Monday, July 25, 2011

Mistake Fixed

I didn't know wetsuits could do that.

After a successful one-on-one with my swim coach, treading water while in a wetsuit is no longer an issue for me. She showed me how to pull myself upright and just hang out in the deep stuff. Easy. I wish I had spent the money on a wetsuit years ago.

Regarding One Little Mistake, where I described why treading water was something I sorely needed to learn, I had a comment from Roy and Christine of the Pedal Pushers regarding this post.
"I am not sure I understand the Intricacies of the swimming part. My friends just talk about getting kicked or jabbed...."

Your friends forgot to mention getting swum over, pushed down and rolled over.

Here are a couple of different types of triathlon swim starts. They put the "MA!!" in Mass Starts;

Point-to-Point Start
This means you start at some pre-determined point in the water and swim to another point (hopefully somewhere near the shoreline).
This is the start of the Pros at the Ironman World Champsionships in 2009.

To be honest, you could put your thumb on the screen and cover as many women as will be in my next point-to-point start. This just looks so much more awesome.

Beach Start
You start at the beach and swim to another point along the shore, either out and back around a line of buoys or along the shoreline.

The theory: You start near the front and run like an animal into the surf. Once you're about knee-to-quad deep, you dive in head first. Do 3 dolphin kicks, keep your head down and drive for about 20-25 hard strokes. Come up for air using the breaststroke, pick a spot on the horizon that you can watch to keep yourself swimming in a straight line, and start your swim stroke of choice. It should feel like the Filene's Basement Running of the Brides.

The reality: Figuring you've been plowed over enough at these starts, you start in the middle to back of the mob and walk in like you're waiting for a popular ride at an amusement park. You might start swimming while others are just about ready to make their turnaround. This traffic jam is why treading water could be important. Sinking is a bad thing but even more so when no one knows you've gone under and anyone in a wetsuit won't be able to dive down and grab you.

This is the beach start for 2009 Ironman Florida.

It's these kinds of starts that inspired this iconic Clif Bar ad:

Oh, and if you are unfamiliar with the "Running of the Brides" - here's the video. It is currently on hiatus in Boston but I believe New York is carrying the torch right now.

The mentality is the same but with less sand and water.


  1. I love that ad! And youre absolutely right. just standing upright in the water, floating with your wetsuit on is really pretty easy

  2. Very interesting. Now I know why I saw a person swimming way out from the crowd, and of course swimming farther than the crowd. I thought he was just disoriented.

    Not sure which would be most brutal. Training in a gauntlet or racing with the brides.

    And congrats on mastering treading.

  3. @Ben - I love that ad, too. It's just crazy-real. Have you ever done the open water clinics where you actually get knocked around? I wouldn't advise doing it with friends you want to keep.

    @Roy and Christine - People do get disoriented and that's one of the reasons they have all of those volunteers out there, but there are others (like me) who just like to stay out of everyone's way. As far as which is more brutal... well, I'm still doing triathlons and everyone I know passed on the 'Brides' adventure when they got engaged. Those women are hard core.