On this edition of The Kona Edge we touch base with Tripp Hipple to chat about his Ironman swim. Tripp shares with us the two things he believes are his secret weapon when it comes to his swim. Brad Brown asks him what he is currently working on to improve his swim and Tripp also shares a great swim workout that he calls the ‘Monster Swim Set’.
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BRAD BROWN: Welcome back onto this edition of The Kona Edge, it’s time to chat some swimming and we head back to Denver in Colorado in the US and we catch up with Tripp Hipple once again. Tripp, welcome, thanks for joining us.
TRIPP HIPPLE: Yes, thank you, it’s great to be here.
BRAD BROWN: Tripp, in our first chat you mentioned that you didn’t come from a traditional background of one of the three disciplines. Obviously you were a diver and you spent quite a bit of time poolside and in the water, but not necessarily from an outright swimming perspective and you said that it’s probably the thing that you’re working on the hardest now and struggle with the most.
Swimming is a tough one because it’s the shortest discipline of the three, but you can lose a lot of time. You’re never going to win an Ironman in the swim, but you certainly can lose it.
Going through the motions will reward your Ironman swim
TRIPP HIPPLE: That’s right. Swimming is tough to learn, as an adult. It just takes a lot of time and a lot of patience, I guess is the key term, at least for me. I get frustrated quickly if it doesn’t go my way, so I’ve had to work on just being patient. Doing the strokes, the technique, all of that. Just going through the motions and yeah, one day it’s going to pay off and I’ll be able to swim quickly and efficiently. I think the most important thing, especially for an Ironman swim is to be able to use your energy correctly and efficiently and then still have all of the energy you need for the bike and the run left over.
BRAD BROWN: That is exactly the ideal state. What are you working on right now? What’s the thing you’re focusing on in your swim right at the moment?
TRIPP HIPPLE: So, right now my coach has me working on my kick actually. My kick is not the best and it needs a lot of attention, so we’ve doing a lot of fin work. We also have these, it’s like little mesh nets with basically a rubber band that goes around your ankles and just creates resistance when you kick. Especially if you’re just using an airboard or laying on your back in a streamlined position. Also, we do a lot of paddle pull with the buoy for strength in the upper body. But with me, in the upper body with my arms, it’s about keeping my head looking forward, not letting it drop when I breathe and also working on bilateral breathing. Just to balance out those muscle groups, especially in easy swimming, when I don’t have to breathe as often.
BRAD BROWN: As far as workouts that you absolutely love doing in the pool, what do you really enjoy doing?
TRIPP HIPPLE: So we have a set called the Monster Set. It’s a good one. It’s a thousand pull with the buoy, just kind of warming up, so that’s your warm-up and then from then on out it’s basically tempo work. You do a thousand pull into 9 x 100 all out trying to hold a specific pace. Then you do 4 x 200, 7 x 100, 600 pull again, pretty easy. You just kind of break it up, get the muscles back in order. 5 x 100 and then 2 x 200, and that’s it, but it’s a tractor of a workout.
BRAD BROWN: I was going to say, why’s it called The Monster Tripp?
TRIPP HIPPLE: Yeah, the name speaks for itself.
BRAD BROWN: I love that. What do you hate about swimming right now? What are you pulling your hair out about?
TRIPP HIPPLE: The Monster Set. I don’t know, I think it’s not in training, I can train pretty well. I swim with a group most weeks, but I do a lot of training on my own as well in the pool. But it’s typically in races, especially half Ironman races, where the first group is just going mental and they swim the first 300-400m so fast that I can’t even catch up.
I think that in the race specific realm is very frustrating and I’m working on that and it’s taking time but it’s about being patient again, to not let it frustrate me. To just say, hey, I love this, even if I don’t, I love doing this. It hurts, but it’s going to pay off sometime.
BRAD BROWN: As far as something you’ve done that you think has given you the biggest gains in the water, is there one thing that you can pinpoint and say this has really helped?
Can paddles make you stronger in your Ironman swim?
TRIPP HIPPLE: Yeah, I think paddles has been a big one. My coach is a big believer in paddles, just working on strengthening the upper body and the core. But also, especially right now, with using fins and focusing on my kick, kind of dissecting the workouts, or my form as a whole. Kind of breaking it down piece by piece from the head to the toe, has made a huge difference and I think for me, I’m a very visual learner. If I see videos or my coach sends me certain documentation on how to do a certain set or a certain technique, that’s very valuable to me. And then when I break it down, do it, put it into my memory and then actually put it into use in a 10 x 100 set, it makes a lot more sense and muscle memory is a very beautiful thing. It takes time though.
BRAD BROWN: Patience as they say, is a virtue. Tripp, thank you very much for that, we’ll get you on next time round to chat a little bit about your bike and we look forward to doing that, but until then, take care.
TRIPP HIPPLE: You as well, take care, 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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