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What Am I Supposed To Do With This Thing?


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI ordered this thing off of Amazon last week when I realized that I wasn’t going to be able to bike or run for an entire week (see here).  I thought I would be productive and spend the week focusing on swimming, with this thing between my legs to keep me from kicking.  But, the doc told me no pool for a week, until the incision is all healed up.  Makes sense, I just didn’t think things through before hand.

Truth be told, I have no idea what to do with this.  I’m pretty sure that I’m supposed to put it between my legs, not kick, and swim only with my arms.  One end is wider than the other – does that end go up or down?  Or will it become super obvious to me when I jump in the pool (next week) and start trying to swim with it between my legs?

And goggles – I’m clueless when it comes to them, too.  I have two semi-identical pairs, and they’re not the best (translation, I paid $8 for the prescription version, and about half that for the non-prescription version).  They don’t leak, but they fog up like crazy.  Do I spit in them?  Rub shampoo on the inside?  Buy new goggles?  I’m already worried about my goggles getting kicked off of my face during the tri, I don’t want to be worried about them fogging up too!

I’m starting to freak out a little about the swim portion of the tri (which, thankfully, is very short).  I haven’t really done any swimming yet, which is ridiculous since I can walk out our back door and be swimming in under 4 seconds.  I’m not that confident in water to begin with (translation: I may need xanax before my first open water swim), and I’m beginning to question my decision to branch out from just running.

Running I can do.  Swimming?  Not so sure.



  1. I felt the same way about swimming just two weeks ago. Apparently, being on a swim team and working as a summer lifeguard over 30 years ago really doesn’t matter when you start training for a tri. I started out watching Total Immersion videos on YouTube, then someone let me borrow their Total Immersion DVD. But, the best thing I did was join a Masters Program and started swimming twice a week. Every coach for the Masters Program is different, so you have to figure out which is your best fit for your current needs. My current needs were “how the hell do I find my freestyle stroke again without drowning?!” Definitely invest in some good googles. Ask for recommendations at a tri shop. My brother lives in Fort Worth, and he tells me there are lots of tri groups in the DFW area, so there’s probably a couple around you. I haven’t used the buoy yet, but did get some fins to help build my confidence in the water. You’ll get there quicker than you think! Good luck!!

    • Thank you! There are a decent number of tri groups around here. I’ve thought about joining one in particular, but decided against it for various reasons. They do have weekly open water swims (2 miles from my front door) that can be attended on a drop-in basis for a small fee. I’ll go to some of those closer to the tri, but I think I need to be able to swim more than 25 yards before I go try to swim in a lake!

  2. John says:

    I’m right with you–I’ve finished the swim leg of two triathlons on my back. You can go a long way like that, it’s just slow. The leg thing works great; it doesn’t matter which end goes up, just put it in between your knees.

  3. First of all, good on you for giving it a go.

    Run the pull buoy a little further north, big part in the front. This way, it won’t slip out while you are swimming. If you a swimming your triathlon in a wetsuit (have to here in Alberta) it will simulate the buoyancy as well, giving you a feel of what it will be like on race day.

    Hop in the pool, you already have the cardio portion, now just need to work on efficiency. That is the easy part.

    Good luck.

    • Thanks for the input! I’m pretty sure I won’t be wearing a wetsuit for my first triathlon, given the water temps down here and the short swim length of only 350m (but, having been born and raised in Alberta, I can see the necessity for wetsuits up there!)

  4. Jill says:

    I’m not sure I can comment yet, so just testing this out first….

  5. Brittany says:

    Hey Jesse! I like Aquasphere Kayenne goggles (lots of visibility). I usually wet, spit, rub, re-wet and don’t know if it’s just habit or really works. I also use an antifog my husband bought, but only every once in awhile. On the pull buoy, it’s good when you just start out and get tired, but eventually you will want to learn the body positioning yourself so you don’t rely on it (i.e. keeping your head/chest down to left your legs). And I agree on the tri swim team comment; instruction (vs. swimming solo) has definitely helped me the most! Good luck.

  6. ktfit says:

    You got this!!! Couple things: 1. TYR nest pro are my favorite goggles around 2. Spit in your goggles, mush it around and then rinse real quick in the pool. 3. Big part of pull buoy is up, so same side as your bum. You will LOVE the PB!!!

    • Evidently the spit thing must work, since a couple of people have mentioned it. I found the “best swim goggles” post on your blog from back in 2011 – those must be good goggles if they’re still your favourite two years later!

  7. Pull buoys are squeezed in place as far north as it will go. Don’t know why they are assymetrical, maybe to give you a choice of more – or less buoyancy. I prefer using short, stubby fins, but not kicking with them. I use them the way legs are supposed to be used during endurance swims: to stabilize and counter the rotation of the upper body. Propulsion with kicking is very inefficient, energy wise for longer distances. Goggles? Aqua spheres are very high quality if you dont mind the post swim face markings for a half hour after your swim. I am using the “Vista” model. Panic? Don’t feel bad. Like Southern Girl I was a very competitive swimmer and California Ocean Lifeguard and TOTALLY blew my first triathlon swim due to adrenaline and going out too fast. Once that heart rate goes up, it takes awhile to come down. The only solution is doing more races and intentionally start out MUCH slower than you think, then build once you are past the critical panic zone.

    • Ahhh, more or less buoyancy on the pull buoy makes sense. Not quite sure I’m ready to graduate to swimming with fins yet. I figured I would start out at the back of the pack on the swim, and try to take it slow. I panic on a good day, and so I don’t need to deal with anyone swimming over top of me until I’m a little more comfortable! Thanks for the input!

      • Here’s a little trick for the swim start. Sometimes with a beach start the first buoy is not straight out, but it to the left or right. For instance if it to the right, position yourself to the far right of the group. At the start, everyone immediately runs straight out into the water and then start swimming at an angle. Instead of following the crown, run to the right along the sand until you are directly in front of the buoy then enter. Your swim distance will be shorter and you will be clear of the pack until you reach that first buoy, but that is the part of the swim that is most angst provoking. Works for a lake start. In ocean with a significant side current, adjust as necessary. You can thank me later

  8. I’d position The buoy mid-thigh. Not at the knees and not as far north as possible. I wear swedes (goggles) but you probably wouldn’t like them. You’d probably like socket rockets.

  9. Jill says:

    I am back 🙂
    I take most advice with a grain of salt, and do what works best for me. Ha. But I agree that the buoy needs to be north and I usually like the bigger side of the thing to the surface of the water. Goggles: I have had the same pair for 3 years; some cheapies I got in that doesn’t leak. They are the first pair of about 30 that I tried that didn’t leak. I find I cannot have an adjustable nose piece. Everyone told me I needed some reflective lenses for the sun during my half last weekend, but I went with what worked for me and my clear lens worked just fine. I’ve heard swim paddles are great but I’ve never used them. I think the most important thing to get faster in the water is to work on swim drills. Spend months on swim drills, don’t worry about pace or speed, just solidify your technique and that is what will carry you the farthest. I know some of the fastest runners out there and they can’t swim worth shit….work on the drills ( is one place, a book called ‘Total Immersion’ is excellent too). Have fun!!

  10. says:

    +3 for AquaSphere goggles….
    go to a dive shop and get some of the stuff they use in their masks when diving…works wonders!!
    get in the pool and just swim….master the ability to breathe/exhale under water before anything else because the MOST important thing is to relax otherwise you will struggle…
    No one has ever won or lost a race during the swim, but they have DNF’d there….A LOT of em’….so learn to breathe correctly and how to relax
    the pull buoy will help with that, but don’t use the toys as a crutch….those of us down here in the south are lucky if we wear wetsuits1-2 times/yr so it’s important to learn to swim without…
    you do that by just getting in the water for short periods of time as often as possible….sometimes as little as 15 mins/day….eventually you’ll build up to a solid workout, but again…get comfortable 1st!!
    I’ve swam my entire life, but triathlon swimming is a much different animal….from the OW component to the pacing/strategy to even the slight alterations in stroke due to different conditions, but 1 thing that doesn’t change is how therapeutic it is on the body….I can finish up a hard long weekend of riding and running, then get in the pool for a 4000yrd easy swim and get out feeling like I just had a massage….Ready for the challenges of week ahead!!
    Good Luck!! Enjoy the process!! 🙂

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