A treadmill for swimmers !! Really ?

Yes that’s exactly what I thought until I saw it online myself. Swimming is by far the healthiest exercise of them all, by that I mean the benefits it brings totally outweigh the downsides.

Downsides ? Yes any exercise will have its downsides. Cycling is terrifically beneficial but can be poor for your posture as it puts pressure on your lower back especially if you are on the bike for hours on end. Running can for some people be bad for their joints, especially the knees, then there’s tennis elbow, in tennis etc So practically all sports have the potential to wear you or parts of you down physically, it just comes with the territory.

Swimming however rarely produces such problems unless you are talking about swimmers shoulder which can manifest itself through a combination of poor technique and or due to repetitive strain. Comparatively speaking swimming takes very little toll on the body and so is embraced by medical and sports experts everywhere.

I taught myself the basics of swimming from watching YouTube videos over the last 4 years and was particularly chuffed when I mastered bi-lateral breathing which completely daunted me as a child learning how to swim. As I detailed a couple of months back I received a swim lesson from Orla Walsh a former Liffey Swim winner which is astonishing to me as she only sat her leaving cert this year. Orla gave me great advice and a couple of things to work on. I then remembered I had seen people on youtube having a swim analysis doe so I decided to have one also.

The analysis in my case took place in a huge bath tub essentially, the only differences were there was a camera following my every move from a variety of angles both above and below the water. The water is also pumped at you from one direction at varying speeds which was a tad disconcerting at first and there are two mirrors below you so you can monitor your stroke. as you swim.

To all intents and purposes the pool ore endless pool as its called is a treadmill for swimmers, where you put in 1000s of strokes and go absolutely nowhere , can I have one please?!?!?

The benefit of my swim analysis in this context was that my instructor could give me directions, film me following his guidelines and then we could watch it back on the big screen. The immediacy with which your technique could be broken down forensically enables you to almost make those new neuromuscular connections necessary to adopt demanding new sporting behaviours. Seeing yourself on the big screen seconds after performing an exercise certainly makes your hyper aware of your positioning in each phase of  swim drill which ultimately is the goal of a swim analysis.

Swim lessons have their place but a swim analysis is in  y opinion vital to really give you the knowledge to advance beyond whatever training plateau you currently occupy.

While you can check out the details and the amazing endless pool in the video, the take home for me after my 90 minute session, was as encouraging as it was invaluable. I wouldnt be the fastest swimmer by any stretch and have remained static at 2 mins per kilometer indoors for a while now. What I discovered was that I need to work on my pull phase during the stroke, keeping my head low, and my body flat, theres also a need for me to work on my rotation which is impeding me going faster as are the other issues. What does encourage me is that in spite of these basic flaws in my stroke I have been quite competitive in my first season as a triathlete gaining 3 top places in my last there triathlons. So if I am able to make even a modest improvement in my stroke and swim speed then I should be even more competitive next season.

 

 

 

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Superleague Jersey, a whole lot of fun!

super-league-triathlon-logo-700x339Well what a few days in Jersey it was. I had been looking forward to attending Superleague Triathlon on the island of Jersey since the minute it was announced several months ago. The announcement came after the inaugural Superleague tournament on Hamilton Island earlier this year.

Superleague is a new short course form of triathlon designed to offer a highly competitive format which is viewer friendly.

Click here to watch my Vlog from Jersey

Currently, unless an ITU triathlon is televised you have to pay to watch triathlon online, which seems a bit daft as it only operates as a barrier to existing fans and newcomers to the sport.

Two time world champion Iron Man Chris Mc Cormack below was the brainchild behind Superleague and given his sporting pedigree he knows the sport intimately. He knows what will bring the best out of competitors and how to promote triathlon to a global audience for sure.

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Superleague Jersey saw 50 of the top triathletes in the world compete over two days. Reigning champion Richard Murray, world champion Mario Mola and local hero Johnny Brownlee were joined on the circuit by the women for the first time. Katie Zaferes, Nicola Spirig, Taylor Spivey and 22 other women would battle it out through 6 stages over 2 days.

The course itself comprised a 300 metre swim in the marina in front of the Radisson Hotel, a 1 km bike route which had to be completed five times so 5km in total, followed by a 2 km run. If that wasn’t demanding enough, the triathletes then had a ten minute break before doing it all again twice more and that was just the first day’s Triple Mix round. What further upped the ante was that triathletes had to stay within 90 seconds of the leader. If they didn’t they were eliminated in the second day’s Eliminator phase.  Thankfully I was afforded terrific access to the triathletes and had a great vantage point during the two days of racing.

The first day of competition was bathed in blistering sunshine and saw Katie Zaferes for the women and 23 year old Kristian Blummenfelt for the men were top of their respective leaderboards.

Day two saw the weather change bringing torrential showers which made the already technical course even more tricky. A special mention at this stage must go to German Laura Lindemann who crashed twice and still soldiered on. The women started first and Katie Zaferes who only had a baby four months ago replicated the previous day’s dominance and crossed the finish line to be crowned the first female Superleague Triathlon champion. Likewise, Kristian Blummenfelt carried his unrelenting form through day two and fended off Richard Murray and Johnny Brownlee to take home the 18k dollar winner’s cheque.

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Judging by the feedback from the triathletes this short course format is a winner, with women’s champion Zaferes (pictured below) remarking it was “fun in a twisted way”. Judging by the reaction from the crowds in Jersey and the terrific online coverage this format will be a winner with spectators and viewers alike.

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My only regret was not being able to pit my very modest athletic prowess against the best of the best, no in all seriousness these guys and gals are the thoroughbreds of triathlon. The men for instance were swimming 300 metres in 3 and a half minutes, cycling one km in 1.40 mins and running a km in 3 minutes, with the women posting similarly impressive splits. Needless to say these triathletes are on a different planet to this newbie age grouper. I would love to see this format rolled out for age groupers though.

While I didnt get to compete I did get to use the wetsuit which I had packed and went for a swim at Anne Port, the beautiful beach in the photo.

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Jersey itself according to organiser Chris Mc Cormack was the perfect location for Superleague and he hopes to lock the island in for the next couple of years of competition. Certainly Jersey is a beautiful location, rich in history offering a variety of landscapes and terrific hospitality to visitors and all only a stones throw from Ireland, Britain and mainland Europe.

I was delighted to get the chance to meet some of the biggest names in the sport of triathlon including Chris Mc Cormack, Ali Brownlee, Mario Mola and Kristian Blummenfelt. Seeing the girls and guys give it everything up close and personal has only spurred on my own ambitions in the sport of triathlon.

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Quick thanks to Ally at @sportshub2012 @jerseyCL and @superleaguetriathlon for hooking me up and putting on a great spectacle.

Back indoors for a session

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While most of the country is foaming at the mouth about the ploughing championships, I am using my week off to get some training in before I head to Jersey later in the week.

Having been outdoor swimming in recent months my first foray back inside came last week when I tried out the National Aquatic Centre. Now while the full 50 m lanes werent open during my session , which I’ll admit was a tad disappointing I was still in awe of the sheer scale of the place, it was massive. What was even better than that was I managed to find the holy grail for every swimmer …. a lane all to myself for the entire hour and a bit I was there. Now ask any swimmer and they will tell you that’s as rare as hens teeth! There were lanes and lanes with only a single swimmer in, now I’m sure its not always like that but it was a joy to not have to worry about other swimmers and just get on with my session. So I definitely think I’ll revisit the National Aquatic Centre.

 

In the meantime it’ll be back to one of the municipal pools around the city. This morning I had a session in meadowbrook in Balinteer. It would have been my go to local pool prior to the summer. So today was my first swim there since May. Now while I have loved swimming in the open water in spite of the scariness of it, I did notice after the session last week in the NAC that my pool times had slowed. This isn’t surprising as you benefit greatly from the buoyancy the wetsuit gives you in the sea. I have also found that sea swimming in a wetsuit has demands on different muscles compared to pool swimming. I really felt last week’s 2 km pool session and I did again today. The pool offers no buoyancy at all as it has no sea water salinity and of course you don’t wear your wetsuit indoors, so any propulsion is purely down to you.

The one major benefit to swimming in a pool is the ability to complete drills so you can master basic swimming skills. Each drill or skill allows you to home in on one particular element of of the technical swim stroke that in my case is the front crawl. Prior to the triathlon season beginning i really did very little drill sessions and I am looking to address that from now on.

My swim analysis was rescheduled to this Thursday so I will get invaluable information through having my stroke forensically analysed on screen.

Then its off to Jersey to Superleague to watch some of the best triathletes on the planet compete.. more on that later in the week.

Ps Check out my crowdfunding page for a triathlon bike www.makeachamp.com/mathieunorry

Just call me flipper !!

medals

Hey there just thought I’d give a little update on how things are going and take the opportunity to recap briefly on a very satisfying and rewarding first season in the world of triathlon.

Above are the medals I received after 4 races this summer. The thing I like about triathlon is that similar to some marathons, every competitor gets a medal on completion. This is really quite important as it not only gives to a memento of the day but also gives you something tangible that goes someway to rewarding you for efforts on the day and helps justify all the blood, sweat and tears in training.

 

race numbers

Here are my results over my first season :

Naas Duathlon February 19th 2017
Run 12.06 T1 1.28 Cycle 37.52 T2 1.12 Run 13.20                       1.06.01    76th place overall

Try Athy 3rd June 2017 

Swim 13.54 T1 4.22 Cycle 35.52 T2 1.29 Run 21.14                      1.16.51   42nd place overall
Blessington Triathlon 12th June 2017
Swim 18.27 T1 2.21 Cycle 38.30 T2 32 Run 20.39                          1.20.31   21st  place overall
Bray Aquathon 21st June 2017 
Swim / run 35.04                                                                                                 29th place overall
Triathlone 8th July 2017
Swim 11.40 T1 1.43 Cycle 37.10 T2 0.45 Run 20.48                       1.12.06   9th place overall
 
Ballybay Triathlon 22nd July 2017
Swim 15.53 T1 1.17 Cycle 36.17 T2 0.27 Run 20.29                         1.14.21 11th place overall
King of Greystones 30th July 2017
Swim 18.49 T1 1.04 Cycle 34.51 T2 0.44 Run 20.34                         1.16.01 13th place overall
So as you can see while I started off slowly I seemed to gather some momentum during the season and was super pleased with my three top 20 placings. There is plenty to work on for next season, namely the my swim and my cycle. I’m still crowdfunding for a new bike if you’re interested in helping out https://makeachamp.com/mathieunorry
I am also going for a swim analysis tomorrow. This involves getting into what is called an endless pool which is essentially a treadmill for swimmers. The water is pumped at you while you swim on the spot in an oversized tub. While you are swimming several cameras capture your swim stroke which is then analysed so you can make small improvements. You are also given a DVD of your stroke so you can watch back and hopefully the end goal is a much more efficient swim technique.
Swim efficiency is the secret to maintaining energy levels at the start of a triathlon. Many swimmers are guilty of trying to power through the water and expend way too much valuable energy doing so. A good swimmer is one who uses technique to glide through the water rather than fight against it. So fingers crossed after seeing myself in the pool from all angles (which lets face it will be super odd in itself) I’ll be gliding through the water like a dolphin. I’ll let you know how it goes 🙂
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Sadface … :(

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BREAKING NEWS !!!

Alas it is with great sadness that I must declare my triathlon season has come to a premature end 😦

Yes sadly the calf strain I sustained several weeks ago proves to be a stubborn little ####. I have had several aborted attempts in recent weeks at getting back on the triathlon rollercoaster, the most recent of which was today but I still have some tightness and pain and I really doubt I’ll be back on track and sufficiently competitive before the last triathlon of the current season which is at the end of this month.

I am obviously disappointed but heck if you had told me in May of this year that I would have achieved 3 top 20 placings in my first season competing in triathlon I would have laughed at you. The amount I have learned about the sport and about myself has been inestimable which really was the whole point of getting involved in triathlon in the first place so I suppose you could say mission accomplished…. BUT there is loads more left in me. I’ll continue to work on my swimming and cycling and when my leg is back to 100% I can get some miles in on foot too.

The winter months will be for training and upgrading my equipment if you’d like to help me see my make a champ page where I am looking to fund the purchase of a new bike http://www.makeachamp.com/mathieunorry

Having had a taste of triathlon in 2017, next year I’d like to push on and get a podium position and possibly make some waves in my age group category. We will see what lies ahead, if its as good as the last few months have been then I’m already onto a winner !!!

Help make me a champ :)

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Hey folks I’m back with another blog post. I have been training over the last few weeks predominantly on the bike and in the open water as I acquired a calf injury which curtailed my competing.

While I was online the other night I happened upon a website called Makeachamp, it’s essentially a crowdfunding site enabling athletes raise money to enable them reach their goal or at least allow them to continue to pursue their sporting passion.

I read numerous athlete profiles all asking for financial support to help them along their sporting journey. The amounts varied from several hundred euros to tens of thousands. So I thought why not try it myself. I need to seriously upgrade my bike from the 200 euro jalopy that has seen me reach three top 20 placings in the last three triathlons. In fact I have managed to outpace competitors on their 10,000 euro bikes which has only spurred me on to train harder however I do need a decent bike to help me push on to the top ten or even attain a podium position.

So I set up my own Make a champ account

http://www.makeachamp.com/mathieunorry

So should you feel the urge to throw a spare fiver my way that would be super generous of you and know that it will go a little way towards my new bicycle.

Thanks again for stopping by. 🙂