Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Went swimming twice today. In the morning I swam 1.5 miles, the first mile continuous and all freestyle. Then some kicking and some alternate breaststroke-freestyle laps. In the afternoon, after I picked up the kids I swam another 1.25 miles, alternating freestyle with breaststroke.

I think that finally -after all those years- my swim is getting (a bit) faster. I am not sure if it will hold for the entire 2.4 miles of the ironman, but I am cautiously optimistic. I do swim easier and faster at least over shorter distances. The big tossup in all this is my right shoulder with its AC separation. I am not sure how that hold out in the race. I have swum 2.4 miles in the pool since the incident but never all freestyle.

The other big unknown this year is that I have done zero open water swimming. I did not do a single triathlon all year and I did not swim the Del Valle or the Catfish competitions either. In short, I never even put on my wetsuit this year.

You may also wonder why I mention freestyle, but up until five years ago the only stroke I knew how to swim was breaststroke. It is not ideal for triathlons, although it is not all bad. The key advantage of breaststroke is that you can see where you are going, but that turns out to be a big win (at least among the slowpokes). I see triathletes zig-zagging all over the course and adding useless distance.

Freestyle does not come naturally to me. I really struggled with it. For some odd reason I always get cramps in my legs when I freestyle for a long time. That never happens when I breaststroke. 

Up until very recently my breaststroke was faster than my freestyle and I was a lot less tired on top of it. I have swum breaststroke in all my races, except for a few Olympic distances, and in some races I swam more than 3/4 of the distance that way. Needless to say, I am one of the last ones to exit the water. Swimming has kept me from qualifying for Hawaii more than once. 

While one can lose five minutes anywhere, my swim is just too slow to qualify. It is not on par with my other events. Not by a longshot.

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