Seven SECRETS TO SWIMMING SUCCESS 

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Swimming Success Series

HOW TO ENJOY SWIMMING?

  1. Building swimming confidence & efficiency in the pool
  2. Developing your open water skills
  3. Training more effectively
  4. Making training fun
  5. Transition from pool to the open water
  6. Equipment needed for success
  7. Enjoying the events

Building your Swimming CONFIDENCE 

Learning to swim as an adult is challenging but with the right frame of mind and purpose, learning and developing your swimming can be very rewarding. 

1:1 swim lessons will really help you get your direction in place, so you are focused on the right areas. Relying on your 'mate' that can swim generally sees weaker swimmers focusing on areas that will not see them improve as the fundamentals are not there. 

What are the fundamentals? 

  1. Head position 
  2. Breathing - relaxed and rhythmical
  3. Keeping a relaxed and high body position 
  4. Kick Technique 

Get these things right and you will have the stepping stones to develop stronger technique.

DEVELOPING YOUR open water skill set

Pool swimming compliments, open water swimming as technical improvements are best developed in the pool and then applied in your open water training. 

Skills sessions in the open water are such a great way to gain confidence in the open water - you should learn practical skills that will help build your confidence in the open water. 

  1. Sighting 
  2. Bunch swimming
  3. Drafting 
  4. Breathing
  5. Human obstacles 
  6. Getting around buoys
  7. Exiting and entering the water efficiently 

Local clubs and other private business often help people with these areas.

Boost Coaching Open Water Swimming Sessions - Saturday 6:45am starting in October. 

Training more effectively

Having some focus in each session that you complete will help you improve as a swimmer. I generally break down a swimming training program into five main areas.

Choose 'Training more effectively'

Choose 'Training more effectively'

  1. Technique 
  2. Endurance 
  3. Threshold or CSS
  4. Sprint 
  5. Open Water

A typical swim week that I would aim for with a swimmer would be 2-3 pool sessions per week and one open water session. 

Distance

The swimming distance that you might aim for is around 1.8km-3.0km on average. During your training you may want to include 3-4 sessions that cover the 3.8km distance to help you gain confidence and perspective of the distance.  

Swimming is a cumulative process, so swim regularly and look to accumulate mileage through the week.

Duration

I would aim for 45-75min on average for individuals that are just swimming.. I tend to find sessions that go longer than this are a little counter productive for many age group triathletes as it creates a little too much fatigue - especially when a lot of the times individuals are training again that day. 

Making Training Fun AND PURPOSEFUL

Swim training can be fun and the easiest way to make the time disappear at the pool can be

  1. Join a swim squad and enjoy the company and friendship of other swimmers. This can provide motivation and accountability to get the pool and complete your training
  2. Create session goals if you are following a program - look at what you have achieved in the past and look to measure your progress. 
    • Objective Goals
      • Time goals - CSS
      • Efficiency goals - less strokes per length 
      • Took less rest or completed more rep
    • Subjective Goals
      • comfortable at the completion 
  3. Embrace the journey of training toward an event like Ironman or the NZ Ocean Swim Series
    • You will inspire others and many will be in awe of what you do, tell people about what you are doing and again this can keep you motivated and engaged in your training.
    • Do you want to create greater purpose and compete and raise money for a charity

Useful tips for pool swimming

Transition from the pool to the open water

Yes, there is a difference in swimming in the pool compared to the open water and there are a variety of things you need to consider.  

the open water Environment

  1. Water clarity
  2. Sighting
  3. Ability to stop and stand-up
  4. Water movement

Equipment

  1. Goggle choice
  2. Wetsuit Choice 

Skills & Techniques

  1. Drafting 
  2. Kick technique
  3. Sighting
  4. Arm turnover
  5. Ability to adapt and adjust
  6. Breathing pattern
  7. Stroke pattern
  8. 'Zen' Swimming - feel 

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I CAN'T BREATHE OR SUDDENLY START TO PANIC OR BECOME OVERCOME WITH ANXIETY?

Panic attacks can happen to anyone and the experience of this will often occur on race day.  An individual will complain that their wetsuit feels so tight around their neck or chest restricting breathing.  Worse case scenario is that an individual suddenly can't swim and they can't get this 'feeling' under control. 

STEP 1: Roll onto your back and recognize that your wetsuit will keep you a float - relax and kick

STEP 2: You have to try and get breathing under control - from short sharp rapid breathes to long slow inhale and exhale.

STEP 3: Once you have this under control roll back onto your front and do a long slow exhale with your face under the water. After this you may want to roll back onto your back.

STEP 4: Roll onto your front and continue swimming make sure you keep slowly exhaling under water. 

Equipment needed for success

Essentials  

  • Togs
  • Goggles
  • Wetsuit
    • Large range of choices which provide various benefits to swimmers
    • Be aware that some of the cheaper wetsuits have less panels so aren't as flexible compared to some of the mid-higher range models
    • Increased buoyancy is provided in various areas to assist with body position and technique in the open water
    • Increased buoyancy for some swimmers is not always an asset 
  • Swim cap (for the open water)

Recommendation

Most squads will request you have these swimming tools

  • Swim fins - are useful to improve kick technique and provide greater lift and propulsion in your swimming
  • Pull Buoy - my favorite is the FINIS AXIS PULL BUOY as it's a multi-purpose swim tool.
  • Kick Board - most pools have these for use but if not then they are useful for kicking unless you have the AXIS PULL BUOY
  • Paddles - used for arms only sets, useful tools for intermediate to advanced swimmers, but if not used correctly not very useful for entry level swimmers

Tempo TRAINER PRO

The Tempo Trainer Pro is really useful to help you pace yourself during CSS or Threshold swim sets. 

  • One of the modes provides and audible beep in your ear every 25m (or 50m) so that you know that you are keeping the pace required. 

 

Enjoying the events

TIME

  1. What time does the event start?
    • Give yourself enough time to get to the water from transition
    • Have a spare pair of goggles with your support crew - JUST IN CASE
  2. Have enough time to do a warm up
    • In your training whether in the pool or open water you will generally do a warm up type set to help you get into a good rhythm with your stroke and breathing.

 

Where should I start? 

  • This depends on your confidence and ability
  • Practice being in different positions when you are training

Considerations are 

  • Do you like have lots of people in close proximity?
    • If not then choose a position off to the side or nearer the back
      • Not too far to the side that you have to swim along way into the buoy line (increasing swim time)
      • Not too far to the back that it takes you several minutes to pass the start line
  • Which side do you breathe too?
    • You may want to choose to breathe toward the main pack so that you know you are heading in the right direction. 
  • Do you have trouble sighting? 
    • You may want to place yourself in the middle of the swim pack so that you rely on other swimmers to keep you heading in the right direction (you still need to sight)