s more experience in open water swimming which is what I need to do. I don’t know how to do a flip turn, but my coach says, yeah, you should go ahead and do a flip turn because it would be good for you. And I think it’s something about the breathing that’s good, I don’t know, but I can’t rustle up the motivation when there’s not one single flip turn in the races that I do in the open water, not one single flip turn.
I don’t know, I just kind of try and make it fun and the swims in the lakes, whatever it is, 150 people that come out for some of those events, or more or fewer, it doesn’t matter, but just to have more of a group sort of atmosphere going on. I never give up trying. It might be laughable when people hear me say I’m going for yet another swim lesson because I still think I’m going to get better, I don’t know, that’s it.
Another thing with swimming that has helped is video and I’m not saying that everyone needs to be video-taped. But the times that I have seen myself and I think oh yeah, I’m keeping that shoulder whatever, I’m keeping that elbow high or I’m doing that catch or I’m kicking small, whatever and then I look at the video and I’m not doing that at all and I’m just shocked. Shocked and appalled. It gives me a more realistic sense of what my body is doing because when I’m in the water I can’t tell, there’s no mirror. The video lessons, keep trying, I don’t know, try and make it fun.
BRAD BROWN: Those four points, it’s pretty much it. Every single time a coconut Ellen, every time I speak to an age grouper about what is, consistency is the first thing that comes up. Self-awareness of what you’re doing in the water, if you can get some stroke correction and make it fun. I think those are brilliant points to take out of it and we’ll leave it there. I don’t think there’s anything else to add on the swim, we’ll save your bike for next time.
ELLEN HART: Okay, thanks Brad.
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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