The Ironman Swim – What to do before your first Ironman
The Ironman Swim – What to do before your first Ironman

The Ironman Swim – What to do before your first Ironman

The Ironman Swim – What to do before your first Ironman

Training for your first Ironman? These tips from adult onset swimmer and Ironman Kona Qualifier Aled Smith will get you swimming faster in no time.

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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.


BRAD BROWN: Welcome back onto this edition of The Kona Edge. I’m Brad Brown and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome onto the podcast today, someone who has raced on the big island. ll the way in Wales in the United Kingdom, Aled Smith joins us.  Aled, welcome back onto The Kona Edge, thanks for joining us today.

ALED SMITH: Thanks for having me again, it would be good to chat to you.

BRAD BROWN: Aled, in our last chat we delved a bit into your history into the sport and your race itself. You admittedly say swimming is not your forte, it’s not your strong point. I mean before taking on your first Ironman, was it something you had to learn to do? Were you a natural swimmer growing up or is this a skill you had to pick up?

Learning to swim before your first Ironman

ALED SMITH: No, it’s very much a skill I had to teach myself on the day that I signed up to my first Ironman. I had to get in the pool then and it’s a long transition to learning how to swim. Basically teach myself to swim from scratch for my first Ironman.

BRAD BROWN: I mean it’s daunting for most people at the start of an Ironman with a swim, when you’re competent in the water. For you that must have been a big challenge. It’s one thing being able to splash around with a couple of mates, but all of a sudden you’re in that washing machine. It can be very overwhelming.

ALED SMITH: It’s very daunting and it can play tricks in your mind. It’s something you just have to try and control yourself. Not get too flustered because as soon as you get into a bad place with these sorts of things, it just makes it 100x worse for yourself. If you make it as easy on yourself as you can, then you’re just in for a much better experience and a much nicer race.

It’s about keeping calm and knowing that you can do the distance, you’ve done it in the pool or the sea or wherever you’ve trained in and now it’s just putting it into practice with 2 000 other people around you.

Do less better for your first Ironman Swim

BRAD BROWN: Aled, give us average weekend warriors a bit of hope, who dream of qualifying for Kona. You say your Ironman swim is not your strong point. On the big island you dipped just under 1:20, which by any stretch of the imagination is not the fastest swim on the planet.

But a race is never going to be won on the swim, you can lose it. You want to be able to swim fast enough that you’re still in with a shot of qualifying for Ironman Kona. You need to get out of the water not too far behind the lead pack.

ALED SMITH: Yeah, so my week, I never swim more than twice or three times a week, depending on pool availability. It would always be around the hour and a half mark. My Ironman swim sets range from technique work through to endurance sets.

It’s about mixing it up and utilizing the time you have to get the most out of it really, especially if you’ve got to work long hours and stuff like that. Make the most of your time. But no, I’d never swim more than 2-3 times a week, just because I couldn’t, the availability there, I wasn’t able to do it, so that’s all I was doing.

THE one thing to do in the water before your first Ironman

BRAD BROWN: Aled, from when you started and you signed up for that first Ironman that you competed in, is there one thing that you can pinpoint that you’ve done in the pool or in the water that’s made a significant difference in not just the way you swim, but improved your performance?

ALED SMITH: It’s very much just swimming with other people. I think when you train with other people, rather than get into the pool by yourself. You’re always going to push yourself a lot harder with other people. It helps you get into that competitive frame of mind. You just push yourself harder and you work, work, work.

If you’ve got someone faster than you. You’ll just trying to sit on their feet. Then you’re just working a lot harder and getting a lot more benefit for your time. D that rather than just swimming up and down by yourself.

BRAD BROWN: As far as stroke and stroke correction, is that something you pursued at all? Did you get any help to improve your actual swimming stroke?

Get some help with your swim technique before your first Ironman

ALED SMITH: I sort of just swam with loads of different people, different swim coaches. But they were never my coach. They just gave me little pointers along the way. From there I just took little snippets of what they recommended and then put that to use myself.

It’s just little bits of gold that they’ve given me. I then put them into my own stroke really, that’s the way I went about it.

BRAD BROWN: I think that’s great advice, seek help. Don’t try to do it on your own, just get out there and do it with other people. It makes it more enjoyable and it’s obviously a lot better for you as well.

As far as mixing things up. You said you like to do higher intensity stuff. Maybe endurance work outs.  What’s your favourite Ironman swim workout?

What swimming sets to focus on for Ironman

ALED SMITH: I like to do a long set, it’s about 4km worth. It starts off with a bit of a warm up, about 400m warm up. Then it’s 50 kick, 50 swim.

I then just build it up from there. Not so much on the kick, but you’re just working through getting your arms working. Build in through 50’s, 100’s, 200’s, 400’s and you just keep on going until you really can’t go anymore. Your arms will feel like they want to fall off.

Yeah, it’s just a long hard endurance set that I find is most satisfying and the most rewarding. It’s also a good mental session because you just don’t want to do it.

Basically, that’s what I strive on personally for my sessions, the harder they are, the better for me.

BRAD BROWN: I love that Aled. Thank you so much for joining us on this edition of The Kona Edge. We look forward to catching up again soon.

ALED SMITH: Thank you very much cheers.

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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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