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    Thread: Triathlon Thread (Sprint, Half, Olympic, etc)

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      02-07-2012 12:15 AM #1
      I didn't see a thread started so here goes.

      I plan on doing my first Sprint Triathlon this year and I'm going to need advice, pointers, and encouragement from you guys.

      This is the one I plan on doing in June:

      http://dqtridu.com/psp.htm

      Distance: 1/4 mile swim , Bike 12 miles and 5K Run


      A little background on me:

      Last June I was 210lbs, today I weighed 191 after my short bike/run/sauna at the gym. I've always been a "strong" guy, but never much of a cardio guy. I've been working on that. I took up road cycling and can now go on a nice 15+ mile ride with no issues.

      I think the things I'm going to need help with are gameplanning on how to put the pieces together, what kind of race day things I should need or expect, etc.


      So, that's where I'm at right now. Feel free to add your two cents, etc.

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      02-07-2012 02:19 AM #2
      rule #42

      have you stuck a pair of "tri bars" to the bike yet and get fitted for that?

      the cycling part is to do it as fast as possible AND expending that least amount of energy as possible (stocking up) as you still need to do the run.
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    3. Senior Member FlashRedGLS1.8T's Avatar
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      02-07-2012 07:54 AM #3
      - Brick workouts (swim->bike & bike->run).
      - Not sure about your swimming background, but you should start getting in the pool as much as you can. This is always the hardest part for me.

    4. 02-07-2012 07:56 AM #4
      With that being said, work on your technique/ form. Efficiency is the key with everything, especially on the swim

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      02-07-2012 08:12 AM #5
      I have not started swimming yet. My gym doesn't have a pool, so I need to join a second gym with a pool. I was going to do this with either 3 or 4 months out. Even though it's been a mild winter, I'm still training indoors. Transitioning from bike to run is going to be the hard one for me so I'm going to focus on that.

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      02-07-2012 08:21 AM #6
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      I have not started swimming yet. My gym doesn't have a pool, so I need to join a second gym with a pool. I was going to do this with either 3 or 4 months out. Even though it's been a mild winter, I'm still training indoors. Transitioning from bike to run is going to be the hard one for me so I'm going to focus on that.
      for the bike, are you using clipless pedals? If you're not, it shouldn't be a big deal.

      if you are... Shimano/Pearl Izumi (and other companies) make Tri-shoes, which go on a lot faster than regular cycling shoes.
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      02-07-2012 08:50 AM #7
      I've got Speedplays on my bike now. I've got most of the pieces together to build up a NOS Cervelo P2SL frame, so I think if I have time I'll make that my Tri bike. Since this is only a 12 mile ride, I may just do some Aero bars on my GiantDEFY if I don't get the 'Velo built.

      On my purchase list off the top of my head:

      -Goggles
      -Swim trunks/wetsuit
      -Tri jersey
      -new running shoes (will be bought a month or so before to break them in)
      -try out different gels, blocks, etc to see which I like best.


      My goal is to be in the mid-180s by the Spring, so I just need to keep after my cardio.

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      02-07-2012 12:03 PM #8
      I'd recommend to start swimming ASAP or it'll drain you. work on technique to be as efficient as possible. 1/4 miles doesn't seem like much but the oxygen delivery is something your body needs time to get used to.

      Also, try to do some swimming in open water and lakes, it is completely different than a clear pool. Get a good pattern down like: stroke, stroke, stroke, breathe, stroke, stroke, stroke, mark. It's a lot harder to swim toward a target in a lake. Make sure you also practice in your tri-suit sometimes. People complain that the should motion is a lot different in the tri suit.

      I hear that the swim is where most people struggle.

      Good luck

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      02-07-2012 12:07 PM #9
      swimming is definitely something I'll start working on as I've never tried to "swim with a purpose" meaning I've never done it with the intention of speed and consistency. Since it's going to be in June, I don't know if I should be looking to a full wetsuit, or some sort of short tri-suit. I'm a regular Bonktown junkie, so I'm sure something will crop up on there that will suit my needs.


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      02-07-2012 12:57 PM #11
      You can't win a tri with a good swim but you can lose it with a bad one, especially for a sprint where the difference between first and last out of the water will be 2-3 minutes. Since you are not in a pool now and I don't know your swimming background the most basic advice for the swim is just get through it. If swimming is not a strength you just really need to train for this in a way that the distance won't drain you of all your energy by the time you get on the bike. Don't train to a 1/4 mile for speed train for 3/8 or a 1/2 that leaves you feeling like you could do another 1/4 on top of that. Especailly if training in a pool where 500 yards may be about a 1/4 mile but with pushing off the wall and being able to see is more like 250 yards in a lake.

      Also a lot of people are not comfortable swimming in open water and freak out since they cannot see anything. Not being able to follow a line, no mini rest on each turn at the wall, and the current mean it takes a lot more to go the same distance. Make sure the race is not your first open water swim and practice siting when you are doing some open water training swims. I much prefer hitting the lake for a swim then going to the pool personally even if the pool is easier to get more instance in a shorter time it isn't where you race.

      NJ in june you don't need a wetsuit although it will probably be legal and some like the security of it, I did 12 years of freshly filled pools in may up in NJ with blue lips and nips so lakes are nothing. Save the money unless you are going to buy one to do some open water swims in it for training. The time it will take to strip it would negate any gains from buoyancy in 1/4 mile. If you do plan to race in one get on the mailing lists for a few companies they often have 50% off sales and make sure you practice swimming in it (no chlorine!!!) as well as stripping it off.


      For the bike find a pace you can still get off and run then just try for that. Aero on a 12mile ride won't make a lick of a difference. Aero bars on a road bike (I do it) its not really right and the position isn't great. It will change what muscles you use and how you sit on the saddle. If you plan to put the aero bars on that should be a now not later thing and ride only like that until the race, just getting used to them on the trainer can be tough the position is that much different. Also remember if you have a hilly course and you are converting a road bike your shifters will not be on the aero bars unless you convert to bar shifters, so you'll be breaking aero a lot just to shift gears. Basically for a sprint other then intimidation they will probably make the least difference of anything.

      Speaking of intimidation learn to mount and dismount your bike while leaving your shoes clipped into the pedals . This will save you some time in transition that will add up in a sprint but can also lose you a lot of time if you cannot do it efficiently.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD8ni...eature=related

      My shoes basically live on my bike and only come off when its on the car. (ok they are off right now since i haven't ridden it in forever )



      For the run give it a little to for your legs to adjust and then just go at it, its a 5k. When i did my first sprint I was recovering from an almost ruptured achilles that I finished PT for days prior to the race and had maybe 5 miles for the month leading up to it. So for fear of hurting my foot again I throttle back a lot on the run going from1st to 5th. Had I just picked up the pace say 30 sec a mile i probably would have kept first. I had that in my energy wise. They say if you are not puking and have energy left after a sprint you didn't go hard enough. Just go hard on the run.


      Also no socks on a sprint. Learn to ride your bike with no socks and run with no socks you can easily save 20-30 seconds in transition skipping them. Your feet will be wet from the swim or sweaty from the bike and difficult to put socks on. 30 seconds saved means you can be 10 second slower a mile on the run and still not lose time.

      Check out sites like beginner triathlete and look for race reports for the event you are doing. You'll get some honest answers about how the organizers run it, the courses that sort of thing.. The forums are like any other and full of overly opinioned A holes, most of which have no clue. The new people are actually a lot more helpful then some of the older members, nothing like a site for beginners with people who have been doing it for 10 years screaming at new people trying to learn. Also check to see if they post previous year results on the organizers site to see how you think you'll do

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      02-07-2012 12:59 PM #12
      yea, I remember that thread now, seemed kinda dead so I started a new one. Still lot of good info in that one that I can glean.

    12. Senior Member FlashRedGLS1.8T's Avatar
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      02-08-2012 09:03 AM #13
      Quote Originally Posted by BsickPassat View Post
      for the bike, are you using clipless pedals? If you're not, it shouldn't be a big deal.

      if you are... Shimano/Pearl Izumi (and other companies) make Tri-shoes, which go on a lot faster than regular cycling shoes.
      I did my first summer of triathlons with old school pedals. They worked just fine for what I was doing.

      I've since upgraded to Pearl Izumi tri shoes and shimano clips. The shoes are freaking awesome and so fast and easy to get on and off.

    13. 02-08-2012 12:08 PM #14
      I just use my regular road cycling shoes and bike -- no aerobars or special tri shoes. I have Look pedals and Shimano shoes with velcro closure.

      Since I don't do events longer than Olympic distance anymore, I might reach for a gel at the end of the bike leg. Other than that, water and a recovery meal postrace.

      Heck, I don't even train specifically for these events anymore. I just do my thing and go out on race day, and usually finish at the top of my age group but the middle of the pack

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      02-08-2012 12:22 PM #15
      The only major difference between tri shoes and regular road shoes is that they have drain holes incase your feet are still wet coming off the swim and the close to the outside with a faster closure of say just velcro not a ratchet or laces. Some road shoes when not tied/velcroed/clipped hang to the inside. Tri shoes fasten always to the outside since an unvelcroed/clipped shoe that stays on the pedal would get caught in the drivetrain when you started pedalling.

      I have some version of these :



      Notice the velcro closes outward not inward only two straps and no ratchet.


      Seems all road shoes now fasten outward so that blows the old school reason but still more straps and one is a ratchet


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      02-08-2012 11:45 PM #16
      ran a treadmill 5K yesterday at the gym, did it in just about 30 minutes including a warmup. First time I ran that distance in months. Hopped on the scale when I got home and I was 189.2 Now if I can only stay sub-190 I'll be happy.

    16. Senior Member FlashRedGLS1.8T's Avatar
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      02-09-2012 09:27 AM #17
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      ran a treadmill 5K yesterday at the gym, did it in just about 30 minutes including a warmup. First time I ran that distance in months.
      Good start.

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      02-09-2012 09:27 AM #18
      Quote Originally Posted by Katie-S View Post
      I just use my regular road cycling shoes and bike -- no aerobars or special tri shoes.
      I still use a standard road bike. An old road bike at that...but I'm cheap.

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      02-09-2012 09:29 AM #19
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      swimming is definitely something I'll start working on as I've never tried to "swim with a purpose" meaning I've never done it with the intention of speed and consistency. Since it's going to be in June, I don't know if I should be looking to a full wetsuit, or some sort of short tri-suit. I'm a regular Bonktown junkie, so I'm sure something will crop up on there that will suit my needs.
      Just an FYI, many places have resources for coaching available. Once you start getting some laps in you need to start working on swimming efficiently.
      I've been swimming for a long time but swimming well, like for a triathlon, was a whole different beast for me.

    19. 02-09-2012 10:06 AM #20
      Quote Originally Posted by FlashRedGLS1.8T View Post
      I still use a standard road bike. An old road bike at that...but I'm cheap.
      I use my front suspension mountain bike with slicks on it. I'm a cheapo too, HAHA!

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      02-09-2012 10:39 AM #21
      Here are my thoughts after a few Olympic distance tris (no sprints). My goal was against myself - I'll never win a tri.

      - Open water swimming is COMPLETELY different than being in the pool. I'm very comfortable in the pool and have been swimming since I can remember. My advice is get comfortable with both freestyle and breast stroke. I go back and forth between the two. Breast stroke is slower but has the advantage of being able to see where you are going. My first tri I probably did 65-70% breast stroke and still finished in the top 1/3. You have to be comfortable in the water. Don't be afraid to start in the back (if a wave start) to avoid the massive crowds.

      - Being strong on the bike is an easy way to make up a lot of time. For me personally, I focus the most on biking. It's the longest distance and typically the most time. Being strong on the bike will make the run easier as well. I'm not a super serious triathlete, so I just used my road bike without aero bars. If I was doing a half or full ironman, I'd think about getting a TT bike.

      - Bike-run brick workouts are important. My legs feel like jello for the first couple of minutes after I get off the bike. I typically speed walk for about 90 seconds. After that, I'm able to run at my normal pace. I would aim to do a quick run after a good amount of your bike workouts: even if it's just change into your shoes and run a mile. The more comfortable you are, the better.

      - Transitions: lay out your stuff so you dont have to waste time looking for it. Bring a bottle of water to rinse your feet off before getting on the bike. You'll probably walk through gravel or dirt after the swim.

      Have fun. Tris are a good time. I enjoy the fact that I'm forced to work on all 3 events. you really can't slack. I'm not sure I'll be able to do any this year. I messed up my hip last fall training for a marathon and it just refuses to heal.

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      02-09-2012 11:34 AM #22
      Moose: that is very good info. I think I've decided at this point in my head I am not aiming for any sort of specific time goal, just a goal to finish.

      that's a great tip about a bottle of water to wash off my feet, I would not have thought about that. it's little tips like that that are most useful to me.

      the bikes at my gym are mediocre at best, so getting an indoor brick is tough, but it's something I'm going to continue to work on. I'm still looking for a pool that I can use.

    22. 02-09-2012 11:50 AM #23
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      the bikes at my gym are mediocre at best, so getting an indoor brick is tough, but it's something I'm going to continue to work on.
      I say skip the indoor bricks, its warm enough this winter to work out outside. I've been marathon training outdoors all winter, just dress right. It doesn't take much money to get a decent pair of pants/jacket/gloves.

      a sprint brick (bike/run) shouldn't take much more than 1.5hrs outside, after 15mins you'll be warm anyways. Its not like you're out there all day

      IMO a stationary bike and treadmill don't come close to actually riding and running in an ever changing terrain
      Last edited by robhurlburt; 02-09-2012 at 11:53 AM.

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      02-09-2012 01:14 PM #24
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      Moose: that is very good info. I think I've decided at this point in my head I am not aiming for any sort of specific time goal, just a goal to finish.

      that's a great tip about a bottle of water to wash off my feet, I would not have thought about that. it's little tips like that that are most useful to me.

      the bikes at my gym are mediocre at best, so getting an indoor brick is tough, but it's something I'm going to continue to work on. I'm still looking for a pool that I can use.
      No problem. I think having a time goal is something you should have. Once you get into your training, you can figure out your speeds. Set something realistic, but you'll have to work for. If you're going to be spending all the time training, you might as well try to get the most out of it. no need to be disappointed if you don't get it: finishing is awesome. My brain needs something to focus on and work towards. The last half marathon I missed my goal by like 1:45. No big deal - I'll set the bar higher next time.

      As the others have said, I wouldn't put too much time into indoor workouts. Nothing simulates being outside better than being outside.

      Also, if you're looking for a training plan, there's a book called Triathloning for Ordinary Mortals (something to that affect anyway). I'd recommend picking it up. Lots of good tips for both training, racing, and being prepared.

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      02-09-2012 01:28 PM #25
      Quote Originally Posted by robhurlburt View Post

      a sprint brick (bike/run) shouldn't take much more than 1.5hrs outside, after 15mins you'll be warm anyways. Its not like you're out there all day

      IMO a stationary bike and treadmill don't come close to actually riding and running in an ever changing terrain
      I do agree that it won't be the same, but the problem is, by the time I get done work, the sun is already down/setting and the bitterness has been cranked up, so until maybe Mid-March, indoors is where I'll be. I'm going to keep an eye over on Bonk for some of that compression gear they run all the time.

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      02-09-2012 01:53 PM #26
      You don't need to be doing bricks right now and doing them on an exercise bike to a treadmill will just defeat the purpose since the point is to get used to doing exactly what you would do before the event.

      Just swim bike or run for now don't worry about doing them back to back. Even then you only need to do a handful before the actual event, most people don't do any.

      If you go for a good bike ride just get home and run a mile or two, you really just need to get used to that change in what your muscles are doing.

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      02-09-2012 02:15 PM #27
      I may have just found my pool. Did a little digging around on the local University site and found that I can join their gym as long as I know someone who goes there, and I do, so I'm in like Flynn.

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      02-09-2012 02:42 PM #28
      Quote Originally Posted by robhurlburt View Post
      I say skip the indoor bricks, its warm enough this winter to work out outside. I've been marathon training outdoors all winter, just dress right. It doesn't take much money to get a decent pair of pants/jacket/gloves.

      a sprint brick (bike/run) shouldn't take much more than 1.5hrs outside, after 15mins you'll be warm anyways. Its not like you're out there all day

      IMO a stationary bike and treadmill don't come close to actually riding and running in an ever changing terrain
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      I do agree that it won't be the same, but the problem is, by the time I get done work, the sun is already down/setting and the bitterness has been cranked up, so until maybe Mid-March, indoors is where I'll be. I'm going to keep an eye over on Bonk for some of that compression gear they run all the time.
      I can't help you for running....

      but mounting your bike on a trainer... even with the resistance on the low side, it is harder than riding on the road, as you really can't coast. Each mile you do, will be harder than the typical south jersey roads. You can set the resistance up high to really punish you.

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      02-09-2012 03:54 PM #29
      I have almost that exact same trainer, except mine is a Wind Trainer, not a mag trainer. and man, riding on it SUCKS, but in a good way.

      going shopping for a sexy speedo (not the shorty short kind) after work today.

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      02-20-2012 12:59 PM #30
      well, I finally got in the pool today and holy sh1t, I thought swimming was going to be the east leg of the Tri. I am NOT prepared to do this. The pool is a half-Olympic (I think) and I was able to do about 10 full laps with breaks in between each out and back. After the last one I wasn't feeling so hot so I hopped out and sat on the side for a minute before I knew something was really wrong. I made it back down to the locker room before I dry heaved into the turlit.

      I realized how much swimming is an anaerobic activity where you are holding your breathe for the majority of the activity. I must have looked ridiculous out there flailing about doing freestyle while real swimmers where in the lanes flanking me.

    30. 02-20-2012 02:17 PM #31
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      I am NOT prepared to do this.
      you have close to 4 months to prepare, you'll be fine. it took me about a month before i could actually swim the 800m with breaks, and 1.5 months to do it without stopping. I think i made it 200m the first time out, felt like i was going to drown though

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      02-20-2012 03:28 PM #32
      swimming is tough just take it slow. By slow I mean both your stroke rate and time per lap as well as how many laps you do, ease into it. There is darn good reason there is a life guard at a pool and not next to the treadmill at the gym

      Just breath a lot, do NOT worry about a rhythm right now and trying to go 5, 10 whatever strokes without breathing. Do not worry right now about alternating sides to breath, although try to make sure your stroke stays balanced don't form bad habits just be safe. Pick whatever side you are comfortable breathing on breath EVERY stroke, do not even think about trying to go several strokes before breathing while you are adapting.

      olympic pool is going to be 50m long and 25m wide if it has 10 lanes (which by defintion it has now apparently but maybe 8 if older) then it would be twice as long as it is wide. If it has 4-6 lanes or 8 and is basically square or at least clearly not twice as long then it is most likely just 25m. A lot of Ys and summer clubs have 25 yard pools which will be a hair shorter. (25m=27.5yds).

      25m/yard pool will obviously be better for getting going since less distance between walls means you can rest more easily. 50m would be better in the long run for tri training since its less turning, so less rest which is more realistic.

      Some olympic pools have a 25m setup going across the width at one end that they will use at times, say for like a HS level event. If the pool you are using has black lines going in two directions at one end then you may be able to ask if they set that up at all and try to get your swims in when it is setup to start with (assuming it is olympic).

      you'll get there just be safe.

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      02-20-2012 03:31 PM #33
      Quote Originally Posted by synthsis View Post
      well, I finally got in the pool today and holy sh1t, I thought swimming was going to be the east leg of the Tri. I am NOT prepared to do this. The pool is a half-Olympic (I think) and I was able to do about 10 full laps with breaks in between each out and back. After the last one I wasn't feeling so hot so I hopped out and sat on the side for a minute before I knew something was really wrong. I made it back down to the locker room before I dry heaved into the turlit.

      I realized how much swimming is an anaerobic activity where you are holding your breathe for the majority of the activity. I must have looked ridiculous out there flailing about doing freestyle while real swimmers where in the lanes flanking me.
      Thats why I said what I did in post #3.

      Start slow and easy.
      Mix laps up with freestyle and breath stroke.
      Slowly ramp up your laps.

      You'll be fine, you have sufficient time.

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      02-20-2012 03:36 PM #34
      Quote Originally Posted by robhurlburt View Post
      you have close to 4 months to prepare, you'll be fine.
      This, just keep going. Swimming is very tough at first but gets easier as time goes on. As far as breathing, it's mostly mind over matter. Try to relax yourself and exhale somewhat linearly. Make sure you exhale completely before you tilt your head to breathe, no mist when your mouth is above the water line. Keep you opposite ear in the water and look back toward your exposed/dry ear to maximize your intake breath time. Try to breathe every 3 strokes if you can already breathe from both sides. In a couple of months, start doing excersizes where you swim a bit slower but breathe every 5 strokes. This will improve your lung capacity and help with recovery.

      Also, make sure you do a couple of bike rides immediately after swimming. In the water, your body is most efficient for transferring heat. It takes my body about 10-15minutes to adjust to naturally cooling with the ambient air. When I go from the pool to the elliptical trainer I dump and insane amout of sweat in the first 5 minutes.

      Make sure you do a decent cool down (slow 150-200 yards) to prevent shoulder injuries.

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      02-20-2012 03:49 PM #35
      Quote Originally Posted by FlashRedGLS1.8T View Post
      Thats why I said what I did in post #3.

      Start slow and easy.
      Mix laps up with freestyle and breath stroke.
      Slowly ramp up your laps.

      You'll be fine, you have sufficient time.

      My knees hate breast stroke so it always slips my mind, but yes as you mentioned before it is a great stroke to work in when starting off. Every stroke "requires" a breath so it is a good one to just get used to having a nice rhythm and working on exhaling. ?You can just take a nice long deliberate stroke to work on going longer while still being in an easy and comfortable position to pop your head up if need be. It is also a good one to be used to for siting in open water, which I believe you also mentioned.

      When doing freestyle since it sounds like exertion was an issue as much as getting air, remember that long efficient strokes are better then tons of short fast ones. Bad habits are hard to break in swimming since you can't see what you are doing if you are taking tons and tons of strokes per lap try and slow down your stroke and go longer. You may go slower at first but you'll get better form and use less energy as well as keep your heart rate in check.

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