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really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
CREATED: 05/24/10 by zoom2zoom REPLIES: 15
zoom2zoom's ravatar zoom2zoom    JOINED: 5/5/10    POSTS: 72
thinking about dctri as first timer
POSTED: 5/24/10 9:57 PM

i am really thinking about trying out the DCtri coming in few weeks, i do routine run and bike, but i have not done any swimming except on vacations.

i would like to try, but would it be embarrassing if i do breast stroke for the race? and may i ask what is the average time for amateur swimming doing breast stroke for .8k (sprint version), so i have an idea how long i need to swim.

is swimming in open waters alot different than pool?

will there be conflicts if i do breast stroke with hitting other competitors? thanks in advanced.

mosered's ravatar mosered    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1786
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/24/10 10:24 PM

A few people do start out with breast stroke, and move onto freestyle. Others use breast stroke to rest for short periods. I'm guessing for 800 meters 15-20 minutes would be about average. I'd worry more about getting hit (most people are elbowed or swum over) than hitting others with that stroke! And don't be embarrassed: Most people are weak in one or more of the three legs when they begin triathlon. Welcome aboard.

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1331
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/24/10 10:39 PM

Fact 1: more people are hit during the swim by people doing freestyle than people doing the breast stroke.

If your concern is hitting people with your breast stroke, there is no need to be concerned. Getting hit and hitting people during an open water triathlon is the norm. Everyone gets hits and everyone hit someone else. The question is the degree of the hit. Some are taps on the foot while others are the kind that give people black eyes. I've climbed over people's back during the race and have had the same thing happened to me. Sometimes when you get a lot of people bunched together, things happen. It's not intentional (mostly not intentional). It just happens. It's part of the game.

Fact 2: People do all kind of crazy strokes during a triathlon.

You name the stroke and chances are that there will be people doing that stroke at some point during the race. Backstroke, butterfly, doggy paddle, floating on the back, etc. It's at every triathlon even the Ironman.

Fact 3: There are no statistics out there for the average swim time of an amateur triathlete doing the breast stroke at an open water triathlon.

If you want to know what the swim time is for a sprint triathlon on the Potomac in June, Google up the DC ITU triathlon that occurred last year. The results from that race should give you a good indication as to what the swim time spreads are like. If you can't find that they Google up Luray Triathlon. It's not the same but it will give you a clue.

Fact 4: Swimming in the open water is totally different than from the pool.

In the pool, you can see the bottom and you have lane dividers to guide you. In the Potomac, there are no lane dividers or little black line at the bottom of the river to guide you. Sighting buoys and swimming straight is a difficult task even for the best of swimmers. In the pool, if you have a cramp or if you take in too much water, you just stand up. You can't do that in the Potomac. In the pool, you stop to change direction every 25 or 50 yards. There is no such directional change in the same frequency in an open water swim.

You are thinking about doing the 750 swim in the Potomac by doing the breast stroke. This tells me that you are either not a good swimmer or an incredible breast stroker. If it's the former then I recommend that you go out to Sandy Point this weekend and try to swim for 30 minutes straight without stopping. If you can do that then you have a good chance with the DC Triathlon. If you have difficulty doing that then I would suggest you get more open water experience and find a race later in the summer. There are tons of them within the driving distance. Don't underestimate the mental challenges of being in waters that are too deep for you to stand, too murky for you to see the bottom, and too many people who seem to have nothing better to do than to hit you.

Good luck and have fun.
Tuan

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 682
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swi
POSTED: 5/25/10 12:50 AM

if you really haven't done any swim training and aren't used to doing open water swims, i would suggest the following:

1. goto an open water swim practice before you sign up for the race.

If you are not somewhat comfortable with swimming in open water for at least the distance of the race then practicing may help you here.

Open water swimming in a race is very safe and there are a lot of safety measures in place/kayaks/lifeguards/divers/boats, etc, but always always "respect the water".

2. In the end, be honest with yourself and your abilities. If you don't think you have the fitness now don't do the race, there are plenty of other races to be done.

The sport is very safe, but not all risk can be taken out of it.

Since i don't know you, i'm assuming you are over the age of 18 you are an adult, its your life your decision, do what you think is best.

Good luck.

bcfrank's ravatar bcfrank    JOINED: 3/23/09    POSTS: 983
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 8:42 AM

It sounds like you're not that comfortable in the water (open water or pool) at all, so to be honest, I would not recommend signing up for a triathlon yet. Sure you can breaststroke the entire way, but you will be overrun by people behind you. And that isn't a very pleasant experience. Also DC races are VERY strict with time cutoffs. They have to get the roads open and if you don't make the cutoff, they'll pull you off the course.

I don't want to sound rude, but it seems like you're trying to jump into this sport without really knowing what you're getting into. I would suggest spending this summer working on your swimming. Go to swim clinics in the pool (the Curl-Burke clinics are great) and just get comfortable swimming laps in the water. And maybe sign up for a triathlon toward the end of the year once you can actually freestyle swim for a good length of time.

The swim can be the most daunting leg and I see so many people start a race and within 100 or 200 meters, they're calling for a kayak and quit the race. It will definitely put a damper on your triathlon experience if you end up having to quit or don't make the time cutoff because you didn't know what you were getting into.

But ultimately, it's your choice.

morunner66's ravatar morunner66    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 708
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 8:54 AM

I second all of the above. I am a pretty average swimmer and train alot in the pool. My first Oly distance and 2nd tri - I was hyperventilating in the open water - bit of nerves, but was ok once I settled into the swim. It can be a bit daunting starting out in the water with 200 people next to you. Try swimming in a long course pool to get an idea of the distance and if you have access to open water (as said above), try a 20-30 min swim and see how you feel. DC Tri should be a smaller field then Nations which will be good. Would recommend the Sprint over the Oly for your first.

rcole's ravatar rcole    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 50
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 11:09 AM

DC Tri is having an open water swim clinic a couple of weeks before the race at Sandy Point. Might be a good opportunity to try it out. And, there will be swim practice the day before.

I did breaststroke my first tri, but it was a small local race, so there wasn't much competition and I just hung out in back. I would try to get in the pool and check your swimming ability, but, if you're in shape, it's certainly possible.

bad ford's ravatar bad ford    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 185
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 1:56 PM

One other point:

500 meters looks really big when your eyes are only a couple of inches from the surface. It is very easy to panic. Most people quit triathlons (if they are going to quit) within the first couple of hundred meters.

PotomacTriathlete2009's ravatar PotomacTriathlete2009    JOINED: 9/19/09    POSTS: 528
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 2:11 PM

That almost happened to me at last year's Nation's Tri. I had a brief panic attack, mostly because I wasn't used to the cooler water temperatures on my face. For about 10 seconds, I thought about heading for a kayak and dropping out. But after I got my face out of the water with 8-10 strokes of breaststroke, I calmed down. After that, I switched back to front crawl for the rest of the swim and did fine.

What really helped my confidence was knowing that I had done long continuous swims in the previous months that were much longer than the race swim distance. I remember thinking to myself, Don't be lame and drop out. You've swam far longer than this swim in training. That helped me to regain my composure and continue on with the race.

If you decide to sign up for the race, try to get a lot of swim training by June. See if you can work on your front crawl technique too. Almost everyone swims faster using front crawl than breaststroke. You could be out there for a long time if you only use breaststroke.

zoom2zoom's ravatar zoom2zoom    JOINED: 5/5/10    POSTS: 72
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 2:27 PM

ok, ok, i think i will hold off on trying out the dctri this june and maybe wait till next year until i get some swimming sessions in.

to be honest, i was going to just try and swim in the back of the pack at the survial pace, than try to catch up on biking and running, but looks like from reading other comments that i shouldnt even try as i never swam in open waters and havent swam in a long time.

that is OK with me, i will plan this event next year.. thank you all.

PotomacTriathlete2009's ravatar PotomacTriathlete2009    JOINED: 9/19/09    POSTS: 528
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 2:35 PM

What about joining a relay team for a tri this year? You could do the bike and/or run. Unfortunately the Nation's Tri is sold out (except for charity slots) but there should be other races not too far away.

Duathlons are another option for this summer.

vatriathlete    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 682
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 2:43 PM

don't worry do some training and there are a lot of smaller/cheaper and just as long races throughout the summer in july/august and especially september,

remember september is a very big month for triathlons there are uusally several every weekend in the local area, nations tri may be full but there are a lot of other somewhat closer races in a 2 hour drive that are smaller and just as good. So you have plenty of time to do a triathlon this summer.

listen everyone here wants you to enjoy the sport and possibly make it a lifetime hobby.

anyone can "survive" a race if they have to on sheer willpower (provided they don't have some sort of physical injury at the time) with little to no training, that isn't really that impressive or fun to do.

what you really want is to have fun and go into races prepared,.with literally a couple of months of consistent proper training one can easily and enjoyably complete a sprint and sometimes an olympic distance race.

BD23    JOINED: 5/25/10    POSTS: 2
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 4:22 PM

Looking for suggestions on what to wear (as a female) for the dc tri (sprint)? This is my first tri with an open water swim.

PotomacTriathlete2009's ravatar PotomacTriathlete2009    JOINED: 9/19/09    POSTS: 528
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 4:25 PM

I can't help you with the clothing issue but I'd suggest starting up a new thread. You'll probably get more responses and useful info that way. Good luck at the race.

mosered's ravatar mosered    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1786
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 4:37 PM

You could sign up for one of the three upcoming, low-presure, DCT Club- run sprint tris at Hains Pt. They feature a 400-yard pool swim, mucho doable with any stroke. There are other short, pool swim tris in the area.

dsgrunning's ravatar dsgrunning    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1331
RE: really thinking about dctri as first timer swimming question
POSTED: 5/25/10 6:10 PM

Zoom,

Just an FYI: swimming in the back of the pack does not buy you much except perhaps a 3-5 minutes delay in getting molested by the masses. Do you know that the DC Triathlon will probably have 20-30 age group waves? This means that if you are say in the age group that starts at wave 5, you have 15-25 other waves coming at you after the start of your wave. If you are at one of the last waves then you will have the Clydesdale and Athena waves, which are always last to go, coming strong at you. Some of the fastest swimmers within DCTri, let alone the general populous, are in those waves.

I think that you made a wise choice by defraying this triathlon thing until next year. Consider joining the DCTri New Triathlete Program (NTP) where they will give you a lot of good guidance, advice, skills, techniques, clinics, and much more on the proper way to approach triathlons. This will serve you well in the long run. There have been many people who have gone through that program over the years who have gotten podium spots at triathlons of all distances and sizes. The program starts around Feb of 2011. Info about it will be plasted all over this forum when the date nears.

Tuan

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