Confessions of a Beginner Swimmer

With just over 4 weeks left until TriDu, this is not the time to be getting injured. This is something I need to keep telling myself, as I started this week off by coming very close to hurting myself. I went for a 10 kilometer run around campus on Monday, which was the furthest I had run in quite some time. Furthermore, I had a pretty limited time frame since I only had a little over an hour for my workout, so I neglected to stretch properly beforehand. Halfway through my run I noticed that my ankle was starting to hurt so I slowed down a little bit, but for the most part I just ignored it. I was paying for my neglect yesterday with tight, sore legs and shoulders and a throbbing ankle, which caused me to be too sore to do my scheduled workout. It really drove home the importance of safety while training and the need for proper stretching and recovery. I will definitely not be making that mistake again.
Anyways, down to this swimming business.

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Photo: Lindsey McLeod

Unlike Beth and Danna, I am not an ex-competitive swimmer. I am an ex-dancer with strong legs but a weak upper body who swims on occasion as an alternative form of cardio. Needless to say, the swim is definitely going to be my weakest leg. However, I am determined to improve my stroke and speed significantly by race day, and here are a few tips I am using to do so:
Practice, practice, practice. You won’t be able to see much improvement in your stroke if you’re only swimming once a week. Make sure that you’re in the pool at least three days a week and that you set specific goals for yourself with each workout, with either a time or distance (or both!) that you want to reach that day.
Drills. As the most amateur swimmer out of the three of us, I had never really done swimming drills to improve my technique. Now, I always incorporate a couple of them into my swimming routine.  There are a billion and a half different drills you can find online, but the two main types are pulls and kicks. A really simple one I have been doing is high-elbow pulls. Use one of those floatation devices that look like oversized Styrofoam peanuts and hold them between your legs. Work on your pull with your fingertips just grazing the top of the water. It makes it harder than you would think.
Do what feels right! When I am warming up in the pool, I try to switch up my stroke from time to time, changing my body position, kicking style, the way in which my arms are breaking the surface. Trying out different things allows me to see what helps and what hinders my speed. I maintain the techniques that increase my speed or power, and avoid the ones that slow me down. This “trial-and-error” method is an easy way to see what works best for you in the pool.
Hope your training is going well! As always, do not forget to keep us updated on your training progress on Twitter using #TriHard!

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