Read other TriBlogs
Ironman Quest
Ironman Quest
The quest of a 45 year old recreational runner who likes nothing better than a lazy night with a beer or glass of wine to become an Ironman

Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon

macukby macukAug 25th 2014
Over the last few months I've found swimming to be the hardest part of training. I feel awkward in the water and must admit that I just can't get excited over any pool session. I know this is something I've got to work on and have no excuses as there is a perfectly nice pool just around the corner from my house. I do a lot of my training early in the morning and have never had a problem getting out of bed even on the coldest, darkest and wettest morning for a run or ride into work but must admit when it comes to a swim session I usually think of an excuse and re-set the alarm and just curl back up. I have seen an improvement and my original swim times for 400m has dropped from nearly 15 minutes to around 10 and I completed a pool based mile swim recently without stopping which is a massive improvement on two lengths of a 25m pool that I could just about get too at the end of last year.

During the summer I discovered a local lake that is used by open water swimmers and triathletes and ventured in to the open water for the first time. I'm not sure what the worse feeling was, plunging into the cold murky water or seeing pictures of myself in a tight wetsuit and high visibility swim cap.
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
The good thing with the lake swim was that it proved to me that the wetsuit is extremely buoyant and it gave me a big confidence boost that even at my level of swimming I wasn't just going to sink into the depths of the lake. I found that after only a short while I had enough confidence to swim away from the comfort of the bank and venture out into the water. After only two trips I actually pushed myself to swim the full circumference of the lake, which took ages but was a big turning point in my training.

I had entered the Porthcawl Tuska triathlon and realised that although I felt confident in being able to manage the 750m swim section I had not actually tried to do so in the sea. I ventured to a nearby beach two days before the event and had my first wetsuited sea swim. I quite enjoyed it apart from the mouthfuls of sea water I was swallowing during my breathing and realised I was terrible at "sighting" so it was taking me ages to get to a given point. It didn't take me long to realise that I was not prepared for the triathlon but a part of me thought just do it, the experience will be good.

Pencoed Triathlon Club - Porthcawl Sprint Triathlon

I got to the sea front in Porthcawl early as I wanted to settle any nerves I might have over the sea swim. It was a grey morning but the sea looked fairly calm although I had to take a deep breath when I saw the marker buoys being secured on the swim course, 750 metres suddenly looked a long way off. The race was very well organised and I soon had my kit layed out in transition and was donning my wetsuit. I had been given a choice of red or yellow swim caps by the organisers, the yellow denoting in-experienced, novice swimmers so it was this one that went securely on my head. Competitors had the chance of a quick warm up before the start and I took full advantage of this, swimming a few lengths and trying to subdue my nerves. I was also glad to see that mine wasn't the only yellow cap around. There was a small swim out to the start buoys and I made sure that I hung back from the main pack. The whistle blew and everybody was splashing hard through the water and even though I was close to the back the fairly calm sea suddenly became a washing machine. I had started to try and get some type of rhythm but found that I was taking on too much water whilst breathing and the sudden emptiness of the depths below me made me feel very small. It was at this point that I actually thought sod this, time to get out. I stopped swimming and had a good look around. My wetsuit was so buoyant that I didn't even need to tread water and after a few deep breaths I calmed myself down and decided to plod on. I was way back from the pack by now and just couldn't get any rhythm going. I tried to concentrate on my stroke but then would go off course and have to correct myself. It was at this point that I realised my 25 minute dip in the sea a couple of days before wasn't really enough to prepare me .... lesson learnt.
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
I eventually dragged myself out of the water 31 minutes later. I thought I was the last competitor out but when I ran into transition I saw at least one more bike still racked, the rest of the area was like a ghost town. I must say thanks to the crowd that had still been standing on the small causeway over looking the swim course, their shouts of encouragement helped get me out of the sea and I'm still smiling at the big cheer I got when I bent down and kissed the floor on emerging from the waves. I was massively behind everybody else but was able to pick my way through a few competitors on the bike and run, giving me a final finish time of 1 hour 46 minutes. Not the best time in the world but it gives me a good benchmark for future open water triathlons. I also noted that my sports watch had me covering over 900 metres on the swim, another valuable lesson in that I need to work on my sighting to get from point to point as efficiently as possible. 150 metres extra on a 750 metres sea swim would be massively increased on a 2.4 mile Ironman course.
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
Open Water Swimming And Porthcawl Tuska Sprint Triathlon
by guest: paty, Sep 13th 2014 23:09
HI
I am new to triathlon and found your blog. I see you have completed the Tockington triathlon and I have a silyy question, where do you put your race number while you swim in the pool?

Thanks

Paty
macukby blog author: macuk, Sep 20th 2014 17:59
Hi Paty
I use a race belt that is basically an elastic belt with fasteners for your race number. I leave this hooked to the handlebars on my bike and clip it on so that the number faces backwards during the bike and spin it to face the front on the run. It saves a lot of hassle during transition.
I am doing the Tockington Tri again this month, are you taking part
Mark
 
Blogging Service, © TriBlogs Join TriBlogs to post comments and/or create your own blog, all for free! Read other Triathlon Blogs