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  #1  
Old 02-18-2011
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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Default The Great London Swim - training log

I am entering the Great London Swim and, having never swum in Open Water before, and having been out of the pool for almost a year, I thought I'd keep a log of my training in the lead up to the big day.

Tonight I went back to the pool and swam 1500m. I was a little rusty but, by swimming mindfully, noticed a dead spot in my stroke when I take a breath and by focussing on that one point for 20 lengths was able to eradicate it and make my stroke smoother. I also noticed that, as I fatigued, I was not maintaining a high elbow so on the next 20 lengths I focussed on maintaining a high elbow. Although my stroke was not as smooth as it was prior to my lay-off, I had some 'golden moments' where it came together. My time: 27 mins and 36 seconds was nothing special but I wasn't swimming for a time anyhow.

The real highlight of the night was actually in the changing room when a chap came up to me, complimented me on my stroke and asked where I learnt to swim with such elegance and poise as he wanted his son to learn how to swim like that. Although I have been a Masters swimmer in the past, I am certainly no Terry and my stroke needs work so I was very flattered indeed by his comments (while realising myself that I have a lot to work on!). I obviously pointed him in TI's direction!

I confess to feeling rather nervous about Open Water swimming. As I swam today I noticed how much comfort I took from the clear water and the pool markings. And I noticed that I let water enter my mouth and how I blow it out under water; a habit I may need to change. The thought of swimming in dark water is a bit foreboding. But I can overcome that in time, I am sure.

Last edited by LBRoberts : 02-18-2011 at 10:02 PM. Reason: typo
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  #2  
Old 02-18-2011
cynthiam cynthiam is offline
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Default I'll be reading

I think it's a great idea to log your OW training here. I'm interested to read how things go for you.

I was nervous, too, about OW swimming. Dark, cold water without lane lines or walls...so I was pleasantly surprised when I found I actually enjoy the freedom. It took some getting used to, of course. But being outside is such a benefit, even if I can't tell if that harbor seal is nearby. I think the thing that was strangest to me was not being able to see beyond my arms most of the time.

As for breathing, I often end up with some bay water in my mouth and just exhale it. No big deal. So far, I've never felt any ill effects, and it's not like my bay (San Francisco) is pristine.

Congratulations on your excellent pool swim. How nice that someone appreciates your beautiful stroke!
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Old 02-18-2011
terry terry is offline
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Laurie
Posting your training log here will possibly accomplish three things:
1) You'll have many supportive friends and followers interested in your endeavor.
2) You'll probably receive useful suggestions for modifying your practices.
3) I expect you'll inspire others to pursue a worthy - and even audacious - goal. I'd love to see more people share their swim goals and dreams here, as well as their plans to achieve them.
Always good.
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  #4  
Old 02-19-2011
jeetkevdo jeetkevdo is offline
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I look forward to following your log... thanks for sharing.
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  #5  
Old 02-19-2011
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Hi Laurie

I was talking to a chap at the Welsh ASA sprint meet last November who had swum the Great London Swim and he said it was a wonderful occasion and very well organized.

I look forward to hearing how your training goes and how the swim goes, too, of course.
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  #6  
Old 02-19-2011
naj naj is offline
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Hi Laurie,

I'm glad your taking the plunge into ow the last frontier of swimming :-) I'll be looking forward to how it goes for you as your race nears. Don't fret about ow your TI training and help from the great folks of this forum will surly make your first natural water race one to remember. Oh and by the way, a 27min mile means you have a great opportunity to be in the lead pack of the race or close to it. I'm about 39 mins on a really good day and I'm training for The Cook Strait LOL! Maybe I should fly to the UK and get some help from a TI master like yourself on getting faster! Keep up the great work!

Naji
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Old 02-19-2011
LBRoberts LBRoberts is offline
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Thanks for the compliment but I am certainly no TI Master! A long way to go on that although without TI I would not swim as well as I do. My best time for 1500m is 25 mins but that is in a pool with turns. Although I'll have a wetsuit, I suspect the waves, lack of turns, elbows and legs flailing, need to sight etc will mean my open water swim is rather slower! I don't know what the usual time conversion is from pool swimming to open water

The biggest thing for me is conquering my fear of Open Water. This may sound ridiculous to seasoned OW swimmers and I know there are no sharks in the Thames! But I've always had an irrational fear of Open water despite being a strong swimmer. But that's kind of the point. I am raising money for charity and I think charity events are about garnering support from people who acknowlege that you are pushing your own personal boundaries.

I will get a wet suit shortly and start practicing in Open water. However, my training won't really start in earnest for 3-4 weeks as my wife is expecting our 2nd baby any day now and my 1st priority is to help out at home (serious swimming will have to wait for a while so I need to maximise the opportunities I do get). When I return to work I will be able to swim a few times a week in my lunch hour at a nearby pool; and I will be able to spend a few hours on a Sunday in the Serpentine...

I intend to post on here the aims of each training session; what I discover about my swimming during the session and ask for advice .

Laurie

Last edited by LBRoberts : 02-19-2011 at 07:15 PM.
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  #8  
Old 02-19-2011
naj naj is offline
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Laurie although there will be some adjustment from pool to ow; you mentioned, sighting, no lane lines, can't see the bottom, arms, legs, feet coming from all sides, you'll be fine as long as you go at your pace. The herd will thin out in no more than five minutes after the race starts then you'll see how fun the whole thing ca be. Make sure to get fitted for the wetsuit and go where they have knowledge of swim wetsuits, not SCUBA or surfing ones they wont work! When it comes time to getting in some ow time, go with an experienced friend. Don't think too far ahead for now, just get in more pool time and when its time to get into nature you'll be right as rain. I have every confidence in you!

Naji
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  #9  
Old 02-19-2011
5-rise 5-rise is offline
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Hi Laurie,

I entered that event last year and have done the swims in Windermere as well. In terms of open water swimming, I think the biggest difference from pool swimming comes from wearing a wet suit as it provides a lot of buoyancy - personally, I find it a lot easier. The second big difference, I think, is the need to sight. It's very easy to go astray if you don't do this well and this would be a good thing to practice.

I think the other thing to mention, is to get towards the front of the queue when you're lining up to go in, particularly with your time. Otherwise, you can get stuck behind loads of people doing breastroke!

Also, although the water will be pretty clean you won't be able to see much beneath you which might help you feel less anxious about it and having other swimmers nearby will definitely help.

Finally, when I started OW swimming, I found the feeling of being "immersed in the gloom" a bit unsettling at first and I found myself "gasping" as if for air but it was just to look around! It just took a while to get used to it and then I could relax.

Good luck

Jon

Last edited by 5-rise : 02-19-2011 at 10:43 PM.
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  #10  
Old 02-20-2011
terry terry is offline
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Default Comfort with poor visibility in open water

With respect to being 'immersed in the gloom' as Jon described it, here's an excerpt from Chapter 13 of our ebook Outside the Box - a TI Program for Success in Open Water which describes how uncomfortable pool swimmers are made by the far more limited visibility of open water.

"The Outside the Box DVD includes scenes from National and World Masters races. In each you’ll see many swimmers sighting almost every stroke-–when they’re in a pack, when they’re alone, when the water’s smooth, and when it’s rough.

And (you can find video of this on-line) during the first 100 meters of each Olympic 10K race, several men and women lifted their heads on every stroke, even though: (i) they were racing on a well-marked and relatively compact rectangle within the confines of a man-made rowing basin, and (ii) it’s virtually impossible to lose your way during the first minute of a race with the field tightly packed and all going one way.

Lifting your head increases drag, breaks your rhythm, slows you down, and makes you tired. And quite often, as in the examples above, doing so does little to improve navigation. Given how demanding open water races already are, why do so many swimmers make it even harder by looking up so often?

For a simple answer, imagine how you’d feel if someone blindfolded you and asked you to navigate a familiar path, say from your front door to your bedroom. What was familiar would feel strange, even threatening. You’d take halting steps, while feeling a powerful urge to tear the blindfold off. Well, most of those who swim open water races, including Olympians, are pool swimmers most of the time and have grown accustomed to constant and clear visual feedback. Because swimming in open water feels a bit like being blindfolded, they seek visual feedback constantly, even if what they see is indistinct and unchanging."

The antidote is Mindful Swimming.
Practicing Focal Points in pool repeats not only improves your stroke. It also develops your powers of concentration. In pool practice you use your strength of focus to hone subtle skills. In open water races you use depth of focus to banish distraction and create what I call a "cocoon of calm."

Chapter 13 provides a program for improving your navigational and sighting skills for open water.
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May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story
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