The Three Disciplines: The Swim

by Pool Builders on 12-16-2014 in Articles

The Swim entered the pool area like he always does with a bit of a strut. He wants the other disciplines, who are watching this first practice, to know that he is nothing but slick. His hair is slicked back a little more than normal on this first day and he had put on a splash more chlorine cologne than usual. He met Buzz, the coach, at the pool to get organized and prepare for the first workout.

The Swim was so cocky. He felt for sure that he was just going to get into the pool and rip through a workout. As he met the coach he realized that Buzz was a bit unprepared for this first day. It was surprising that the Coach would not have a set workout of a specific amount of yards or certain drills or skills, but the coach just wanted to see The Swim get in the pool. The Run and The Bike sat on the edge of the pool wanting to see the spectacle that was about the unfold. They wanted to see if the reputation of The Swim was as good as advertised. The Swim got in the pool with his board shorts swim trunks, goggles, and no swim cap. Who needed a swim cap when you had slicked back hair?

The Swim headed off from the wall to swim the first lap of this great adventure of swimming. The Swim looked less than impressive to the Coach who saw him flail his arms around in the hair, kick wildly, and try to muscle his way through the laps. The Swim finished his first 25 yards and had to take a deep breath. What seemed to be an easy transition from swimming almost 20 years previous to today, now seemed daunting. How could he ever swim 300 yards for the first triathlon, not to mention eventually do some of the longer triathlons such as the half ironman distance of 1.2 mile swim or the full ironman which is 2.4 miles? Coach Buzz waited for The Swim to return back down the lane and then they started to talk.

Buzz said "Swimming is not about how much effort you can put into splashing in the water. You have to learn how to swim better. You have to learn to swim relaxed and to conserve energy for The Run and The Bike. We will not win the race in The Swim, but we can lose it there." Buzz then told The Swim to try and take it slow and steady down the lane instead of thrashing around like a fish out of water. He continued "You must be relaxed in the water. If you swing your arms out too far or kick too much, then you will absolutely wear yourself out. Your times will not get any better and you will not able to sustain a quality endurance swim if you are thrashing about." He then instructed The Swim to try and go back down the lane kicking less and having less strokes. The Swim did this, but felt really slow. Neither Buzz nor The Swim had even brought a watch that first day to time the different laps.

During the time of this first swim, there was a child maybe 12 years old in a lane next to The Swim. She was flying up and down the pool. She looked effortless in the way she was swimming. The Swim marveled at her skill. He couldn't possible try to keep up with her speed and determined there that he would get better at swimming. Buzz was even surprised at the speed of the young girl and how much slower this disciplines was going. The Swim and the Coach both realized that this is going to be a long, hard process of trying to get the right form and to get into "swimming shape." The Swim swam another couple of hundred yards and felt tired and discouraged.

The Run and The Bike both felt discouraged as well. If The Swim could not get the Three Disciplines a good start in the Triathlon then how would they have be able to compete? If the whole team was too tired once they exited the swim then The Bike and The Run would be far harder? The team left the pool that day discouraged about the work that was ahead. The Swim had to be faster, but also had to be more efficient. Buzz determined to not arrive at the pool again unprepared, but would return with a planned workout filled with drills to get The Swim ready for competition. He would need to do research to find out how to swim and where to get good workouts. This was going to be a whole new challenge and one of the hardest for this Coach to accomplish.


I had no plan on this first day. I thought I would just get in the pool and swim a few laps. I felt like this first day would just be a feel out day. I had no idea about form as a part of the swim as I was convinced the swim was all about brute strength as the other disciplines are. I was in for a rude awakening. I do remember that little girl speedily and easily ripping through yardage like a raccoon through a bag of potato chips. I was embarrassed and discouraged. I did determine to return with a plan and to do research on how to swim. This discipline that I thought I could be proficient at, now was one of my biggest weaknesses. After only a few hundred yards, I was exhausted.

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