Thursday, May 5, 2011

Great Swim tips with blueseventy

So with the very first of the Great Swim series just a week away, we know there are a few nervous people out there, so we thought we'd offer some answers to some frequently asked questions we've spotted on the Great Swim facebook page (loving the posts by the way!)

I'm doing the London swim, can do a mile in a pool easily but only Breast stroke and will not get a chance to do an outdoor swim before the date, any advice ??? - Sarah

Sarah it's always a great idea to get some swims done in your wetsuit before the event - but don't worry - you can do this in a pool. We don't recommend doing this too often though because chlorine is not good for your wetsuit's longevity. So when you go down to the pool to train, take it with you and do a few laps (usually till you get too hot!) to make sure you are familiar with the feel of the suit, and also at putting it on comfortably. Check out our video of how to put your wetsuit on here.

Would you recommend doing the swim in front crawl or would breast stroke be O.K. Just a bit worried as it is a slower stroke and bit worried about being swam over!! - Helen.

Helen it's fine to do the swim in either front crawl or breaststroke (or a mix if you want!). Choose the stroke that you are more comfortable with. The key to not getting swum over will be making sure you start at the back of the pack, and give the field a chance to get moving before you start. Your chip won't start timing until you cross the start line so you won't affect your finish time. Try and avoid being in the middle of the swim course - if you stay towards the outside edge you'll find it less "busy" although it will be a little longer swim. But basically, find yourself some nice calm water and breaststroke away!

If you are nervous of being bumped about a bit, we recommend grabbing some mates and squeezing into a lane side by side.  Cram in together, and then practice swimming up the lane in a bunch.  Your arms will get tangled and you'll grab a bit of foot and the odd leg, but practice relaxing and focusing on your stroke - this is a great way to become desensitized to the feeling of being jostled.

Race Day Tips:
  • Pack the night before and double check you have everything you need, such as:
    • Race packet essentials – timing chip, timing chip band, event swim cap, and any vouchers etc
    • Water/electrolyte drink for pre and post race.
    • Prerace nutrition – any gels or protein bars. It can be a long wait for your race so plan out your food to ensure optimal timing.
    • Swimsuit for under your wetsuit
    • Wetsuit
    • Body Glide
    • Plastic bag to help put wettie on
    • Extra latex cap and (if you have one) neoprene skull cap for cold conditions
    • Earplugs/nose clip if required
    • At least two pairs of goggles – preferably one with a yellow or clear lens for grey conditions, and a mirror or smoke lens for sunny conditions. Always have a spare in case of malfunction. Check them the night before and apply anti-fog solution if they need it.
    • Warm clothes for after the race.
    • Two towels (a spare is always handy).
    • Dry bag for wet kit after the race.
    • Post race fuel such as a banana. And money for that well earned beer!
  • Get to the event nice and early so you can ensure you have plenty of time to get organised.  Running late does NOTHING for your nerves! (Bonus is you'll grab a great park)
  • Plan a timeline working backwards from the start time.  So for example if you start at 9am, you might need to be ready in your start wave 15mins before (8.45), and you may like 15mins to warm up (8.30) and you should allow plenty of time to put your wetsuit on (8am).
  • When you line up to start, think carefully about your position - if you are competitive, look for the shortest line to the first buoy, taking into account any currents at play so you can take advantage of them (not fight them).  If you are concerned about being swum over, hang back and wait for the bulk of the pack to start off and join into the back.
  • Sometimes the combination of nerves, adrenaline and a raised heart rate can cause you to feel like you can't breath - it's ok - you can - just roll onto your back and take a few deep, relaxing breaths. Use positive self talk and it will pass, and you can carry on.  If its too much just raise your hand for help.
  • Remember to keep sighting for the next buoy - if you are doing front crawl (freestyle) look up every five strokes.  If you find the buoy hard to see, line it up with a land mark and focus on that.  Regular sighting will keep you on course... unless you really want to swim further?  We'd understand - swimming is awesome!
  • R E L A X... after the initial start, focus on your stroke and nice relaxed breathing.  You may not be the fastest but there are many more people who would never even attempt what you are doing, so relax and enjoy the experience!  Enjoy yourself (note: smiling while swimming may cause you to swallow water).
All the best with your Great Swim,  and if you have any other questions, just post them on our facebook page.

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