I’m An Excellent Swimmer

02.12.2010 | 12:49 pm

As a Triathlete, it is essential that I be athletic in three ways. This is actually what “triathlete” means! I’ll break the word down for you, because etymology is kind of a hobby of mine.

“Tri” is greek for means “three,” as you probably know. What you may not have known is that “at” is Bulgarian for “completely unrelated sports” and “hlete” is Ninevan for “merged into a single activity, with an eye toward completely consuming all of your free time.”

Ninevan, by the way, is both an incredibly compact and surprisingly expressive language.

Like most triathletes I have met, I am good at one of the sports (cycling in my case), passable in one (running), and terrified of the other (yodeling).

What? The third event is now swimming? When did that happen? I’m even worse at that than I am at yodeling!

Fortunately — and very, very coincidentally — I went swimming yesterday, for the first time since I got my Swimming merit badge thirty years ago.

These are my findings.

  • One mile is very far. On a road bike on flat ground, it takes me about three minutes to go a mile. On foot on flat ground, it takes me about nine minutes (at least for the first ten miles or so — after that it takes quite a bit longer). Swimming on flat ground, on the other hand, really chafes my stomach. Ha ha! OK, honestly, it took about 35 or so minutes for me to swim a mile in the pool. Which leads me to wonder: is there any slower way in the world than swimming for a human to travel? Like, suppose a one-year-old had started crawling a mile and a breakdancer had started moonwalking a mile at the same time I had started swimming. I’m pretty sure I would have come in last, depending on how often the one year old stopped to eat some dirt, and how many times the breakdancer paused grab his crotch.
  • I love cheating. At the end of each length of the pool, I would compress my legs against the wall and push off, hard, underwater. I would shoot underwater like a torpedo a very great distance. This was, in fact, my very favorite part of the swim, and the only part that I would call “fun.” Which leads me to think that I’ll actually be just fine during the Ironman, as long as the reservoir has walls I can kick off every 50 feet or so.
  • I have been injured. With cycling, a fall can injure you very badly indeed. With running, your entire lower body is subject to fractures, sprains, and torn ASPCA ligaments. But with swimming, I thought that at least you can’t get injured as easily as you can with the other two events. Boy, was I wrong. Here’s what happened: After being in the pool for 28 laps, I was so incredibly bored that I wanted something — anything — to alleviate the boredom. So I intentionally poked out my left eye. The pain was intense, but it was in fact an improvement over what I had been experiencing up to that point.
  • Swimming is Soma. I confess that I am middle aged and that my memory is not what it used to be. However, until yesterday I would have thought that I could at least remember a number for a minute. However, at least five times during my swim, I arrived at the beginning of a new lap and found that I could not remember whether I was starting lap X or X+1. In the interest of not rewarding my brain for its forgetfulness, I always chose X. So it’s quite possible — probable, even — that I swam quite a bit more than a mile.
  • My massive quads are quite dense. While I am certain that my swimming form is admirable and darn close to perfect, I couldn’t help notice that my legs tend to sink a little bit. This was most noticeable when the tops of my feet started dragging on the bottom of the pool. I ascribe this to the fact that muscle is very dense — much denser than water. And so, with the magnificent quads that I have earned over the course of fifteen years, how could I help but have my lower body drag a little bit?
  • The smell persists. No matter how long I showered and soaped and rinsed and soaped and scrubbed and rinsed, I smelled strongly of chlorine the rest of the night. I probably still do, but just can’t smell it myself anymore.
  • The itch persists, too. Another really great thing about chlorine is how awesome it makes my skin feel. Specifically, it feels almost 20% less itchy than if I had rolled in poison sumac for twenty minutes.
  • The exhaustion. Forty minutes of swimming left me completely cooked. Wiped out. Beat. Knackered, even. Frankly, until yesterday, I would have thought I am currently in good enough shape that 40 minutes of anything wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Wrong.

I can hardly wait to go swimming again tomorrow!

PS: Like most United States-ians, I’ll be spending Monday deeply contemplating our presidents. I’ll be back on Tuesday.


  1. Comment by Helena | 02.12.2010 | 12:55 pm

    Former long-time swimmer here: get yourself some good chlorine-removing soap. Aveda has some, or Ultraswim… plus others. And know ahead of time that whatever moisturizer you’ve used in the past (do guys use moisturizer?), it’ll likely smell bad — or at least different — when combined with chlorine. Be prepared to switch brands. The good news: you’ll always smell clean (nothing really removes all the smell).

    And kicking (gently) helps keep the feet up.

    Good luck!

  2. Comment by Richie | 02.12.2010 | 12:58 pm

    Kicking: Point toes away from body and keep legs as straight as you can(try to kick from the hip). Hopefully this will help your dense leg problem!(trust me im a swim coach).

  3. Comment by Haven (KT) | 02.12.2010 | 1:02 pm

    Fatty, swimming?? What’ll they think of next.

    I think you need to gain back some of that weight there, Now Ironically Named Blogger. Fat floats, you know.

  4. Comment by Matt'Sea' | 02.12.2010 | 1:05 pm

    Something to keep your mind off how painfully boring swimming laps is: just keep thinking of all the little kiddies that uh…uhm…errr….piddled in the pool (thus the need for ludicrous amounts of chlorine). That should help your swim pass a little faster…(especially when you occasionally snort or otherwise accidentlally ingest a mouthful). Glad I could help. And just the fact that you actually MADE a mile on your first day (well..not counting the torpedo pushoffs, prob more like 300′) is quite commendable. Concrete arm syndrome?

  5. Comment by Jeff | 02.12.2010 | 1:05 pm

    Now, I remember why I gave up triathlons. Swimming is time-consuming and boring. You can step out your front door and bike, you can step out your front door and run, but you can’t step out your front door and swim. Unless you have a pool. In your front yard.

  6. Comment by jen | 02.12.2010 | 1:06 pm

    it is interesting to see the change in advertisements with different subject matter in your blog – after the engagement announcement there were advertisements for wedding rings. today is a nice advertisement for a going to Hawaii -swimming in Hawaii wouldn’t be boring!

  7. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.12.2010 | 1:07 pm

    How does your shoulder feel doing the crawl?

    From your symptom of popping it out of joint at every other MTB crash, I has supposed that you had a detached labrum (otherwise know as the shoulder socket o-ring).

    Which it seem like would hurt doing the crawl.

  8. Comment by TimRides | 02.12.2010 | 1:09 pm

    On counting laps…When I swam (years ago) I had the same problem forgetting where I was in the count. I finally figured out that I pretty much always breathed to the same side, and when I could see some landmark during a lap (a big timing clock in one case) then it was an even numbered lap. I still sometimes forgot to increment my internal counter, and then it became “What was the last number I remember for sure?” I would then go to the next higher even or odd number as appropriate, so I’m positive I also pretty much always swam extra laps.

  9. Comment by ocary | 02.12.2010 | 1:09 pm

    Awesome idea for next year…

    Iron of Nowhere.

    - Swim 2.4 in a pool, ideally in one of those constant motion lap “pool” things.
    - Bike 112 on rollers.
    - Run 26.2 on a treadmill.

    I’m NOT doing this. But I think you should Fatty!

  10. Comment by Paul | 02.12.2010 | 1:11 pm

    >Like most triathletes I have met, I am good at one of >the sports (cycling in my case), passable in one >(running), and terrified of the other (yodeling).


  11. Comment by judi | 02.12.2010 | 1:16 pm

    excellent post! yes swimming WILL leave you TIRED and STARVING. hunger like you’ve never felt. you did great for your 1st time in. hope your shoulder is hanging in there. i love the triathlon stories. you always seemed like a tri-dork anyways. :)

  12. Comment by Rose | 02.12.2010 | 1:17 pm

    “depending on how often the one year old stopped to eat some dirt” had me laughing out loud!

  13. Comment by GJ Jackie | 02.12.2010 | 1:22 pm

    “So I intentionally poked out my left eye.” On the floor laughing…

    Hang in there, Fatty. Just think about building some awesome deltoids to match those awesome quads.

  14. Comment by brian | 02.12.2010 | 1:26 pm

    Hint: Slap on lotion before swimming. Your pores fill up with lotiony stuff instead of chloriney stuff for much less itching.

  15. Comment by Fat Cathy | 02.12.2010 | 1:27 pm

    Ha! I hate swimming almost as much as I hate running. I was stuck with swimming only about 5 years ago due to a back injury. I found I could not keep my lap numbers straight for more that 2 consecutive laps. So I started playing word games – out and back on lap one, you think of all the animals you can that start with the letter ‘A’, next lap you do ‘B’, and so on (I still haven’t figured out ‘X’). When you are done with those 26 laps, then start on vegetables. Or if you are really bored, all the vegetables have to be in another language. Ninevan would do well here.

    I was so thankful when I could start riding my bike again.

  16. Comment by km | 02.12.2010 | 1:28 pm


    Drag your cyclops self back to that pool and quit your whining. Think about it though, if you keep this level of self-mutiliation up while you swim, you’ll be blind, deaf, and possibly mute before your first Ironman….hey isn’t that some type of “tri” something?

  17. Comment by bikemike | 02.12.2010 | 1:40 pm

    Dr. Fuentes just sent me a link for company (Halliburton, i think was the name) that has these new “stealth” swim fins and snorkels. They’re completely invisible. Elden, do not tell anyone about this…i’ll be sending the link shortly.

    You’re welcome.

  18. Comment by Dpotter | 02.12.2010 | 1:47 pm

    Counting beyond my fingers has always required me to take my shoes off…in the pool, I am not coordinated enough to do that. I am currently swimming for the Kansas 70.3 and I use pennies on the wall to count. Its a great way to organize a workout as well. I flip-turn on the “away wall” and knock a penny off into the water for each lap on the “home wall” (no kick turn, just slap and turn). Its cheaper than buying a counter (cost about 50cents) and its pretty easy to do during the workout. I am with you on the quads though…you will notice your aerobic capacity greatly improving though once you get your lungs. Keep up the hard work and enjoy Valentine’s with your fiance!

  19. Comment by melicious | 02.12.2010 | 1:50 pm

    Wow, Fatty, impressive first time out! Nice!

    You seem like a gadget-guy…I just bought a nifty little lap counter/timer that is worn on the index finger and after each lap, just hit the button with your thumb. It tracks number of laps, time of each lap, total time, and all the nifty feedback that goes with it: average lap time, fastest lap time, slowest lap time.

  20. Comment by Jenn | 02.12.2010 | 1:52 pm

    OMG – that was ridiculously, laugh-out-loud (and even snort a couple of times) funny. I had to read it aloud to hubby, who doesn’t give two shakes about cycling, swimming, OR running. Yodeling…on the other hand…


  21. Comment by Sandra | 02.12.2010 | 1:54 pm

    Invest in a waterproof MP3 player or carrier for your current MP3 player and some waterproof headphones. Lifesaver.

    Glad to see that I’m not the only one who still feels like I smell like chlorine 12 hours after my workout.

    Keep it up. You’ll be surprised at how much your running improves. And thus, your biking.

    And triathlons are a lot of fun. Of course, I’ve only done sprint distance, so in your case, fun may in fact equal torture. But whatever. Now you can eat whatever you want when you and people can shut their traps about it. Good luck in May.

  22. Comment by Michael | 02.12.2010 | 1:55 pm

    At first, I thought you were an idiot for confusing lap X and X+1. I can see confusing X and X+2 however. I then realized you were talking laps, not lengths. My event in high school was the 500 and fortunately, they use lap cards to keep you on track. When I swam the 200, I got confused on more than one occasion and stopped 2-lengths early.

  23. Comment by Dave | 02.12.2010 | 1:58 pm

    Google total immersion swimming. It really helped me with my swimming. Excellent for teaching technique and balance so you don’t scrape the skin off you toes in the shallow end as your massive quads sink. More importantly, it teaches you to save your energy for what really matters – da bike. For running, try chi running or pose running. Both try to teach proper technique to maximize performance and reduce injury aka make it “fun”. Luckily the St. George ironman running course is all hills so that guarantees fun. My friends wonder why I love having fun. Do you get that alot?

  24. Comment by Nogocyclist | 02.12.2010 | 2:03 pm

    Whatever happened to the Bratwursts. I thought that was the other event in a triathlon.

  25. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.12.2010 | 2:04 pm

    But you made it, you swam a mile. No easy feat.

    Knackered, I like that word.

  26. Comment by VT_Rob | 02.12.2010 | 2:09 pm

    I just don’t get it. My wife and I had this conversation yesterday. Wife: “My friend is doing a triathlon in August. You should do it too.” Me: “Why would I do that? I suck at swimming and HATE running!”

    But you have fun, Elden!

  27. Comment by dug | 02.12.2010 | 2:18 pm

    i don’t think breakdancers moonwalk.

    and i don’t think they call themselves breakdancers anymore either. i’ll have to review my tapes of sytycd from last season to be totally sure.

  28. Comment by Tina Z | 02.12.2010 | 2:23 pm

    yes, Ultraswim.

  29. Comment by Amanda | 02.12.2010 | 2:27 pm

    Have you started with two-a-days yet? Sweating out the chlorine on the trainer at night is the only way to rid yourself of the smell.

  30. Comment by skippy | 02.12.2010 | 2:32 pm

    Vancouver starts at a reasonable time for you but i have to set alarm for 2am gmt. meanwhile i am leaving a souvenir http://tinyurl.com/3dpegk
    more on the blog!!

  31. Comment by L'Hippo | 02.12.2010 | 3:00 pm

    I need to start swimming again! When I was swimming laps I would do them in sets of 10 or 20 or some increment and like you, had a hard time remembering what lap I was on. I always wanted to be on the next lap!

    So what i did was number each lap. So the first was 01, then 12, then 23. Which meant “Done zero, doing #1″, etc. etc. And I would go up to 10 and from 10 back to 0 (20 laps). After that got more boring than CSpan, I named them after athletes that wore that number. So the progression was a series of names and I was less focused on how many I’ve done or how long I had left and it worked pretty well. I knew that when I was on the Fran Tarkenton lap (10) I was home free!

    “the mind is a terrible thing to waste”

  32. Comment by coldcanuck | 02.12.2010 | 3:21 pm


    I’m thrilled you’ve decided to take up triathlons; mostly because I love fat cyclist merchandise. When can we expect some “fat trathlete”, or perhaps “triple fatty” swag?

  33. Comment by Matt'Sea' | 02.12.2010 | 3:24 pm

    melicous…thanks for the tip on the finger lap-counter thingamajig! Did a google search and found it (2 diff models). I wasn’t aware anybody made such a thing! Funny reading about others losing lap count..I always thought I was the only one w/ apparently ZERO functioning brain cells while doing laps. The only thing I EVER found that remotely worked was w/ each new lap I’d mentaly say the current lap # over and over in my mind (you haven’t been bored till you’ve done THAT a few zillion times!)…don’t go up to the # till you hit the wall. Even so I’d still lose track a few times doing 2 miles (in a 25m pool…LOTS of flippin goin on). I do love my H2O audio waterproof headphones and waist belt for my cheesoid mp3 player (I use a cheapie in case it ever floods..so far so good). However since I started using that I lose lap count even more. But I made my peace with it…every time I lose count I go w/ the lower #…kind of a penalty for being stupid I figure. The tunes really help the time and pain to go by easier. And at the end I can always figure pretty close how far I actually went by total time.

  34. Comment by Matt'Sea' | 02.12.2010 | 3:26 pm

    coldcanuk….how about “Trifatlete”?

  35. Comment by Chuck | 02.12.2010 | 3:30 pm

    I have been racing tri’s for almost 10 years now, so I’ll pass along two things that I have learnd (being a “big-guy” and all:

    1. Fat floats!! put it in a weatsuit and you are instantly “built for speed”.

    2. get your form right and I would bet you can swim with the “skinnies” with no problems.

    OK, i’ll share 3 things

    3. An ironman swim start has been compared by a lot of people, like to swimming in a washing machine along with getting beatup at the same time. It’s really physical, postion is really important!

    Shouldn’t be a problem for you though, right???????

  36. Comment by Kathleen@ForgingAhead | 02.12.2010 | 3:33 pm

    Total immersion swimming is the way to go! Witch Hazel helps take out the chlorine smell. I love the idea of the lap counter – gotta get me one of those. I’m with the others – super impressed that you were even able to swim the whole mile. Are your shoulders ok??

  37. Comment by Kathleen Lisson | 02.12.2010 | 3:37 pm

    I thought the word around town was that the swimming was the most dangerous part of a tri because you get kicked in the head by another swimmer on race day. I’ll take my chances with running, thank you very much.

  38. Comment by Mike Roadie | 02.12.2010 | 3:42 pm

    Sorry, but I loved this:

    “I couldn’t help notice that my legs tend to sink a little bit. This was most noticeable when the tops of my feet started dragging on the bottom of the pool.”

    You are a gem I tell ya’……………

  39. Comment by Bill W | 02.12.2010 | 3:43 pm

    I would make sure to get in some open water swims. It takes some getting used to. 35 mins for a mile your first time in the pool is nothing to be ashamed of. With some consistency you’ll make big improvements quickly, not necessarily on your time but how comfortable you feel in the water.

  40. Comment by Philly Jen | 02.12.2010 | 3:44 pm

    Hey, I swear by Ultraswim, too. BUT…

    * Isn’t Ultraswim a specialty shampoo and conditioner?
    * And have we not established that Fatty is DNF
    (Doin’ Nuttin’ Follicularly)?

    Ergo, no Ultraswim for El Gordo.

    But yes to lotion. Personally, I’ve found CeraVe cream to be some sort of wonder unguent — they’ve got a special time-release technology going on there…or magic, maybe! It’s that good.

  41. Comment by jeffie | 02.12.2010 | 3:46 pm

    Yes Total Immersion for doing it right. Do this now before you learn how to swim wrong. I never swam before I started Tri training one January. Same as you, first miles around 30-32 minutes – then watches TI tapes and realized that I needed to preserve the legs for the rest of the event AND I was going to be wearing flotation (wetsuit) s get this thing called a pull buoy – holds your legs up so you can roll correctly. All your legs are for in comp is to flutter kick to keep them on the water. By June I was in the 21 minute range just using TI and, of course, swimming at least 2000 meters every day.

  42. Comment by Tina Z | 02.12.2010 | 4:07 pm

    Philly Jen: very good point! But Ultraswim shampoo is good as a body wash and the conditioner as a body shaving cream.

  43. Comment by brian | 02.12.2010 | 4:09 pm

    Anyone else feeling abandoned by Fatty?

    I mean here we all were training to not do a triathlon together, then Fatty totally drops off the training program.

    Slacker! I mean c’mon, Fatty, you were my workout partner. How am I going to find the motivation to train not to do an Ironman without you?

    My greatest fear is that I am imagining not doing a triathlon so well that thanks to the secret I’m going to somehow find myself in the middle of one. Ah, maybe that’s what happened Fatty, maybe after blogging vehemently that you would never run or do a triathlon the universe forgot the not and just took over…

  44. Comment by Jenn | 02.12.2010 | 4:10 pm

    Are you serious about this Ironman thing? You do need to bring bratwursts back (and this is coming from a vegetarian!). Love the idea of an Iron of Nowhere – ha!! Congrats on swimming the mile Fatty!

  45. Comment by Melinda | 02.12.2010 | 5:16 pm

    Get a lap-counting watch. Mine made my swim much more enjoyable. I could stop constantly repeating the lap count in my head. Also a LONG shower before getting in the pool tends to plump up the cells so they absorb less chlorine.

  46. Comment by Lana | 02.12.2010 | 6:06 pm

    Just read about this on a swimming blog and it sounds like it would be great for counting laps and strokes and all that jazz for those of you who alove your running watches and bike computers and want all that data for swimming too – http://www.kastawayblog.com/2010/02/pool-mate-story-and-award-winning-ceo.html

    On counting laps, I always count lengths – then I just have to remember if if I am going the even or odd way, narrows down the choices – I do play the alphabet game when doing running workouts on the indoor track though (14 laps to a mile – shudder).

    I look forward to more swimming stories – I need them to send to my swimming coach to prove that I really am not that bad after all!

  47. Comment by Rich | 02.12.2010 | 6:18 pm

    Swimming is without a doubt the most abhorrent activity I have ever participated in and that includes diaper changing and cleaning up shingle scraps from a newly stripped roof. You’re a better man than I.

  48. Comment by Dr. Lammler | 02.12.2010 | 6:19 pm

    To Brian @4:09pm

    It’s not wise for an employee to criticize the boss.

    Perhaps Fatty should punish Brian and reassign him to be the official lap counter.

  49. Comment by Durvish | 02.12.2010 | 6:32 pm

    I love the idea if the Tri-To-Nowhere! You gotta tuen that into a Fatty challenge.

  50. Comment by Stan Backslide | 02.12.2010 | 6:48 pm

    Bwah hah hah! My evil plan is panning out excellently! I have been using The Secret to turn Fatty into a tri-geek! Soon he will be the bane of every group ride!

  51. Comment by Waffles & Steel | 02.12.2010 | 7:20 pm

    I’ll never forget how the girls used to kick our butts when my high school x-country coach would take our team to the pool for a cross-training session of kick boarding. We were a bunch of twiggy greyhounds with zero body fat, couldn’t float to save our souls. LOL.

  52. Comment by Andrew | 02.12.2010 | 7:29 pm

    As a long time swimmer, I must say… you may not appreciate the smell of chlorine now, but you’ll grow to love it. I once took some time away from the sport and any time I’d walk by a swimming pool, it was always the smell of chlorine that made me miss it more than anything else. Too many associated memories.

    It’s also become my adopted cologne of choice. Chlorine is my smell, now.

    As for the itch — my college team swam in a 50-year-old dungeon pool filled to the brim with chlorine. It was so bad that by midseason, the hair had been burned off of our arms and legs and some guys were in danger of losing their eyebrows. On the bright side, it was easy for us to identify eachother in public – we all looked like some kind of super-sterilized burn victims.

  53. Comment by MrsC | 02.12.2010 | 8:11 pm

    Fat Cyclist,

    I used to swim a lot, but then I wised up and started cycling. Anyway…

    Cranking out a mile (or 2, or 2.4) in a pool is kinda boring, I’ll grant you. I found that because it’s so repetitive it can also fairly meditative. What I do is focus on my stroke and think about that.

    First make sure you’re doing it right (get a session or two, find a friend w/good technique, etc). While you are swimming each lap, actively think about your legs, your arms, your core, are you rolling side to side, how’s the breathing, etc. There’s a lot going on when you swim and I find I can just get into a zone. Maybe that’s an oddity, everyone else seems to find only unrelenting boredom.

    Don’t rely on the crutch of an MP3 player all the time – I assume you won’t have one in the race.

    Before you even get in the pool, make a plan for your workout. Divide it into smaller chunks you CAN keep track of. Then, once each chunk is finished, you forget about it and focus on the next one.

    For example, in a mile swim, I do 600 yards to warm up (divided into 3×200, with the last 50 of each 200 a different stroke as a treat. Oh boy!). Next, try some drills for 400-600 yards. For example, arms only drills for 200, kick only drills for 200, then another 200 arms. Boom. Almost done! Next, maybe do some intervals for 600 yards. Then a quick cool down and you’ve done a mile, no sweat! The point is, however you divide it up, make a purposeful workout with smaller sections you can keep track of. I

    However, f I just want to swim and put in distance, I really find that doing 200 (or whatever) yard segments w/a final 50 of a different stroke to be useful. You can easily do 150 on autopilot w/out getting lost, then just have to keep track of that final, different 50 and at the end can figure out your total distance.

    Good luck!

  54. Comment by Andrew Brautigam | 02.12.2010 | 8:12 pm

    Fatticus – You need to get a total immersion book. If you don’t want to read a book, concentrate on pressing your chest down, and rotating your whole body with each stroke.

  55. Comment by Ethan | 02.12.2010 | 8:13 pm

    Chlorine is the triathletes cologne, you’ll grow to like it.

    For lap counting just get used to the fact that you’ll forget. It wasn’t until I had 4400 yards on my training plan that I really paid attention. At that point I really focused and made sure I knew where I was in my routine so I didn’t end up in the pool any longer than I needed to be.

  56. Comment by Sara P | 02.12.2010 | 9:34 pm

    Screw being an IronMan…I want to be a FattyMan!
    Also, you will most definitely have to get the IM logo tatooed somewhere VERY visible – like on your massively impressive quads. It is required upon completion of your first IM. Perhaps they could set up a mobile tattoo parlor at the finish line.

  57. Comment by Jodi | 02.12.2010 | 9:42 pm

    Applause to you for your training efforts. After you finish the St. George Ironman, you and the runner should try a race that will boost your confidence (and probably your ego). Try the Burley Idaho Spudman Triathalon. The swim is in the river WITH the current. You could get in with just your water wings and let the current carry you across the finish line. No swimming needed-just go with the flow. Then you could kick butt on the bike and run! You could even split the event with the Runner and let her do the running part! Its a great time! (Not that I’ve done one but I watched my family members complete it last year). Good luck!

  58. Comment by Rui | 02.12.2010 | 10:08 pm

    You’re doing it wrong. You don’t get it. Swimming is a technique sport, it’s all about form. Get a book called “Total Immersion” and dont worry about how fast but how easy laps are.
    Thank me later fatty.

  59. Comment by Grueny | 02.12.2010 | 11:44 pm

    Yes, you CAN be injured swimming, especially in a Triathlon. When I did my first olympic distance last year at the Chicago Triathlon, during the swim I took both a swift kick to the head (hard enough for me to see stars) and another to the side (knocking the wind out of me). While I attempted to regain my breath, I swam to the wall of Lake Michigan, where my foot was cut my a zebra muscle. So when I finally made it to the finish line, I had to go to first aid to get my toe wrapped up so I could still go biking and running.


  60. Comment by Betsy | 02.13.2010 | 2:15 am

    I like to swim, but swimming in the pool is boring. Love the open water. Yes use lotion after the swim and you won’t have the itch.

    I’ve never used a wet suit, but hear it helps with the flotation. So you might want to wrap your thighs in one and see if you are still dragging…….

    Keep up the hard work and keep us laughing.

  61. Comment by Kala | 02.13.2010 | 8:55 am

    After the 2004 summer Olympics I was convinced I was going to become an Olympic swimmer. I spent every night doing laps in the pool… Then… I did not become an Olympic swimmer.

    Hmph. I did, however, get much better as I kept doing it!

  62. Comment by John | 02.13.2010 | 9:22 am

    Mrs C. offered great advice. My swimming came along after learning about (and practicing) rolling my body-navel should point to the wall.
    Intervals are the way to go. Swimmers use that big ol’ clock in the pool, such as 10 x 50 on the minute-every time the hand sweeps past the top of the clock, do a 50.

  63. Comment by Ventura | 02.13.2010 | 9:40 am

    That’s why they call it “Presidents Day,” because you’re supposed to go out and spend “dead presidents,” that is, cash.

  64. Comment by Neel | 02.13.2010 | 10:51 am

    Let me fix that second paragraph for you….
    You said, “Tri” is greek for means “three,”

    I would suggest editing it to say, “Tri” is geek.”

    Snarkily, Cowboy

  65. Comment by Mark | 02.13.2010 | 11:01 am

    Another cyclist giving tri a go! After two failed attempts (my knees said “NO”) to do it with my wife, I just hopped back on my bike for a long ride. My other favorite blog is by Frazz cartoonist Jef Mallett – another cyclist – he hates swimming too!

  66. Comment by TK | 02.13.2010 | 11:11 am

    Fatty, see if there’s a pool in the area that is disinfected with salt rather than chlorine. It feels much better (and is healthier)- although you will have to find different excuses to replace the smell and itch.

  67. Comment by rsmullen | 02.13.2010 | 11:36 am

    For counting laps, forget the word games, buy this. Watch that automatically counts laps.


  68. Comment by Flying Ute | 02.13.2010 | 11:55 am

    That was funny. Good work.

  69. Comment by Heidi | 02.13.2010 | 1:12 pm

    Since the goal is to complete the challenge rather than race, wouldn’t it make sense to be at back of the pack when it comes time to swim? May save your melon.

  70. Comment by recovering triathlete | 02.13.2010 | 1:32 pm

    1. yes, ultraswim, plus Aveeno soap
    2. swim downhill, yes like in Total Immersion
    3. 35 is not shabby in a 25 yard pool
    4. Try to find a 50 meter pool, practice not pushing off so much ;)
    5. your workouts should focus on increased power @ 200, 400, and 600 meters with recovery periods in between
    5a. Some resistance training after swimming will help, low weight, high reps, specially in masters athletes, lats, shoulders, obliques, rotator cuff(!!!!)
    6. a few shorter interval sessions will help the start, as the event approaches, which is an all out sprint for position
    7. you, however should not sprint for position but hang on the sides or rear so as not to get overwhelmed, since you did not grow up swimming over and under kids in the same lane as you as you did your two a day workouts as a competitive swimmer in high school
    8.have fun and ignore all the advice you are getting, which appears to be the way you roll anyway

  71. Comment by denise | 02.13.2010 | 2:51 pm

    It took me 28 minutes to swim 1/2 last year in the Danskin and Trek triathlons in Seattle. I’m taking lessons starting next week and hope to improve my abilities so I can go the mile needed to get through an olympic distance this summer. I dislike swimming very much.

  72. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 02.13.2010 | 4:56 pm

    I consider it highly disrespectful to reference a crotch grabbing moonwalker when they are no longer on this Earth to enter a defensive comment.

    As for being injured… you’re not helping yourself by poking an eye out. You now only have half the equipment you need to watch that black line slip mindlessly by at the bottom of the pool.

    It’s good that you smell like chlorine. The alternative, from a public pool, is smelling like bodily fluids.

  73. Comment by anji | 02.13.2010 | 7:20 pm


    Sorry if this has already been mentioned but two little gadgets are available for ADD people in the pool :P

    #1) A lap counter. It’s this little gadget that goes on your finger and you click it at the end of each of your laps. It’s also a timer…. and some of the awesome ones, will even calculate how long each lap is roughly taking you. I can’t find mine so I’m about to order mine from here: http://www.swimoutlet.com/product_p/4026.htm

    #2) Underwater earphones! Seriously dude, you can bring some music with you now!

    Both will solve some of your complaints. I would suggest buying goggles so you will resist the need to poke out your eyeballs from boredom!

  74. Comment by anji | 02.13.2010 | 7:24 pm

    I forgot to say… try and get used to do a heads-up front crawl… which means, you do the front crawl but keep your head up so you can see where you’re going. It’s important for when you are in the water and people are splashing everywhere, legs flappin’ around, feet in your face… etc. It allows you to at least SEE what’s coming at ya :)

  75. Comment by Ryan | 02.13.2010 | 9:12 pm

    I just have to second all the comments for getting the Total Immersion book and DVD. Before I started doing the drills in it, I could swim about 5 minutes before I was totally exhausted, and I’m an avid runner. I am now much improved, meaning I enjoy it instead of feeling like a drowned rat.

  76. Comment by Lauren | 02.14.2010 | 9:41 am

    To mitigate the post-swim chlorine smell you can also put lotion on before you head to the gym to swim. Hydrated skin soaks up less pool water than dry skin. It also makes you go faster, you know- like the fancy Olympic swim suits. ;)

  77. Comment by sharon | 02.14.2010 | 10:36 am

    if you swim often enough and long enough, you may begin to find the smell of chlorine sexy and exciting. It is also a good way to recognize other triathletes in the “real world” (just try not to be obvious when you sniff)

  78. Comment by Paul | 02.14.2010 | 1:54 pm

    My favourite part of swimming is when I climb out and go sit in the sauna. It’s all worthwhile for that 15 minutes in the sauna.

  79. Comment by sportyracergirl | 02.14.2010 | 2:41 pm

    Join a master’s swim program. They will design a different program everytime you arrive at the pool. It’s a fun way to pass the time in the pool and you will become a faster swimmer.

    Good Luck,

  80. Comment by Razor | 02.14.2010 | 8:02 pm

    Tumble turns?


  81. Comment by LoPhat | 02.14.2010 | 8:05 pm

    Dude, in swimming you can drown.

    And when you do an actual triathlon, you’ll be able to distracted by the boredom of swimming by a) the constant support of your fellow triathletes, who will give you a hearty “you can do it” by swimming on top of you and kicking you in the head, b) the possibility of hypothermia, c) the companionship of the lifeguards on surfboards as you zigzag from one side of the course to another, d) the delicate bouquet of 55 degree lake water, e) the thought of the wonderful diseases you can get from that lake water and f) milfoil.

  82. Comment by Razor | 02.14.2010 | 8:11 pm

    If you come up with a pair of budgie smugglers with FATTY across the backside I’ll definitely buy some.

  83. Comment by Greg | 02.15.2010 | 7:13 am

    Contemplating our presidents… nice

  84. Comment by John | 02.15.2010 | 12:15 pm

    FatDude – great start. The trick to swimming is – keep swimming. Make sure you’re getting in the pool 2-3 times a week and you’ll be plenty strong for the IM swim.

    The only bad advice I saw in the list was the bit about swimming with your head high. When you lift your head, you push your feet down…so you really need to work on a straight line from your spine to your skull. Press your face in the water and your feet magically raise into the preferred ‘zooming torpedo’ pose and there you go.

    ( You do need to be able to sight the buoys, but that is just a quick peek every 5 strokes or so. Don;t worry about that now, but in about a month, put a water bottle at the end of your lane and practice sighting it with as little break in form as possible)

    We’ve got 13 weeks till the cannon goes off. If you can get in the pool 25-30 times between now and then you will be in great shape for a 1:30 Swim…you’ll be ready to cruise the rest of the race.

    Your Rusty Brother…

  85. Comment by Frank | 02.15.2010 | 12:18 pm

    Ever thought that maybe all that soap and hot water is the true cause of your itch? Nothing like a long hot shower to dehydrate and age your skin. That is not what the moisturizer people say, but then again they have a conflict of interest. There is no such thing as a moisturizer by the way. You can’t moisturize your skin.

  86. Comment by Cyclin' Missy | 02.15.2010 | 1:21 pm

    Fatty, I’m impressed. You are not so bad at swimming at all. I, too, began swimming recently to train for a tri, and I swam a half mile in somewhere between 20 and 25 minutes. That means, it would take me 40 to 50 minutes to swim a full mile. You are already kicking my butt. Nice work.

  87. Comment by the slow ironman | 02.15.2010 | 1:50 pm

    got a trainer / expert/ know-it-all looking at your technique? This part or the triathlon is all about conserving energy, not being fast. Probably more effective to work on technique than just doing the miles.
    A mile for the first outing is a great start, though.

  88. Comment by Cindy | 02.15.2010 | 4:15 pm

    As a swimmer-wannabe, I can totally relate. But don’t let this sport go to your head. As they say…

    What does a triathlete use for birth control?

    His personality.

  89. Comment by K | 02.15.2010 | 4:23 pm

    Okay, had to chime in for the first time as a occasional triathlete and a long time swimmer (i get successively worse with each sport)… Here are some swimming tips:

    1) Do a workout from time to time in lieu of a straight mile. The different sets break up the monotony and make it more entertaining. Throw in some sprits just for fun :)
    2) Try counting by 50’s – 50, 100, 150, etc. It makes it seem like you’re doing more than counting laps
    3) Take a swim lesson or get a coach to help with form. Sometimes small changes in you form can make a HUGE difference in your swimming.

    Just so you know, the strength you build in swimming will greatly help the cycling and the running. Plus you might get a more interesting tan than just a cycling short tan line. The summer I had a Speedo and cycling short tan line? It doesn’t get any sexier than that ;-)

    You will soon learn to love smelling like a pool, I promise! The only thing I would caution you about is be very good to your body with regards to shoulder injuries, especially since you’ve already had some from cyling. As someone who has to have two (TWO!) surgeries to fix my shoulders and can no longer do fly or long pulling sets, shoulder injuries are no joke :(

    Good luck with the training!

  90. Comment by Juls | 02.15.2010 | 5:58 pm

    Fatmandoo, I can’t wait to see you swimming against Phelps in the 2012 Olympics!

  91. Comment by Dobovedo | 02.15.2010 | 9:19 pm

    Welcome to the third and most pointless part of triathlon, Fatty! Been there, done that, got the Tshirt, and wrote nearly the same blog thoughts at various points in the past – though not nearly as well. LMAO

  92. Comment by Greg B | 02.17.2010 | 12:02 pm

    Ahem… I think I remember someone writing an open letter to triathletes going on and on about the misery and how it’s not a sport and even a heartfelt plea to stop doing triathlons. Fatty, you wouldn’t happen to remember who might have written such a thing would you?


  93. Comment by Purduerose | 02.19.2010 | 9:56 am

    They have watches that count the laps for you. I don’t own one so I can’t reccomend one but it would help (thought they seem to cost around $100).

    I break my swim into workouts a mix of 50, 100, or 200 yards then move my equipment around to remember what # in the set I am on. then you could also set times to make sure you are improving.

  94. Comment by Susannah | 02.22.2010 | 1:36 pm

    “Another really great thing about chlorine is how awesome it makes my skin feel. Specifically, it feels almost 20% less itchy than if I had rolled in poison sumac for twenty minutes.” Hahahahahah…. I’m itchy right now!


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