Preparing for Open Water Swimming, Part 1

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The preparation for the swim leg of the triathlon begins months ahead of the race with the proper training. Here are also tips to prepare for race day.

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By Gary Hall Sr.
The Race Club

Although the preparation for a swim leg of the triathlon begins months ahead of the race with the proper training, there is a lot of preparation that should happen in the days or weeks leading up to the race in order to be at your very best on race day. Here are some good examples.

1.  Know the venue. 

Arrive at least a day ahead of the race to study the course and the environment. Know where you are going to enter and leave, where the buoys will be placed, what the bottom surface of the entry is like, whether is it a run, dive or swim start, whether there are currents or waves you will need to deal with and what the temperature of the water is like (will you be using wetsuit or not). Once you have a clearer picture of all of these issues, practice a few entries to get accustomed to the start, along with a short swim.

2.  Adjust your goggles.

Make sure you have a pair that fits the best and is least likely to leak during the swim. Nothing is more annoying than having one or both of your goggles fill up with water, and particularly salt water, during your swim. It will throw you off your game plan. In general, you want the goggles to fit a bit tighter than you would normally wear them in the pool, but not so tight that your eyes feel as if they are going to pop out. Do that and you will want to rip them off your face by the middle of your swim.

3. Pack your race bag the night before the race.

Put an extra of everything you might need in your race bag to take to the venue. You never know when something is going to break or rip. Having a second pair of goggles or suit available is just good planning for the swim, along with the essential bike parts and extra running shoes.

4.  Eat a healthy dinner the night before the race.

Eat what you know agrees with you….the same with breakfast the following morning. Don’t over eat or under eat….same with hydration. Avoid alcohol or toxic substances. If you are in the Olympic triathlon distance, a normal dinner and light breakfast will provide plenty of glycogen storage to get you through the race. Longer triathlons will require that you refuel and rehydrate during the race.

5.  Get to bed early and get as much sleep as possible.

It is likely that you will be getting up very early for the race so make sure you go to bed early. Set your alarm early enough so you have plenty of time to eat, get to the venue, find a place to park, stretch and warm up and most importantly, go to the bathroom or port-o-john. This is not a time you want to feel more stress than normal. 

6.  Visualize your race.

One of the most important parts of mental training is visualization. In the days or weeks prior to the race, you should lie down in a quiet area and visualize yourself going through each leg of your race. See yourself doing everything you had practiced from the beginning of the swim to the end of the run, including both transitions. See yourself swimming, biking and running effortlessly with the best technique you can. Visualization will help you perform better, so take the time to do it.

In summary, to have the best swim, train smartly and effectively for the swim race distance. Then follow these six steps and you will be ready to rock on race day.

Yours in swimming,

Gary Hall Sr.

The Race Club

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date: May 2, 2014

garyhallsr

Hall's record is one of amazing successes. Gary has held 10 world records. In both 1969 and 1970 he was named World Swimmer of the Year.

Since retiring in 2006 as a physician and moving with his wife Mary, to Islamorada in the Florida Keys, Dr. Gary Hall has now dedicated his life to coaching technique and training methods to children, masters, fitness and health swimmers, triathletes and others at The Race Club Camps.

avatargaryhallsr

Hall's record is one of amazing successes. Gary has held 10 world records. In both 1969 and 1970 he was named World Swimmer of the Year.

Since retiring in 2006 as a physician and moving with his wife Mary, to Islamorada in the Florida Keys, Dr. Gary Hall has now dedicated his life to coaching technique and training methods to children, masters, fitness and health swimmers, triathletes and others at The Race Club Camps.

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