Ironman Swim Tips - Work with the water, don't fight it
Ironman Swim Tips - Work with the water, don't fight it

Ironman Swim Tips – Work with the water, don’t fight it

Ironman Swim Tips - Work with the water, don't fight it

On this edition of The Kona Edge we touch base with Aida Wasilewski and discover what her strategy is to improve on her Ironman swim. Not being a swimmer she shares with us the struggle she’s had in learning how to improve her technique and what her favorite swim workout is.

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BRAD BROWN: Welcome back onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge. I’m Brad Brown and we’re joined by another returning guest today Aida Wasilewski. Aida welcome back, nice to touch base. Let’s talk some swimming today. You mentioned that you swam a little bit before you started triathlon but you were never a competitive swimmer and it’s still something you struggle with and trying to improve today. It’s definitely not your best of the 3 disciplines.

Swimming is NOT just swimming

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Yes, thank you for having me back Brad. Definitely that’s by far my weakest discipline.  Swimming was just swimming. That’s how I swam. I enjoyed being in the water. I loved being in the ocean so for me I’d much rather swim in the ocean than in a pool. So, when I started training I realized that I had to learn how to swim properly and I had just really fast arms and my coach said ok, you’ve got windmill arms slow that down. This is what you need to do and just gradually literally ,bit by bit retrained or learned how to swim properly. I still sink. I can’t float. A lot of people have no problem floating and keeping their body in a straight line, being horizontal in water. If I just lay there it’s really hard for me to keep my legs up. My legs just want to, I just, my whole body want to just go sink.

BRAD BROWN: The technique of it is the big thing and you talk about the windmill arms and that’s a mistake a lot of novices and newbies make. They almost feel they have to go as fast as they can to keep a higher position in the water but that technique, you almost end up fighting against the water where you actually want to work with the water.

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Yes. With the water and rely on the catch more than trying to get your arms around as fast as possible. Trusting your breathing. Learning how to breathe right. I’ve done a lot of snorkel swimming, my coach got me to do a lot of that, so I was keeping my head down and just being able to focus on the stroke versus trying to breathe and stroke, so breaking it down. That really, really helped me, the snorkel.

Feel your pull in the water

Using paddles so you can feel how you’re pulling in the water. Anyone having used a paddle knows that if you don’t pull the right way that the paddle just kind of wobbles and goes all over and makes it very hard to pull. Lots of drills for me in order to learn how to swim and volume of swimming therefore for me. Swimmers that are good and have swam when they were young can get a really decent workout done in an hour. I needed an hour and a half of swimming to make myself strong enough to be efficient enough when I would get out so during the race I finished swimming I’m not white since I’m not a good swimmer.

BRAD BROWN: And that, it’s interesting you say that, we’ve mentioned it too. You’re never going to win an Ironman with the swim but you can lose it. Getting out of the water, even if you’re not at the front of the pack getting out of the water feeling good is half the battle won, isn’t it?

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Absolutely. My coach regularly had me swimming an hour and a half. I would get 4000, 4500 in so I had big volume for swimming. I would come out of there feeling good so I can then work on the bike and the run and not break down.

BRAD BROWN: Aida, what’s your favorite workout in the water? What do you love doing?

Put your head down and swim

AIDA WASILEWSKI: If it was to have the word love I’d rather be in the ocean. I love just getting through the race, putting my head down and just swimming. Swimming straight for as long as I can. Sighting, being in Southern California we’re very fortunate. We’re able to swim pretty much year round even though I don’t enjoy the cold water but I do still put that wet suit on and get out there and I get in a location a lot of Southern Californian people know here in San Clemente and I just have the pier to sight off of and I can swim literally a whole mile and I still won’t get to the pier and then I turn around and I have a point, land, a cliff and that’s my point back and I put my head down and sight and I swim to that point and I’m out and I’m like I’m good, 2 mile swim done. That’s my favorite. But in the pool doing repeated 200’s. Anything shorter gets to be too fast and hard for me. I seem to have a hard time with the go fast. Do fast 50’s. 200, repeat 200’s.

BRAD BROWN: I love that. Well Aida thanks so much for your time on this edition of The Kona Edge. Much appreciated. Look forward to getting you on next time round to talk about your bike.

AIDA WASILEWSKI: Thank you for having me again.

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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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