The swim, or as I like to call it the "if I can only," as in "if I can only muddle through the swim the rest of the race will be cake."
For most of us Everyman Triathletes swimming is usually our limiter. By limiter I mean the part of the triathlon that limits our performance. In other words the part that we hate. And yes I know there are always a few triathletes who seem to have been born with gills and webbed feet.
BTW: Gills and webbed feet absolutely slow you down on the run.
When I started swimming two years ago the best nautical terms to describe my swim would be barge-like or supertankerish. Today I’m still more tugboat than speedboat but I’m working on it. Here’s how.
My goal here is to improve your swim. I won’t bore you with the best drills to improve your speed, or the newest swim techniques, or my advise on if you should get a sleeve, or sleeveless wetsuit, or if it should be black or blue and make you look like an orca, or a quintana roo (whatever that is) or an Ironman? I’ll leave that up to the experts.
Ok…I will bore you with one drill guaranteed to make you drink the entire contents of the lap pool . We did this one the other day in my master class. The coach called it the Egyptian drill. You swim normal freestyle with the exception that you bend one leg (choose your favorite) at the knee skyward (kind of like the dorsal fin of a shark) while swimming and kicking as hard as you can with the other leg. Now this drill is guaranteed to make you sink like a rock while you flail around for your life like a very drunk sailor who never learned to swim.
Why is it called the Egyptian drill? Could the ancient Egyptian not swim? Is this what they looked like after when they fell into the Nile into the waiting teeth of the nearest crocodile? I’ll leave that up to the experts to answer.
Anyway back to my main point; how to best improve your swim? The answer, unfortunately, is the same as how to lose weight: East less and exercise more. With swimming the answer is even simpler and thus more diabolic: Swim more. Period
With this I mind I have come up with a few simple motivational techniques to get me in the pool that I will be happy to share with you.
- The siren call of the Hot Tub: As I’m sure you know there are no hot tubs in biking or running. I suppose you can bike or run by a hot tub but the chance of you actually getting into the hot tub seem rather remote unless you happen to be extremely clumsy. However there are usually hot tubs at most pools. I often like to trick myself into going swimming. I’ll say to myself, "self…lets got for a nice hot tub at the club" And before I know it I’m out the door to the club. Than after a nice leisurely hot soak in the bubbling water I say to myself "self…why not go for a bit of a swim to cool down since you are already dressed for it." Next thing I know I’m in the pool and swimming.
- No sweat: There is no sweating in swimming, or if there is sweating your are not aware of it. If you are like me, you probably get pretty tired of getting all hot, sweaty and stinky. Unlike biking or running, swimming offers a refreshing change of pace. After a nice swim you are actually cleaner than when you started. Plus all that chlorine acts as natures own pimple cream drying out your skin.
- The Perfect Tan: There is nothing less attractive than the running tan. Except perhaps the biking tan. The running tan gives you a red neck, red forearms and a red nose from where you nose pokes out from under your running hat. The biking tan gives you a red neck, red forearms, red nose, red v-shaped chest tan and red legs, but only from just above your socks to just below you biking shorts. Now that’s a sexy look sure to make your honey swoon. On the other hand, the swimming tan IS the perfect tan as long as you do lots of backstroke.
- Bikinis and Speedos: There are no bikinis and Speedos in biking or running. This unusual lack of clothing by your fellow lane swim buddy can be a great motivational tool to get you in the pool. However beware as this can also server a potential de-motivational tool for some, especially if they describe their swim as being supertankerish.
- The Big Burrito: Please keep your minds out of the gutter. Swimming makes me very hungry. Logically I know that it does not burn as many calories as running, given the same amount of time, but swimming always leaves me starving. There is nothing more satisfying than a big burrito after a big swim. I like to say to myself, "self…only 10 more laps and it is big burrito time." For you it may not be a big burrito but it could be a nice mixed green salad or healthy soup. Beware. This could work as super motivator for some like me. "Self…only ten more laps and it is mixed green salad time" I’d probably do an extra 20 laps with this motivation.
- Bee Free: I’ve been stung four times in less than a year. However, never in the pool.
So to recap: The best reasons to get in the pool and swim are very clean, perfectly tanned and cleared skinned hot guys and gals in Speedos and bikinis in hot tubs who don’t sweat (at least not so you can tell) who enjoy the occasional big burrito and mixed green salad in a bee free environment.
Now go out to the pool and give that Egyptian drill a try and let me know how you did.