Half Ironman Distance Swim Training

January 11, 2011 0 By Jakob

Back from Mexico after about a week and have just one more training that I need to report on. As you may have read previously I have signed up for Challenge Aarhus later this year – a half ironman distance triathlon in Aarhus, Denmark.
The race includes a 1,9 km open water swim in a bay – something I’ve never done before. I imagine that many triathletes are in the same situation before their first half ironman. Here in Amsterdam I have few little opportunity to go and do an open water swim – especially in the cold of January. That’s why I decided to take an hour out of the program to take an afternoon swim – going the full distance.

Luckily in Mexico the water is more than warm enough to just jump in without a wetsuit – I guess that’s the easiest swim I will have all season.
After getting in I was followed on the first 400 meters by supportive colleague Mark who turned out to be about 20 meters faster than me per 100 meters. I guess I still need to work on speed.
The next 600 meters were pretty tough and only when I needed to swim less than I had already done, things got a bit more pleasant.

Salt water – it turns out – is salty. The salt enters respiratory systems and irritates nose and mouth a lot. Waves played about as little role as the waves will at Challenge Aarhus. I think very calm waters can be expected in the bay there, so things should be pretty OK.

What does need some work is my fitness level in the water. I prefer to be able to do the distance with plenty of energy left and that was not the case in Mexico. Especially the last 200 meters were felt and I my thought is that I will need to work on some extra swimming strength. Maybe not so bad now that I returned from Mexico with a couple of injuries to my left leg, which will keep my activity level relaxed over the next two weeks. Maybe do some swim trainings with a pull buoy so the legs can rest and the upper body can work. The swim took 55 minutes and you can have a look at it here. 55 minutes is within my 1 hour estimate for the swim, but it may still improve.

Long story short this was an all in all good experience. Now I have an idea what it takes to do a 1,9km open water swim. At Challenge Aarhus I expect similar conditions, but colder water will mean that it’s a wetsuit swim, which will increase buoyancy and ease the swim and lower the fatigue. All that means that I’m still on track to Challenge Aarhus. Happy, happy!!