Focussing on technique to improve your Ironman swim
Focussing on technique to improve your Ironman swim

Focussing on technique to improve your Ironman swim

Focussing on technique to improve your Ironman swim

On this edition of The Kona Edge we chat to Natalie Gaskin about how she managed to improve in her Ironman swim.  Not coming from a swimming background we learn what her secret was in improving her swim times so dramatically.

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BRAD BROWN:  You’re listening to The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown and it’s awesome to be able to welcome a returning guest onto the show once again, all the way from New Zealand. Natalie Gaskin joins us.

Natalie, welcome back, nice to touch base again.

NATALIE GASKIN:  Nice to be talking again Brad.

BRAD BROWN:  Natalie, if I didn’t know any better, I would say you’re a fish, you’re an absolute machine in the water. I look at some of your splits in Ironman’s, you must love swimming.

NATALIE GASKIN:  I learnt to enjoy it.

Finding Ironman swim sessions motivating

BRAD BROWN:  You’re not a huge fan of staring at the black line if you don’ t have to.

NATALIE GASKIN:  I don’t mind it too much, to be fair, I don’t mind it too much and I do enjoy my swim sessions now.

BRAD BROWN:  I’m quite interested because in our first chat, you mentioned that you came from a running background, even though you do consider yourself a true out and out age- grouper, swimming, your times are pretty decent, you’re up there, you’re swimming early 50 minutes for an Ironman swim, that’s pretty good going, have you worked really hard at it?

NATALIE GASKIN:  Yeah, I have, so when I first started doing triathlon, I went to a swim squad and this swim squad had four lanes, lane one being the fastest and four being the slowest lane and I started in lane four and I slowly, over a period of about 18 months worked my way up and yeah, eventually ended up leading out the fastest lane. I really did come from a beginner swimming background, I’ve never swum as a child. I could swim, I wasn’t uncomfortable in the water, but I didn’t have any specific swim background.

BRAD BROWN:  That’s amazing, going that improvement over 18 months, did you do lots of work on stroke correction or did it come pretty easy to you, did you have the basics and it was a case of just building fitness?

Discipline from your run background can compliment your Ironman swim

NATALIE GASKIN:  Yeah, I probably did focus quite a lot on my technique. I think because of my background with doing a bit of running on the track and I was used to doing lots of drills when I used to run, I could get my head around doing all the swim drills. So, I think that did help me quite a lot. I had pretty good awareness of my body as well, so yeah, it was quite a bit of work. I only really have ever swum 3 or 4 times a week, so I never did a big period where I swam 10 times a week or anything like that, it was just consistently turning up at the pool, week in and week out, which enabled me to improve, I think.

BRAD BROWN:  What would you say has been the one thing you’ve done, if you can pin it down to one thing that you’ve done over your triathlon career that’s made the biggest difference to your swimming?

NATALIE GASKIN:  I think I started to swim pretty well in the pool, after a few years, but I would always struggle when I would swim in the sea or in the lake. I would often feel at the start of a race, oh, I shouldn’t be at the front of the race, I should go back a little bit, but once I actually mentally got prepared, that I’m going to get bashed around a bit at the start of the swim, I could get in there.

Choosing the right feet to follow in your Kona swim

What I really did learn to do is to swim on someone’s feet really well. I now feel like I target people who I want to swim behind, when I’m in a race, I know who I want to be next to at the start and for me that’s made a massive difference. It really does enable you to swim a couple of minutes faster in an Ironman race, just to get on the right feet pretty much.

BRAD BROWN:  Make sure you pick someone who is great at sighting.

NATALIE GASKIN:  That’s right, so know who you want to be around at the start.

BRAD BROWN:  You don’t want to pick me, trust me! I lead everyone astray in the swim. Natalie, as far as workouts in the water, what do you love doing?

NATALIE GASKIN:  I do love using my paddles, so any set with paddles in the pool, I enjoy quite a lot. I love swimming 400’s, I don’t know why, but a set with 400’s in them, maybe it goes back to my track running background, or even a set of 100’s, I love that sort of thing and I have this obsession with having to finish swims on even numbers. I could never swim 3.9km, I always have to swim 4km.

BRAD BROWN:  And you can’t do 3.8, that’s not on either.

NATALIE GASKIN:  Only in a race!

BRAD BROWN:  Natalie Gaskin, always great to catch up, thank you for your time once again here on The Kona Edge, we look forward to doing it again soon.

NATALIE GASKIN:  Thank you Brad.

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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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