Swimming....I can do that I thought. I swam my whole life. I grew up in Florida and took swimming lessons. I've got this I thought I just need to practice.
My first triathlon came and I did not swim as much as I thought I was going to up until then. The day of my first triathlon came, and there was a pretty heavy current in the gulf and the water was very shallow. I tried to swim, but soon learned I would have better luck walking in this water. Several other athletes did the same thing and walked the swim. FYI, train to swim. This was not a good idea. I came out of the water exhausted and my legs already hurt, but away I went, and completed the triathlon.
I did several triathlons, but could not make the whole swim freestyle, and always exited the swim wanting to stop and breathe. I would do a slow walk to transition and try to catch my breath. Several of my friends went to swim practice, but I was too shy to go. I thought that the coaches would take one look at me, decide I was beyond help, and tell me figure it out.
Finally in 2018, I got tired of exiting the water after a slow mostly non-freestyle swim exhausted and spending half the bike trying to catch my breath. I decided to try SLAP(Swim Like a Pro). I nervously went to practice. None of the things that I thought would happen were true. If you want to improve, the coaches are there to help and want to help you improve.
In the middle of my 2018 triathlon season, I joined SLAP Tri-team( https://swim-like-a-pro.com) and started attending their swim practices. I learned that my swim lessons as a kid taught me not to drown. My swim coaching started with put your head down more when your swimming and look at the bottom of the pool. As I got better, different things were added to my swim stroke to improve my swimming. SLAP also has open water swim practice at a local lake most Saturdays. Whether it is hot, cold, windy, or rough water we swim. Open water is way different than the pool, and you never know what race day is going to look like. There are no walls to push off of in open water. It is also great practice to swim in your wetsuit in the winter. Plus it is nice to have a group to swim with and make friends to train in all aspects of Triathlon with.
I saw my swim times start to decrease at the end of the 2018 triathlon season. I trained in the winter(not that there is much of one in Florida, but going to swim at 6am in 40 degree weather was tough), and in March, triathlon season started again.
My first triathlon of the season was an Olympic triathlon. The swim was delayed due to fog. The water was a little rough, but I made a 1500 meter swim in 45 minutes, which excited me, because I now knew I could make the cutoff for 70.3 swims. My training was paying off.
At another triathlon in April, I finally went under 10 minutes for the swim in a local sprint triathlon, and I swam freestyle the whole way. When I finished that triathlon, my husband said how much of a change he saw in my swim and how SLAP was definitely doing me so much good. I went under 10 minutes in most of the sprint triathlons I did this season. I still continue to train with SLAP, and can't wait to see what the upcoming triathlon season holds for me.
After seeing so much improvement in swimming, I believe masters swimming or swim coaching is one of the best investments you can make for yourself when it comes to triathlons. I know it can be expensive. We didn't choose a cheap sport, but having a better swim puts you in a position to have a better race.
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