My mom commented the other day that I never talk about how my swimming is going. Well, that is because the swimming isn't going. Or going badly. Take your pick. Let's just say the swim part is one of my big "imperfections".
A little on my swim background- out of concern for water safety, my parents required me to do about 2 years of swim team. I think I was 6 and 7, and I was never any good. I have a good collection of those pale blue disqualification ribbons, as I had a tendency for false starts, swimming the wrong stroke, and just blatantly bad form. I never won. I guess we can say my formal swim training ended at age 7- probably a bad sign. When I decided I wanted to do triathlons, I remember starting with swimming 500 yds and it seemed endless. This was about 6 yrs ago now. I did some drills written about in books, and I've worked my way up in yardage and some improvements in time. About a year ago I did have a breakthrough of sorts, but whatever it was I mastered during that time was short lived. My PR in the HIM was 38:xx at Steelhead (some assist from the current) in 2010. Last year I went 40:55 at Door County.
My main problem is motivation. I can get myself out the door for a run or bike. But when it involves going to the pool, changing, waiting for a lane, swimming, showering, changing, go home, etc, motivation disappears. I have been training with Endurance Nation and loved the "No swimming in the outseason" and agree with it. Unfortunately, even EN advocates a good solid 12 weeks of swimming prior to racing. I think I just kept thinking "I have time" with regards to the swim. I am now 3 weeks out. Time is running out.
To help solve the motivation problem, I joined Chicago Smelts, a master's team. I am the slowest in the slowest lane, which is depressing. I am embarrassed and feel like an imposter if I mention I am planning on doing an Ironman. While it is motivating to try to keep up, the team is largely just a group of people swimming the same set- no real on deck coaching (nothing against them- great group, all volunteer, cheap). Also, there is a fair amount of other strokes. My freestyle is bad enough. I resemble a beached dolphin having a seizure when I try butterfly. It ain't pretty. My friend who was a DIII swimmer told me at least I resembled a dolphin. Anyways, I have gone to the practices about 6 or so times, but decided to hold off til after the big day now so I can focus on freestyle and the sets in my plan. I think in the winter it will be good to build my swim skills.
I am positive my stroke has a lot of room for improvement. When I was in Tucson, I went to a tri clinic where they did video analysis. I was hoping to learn something monumental that would knock minutes off my time. I almost laughed (or actually did laugh) when they told me great things about my body position. That made me think it is my catch that is far less than ideal. This morning I watched a lot of youtube videos on swim technique. I think I get the high elbow/reach around the barrel, and think I even do it most of the time. Am I just weak and don't apply enough pressure to the water? I have noticed that I think my rotation is decreasing, so maybe even my good body position is now failing me. I have tried paddles, and jury is still out on whether they help or not.
Where is my swimming at now? Well, I have swam a grand total of 64,450 yds this YEAR. Yes, that bad. My longest pool workouts have been around 3000 yds. My 100s are about 1:50-2:00. Done a few OWS, peaking at 1:15. I was happy I put in the time, but when I did my educated guess of distance with mapmyrun, it was a whopping 1.6 miles. I am seriously hoping that was underestimated or I am screwed. On both my longer OWS, I have gotten awful chafing on my neck, despite bodyglide, so add that to the (de)motivating column.
One thing I am excited about are my new prescription goggles. I am blind as a bat (retinal detachment on top of very nearsighted for life) and wear glasses, yet it never dawned on me how easy it would be to get prescription goggles. And ridiculously cheap. I think $22. They aren't perfect- strongest is -8 diopters, but man do they help! I first tried the TYR ones, but they were huge. Then I went with Speedo and really like them. They are also "smoke" colored so that should help with swimming into the rising sun in Madison.
So where to go from here- trying to be very good about getting in the workouts now. No excuses. Also trying some extra ones here and there to focus on drills and just be consistent. This Friday I'm planning on OWS for 1:30+. Today I did a set including 20x100's. It sounded tough, but it was doable, which was a boost. One of my biggest fears now is boredom. I am predicting a time around 1:30+ in the race. That is a long ass time of seeing murky water. Any tips on what to think about? I know focus on stroke, but man, that seems like it will get old. Visualize the rest of the race? Zone out? I guess we'll see how Friday goes!