This is one of those “do I say, not as I do” posts because I sure make these swimming mistakes, too! But I’m trying hard to completely nix them from my time in the pool. Because these errors can cost you time, effort, and sanity during the swim leg of the triathlon.
Mistake #1: Getting used to taking off and adjusting your swim goggles.
Oh, boy. This is my big downfall when I’m in the pool. There are loads of built-in breaks when you’re completing a swim workout (even if just for 15 seconds), and more often than not, I remove my goggles, rub my eyes, and let my face ‘breathe’ for a bit. BIG MISTAKE! It’s hard (and almost impossible) to safely remove your goggles during a triathlon. I’m working on never removing my goggles during swim workouts – it’s so tempting! It’s like having an itch you can’t scratch!
Speaking of goggles…
Mistake #2: Using spit to un-fog your goggles.
Hi, guess what? Spit does not work. Seriously. Spit sucks for un-fogging goggles. But you know what does work? Baby shampoo! Just put a smear on the inside of the goggles and – tada! – no more fog.
Mistake #3: Failing to practice sighting.
One of my goals for my race is to SWIM STRAIGHT. And to swim straight, I’ve got to know where I’m going. Hence, sighting. Sighting is way harder than it first appears because it can throw off your stroke rhythm; it’s really important that you practice it in advance. You don’t need to come all the way up out of the water to sight – just look forward and lift your head up out the water enough for your eyes to come out. Swim Bike Mom has a good article on sighting techniques. I like the mantra (from this article about sighting) to “swim like a fish, sight like an alligator.”
Good visual, right? I practice sighting in the pool towards the end of my workouts, when I’m naturally tired like I’ll be in the race. I always repeat in my head “SIGHT LIKE AN ALLIGATOR” to remind myself not to come too far out of the water. You don’t want to use the downward force of your arms to lift your head and upper body out of the water to just – you’re wasting too much energy.
Mistake #4: Being comfortable with one stroke – and one stroke only.
My fellow swimmer will be so proud of me – I can finally do the backstroke effectively. It took a lot of practice, but I’ve figured out how to backstroke fast and hard without splashing water all over my face, inhaling bits, and getting flustered.
I think it’s wise to have more than one stroke in your arsenal because you may need a break during the race. Of course, you can always stop swimming entirely and tread water or float if you really need a break. But it’s nice to have an option for continuing to make forward progress.
Mistake #5: Slapping the water.
Okay, this is one thing that I don’t do… because it’s my biggest swimming pet peeve. When I see other swimmers slapping the water as they freestyle, I want to shout, “WHAT DID THE WATER EVER DO TO YOU!?” Be nice to the water.
Slapping the water creates unnecessary resistance and makes the entire swim so much harder. Instead of slapping, pretend like you’re slipping your hands under a blanket as your hand and arm enter the water. Visualize that your hand is going under the blanket without disturbing its position. You want to gently but firmly enter the water. Try to ‘swim quietly.’ As I say with Henry – gentle hands!
Side note: I was looking for pictures to illustrate this post with and found this. CRIKEY. I was 38 weeks pregnant, 35 pounds heavier, and still swimming. Wahoo for swimming. It’s my favorite workout for sure.
(For more swimming and tri tips, check out my So You Wanna Do a Triathlon series – lots of good info!)