Using your Ironman Swim Fitness to benefit all of the triathlon disciplines
Using your Ironman Swim Fitness to benefit all of the triathlon disciplines

Using your Ironman Swim Fitness to benefit all of the triathlon disciplines

Using your Ironman Swim Fitness to benefit all of the triathlon disciplines

Having a strong Ironman swim will benefit every aspect of your Ironman performance. Damien Coad joins us today and shares some valuable open water tips and why the term swim fit is so important.

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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: We head back to Cairns now in Australia to talk some swimming with Ironman Age Grouper, Damien Coad. Damien welcome back. Thanks for joining us today.

Advantages of developing your swim fitness early in life

Damien, you grew up swimming. When I ask people what do you need to do to become a good swimmer, they say start when you’re 8. You had that advantage. You started when you were a youngster.

DAMIEN COAD: I did, I was off to a good start and I was in it for 3 or 4 years. Unfortunately my disciplines were breaststroke and the medley, Brad. So, if in the Ironman we were forced to do a kilometer of butterfly, a kilometer of backstroke, a kilometer of breaststroke, a kilometer of freestyle, I reckon I’d be fairly at the front, at the end of the swim.

BRAD BROWN: I love that and hope no-one listens to this at Ironman, because we don’t want them to change it that way. My butterfly is terrible.

DAMIEN COAD: Fortunately, I didn’t get to practise those strokes ever again, but it held me in good stead.

Develop stamina, endurance, ability for your Ironman swim

BRAD BROWN: We joke about it. That mixed stroke stuff really does help with the feel of the water and just getting that body awareness. Even though you might not be swimming that now, having that foundation early on surely must have helped.

DAMIEN COAD: Yes, it did. Swim fit is an important term. You may not be the fastest swimmer in the field. But if you keep the swimming training up and the feel for the water. It promotes cardio and respiratory fitness. There is a lot to be said for how it transfers over into your stamina, endurance and ability to do well in the bike and the run, over those long courses.

BRAD BROWN:  Damien, as far as the gains that you’ve got in the water over your Ironman career go. What are some of the things you can pinpoint and attribute those gains to.

Repetition makes your Ironman swim stronger

DAMIEN COAD: My respiratory system has always been strong, and my ability to recover from efforts has always been good. I believe that is from spending a lot of time in the water. Both in the pool and as a nipper in surf life saving. Just with doing repetitive sets. My recovery, and also because I had less injuries when I was younger. All because of my swimming.

BRAD BROWN: Having that foundation. If you’re listening to this and you’re an adult on-set swimmer, there’s nothing you can really do about it other than trying to spend time in the water and get your technique sorted out. But I think swimmers do have a slight advantage if they do have that background as a youngster.

As far as workouts go, what do you love doing in the water?

Squad squad training not a motivating factor

DAMIEN COAD: I hate pool workouts. Get up at 5 o’clock and go to squad training, it’s too early to get up in the dark to go to squad training. So, I train solo in the pool. The downside is the motivational factor. It’s something that you’ve got to be really disciplined about. You’ve got to time yourself. Do your sets. Make sure that you can see improvements.

My most enjoyable session is any ocean training, Brad. On Saturday mornings we used to do ocean brick sets on the northern beaches of Cairn. They’re my favourite. Anything ocean, beach running, is something that I really enjoy.

BRAD BROWN: Give us some tips on the open water, and particularly, ocean swimming.

I think for a lot of athletes spend most of their time in the pool and then they end up in a race situation. Whether it be a lake swim or an ocean swim, and they haven’t had much experience in the open water. Some advice and tips to improve your open water swimming.

Is there a slight change in technique? Sighting wise, what advice would you give people, Damien?

Tweaking technique for ocean and pool swim training

DAMIEN COAD: That’s a really good point. The difference between ocean swimming and pool swimming. I tried to swim in the pool like I do in the ocean, and that is if you’re not going to be in the front of the pack, you try and find someone’s feet that you think you can hold onto.

When you’re in that situation, I don’t think that long glide technique in the pool, will be as effective in the ocean. I tend to increase my arm turnover and I tend to shorten my stroke and start the pull from a bit further down. So, from beneath the surface, under the bubbles of someone’s feet. I think that I swim easier then, and it’s less taxing.

I always sight for myself. Just because I’m on someone else’s feet, doesn’t mean to say I’m letting them lead me. Just shorten that stroke, pull from closer to the body and high turnover.

To get better do it more regular

BRAD BROWN: I’ve learned that lesson the hard way as well. Following feet and they swim more skew than I do. Definitely sight for yourself. And sadly, the only way you get better at that is by doing more of it.

Damien, thank you very much for your time and sharing your swim tips today. We look forward to chatting a little bit about your bike next time out.

DAMIEN COAD: Thanks Brad. Thanks for having me.

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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