NZ Marathon Swimming
Get yourself a coach or at least get some guidance. Your training should be progressive . In simple terms don’t try and swim your swim in training immediately. Build in manageable distances and progressions. Most athletes begin in the pool building up both endurance and speed. Develop an understanding of what pace ‘feels’ like compared to the clock. Build consistent repeats in 100’s , 200’s, 300’s , 400’s and onward. Broken swimming is much better to start. Don’t forget to work on your kick as well!
The longer you swim continuously the slower you swim
If you aren’t comfortable in the open water then you need to allow plenty of time to adapt. Spend time in the temperatures and conditions you expect to encounter during your swim. You do not need to do all of your swim training in open water. In fact the pool plays an important role throughout your training.
A balance between pool training and open water training is essential
Be patient with your training. Some technique development to start is always helpful. Many injuries occur from doing too much too soon.
Test yourself … around 8- 4 weeks out from your swim it is appropriate to test yourself with conditions and procedures replicating as close as possible to your actual swim … freshwater should be in freshwater, ocean swimmers should conduct their trial swim in the ocean. Set a target… a distance of around 2/3 to 3/4 of your intended marathon swim distance. If you’re planning a 26km swim you should be achieving an 18km swim, if you’re planning a 40km swim aim for 26-30km training distance. Don’t just swim for a set time, include a distance as a target… it’s no use swimming 6 hours but only achieving 12km! Try and include relevant water temperatures, feeding criteria, swim clothing that you will use on the actual event. It’s also a good opportunity to train your support crew so they understand how you may react under duress. Take notes during this training swim for learning. If you have a good progressive training plan the ideal would be to conduct at least two of these swims. One swim can be completed about 6-3 months out from your swim slot – learn from it. The next test swim should be 8-4 weeks from your swim slot.
Part of your swim training is practicing your nutrition. Learn from other swimmers but also learn what works for you. Understand that there will be a balance between what science and the experts say and what your body tells you. Feeding plans and nutrition vary between swimmers.
Continuous energy intake and good hydration are two key factors that will allow you to keep moving and to stay warm.
We use the mantra ‘a little often’ with regards to feeding. Liquids are easier to consume when swimming but solids can provide an added boost. It’s essential not to spend too long at feed stops. Consideration to ‘how’ you will consume is just as important to what you consume.
Favourites with us includes Pure Sports Nutrition, bananas, electrolyte drinks, small treats and canned peaches.
Be aware that many swims are aborted because a swimmer becomes sick. Sometimes it is sea seasickness. Often it’s an upset stomach. For many swimmers our stomach will only accept so much carbohydrates while exercising in a horizontal position before saying ‘enough is enough’ … use your training to find your happy medium.
Execution and Guidelines
A marathon swim follows some traditional guide lines . You may of course do whatever you like for your swim but for it to be accepted by the wider community you should follow some general guidelines.
- Document your swim especially
- Video and photographs of the start, finish and feeding times
- An electronic record of the swim progress showing the plot/ distance time/ positioning
- Independent observer notes of start, finish time, feed times, wind, weather and water temperatures throughout
- A swimmer has no contact with support vessel or other people throughout the swim
- A swimmer wears swim cap, swim suit (not wetsuit), googles and ear plugs (optional) only
- A swimmer swims solo ( a swimmer can join for pacing for not more than an hour)
These are just the basic guidelines for a marathon swim. You can deviate from this and there are many more considerations. If you plan to wear a wetsuit, touch the boat etc that’s fine but you should declare this beforehand to avoid confusion. Your swim will be known as an assisted swim. This is no way takes away from your achievement it simply confirms for the record how you executed your swim.
We adher to Marathon Swim Federation Guidelines
Safety should be your paramount concern when training and executing your event.
If in doubt don’t go out
- Never swim alone
- Wear a RealSwim bag or similar for visibility in the water
- Always wear a bright swim cap (Yellow, pink, orange or red)
- Ideally carry a communication device with you if you need to call for assistance . This could be a waterproof VHF hand held in a RealSwim Bag or a beacon
- Leave your swim intentions with someone shore based who can follow up if you don’t return
- Swim in local swim advisory lanes/ areas. If unsure find out before you head out.
Always always think about ‘how will I exit this swim in a hurry if I need to? Where are the exit points along the swim?
For your bigger swims… have an escort, think about the ‘what if’s … can your escort safely and easily remove you from the water? Can your escort provide essential first aid?
Your biggest hazards are typically the weather, other water users and swimming beyond your ability on a given day. All a perfectly manageable with planning.
These guidelines are to help get you started. We highly recommend you seek help and guidance before undertaking any marathon swim challenge. Contact us if you have further questions email@example.com