Ironman Swim – Getting help on form to get comfortable in the water
Amy Farrell joins us here on The Kona Edge to chat about her Ironman swim gains. Amy reveals how to get comfortable in the water and avoid the panic.
She shares the importance of being relaxed in the water and knowing where your body should be.
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BRAD BROWN: Time to chat some swimming. We head back to upstate New York to touch base with Amy Farrell. Amy welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Good to have you.
AMY FARRELL: Thank you.
BRAD BROWN: Amy, let’s talk about your swim. You said you did some swimming growing up in high school. Do you think having that little bit of background has helped in your triathlon career?
Mechanics of a good Ironman swim stroke
AMY FARRELL: Yes. The most important thing I think is mechanics. My friends and I went to a couple of swim camps just knowing what form should look like. I coached swimming after college and know what a stroke should look like, the basics.
I’m always amazed that people who come in as adults and pick it up so quickly. So it’s not necessary to have that background but it’s helpful. But as adults I think you understand the idea of relaxing in the water and the key is to improve your stroke.
BRAD BROWN: I was going to ask you that and it does definitely help. I grew up as a swimmer as well and a lot of the athletes that I’ve spoken to who come from, not necessarily a swimming background, but they did have some formal swim training early on, find it a lot easier. For adult on set swimmers, what advice would you give to them? Is it a case of getting someone to help you, don’t try and figure this out on your own?
Know where your body should be in your Ironman swim
AMY FARRELL: Yes. The athletes that I work with, I either like to see them in the pool or if they live far away I like to hook them up with someone that can help with form.
Just because that’s going to make you feel so much more comfortable in the water and take away some of that panic. I think panic is a huge thing.
Once you can get in the water and relax and know where your body should be it’s going to really help you progress much faster.
BRAD BROWN: Over time, for you personally, are there one or two things that you think have really helped improve your swim over time?
Tweaking that Ironman swim form when you need to
AMY FARRELL: A couple of years ago I did a clinic with Mary Eggers who coaches for Valor Triathlon Coaching, and it was a new take on form. She just kind of knew where your body should be and where your arms should be and those are the queues now when I’m racing that I really think of. So that really helps.
BRAD BROWN: Was it major changes you had to make? Or was it almost like re-learning to ride a bicycle or was it minor tweaks that you had to change to your stroke and form?
AMY FARRELL: Pretty much minor tweaks. Just positioning and in crossing over. Things like that. She did some underwater analysis and I hadn’t had that done since high school. That really helped me figure out my catch and position.
BRAD BROWN: Is that something you do often, or is it not really?
AMY FARRELL: It’s not. I take a big break from swimming in the winter because the closest pool is 25 miles away and I coach indoor track so I really don’t have a lot of time to work on swimming in the winter.
Open water swims are the best
I usually don’t jump back in until late March and I wish I’d spent more time with someone helping me swimming but I just don’t have the chance to.
BRAD BROWN: As far as workouts that you thoroughly enjoy that you do in the pool, what are some of your favourites?
AMY FARRELL: Well, that’s funny. I spend from May until October in the lake. So my favourite thing to do, we have a lake around here that if you swim the perimeter it’s just over 2 miles.
So if I swim the perimeter of the lake where I can touch the whole way, it’s a little over 2 miles and that’s actually my favourite swim workout.
BRAD BROWN: And you say you swim the lake, do you do any pool work or is it all open water?
AMY FARRELL: I do pool work from March until May but that is about it. It’s almost all open water.
BRAD BROWN: And I’m guessing you don’t just go out and swim, you obviously do drills and that sort of thing in the open water. Tell me a little bit about some of those sessions. Is it a case of just going and swimming or do you do high intensity sort of stuff too?
Just go and swim and love what you do
AMY FARRELL: I try and throw some high intensity stuff in there but a lot of it is just going and swimming.
BRAD BROWN: You said in our first chat that it’s a case of just doing the sport and just doing what you love doing. Do you think that’s just the case? Just going out there and swimming and enjoying it is more important for you than going out and spending hours and hours in the pool doing drills and that sort of thing?
AMY FARRELL: Yes. I think it would be a different ball game if I had a pool locally in a group to swim with. It’s just easier to go get the miles in and some of my favourite views of the Adirondack, so from the middle of the lake. I love what I see when I’m out swimming.
BRAD BROWN: Brilliant. Well Amy I look forward to chatting about your bike but we’ll save that for another time. Thanks for your time on The Kona Edge today.
AMY FARRELL: Okay, 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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