Kingdom Swim 2 Miles

NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
I was excited to learn there are OW swims available nearby where I live, and was looking at the two mile swim in June as something to try for my first OW event earlier in 2015 than the September Sharkfest.

I am wondering if it is reasonable for me to be ready by then.

1. OW Experience -- Really none in terms of proper point to point swimming. Oh, I've been bodysurfing since I was five, as a child did at least 70% of my swimming in the summer jumping off boats into the Potomac into deep water, and am comfortable in open water, but my fitness swimming experience is solely the pool.

2. Current workouts -- I don't have a great deal of time every day to swim, but I put 30-50 minutes five to six days a week. If advised to, I can cut out some of my post-pool primping time to get in that extra time if I really should be swimming an hour. Yardage on workouts averages between 1200 and 1400 yards. On weekends I get in at least one 1800. Other than thinking about technique during the different strokes, I do not yet do specific drills.

3. I am painfully slow. My fastest mile was 47 minutes, and I average more like 50. I can swim all DAY at that speed, but still. SLLOOOOWWW.

4. I am also quite overweight. US size 22. I am probably the only swimmer in the world actually taking OFF weight in preparation for OW swims. I'm taking off a pound a week, and that's going like clockwork, I am happy to say. This is in the hopes of achieving a bit more of a hydrodynamic form to bring my speed up.

5. When the ice thaws here in Northern New England, I will be getting in to start in on OW swims, but that's really only going to give me a max of 6 weeks of reasonable OW training.

Is this reasonable or doable?


  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member
    Quite reasonable and doable. Here are some thoughts:

    (1) Get some coaching. Speed is more about mechanics/efficiency than fitness. If you've been at your current volume (45 minutes 5-6 days a week) for a while and you're swimming at a 2:45/100m pace, you'll likely benefit A LOT more from coaching than miles. I doubt the weight is as big of a speed limiter as you think (but way to go on the weight loss, nonetheless!!). I get whipped daily by a friend who is 50 pounds overweight. Absent some physical ailment, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to fairly quickly achieve a 20% or greater improvement in your speed once you find your stroke. I'm guessing your an "adult-onset" swimmer, so get the coaching SOON before a bad stroke becomes an unbreakable habit! I highly recommend a master's program for someone in your situation. In addition to coaching, you'll pick up good habits through osmosis by surrounding yourself with good swimmers. Likewise, if you're spending all your time in the muni pool with rec swimmers, you're likely picking up bad habits. You indicated you have schedule limitations, but you could maybe squeeze an extra 20 minutes. Better to spend that driving to masters than adding more un-coached miles.

    (2) Got to speed up. While there is nothing "wrong" with your speed, if you want to participate in organized OW events, you're going to have to cut your pace down to 2:00-2:10 to make sure you can comfortably make the cut-off times. You'll have enough anxiety in your first OW events without having to worry about the RD giving you the shepherd's crook. Don't be discouraged by my point here. Remember point (1): this pace is likely achievable by next season with some quality coaching.

    (3) Volume. Your current volume is more than adequate for a 2 mile OW event.

    (4) Get in OW. There is no substitute for this. No matter how trained, fit and coached you are, if you're not familiar with OW swimming (navigation, maintaining heading, opaque water, waves/chop), you'll be in for a big surprise. I did my first OWS as a college swimmer with 15 years of competitive swimming experience, but zero OW experience. I was totally unprepared. A minute in, I was in full panic mode. Thought I was going to drown. Nearly quit. Get a friend and a kayak and spend some hours in the lake.

    (5) Hang in there. There are scores of people on this site who started where you are and are now pulling off epic feats!

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved
    Tides that I tried to swim against
    Have brought be down upon my knees
    Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    Thank you for this. I really appreciate it.

    I am (mostly) an adult-onset swimmer. I did swim on a swim team between the ages of six and eight, but I don't really count that now that 40 years on.

    Had a feeling "Get Coaching" was going to be the biggest advice. I'm just going to have to suck it up and figure out something for my schedule. I want to do this pretty badly, and you're right that at this point practicing mistakes isn't going to help.

    My local masters group starts coaching for tris and open water starting in mid January (they're all about swim meets right now), but I'm going to have a chat with the coach, explain what's up and see what her thoughts are for the time between now and then.

    Thanks for the encouragement. :)
  • Hi Noel!
    A few thoughts from another slow swimmer:
    1. I would definitely get the volume up. 2 miles (and in open water, it will be 2 miles and something) is 2.5 times your normal workout swim. I would do the whole 2 miles at least a few times before the event to get the question, can I swim 2 miles? off the table.
    2. While increasing your distance, you may find you want water or an energy drink, or an energy gel. It's also good to know this and be prepared with what you want or need when you do the swim.
    3. For Kingdom Swim events, you likely don't have to worry about getting your time down, but it should fall anyway with coaching and focused workouts. @Fil on this forum runs everything related to Kingdom Swim events, and you could ask him if there is a concern.
    4. You will likely also have a kayaker (yes?) to do the navigation, but as much OW experience as you can get in before the event will be helpful. Swimming for 1 hr 45 min under own propulsion, without hanging on to a pool edge or standing up, will be a novel experience.

    Good luck!
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    Hi Noel:

    Our two Son of a Swims are intentionally capped at 10 swimmers for each day. Gives us a chance to watch you pretty closely. They are intended for people like you getting their first shot at certain distances. Any questions. Just holler. Fil - 802-249-9100
  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    Thanks, Fil! I asked my husband if he'd escort me in a kayak, and he's agreed, so I'll be signing up tomorrow on payday if there's still room.
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    @ NoelFigart, Terrific (especially the part about your husband kayaking for you). Happy to work with him as well regardeing his responsibilities as a kayaker. Very excited to be part of this inaugural open water swim for you.

    And, yes. At this early stage, there's plenty of room in all of our swims. Can't say how long that will last. Again, really happy to have you taking this on with us. - Fil
  • jendutjendut Charter Member
    edited November 2014
    @NoelFigart I visit your neck of the woods quite a bit (parents live in Groton VT) and I have not been able to find many pools up there, but you can find a wealth of info on this forum and, of course, the lakes up your way are AMAZINGLY beautiful. The winter is a great time to get some strokework into your routine, since breaking though the ice outdoors is a hassle! Where is your local masters group? @Fil does a great job of making sure the kayakers are educated and his swims can be a "gateway" to bigger ones, so be careful :)
  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    I live in Lebanon and swim at the CCBA there. They do have a Masters team, @jendut.

    And yeah , my husband is making bets with himself about what this will lead to.
  • Hi Noel, I worked a bit up your way in Claremont NH as a travel nurse. Gorgeous, and some of the NH state parks have some awesome lakes to swim in (guess not now, since I thin you are cold now.) I currently live in Florida, so I have a hard time thinking "cold" ....

    I'd agree to get coaching, but it could be in the form of signing up for a Master's sessions or if your local gym has an adult swimming class, geared to swimmers. At our gym they sometimes offer a "pre-Master's class" as our Masters group is quite fast and intimidates people. The pre masters (I watched it while I treaded water for hours for training), focused a lot on stroke dynamics. I took a lot of time off my swim about 2 years ago by doing specific workouts and drills. I was a very efficient swimmer, but I was slower (37 min mile at the time). I did not think the drills would help, but they did. Unfortunately this year I dropped weight for a marathon and actually got a bit slower on the swim...

    get into open water. It is very different than pool swimming. my first time in open water as a swimmer, I stuck my head under and it was super dark. The visibility was awful. I remember wanting to stop right then, but I looked around and said "Self, everyone else is swimming along and is doing fine, so you are gonna stick your head back in there and get this done." It is the only way to practice sighting , and get used to not seeing the black line at the bottom of the pool or pushing off the wall.

    I think it's awesome that your husband is your kayaker! My kayaker is our 5:30 am lifeguard. He and I have a blast, but I am not so sure his wife loves it.
  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    edited December 2014
    I have gotten some coaching. Holy mackerel, have I been Doing It Wrong.

    I'm short and short-limbed. I'd been trying to use the high elbow catch technique. I've been advised that it might be great to reduce drag when you're tall with a huge wingspan. I'm short and round and need to extend my stroke both on entry and extend it along my body before exit.

    I kick like a damn eggbeater. (What can I say, I learned to swim in the '70s) I'm being advised that I'm going to see some serious improvements with a two-beat kick. There is far too much isolation between my legs and upper body. More torque will help.

    I know everyone is right to tell me this, but it feels totally weird to stop working harder to go faster and start drilling. I wanna get faster, and it feels very strange to slow the heck down to do it.

    I was complimented on my "feel" for the water. (Not entirely sure what that means, but it was nice) and that once something is pointed out to me, that I have the control to make the change.

    Yes, and no no the latter. I can do it CONSCIOUSLY. It's gonna take a LOT of drill before I do it without thinking and can zone out and revel in the sheer physical sensation of the water again.

    I've been bumping up the volume. 1300 is my short swim, 1500 my medium and 2000 my long workout (Stop laughing at me, I know that's a warmup to you guys!)
  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    @NoelFigart, the latest issue of H2Open magazine has a great article on 2-beat versus 6-beat kicks. I do 2-beat as well, mostly because I don't have the stamina to do a faster kick except in the very rare instance when I want to pass someone or the last 250-300m of a race.

    Don't worry about your distances. More yardage will come. I was so excited the first time I started averaging 3000 yards per workout. Now, if I do fewer than 5000 per workout I feel like I've wasted the effort. ;)

    We slow and adult-onset swimmers must stick together! I'm sure there's a bumper sticker out there ("I'm slow but can do it all day"???) to describe us.

    Welcome to open water and, I'm sure very soon, welcome to the addiction that is marathon swimming!

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • IronMikeIronMike Northern VirginiaCharter Member
    @NoelFigart, the latest issue of H2Open magazine has a great article on 2-beat versus 6-beat kicks. I do 2-beat as well, mostly because I don't have the stamina to do a faster kick except in the very rare instance when I want to pass someone or the last 250-300m of a race.

    Don't worry about your distances. More yardage will come. I was so excited the first time I started averaging 3000 yards per workout. Now, if I do fewer than 5000 per workout I feel like I've wasted the effort. ;)

    We slow and adult-onset swimmers must stick together! I'm sure there's a bumper sticker out there ("I'm slow but can do it all day"???) to describe us.

    Welcome to open water and, I'm sure very soon, welcome to the addiction that is marathon swimming!

    We're all just carbon, water, starlight, oxygen and dreams

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    Welcome Noel. Be patient with yourself during the "slow down to go faster" phase. Ultimately, you want to travel more distance per stroke. A good way to measure your progress is to count your strokes per length. Your count should decrease as you work on your technique and become more efficient. Being more efficient will allow you to swim longer distances with the same amount of effort. It takes time to build better technical habits and it's easy to fall back to your old form when you get tired.

    I've been working on refining my bilateral breathing and making my stroke more symmetrical for about a year. It's starting to feel normal most of the time. When I get tired, I tend to fade back to my old form a bit, so it takes a self-reminder to practice good form when I get to the end of a hard set.

    Keep at it! :)

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    @Vivebene, yep. I can swim two miles. Tested it this morning. (Okay, 3600 yards, so a teeny bit more than two miles.) But yes. I can.

  • @NoelFigart: Yay! That's huge! And likely you felt you had a little bit left in the tank?
    The 3rd mile is mostly boring. I bring special treats for that part.
  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    Actually, it was kind of weird, at 3200 yards, I was feeling sad because I didn't want the swim to be over. But my shoulders and calves told me they'd hunt down and torture my ego if I didn't stop as planned.
  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    Got the results from the Masters Postal swim.

    Well, I wasn't LAST...

    158 out of 166 in my age group. I was really doing it to get a baseline on my swim speed, but wow, I'm really disappointed.
  • Ah, don't be,you DID IT!! It's a baseline. Keep pluggin away.
    I think it's one of the hardest swims around. AND at the same time.. it's only an hour.
    Try it again in a few weeks. My bet is you'll do more the 2nd time. And in the end.. who cares!!
  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
    I kinda care when someone says I shouldn't be swimming from Alcatraz to shore (a swim I do want to try) unless I can swim a mile in under 40 minutes. I totally can't yet. (Hence the disappointment on that swim)

    I mean, I swim more than a mile all the time, but not that fast.
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member
    Use this experience as motivation. You'll go farther next time and you can brag about how much you've improved! Next time you do a long swim (say, a mile for time), swim every 4th length hard and maintain your pace otherwise. That will get you used to swimming at a harder pace during the course of a long swim and recovering as you go. As you get tired, it will take more concentration to push yourself on that 4th length. When that gets easy, try every other length hard. :)

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    I too am a slow adult-onset swimmer.

    Coaching does help--it's not a magic potion and I'm not going to turn into Kate Ledecky (except in my fantasies LOL). But It has provided me with some crucial support that helped me cut my time considerably in the third of my three 5+ mile swims. The slowest of the three was when I tried to train on my own. Not recommended. The fastest--well, I was younger... also had some online coaching as well as some group workouts. Last year, I had a professional triathlete work w/ me and develop a training schedule. He also accompanied me on a three hour open water swim (which followed by a day a 3 mile pool swim--my coach doesn't fool around!). I regularly did a group open water swim (once a week) during the summer plus pool workouts the other days. So I came into that swim ready to roll. You may think "wow, 5 miles!" When I first heard about the swim, I had eliminated it as even a possibility. It seemed so out of reach! But I thought that too about my first mile open water swim.

    I still have a lot to learn about technique and I'm no speedster by any means. But like you, I can keep going for a long time. And that's where coaching has helped too. When I first got into masters swimming and the coach said that he'd just have a "light" workout of 2000 yards, I thought "LIGHT??" But with the technique work, I find it quite comfortable to swim freestyle for a few hours.

    Interesting what you're saying about high elbows--that's what my coaches are pushing for me--also hand entry. Today, I was doing a set of 100s, and while my pace was pretty consistent, I was starting to fatigue, so I decided I'd just focus on technique, try to remember the form tips that I was getting from the coaches--and beat the previous time by 3 seconds, even though I don't think the effort was any different.

    But it's I imagine why it's a good thing to work with someone one on one sometimes, so they can work w/ your body type as well as the overall wisdom about technique. I'm tallish (female, 5'9") so that might make a difference.

    Anyway, I wish you good luck--and if I can do this, you totally can! I was one of those "kids picked last in gym class"--and while I'd been swimming, learned to swim in open water, etc., I had been mainly a runner since my 30s--and still run, but need to alternate w/ something that allows me to alternate the body parts that get injured. ;) Plus it adds variety to my workout routine rather than one type of thing all week--in my 60s, I need to mix things up some and fortunately really like swimming!

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    I said I was going to get in open water come the first of May.

    I did, in a local river by a friend's house, getting a kayak she was giving my husband. As best I can estimate, the water was about 50F (~10F) and I didn't stay in but a few minutes of really serious breast-stroking with my head above water. I was terrified before I got in, never being much into cold water before and actively avoiding it.

    But... honestly? It was fun and exhilarating. And I'm not nearly so afraid of Memphremagog in a month, though I can see that I really need to get some open water practice in now.

  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    The thing about taking some memorably cold training swims, is that you can always refer back to them when you are getting cold and think "well, it's certainly not that cold, I can make it!"

    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

  • HollyTHollyT Member

    You are making me want to do this swim....

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member

    You should check and see if there are some slots, then!

    I suspect I am slightly overtraining for what is really gonna be a two mile swim, but I bet I won't be sorry, so why not, right?

  • HollyTHollyT Member

    Don't forget Noel, at this point you are also training for future. At some point, overtraining becomes very harmful, but it wouldn't seem so at this point. I thin once you complete this swim You will be looking for more challenges! It's just really far away and I suspect I'd find the water a bit cooler than my usual.

  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member

    Just about a month to go. Sounds like you are ready, Noel.

  • NoelFigartNoelFigart Lebanon, NHSenior Member
  • wendyv34wendyv34 Vashon, WASenior Member

    Great job Noel! Now you're hooked...


    It's always a bad hair day when you work at a pool.

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