Make sure you have a swim suit that fits snugly and has a racer back or T back so that the straps stay in place while you swim athletically.
Get a pair of goggles that fit your face securely. There are different styles (pool racing to dive masks and some "in between" sizes). Find a type you like and make sure it suctions to your face and stays secure without you having to secure the strap.
A lot of pools have swim toys that you can borrow while you swim. A kickboard and pull buoy are the ones I recommend most. So, if you want to have your own, those are the ones I would suggest getting first. Secondary toys are paddles (be careful and don't get them too big!) and fins.
Rotator Cuff Exercises
Watch this video to learn some very valuable exercises that you can do to keep your upper body conditioned for swimming. These are a must for new swimmers or for athletes who did not swim over the winter. All it takes is a green stretchy band and some canned goods!
Breathing Drill for the Swim
We are humans. Not fish. We do not have gills. We have lungs that are meant only to take in air and our lungs do not do well taking in water! So, is it any wonder that we can get anxious in the water? To not be able to breathe any time we want is rather scary! It is a life or death situation. So, if you get anxious while swimming, it just might be a sign of intelligence. I mean, really. It is life or death!
So, let’s think about this. We can’t breathe any time we want. So, we must plan ahead. We can’t wait until the last minute because that last minute might be at a time in our stroke when it is not convenient to breathe. We must plan ahead. And not wait until we run completely out of air.
While just standing in the water, take a deep breath and then put your face in the water. You are not swimming, you are just standing in shallow water. With your face in the water, slowly breathe out through your nose a little but mostly through your mouth more. Feel free to make a humming noise or an audible sound of some kind and notice the air bubbles that occur. The noise and bubbles can often give you just that much more comfort that you still have air. When you are almost out of air, blow the last bit of air out forcefully and turn your head to the side, exposing your mouth to air. Suck as much air into your lungs as you can. Because you forcefully blew out all your air right before turning your head to breathe, there should be a slight vacuum feeling that allows you to get the most air possible. Then put your face back in the water and repeat the process. How long can you keep your face in the water? How often do you need to breathe? What does it feel like right before you know you need to breathe? Get used to how it feels to be almost out of air. Not what it feels like to be completely out of air, but almost. That point at which you still have a few seconds to react. Get to where you feel this naturally and it triggers you to get ready to breathe the very next time possible. This will help you establish your breathing pattern, your breathing plan. Begin practicing this each time you go to the pool as part of your warm up. Practice it until breathing becomes more natural as a part of your swim stroke.
If you are part of a swim group and it is awkward to practice this before you swim or you just want a non water way to start, you can simulate this breathing exercise on dry land and practice it any time! Just imagine you are putting your face in the water. Blow out through your nose and mouth. Don’t let yourself breathe until you are almost out of air, you blow out forcefully and then turn your head to the side. Get used to breathing quickly and deeply into your body, feeling your lower belly expand outward as the air goes in. Turn your head back down and repeat. It is the timing and process that is important here. Anchoring in the feeling and what is required to successfully breathe in the water.
What do you find yourself forgetting to do? It is very common for us to forget little things that are important to this new breathing process. It is all new to us and we are, after all, a little anxious. So, do you forget to breathe all your air out? Do you try to breathe out and in when you turn your head as opposed to doing the “breathing out” part while you are under the water? Do you forget to blow water out through your nose? Do you just open your mouth above the water and forget to breathe in hard and quickly? These are some of the more common things we forget to do. See what you forget and practice this drill until this process becomes second nature. Practice on dry land first and then while standing in shallow water. Practice until you don’t have to think about the steps. This will help you develop your breathing skills within your stroke. Soon breathing while you are swimming freestyle will become second nature!
Additional Note: For a lot of us, we need to breathe every stroke on one side at first while we are swimming freestyle. We may not be real efficient with our stroke or we may not be as aerobically fit as we would like so we need oxygen often. As we get more efficient and get our aerobic system in shape, for most of us, our breathing requirements should subside some. But, in the beginning, don’t worry about it if you need to breathe every stroke on one side. It is very normal. And until you are confident you can get enough air, you won’t be able to focus on anything else. Just keep in mind that it is highly beneficial to incorporate breathing on both sides as soon as you are able.
You can use a tri bike, a road bike, a hybrid, or a mountain bike for our training and to do triathlons. Just make sure it is in good condition and make sure you have all the things you would need to change a flat tire on your bike every time you ride (tube, levers, any tools to remove the bike tire, ability to pump up the tire, etc.).
**Know how to get your bike wheel off your bike in case you have a flat! Some bikes (particularly mountain bikes and hybrids) require a tool to remove the back wheel. If you aren't sure, take your bike to a local bike shop and ask the mechanics. They are usually more than happy to help! Then make sure to carry any special tools you need with you whenever you ride.
**Always have a spare tube of the right size with you whenever you ride. The size you need is embossed right on your tire along with the recommended psi for putting air back in your tire. But, again, bike shop guys can help you get the right size. Even if you don't know how to change a tire or have all the necessary tools, often someone will stop to help you. The least you can do is have a spare tube of the right size handy!
Video coming soon.
Here are some things that I highly recommend having for our triathlon training...
A lap watch, preferably water resistant so you can use it in the pool, is a really good tool for providing metrics in running. No need to spend a lot of money or get a fancy HRM (heart rate monitor) or Garmin unless you just like gadgets! A simple 10-20 lap function watch will do.
As hot as it gets in the summer here in Austin, dri fit or cool max (some type of high tech fabric) is key to staying cool. Cotton will get heavy and hot. Try to get shorts, a good sports bra and running top that will wick away the moisture.
How old are your shoes? Even if you haven't run a lot of miles in a pair of shoes, if they are more than a year old, the material has probably dried out some and therefore deteriorated. It would be wise to invest in a new, sturdy, comfortable, appropriate shoe for your foot and running style. There are several stores in town that do a great job of fitting you to right shoe! Ask your team mates for their latest recommendations.