Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Swim Tidbits

I thought I’d write a bit about swimming tidbits.  These are tips I’ve picked up or told over the years a ton of times.  May sound stupid to some of you, but believe it or not, some people were never told some of this! 

Gear- what to buy.

The most important things are FIT AND COMFORT Do not listen to people that say you have to have the most expensive, fastest, most innovative, etc .. what you need is the item that FITS YOU best and is most COMFORTABLE!

Goggles:
I’ve been to way too many ‘talks’ where the speaker says “you NEED to buy the wide goggles, you can see more” – well if your face is shaped differently and you constantly get water in your eyes, you can’t see ANYTHING, it is USELESS.    I personally cannot wear those types of goggles, my face is short and the water leaks under my cheeks.  I’ve seen friends with flatter noses try the same thing.. bottom line, try them!  Expensive doesn’t mean “better” for you!  You have to find the goggle that FITS.

I do find that I enjoy a TINTED goggle especially on sunny open swims!

Swim Suits v TriSuits:
Again, you don’t NEED a tri-suit (one piece suit to swim in, bike in, run in). Try one out, see if you like it!  There are different kinds out there.  I’m short, so I personally like the two piece tankini and then tights/bike shorts.  You can also go to the restroom a little easier with two pieces!   Plus, I have a problem with the zippers on the tri-suits, they like to come un-done on me.

FIT AND COMFORT, it’s up to you on what you are comfortable with, don’t let expense or peer pressure make you get one.  It is best though, to have one ‘outfit’ to wear during the entire race, especially the shorter ones. Find what works for you and do it.

Wetsuits
I love my wetsuit!  The first time I swam with my wetsuit, it cut 10% off my time on a ¼ mile!  Again, you don’t need an ‘EXPENSIVE” one, but you do need to find one that fits you comfortably.  Wetsuits are generally uncomfortable though if you’re not used to them.  They will be tight around your neck, and arms if you get the sleeved one.  You should be able to move, and breathe without the feeling of being strangled or reduced lung capacity.  A wetsuit should not be loose though.  You do NOT want enough space where water can ‘woosh’ in your suit, that will keep you cold and uncomfortable.

Sleeves vs sleeveless -  up to you, the conditions you will be swimming in.  Again this is down to FIT AN COMFORT (see a theme?).  What is your tolerance to the colder water? Do you freeze in warm water?  Sleeves are probably better for you.  Are you super buoyant as a swimmer? Sleeveless might be the way to go.   These are factors to consider when going sleeves or sleeveless. 

I go with my sleeveless unless the water is less than 64 degrees.  My arms are pretty buoyant (as is the rest of me), so the sleeves make me feel like I have to work harder to keep them down.  – personal body type though. 

Remember what works for one person may not work for someone else, take in all the advise you get, but use your judgment!


Gear- How to take care of it.

Goggle’s –
Water:
 If you’re getting water in them all the time, first, are they too tight.. yup.. TOO TIGHT!  You can tighten them to the point where the lip flips over and becomes useless.  Try loosening them!  You want a little suction, but you do not want indentions in your eyeballs!    If you’re still getting water in them, it’s possible that the type of goggle may not work for you.  Look at yourself in the mirror, is there a space around your nose, is there a space next to your eyes on the sides, if so it may not be the right type for you.  Try another kind.

Fog:
Goggles will fog up.. LEARN HOW TO SPIT.  I can’t say this enough, so I'll say it again, learn how to spit!  Not this silly little ‘tah’ – work up a gross white amount of SPIT.. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve seen, LICK, or gently spray their goggles with saliva.. that just ain’t gonna cut it.. :) .  You want to get the film off the goggle and spit works great!    Use your finger to wipe it around, then wash it off. 

You can buy an mask anti-fog cleaner from a scuba shop, however you won't be racing with it, so it will only be useful to you for the FIRST part of your race! 

Another trick to fogging up is to keep water in your goggles.  After you defog (with spit or defogger), put some water in them and leave it there until your ready to put them on your head.

Lastly, if you’re getting an excess of fog, wash your goggles with toothpaste (the regular kind).  Use enough to coat both sides and rinse it well.  This will help get some film off of it as well.  Careful not to use the toothpaste with abrasive material, you dont want to scratch your goggles!

Wetsuits:
Too tight:
DO NOT DRY IN THE SUN… let me say that again.. DO NOT DRY IT IN THE SUN!..  neoprene shrinks in the sun!  so many of us think we gained weight, nope, you let it sit in the sun and it shrank!

Dry it in a cool- dark/dry place if you can!

If you find your suit too tight, you CAN stretch it. 2 liter bottles are useful.  For example if the arm is too tight, put the bottle in the arm hole and leave it there overnight. 

Washing:
You don’t need to wash your wetsuit   with soap after every use, however you should rinse it.  Rinse it VERY WELL if you were in salt water or chlorine. Try to limit chlorine exposure as it will break down the material and shorten the life of the suit.

You can soak your suit or wash it using dawn dish detergent.  You can also buy a special wetsuit cleaner from a scuba shop, but dawn works just fine. 

Getting in:
Wetsuits:

Many people struggle to no end getting into a wetsuit.  Trick #1, - it’s not pants, don’t yank it up like it’s a pair of jeans!    Roll the suit down until the crotch is exposed, and stick your legs through.  ROLL the suit up your body.  DON’T YANK.  If you try to stick your legs in you will end up with a big gap in the crotch and will be struggling with it, especially if it’s hot.  If you have trouble getting your feet in, put your feet in a plastic bag before sticking them through the leg holes, but don’t forget to still ROLL it up.

Women, think about putting on the wetsuit like you put on pantyhose!  - Men,  I don’t know what to tell you, ask a woman how to put pantyhose on.

You can also use a mixture of Dawn and water in a spray-bottle to assist.  Only do this if you’re in open water, don’t soap up someone’s pool!  Spray your arms/legs with the soapy water and you’ll find you slide right in. (still roll in).

Swim Caps:

Swim caps are a pain – but are a necessary evil.  I’ve seen a lot of demos where they tell you to stretch it and just stick the top of your head in…. guess what- you’re going to send that cap flying.  I’ve sling-shotted one a good 15 feet once!  If you have shorter hair, open the cap using both hands then stick your forehead in the front of the cap and stretch it around the back of your head. Then tuck your hair in as appropriate. 

If you have longer hair (like I do).  Flip the pony tail over the top of your head, open the cap up, and start from the back of your head and stretch it to the front.  Then pull the pony tail down as required.

Make sure you get the air bubble out of the top.

Swimming:

I’m not going to get into too much here, except – Total Immersion is awesome!  Take a class if you can!

 And if there’s three suggestions I can offer its:

  1. Don’t kick so much, this is where much of your Oxygen is spent, and its why people think they can’t swim that far!  You only need to kick to keep your-self horizontal.
  2. Head in the water!!!!   Holding your head out of the water is a big waste of energy.  It’s like driving your car down the road with a parachute sticking out the back.  Get comfortable with your head IN the water! 
  3. Stroke and Glide.. (ok this belongs to a friend Jim, but its in my head ALL the time).. just remember Stroke .... and GLIDE...


I hope some of this helps!       

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