A Tale of Two Swimmers


Posted by Coach John Murray

(reprinted from December 10, 2013)

A few years back I volunteered for the swim portion of an IRONMAN event. I was in a kayak and assigned to an area near the beginning of the race. The cannon went off and the athletes began to make there way past me and on their journey of a 2.4-mile swim.

It was not long after the race had started that I noticed one swimmer with her head out of the water and making her way through the mass of swimmers towards my kayak. She didn't look fatigued or panicked. As she got closer I asked her if she was okay and responded that, yes, she was fine. She just matter-of-factly told me that she was done. I'll admit, I was a bit confused. Here we are in the opening minutes of an Ironman and she was dropping out...for what appeared to me as no apparent reason. As she held on to the kayak I tried to encourage her to complete her quest for completing her first Ironman. She was, however, done. I signaled the Jet-Ski and they whisked her away. In our short encounter I had learned that she came into the event unprepared for a swim of that distance and felt that there was a good chance that she could "wing it".

Then there was another athlete. In the big scheme of things he was a relatively new triathlete. He rose through the typical ranks of sprint, Olympic and Half-Ironman distance races over a few years. His athletic background did not include swim, bike or run. Immersing himself in his limiter, he enrolled in a triathlon-based Masters swim group and swam three times each week. In addition he regularly attended a group open water swim. His biggest doubt as he signed up for the race was in his ability to complete the swim distance. The plan was to change him into a confident swimmer by race day. This would be accomplished through consistency and frequency with his swim attendance, technique work and aerobic conditioning. His dedication paid off and he completed the swim portion in 1 hour 16 minute and went on to cross the finish line to be called an Ironman.


If you are doubtful of your swimming ability but still have aspirations to cross the triathlon finish line, begin working on your limiter now. Set yourself up for success for the upcoming season by swimming regularly, working on technique and developing your aerobic capacity.

~ Coach John

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