by Taylor Reid
I wanted to talk about my swim development over the years and how I have gotten to where I am in the water and where I want to go. As the 70.3 distance gets more competitive it is becoming more important to have the full package Swim/Bike/Run.
When the Ironman and 70.3 distance first appeared the run was the most important part. Nine times out of ten the fastest runner would win the race. Over time the bike started to become very important. With athletes like Lionel Sanders, Sebastian Kienle and many others, the bike became more important. Now with the 70.3 attracting more athletes the swim is starting to play a larger role in every race. Races are having large groups and if you miss the lead group in the swim the race is much more difficult. This is best seen at the Championship races. With swimming being the area that needed the most improvement I need to make sure I do not fall behind as triathlon develops and evolves.
I started swimming at about 16 years old. In the swim world this is very late. Pure swimmers usually start at the age of 8-10 years. So I was a little behind at the very start and had no control in the water. I could keep my head above the water but that is about as far as I could get.
The first thing I did was start working with a swim club. The first club I joined was the Dorado Stars. It was right beside my High school. It was the perfect location since we had 2-3 morning practices a week. I fully immersed myself into the swimming culture, swimming eight times a week and all the strokes. This helped to jump start my swimming a little but I still was getting my butt kicked by 13 year-old girls and swimming in the lane with the eight year olds. You really need to let go of your ego at the start. It is a long process to develop your swimming. There were a few times that my coach told us that the lane I was swimming in may as well be filled with dirt because that is how poorly we were swimming, great times but lots of long hours in the water. As I finished my high school stage in my life I had worked my way up to being able to swim with some the of girls that were closer to my age but I was no were near the best of them.
I then went on to Mcmaster university were I was lucky enough to have formed a great relationship with the varsity swim coach Andrew Cole. He allowed me to train with the varsity swim team and further my swimming skills. I feel that it played a huge role in moving my swimming forward. I had all the assets that the swimmers had and had so many great teammates to emulate. When I started I was probably the slowest in the pool. But after 5 years of 8-9 swims a week with the team I became a decent enough swimmer to hold my own against most of the women on the team and some of the men. I was no where near as good as I needed to be but I had come far since I started.
The next big step in my triathlon swimming was connecting with Paulo Sousa’s Triathlon Squad. This move allowed me to work solely on my freestyle. Since we all were triathletes instead of a swim group. This was the right time in my swim development to focus solely of freestyle since I had built up enough muscle from doing years of IM. Doing only freestyle lowed me to cut back on the over all time I spent in the water which in turn gave me more time to recover and work on running and biking.
I still have a lot of work to do to get to the point I want to be at. I will continue to follow Paulo’s guidance and see how far I can go.