Guest Post – 5 Keys to Open Water Swim Success

Don’t just survive your next open water swim. Here’s how to nail your swim when it takes you outside the (chlorinated) box.

Transitioning from the pool to the open water is one of the toughest—and most important—lessons a triathlete must learn. Swimming back and forth in the pool, alone or with your fellow Masters swimmers, simply isn’t the same as toeing the line in a full field of competitors. Whether the race features a mass or wave start, the outdoor environment brings unexpected anxiety and requires different skills. The good news is that knowing what to expect can help you remain calm and cool in the great washing machine.

Austin-based Playtri head coach Ahmed Zaher is an eight-time IRONMAN World Championship finisher with a 52-minute Kona PR swim. Zaher developed these five keys to open-water swimming in 2000 and has been perfecting their execution with clients for the last 18 years. Hop on board and watch your lake/ocean/river time get faster than ever.

Key 1: Warm-up and visualization

Research shows that athletes will not perform to their potential, and are even more likely to panic in the water, if they don’t warm up properly. Warming up allows your body to get used to the water temperature, get a feel for the water and get your core muscles nice and loose and ready to move.

Studies also show that visualization enhances your performance greatly. Be sure to take a look at the course map before the race, then spend a significant amount of time in the days leading up to the race visualizing yourself swimming the course and executing your strategy.

Key 2: Start position

Zaher always says that where you start on the swim won’t help you win the race, but it can make you lose. One of the most important things he teaches triathletes in regards to the start position is to stay away from the “washing machine,” or area where all of the athletes are on top of one another. This is usually the spot athletes think is the shortest distance to the buoy. The best thing to do is to start up front on the outside of the start line, on the opposite side of where you breathe. Doing this will allow you to take advantage of the other swimmers, but stay clear of the chaos.

Key 3: Sighting

Your first sighting target is right next to you: other swimmers beside you. Sighting off a swimmer next to you allows you to maintain the natural, in-line, swim position and minimizes the amount of sighting you’ll have to do to the front. Sighting from the front forces your core and hamstrings to engage as you try to maintain your body position, which can negatively impact your bike and run.

If you cannot sight off of another swimmer, then sight off a bigger object behind the buoy markers, such as a tree or building. If you cannot sight off another swimmer or landmark, sight off the buoy marker.

Key 4: Continuous swim

Even if you bump into an athlete or a buoy, keep going and do not stop. You might have to adjust your stroke a little, but definitely avoid stopping. At a recent Playtri swim clinic, athletes reported saving anywhere from two to four minutes in a 700 meter swim by maintaining a continuous stroke during their race.

Key 5: Drafting

Drafting can be a huge advantage during the swim. The general rule is to position yourself behind the feet of another swimmer in clear water. In water where visibility is low, the best position is to the side, off the swimmer’s hip. When you are drafting, you don’t have to waste energy sighting, which allows you to maintain a streamlined, efficient position in the water.

Zaher says an average triathlete can save several minutes off his/her swim time by following these five pillars. However, at the end of the day, practice is the most important tool in your arsenal.

Playtri has six locations across the Dallas Fortworth Area to meet your swim, bike run needs. Connect with them today at www.playtri.com

We’re #1!

In 2015, we began organizing our annual team race for Team TBT. Our team lives and races across the country, and around the world, and after five years of never really getting to know one another, we really wanted an opportunity to bring them all together once a year for fun and a little friendly competition. So far we’ve raced IRONMAN® 70.3 Puerto Rico, IRONMAN® 70.3 Boulder, IRONMAN® 70.3 Victoria and for 2018, we chose IRONMAN® 70.3® St. George in Utah.

On May 5th, Team TBT had 17 individuals and one relay team toed the start line with the rest of the competitors in St. George, UT. Following a brisk swim in the Sand Hollow Reservoir, they headed out on the scenic, but challenging, bike course, before entering St. George’s historic town square to begin the run.

When the dust settled, St. George was a ton of fun, and an incredibly successful race. Not only did we have five team members qualify for IRONMAN® 70.3® World Championships (including our Founder, Marc Lauzon), but the team also won the IRONMAN® TriClub Program Division V championship.

Aside from racing, the team got to enjoy the sights, sounds, and tastes of St. George. We even capped the weekend off with a team party filled with pizza, beer, and ice cream following the race.

 

Guest Post – Helping your children succeed in triathlons

We all know how important a role model parents are, particularly when we’re children. Children are watching their parents’ every move and want to emulate them at all costs — for better or worse, sometimes — and our little mini-mes often want to do the same thing, or something similar, simply because mom or dad (or auntie, or uncle, or whomever) are doing it.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise, then, that if our children see us training for a triathlon, they, too, will want to do one, too. After all, swimming, riding a bike, and running — the three components of any tri — are part and parcel to most children’s childhood experiences. They might not do all three sports in quick succession on any given day, but chances are good that most kids like to go swimming, go for bike rides, and play tag or chase with others.

How can we as parents go about being supportive of our children’s interests in, and endeavoring to, completing a triathlon? How young is too young? What type of goal(s) should our children have as they work toward completing their first youth triathlon?

Below, I’ll chime in with some insight about tips to help your children succeed in tris, based on my own personal experience of getting my oldest child, aged 6 at the time of her first tri, into the sport.

Some tips to help your children succeed in triathlons include the following:

Talk to your pediatrician first. If you have any doubt whatsoever, I’d always encourage you to talk to your child’s pediatrician. Doing so can help you get your doctor’s “blessing” that it’s safe for your child to do a triathlon, and it’ll also help assuage any doubt that you have or any concerns that may come up.

Listen to your child, and follow his/her lead. Remember how we said earlier that kids want to emulate their parents at all costs? The same goes for their parents’ attitudes and emotions. If you’re a nervous wreck about your kids’ tri, then chances are high that your kiddos will mirror that same emotion. Similarly, if you’re really anal about everything and are not in it to have fun but instead, to be ultra competitive and win at all costs, your children will probably also mirror that same (crappy) attitude. I bet your kids are interested in trying out the sport because they’ve seen you do it and you seem to have fun, so they, too, want to go have fun. Keep it simple for both them and for you. They’re kids, for Pete’s sake!

“Train,” but don’t worry about training. If your children are already playing on a regular basis — think recess, riding their bikes, playing tag, and periodically swimming — then I’d bet that your kiddos will be ready to go at any time for the race. If your children are older and thus will have a larger distance to cover in their youth tri, then for sure, I’d recommend doing some sort of formal training program with them so they’ll be prepared to handle the distance on race day. For the younger kids in particular, though, it’s really more about the fun and the spirit of the day than it is about the competition — shoot, for most little kids’ races, parents are even allowed to run alongside them, help out in T1 and T2, and even swim next to them (and/or the kids can wear swimming implements to make the swim easier) — so don’t take yourself too seriously. Remember: it’s not about you. It’s about your kids.,

The goal is to finish. Finally, when you’re talking with your children about their race day goals, I can’t encourage you enough to emphasize fun and doing your best. Kids can be competitive — they’re human, just like the rest of us! — but particularly if they’re young and/or if this is their first triathlon, as a parent, I’d be sure to emphasize that simply finishing a triathlon is an accomplishment in and of itself. Sure, it might be nice to win a trophy or a ribbon — if they’re even offered for the kids — but everyone’s a winner who shows up and tries his/her best. That’s enough.

Youth triathlons are so fun to participate in, of course, but as parents (or relatives or supporters), they’re also a ton of fun to spectate! Don’t be surprised if you get a little emotional toward the end when you see your child really beginning to dig deep to finish, not that I’m speaking from experience or anything… More than anything, enjoy the special accomplishment that your child completes, and be sure to take lots of pictures to document the occasion.

AUTHOR’S BIO: JANE GRATES Sports lover and a hiker. Producing at the crossroads of beauty to craft an inspiring, compelling and authentic brand narrative.

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