WannaTri held their first open water swim clinic at Butcher Jones Recreational Park on March 15, 2015. I was really excited to go because I need as much open water practice that I can get. I attended their dryland clinic before a Splash and Dash last year, but my first OWS was so overwhelming that I was looking forward a more in-depth (literally) clinic. The best part is that Tribe MultiSport provided wetsuits for the clinic free of charge. Tribe is also awesome because they have 2 stores in the East Valley and both stores have Lego tables to keep the kiddos occupied while Mamas (Parents) pour themselves into the right sized wetsuit.
This was my first time at Butcher Jones Recreational Park and I was amazed that this oasis was only a short drive away from the East Valley suburbs. I met up with the awesome SwimBikeMom AmBADASSador – Esther and another Moms Run This Town mama attended the clinic, too. Having friendly faces helped calm my nerves before the swim.
Coach Sara from WannaTri gave some dryland tips before we jumped in the water put everything into action. My favorite part of this clinic was being able to practice the skills just after we talked about them. In the water, she reminded us of the tips she discussed on land and provided more guidance for the swim. We swam in the cove area along the coast and towards the buoys.
Here are a few of my notes from the clinic:
- Wetsuits add buoyancy. It’s a completely different feel for the swim almost like swimming with a swim pull. Long-sleeved suits pull at the shoulders, so the stroke is different, too.
- If the water is cooler and you are wearing a sleeveless wetsuit, a neoprene cap can help you retain your heat.
- Use TriSlide or Bodyglide to prevent chafing at the neck, shoulders and arms. If you use TriSlide, it also helps slide that suit on over your legs.
- Get a helper to hold the zipper pull back into the velcro at the top of the neck. This will help secure your zipper pull and also make it easier to remove your suit.
Entering the water
- Always splash your face first to help calm and relax your body.
- Splash upper body to get accustomed to the temperature.
- Submerge your face and blow bubbles.
- If your race is on the south shore of Tempe Town Lake (Tempe Beach Park), you’ll want to jump out and away from the stairs so that you don’t hit the side. (A side note: jumping away from the wall will also prevent the next person from jumping right on top of you. I learned that last year at Esprit de She.)
Sighting and Navigating
- Use alligator sighting. Only lift your head so that your eyes are out of the water.
- Think of yourself as a giant Pez dispenser. Pivot/tilt your head back and try to crank back with the rest of your body.
- Sight above the water line. Use the tops of bridges, the sun, and mountains instead of the buoys.
- Use pivot turns around buoys (to avoid breaststroke) – freestyle stroke, roll to backstroke back one stroke and roll back to freestyle.
- Keep your head in alignment. Steer with the top of your head. When you are not aligned, dip your chin to your chest to help regain control.
Mass Swim Starts
- Tread water. Wait for the signal, float and then start with your arms and then include your legs.
- Drafting just behind other swimmers can help save you some energy.
- Having a flexible and loose forearm stroke will help you keep your space protected during the swim.
Exiting the Water
- If your race has a beach exit, you’ll want to swim as long as you can so that you’re not hampered by running in the water.
- Once you’re standing, start removing your wetsuit. If there are no wetsuit stippers (volunteers who help you remove your suit) at the water’s edge, then you should have your suit at your waist by the time you hit transition.
Thank you Coach Sara and Coach Seth for putting together an awesome open water swim clinic. It was my first wetsuit swim and it definitely helped me calm my nerves and gain more experience.
PS. This was also one of my last activities with my Bia. 😦