Swim Sighting, Swim Caps and Starts, No Alcohol January and Triathletes

This post may be a little long for many of us with micro attention spans. But I promise you, it's worth it. Thanks.

This is year five of No Alcohol January for triathletes. It started on a whim and has now been done on Ironman.com and Slowtwitch. I'm certain that there are many readers who don't get it, don't see the need for an abstention from alcohol, but many do. I think this was best put by one of the posters on ST as follows:

My first reaction when I read this post was to say, you gotta be kidding me.

If there is one cohort that would not be abusers, it would be an athlete who has to survive a 12 hr race (which lets face it is the average time frame in an IM) and all the training that it takes to get there.

Then I thought, ahh, it's just the Americans, they have this abstinencial ( I made up a word) streak going back to Prohibition. After all the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock and not Cape Spear ( most easterly point in Canada) where the Vikings maybe got a first glimpse of Canada . Let them get on with it. I'll raise one to you.

So I started to write something tart and condescending. Looked up a few stats and found that 1/8 of all (mostly adult) Americans have a drinking problem. With 90,000 subscribers, that would be over 11,000 problem drinkers on this site alone. Even when it was whittled down to the views (or the respondents) of this topic, it was a startling number.

I thought Canadians must be more sensible than that. Turns out, they're not. In fact we have as much if not more (all that snow maybe) problems with alcohol.

So for those who take part, all the best, hope it helps, take care, make it to the finish, whatever it takes.

I would normally say cheers, but you know......!

So there are some of us who are silently uncomfortable with our relationship with alcohol that we'd love to have a part of the mix in 2019. Start today, the 12th day of Christmas, it's as good a day as any. Find my post on Slowtwitch and join the group. Get the support of like-minded athletes. The comments are really fun; feel free to add your own.


You have to have clear vision for the entire race.

This part will be brief.

Mass start swim

Successful open water swimmers work out the kinks in the pool well before race day. Isn't this a good use of your time in the pool?

In our previous blog on sighting, we went over how to swim straight in open water by sighting, looking straight ahead ever so briefly during your stroke then making tiny course corrections when needed.  You stay as close to on course as possible and save time by not swimming wide right or wide left. We also talked about "blind swimming," getting a slight push off the pool wall right down the center of the lane, closing your eyes and swimming a few strokes to see if you veer slightly to the right or the left.  This can all be exceptionally helpful come your first outdoor event.

When you wear a brightly colored swim cap provided by race management, remember that there's a different amount of friction between goggle straps and caps, when compared to sliding them over your cap-less hair.  Plus, there's a different amount of friction between goggle straps hardly sliding at all over brand new caps compared with older/well broken in ones. Try it and you'll see what I mean.

In mass start races, it's recommended that you swim with goggle straps tucked under your cap so that should another racer accidentally run their hand down the back of your head during a stroke, they won't pull your goggles down.  For non-mass starts, either inside or outside seems to work.  But here's the thing.  You're going to practice in the pool, right? Frequently, depending on the goggle brand, sometimes when you push off the wall, the force of the water peels the straps down the back if your head when a cap is on it.  Perhaps adjusting the strap tension can assist but remember the teaching of American swimming great Penny Lee Dean who says you don't want to look like a raccoon when the goggles come off.

Don't forget to trim your toe nails and finger nails before the race. It's the courteous thing to do. If you've ever come home from an event and had to explain the big scratch mark down your face to your spouse, you know exactly what I mean.

The short of all this is if you practice now, in January and February, TOMORROW at the pool, you'll have one difference between the pool and the lake/ocean mastered and can spend your mental energies on a different aspect of your race.