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 Hopefully this post finds us all training hard for the Denver Triathlon. When I say "us" I actually mean "you" because alas, I have fallen to injury and am feeling incomplete in efforts to prepare for my first olympic distance triathlon. So there I was in Maui on my birthday (don't all feel bad for me at once), running in last year's shoes instead of the Vibrams I had been using, and aggravated my left foot. Sadly I have had to stay off of it for the past few weeks, and those new NB minimus shoes I looked forward to running in will have to stay in their box indefinitely. I suppose the good thing about a trio of sports is always having another option. And now to dive into the topic of swimming...

I think I may safely say that swimming is generally the most difficult leg for triathletes... for it is indeed harder to find time to swim than it is to slap on running shoes, or to hop on your bike. First is the task of finding a pool that suits your time and purposes. If you wanted to work out with a masters team, these half fish people are up and in the water before the crack of dawn and have probably swam a mile before you've strapped on your goggles. Sleep in an hour and deal with everyone and their mother swimming before work, and you can also forget about squeezing in the lunchtime swim, due to the logistics of showering and rushing back to your cubicle. Secondly, to jump into cold water is a feat in itself, and if swimming really isn't your thing, how will you ever entertain or even motivate yourself for more than twenty minutes? Last of all, train all you might, but absolutely nothing in the pool prepares you for an open water swim with 200 other people.

In the days I merely thought of someday doing a triathlon, my final obstacle was to become comfortable with swimming. Of course I could "recreationally" swim. I remember attempting to do laps at the olympic sized pool during college-- I was thoroughly daunted by the fifty meter length, as well as the strapping young lads that occupied the remaining lanes. I believe I made it there a total of three times for fifteen minutes each. A year later I found myself in over my head (literally, not figuratively) practicing the required swimming for a lifeguard certification class. The lifeguard on duty during my sessions must have thought I was a case, for who was this girl, dressed up in her recreational swimsuits, with technique and endurance so poor she had to stop and rest for several minutes at the end of every length? My thoughts in becoming a lifeguard was that I would always have a place to train. So I completed the cert, got a job at the place I was practicing, and have managed to keep saving lives since. :)

This year I am finally looking into buying a wetsuit, with six triathlons lined up. I was shocked at the water temperatures when I moved to Colorado, but since I figured I would do two sprints a year in the peak of summer, maybe the wetsuit wasn't necessary. It would only build character, right? In my first CO tri, the 2010 Loveland Sprint, I spent the entirety of my 20 minute swim time doing back stroke. When I tell other triathletes I lifeguard, they say, "Oh, then swimming must be the easiest for you." Obviously, I beg to differ. For four years I have been swimming, and it has taken me every single week of those years to be a decent swimmer. It will most likely be four more years until I am a great swimmer. I now teach swim lessons and find that it helps to be a relatively new swimmer, being able to relate with stages of my students' learning curves. 

As with everything in life, there is always something to improve upon. Some day I want to be a triathlon coach. For now, some advice I can offer as a swim instructor is that swimming is how efficient you can move yourself through the water. Every kick, stroke, and breath affects that ideal body position, where we can glide through the water, not fight it. Work on those techniques, and your body will learn its rhythm. If you feel like you are working TOO hard, you probably are! You will improve with hard work and look back proudly at the accomplishment.
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I hate swimming, Mom.

With Memorial day around the corner and parents wanting their kiddos to be able to survive the dog days of summer, I am just about waterlogged teaching lessons for hours on end. Pruniness and the everlasting chlorination does NOT make me want to stay in to train another half hour at all, much less get in the pool when I don't have to. My foot is a huge motivation, however. I get so frustrated with injuries and illnesses affecting my lifestyle, and I desperately want to be running before the Denver Tri. Only a few weeks away... and there is one other who has been impacted with my inability to run. Her name is Phoebe, and she cannot keep up with a bike, nor is a fan of swimming, especially now that swim/bike training has taken precedence over our run time.

-Lynsa Nguyen is a massage therapist, swim instructor, fitness instructor, and lifeguard for the City of Lakewood Recreation Centers.

8/28/2013 04:32:22 pm

Swimming is great exercise and it will give you full body work out. It is good to hear about the Olympic distance triathlon and I wishing you all the best for your Olympic dream. Thank you for sharing this article and I enjoyed reading it.

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10/4/2013 04:54:36 pm

Last of all, train all you might, but absolutely nothing in the pool prepares you for an open water swim with 200 other people.

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10/13/2013 02:44:12 pm

A year later I found myself in over my head (literally, not figuratively) practicing the required swimming for a lifeguard certification class.

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