Swimming's often the most daunting part of a triathlon – so who better to turn to for advice than two-time 10km open water world champion and Olympic silver medallist, Keri-anne Payne?
220 were part of a small group of sports journalists invited to London today to attend a swim masterclass with Keri-anne and her husband and fellow-Olympic swimmer David Carry. Together they run Triscape coaching and after being fitted with one of Zone3's Vision wetsuits (more on that link later) we were in the pool to benefit from some expert advice.
Editor Helen Webster was first up the lane, with David on hand with a video recorder and some useful tips. “It’s important to focus on one thing at a time,” he tells us, “which is often harder than it sounds!”. As such we do lengths up and down the 25m outdoor pool at the Better UK Oasis centre in London, with Keri-anne and David filming us and making technique tweaks that are then built on one on at a time.
Our Ed was making some mistakes common to many triathletes and those who learn to swim as adults, many of which centre around breathing and body position. Keri-anne's tips were:
1: To keep a regular rhythm, breath out through the nose and in through the mouth. The key is to stay relaxed and only breath as much as you need not as much as you think you need.
2: To reduce your drag and keep your body in a straight line, look down and feel your legs come up behind you.
3: For efficient propulsion, move the water through the centre line of the body and feel like you're pulling from your finger tips and feel like you are engaging your lats.
4: Don’t be scared to try open water skills such as sighting in the pool. It’s really easy to practice and will help ensure you’ve got them perfected come event day.
5: Lastly, don’t try and master everything at once – work on one thing at a time. Once you’ve mastered this, move on to the next thing (otherwise your brain might explode).
You might already have noticed Keri-anne's wearing a slightly-different looking Zone 3 wetsuit in our photos – and that's because the masterclass was held to celebrate her new partnership with British triathlon brand Zone3 which will see her collaborating with them on product development and design.
“I am very passionate about inspiring people to take up open water swimming,” says Keri-anne, “and what better way to do that than with this wonderful partnership between my new business, Triscape and Zone3. Having worn plenty of wetsuits in my time, being able to design my own woman's wetsuit that is both stylish and functional is a dream come true.”
That wetsuit is a custom version of Zone3's popular entry-level Vision suit (£220). Keri-anne's edition shares the same technology, with 5mm buoyancy on the legs and 2mm stretch neoprene across the arms and shoulders, but is specifically-designed for female swimmers with a flattering, body-shaping design and 'K' graphics that reflect the technical cues of her 'Straight Line Swimming' method.
So for example the 'K' on the shoulder is to remind you to keep your head lowered and close to the arm/shoulder when breathing (something our Editor was told to work on!), while there's a blue graphic up the back of the suit that can be used by coaches to easily spot if the body is holding a straight line in the water, or snaking up the pool.
More to come
Keri-anne will be working on more products with Zone3 over the coming months, all of which will aim to complement her coaching methodology and help new swimmers develop and achieve their potential. We'll be running a review of the 'Vision Keri-anne' edition wetsuit in the print magazine very soon.
Want to read more? Keri-anne's tips for Ironman swimming can be found here: Ironman swim tips from Keri-anne Payne.