Are you registered for the Holoholo Challenge’s first-ever swimming course? We’re excited, too. Before you jump into the water, check out these tips for our virtual fitness challenge, courtesy of Hawaiian Airlines Vice President of Marketing & E-Commerce Rob Sorensen.
I am not the best swimmer. Endurance is not my issue (I can swim for a long time), but my form is not great. My pace is pretty much 2:00/100m whether I’m going all out or just strolling along. I recognize there are many more knowledgeable than I about swimming. That said, here are some tips that I’ve found helpful.
Improve your stroke. It is my assumption that most people who sign up for a swim challenge will be pretty good swimmers. However, even good swimmers seek to improve and stay sharp on their swim skills. Most pools will have organized Masters Swimming programs where you can make friends, get some solid coaching and receive organized workouts. A self-learning option I have found valuable was created by a prior coach of mine, Dave Luscan, called Finding Freestyle — all workouts and educational videos can be found online.
Go for distance. In training for longer triathlons, some workouts just need to be about distance. Sure, you could do 100 straight laps, but something to break it up could be useful. For these workouts I often count laps using the Fibonacci sequence where each number is the sum of the two proceeding numbers. So, for 87 laps you would swim 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 13, 8, 5, 3, 2, 1, 1. I know it is just mental, but it makes the swim go by faster for me.
Hawaii has great public pools. After years of needing a gym membership just to have access to a pool, I was delighted to find many excellent swim options in Hawaii. There are many 25-yard x 50-meter (Olympic size) pools available that are often not crowded… I rarely need to share a lane. This article is a good starting point for pools on Oahu.
Hawaii has amazing open water. In Hawaii, we are blessed with numerous locations where ocean swimming can be safely enjoyed (and many where it cannot be). Safe places to swim are marked with swim buoys and have lifeguards. If you are not sure if a place is safe for swimming, don’t swim there.
Ask a lifeguard about the water. Ocean swimming is amazing but does carry with it some risks. I’ve made it a practice before I swim in any unfamiliar waters to ask a lifeguard about the area. They can inform you where reefs are, where the currents are and what specific conditions should be considered on a given day including tides, jellyfish and water quality. They are there to help!
Inform someone where you are swimming. When I’m leaving our house, I will always let my wife know where I’m swimming and when I should return. There has never been an issue, but she would know where to start looking if I got into trouble. Of course, informing a lifeguard is a good practice as well.
Always make yourself visible in the water. I mostly swim the buoys at Kailua Beach. There can be a lot of activity in those waters. About once a month I find myself shouting at a kayak or canoe to make sure they see me. To assist, I wear a bright swim cap. I use a white one as that is the color of the buoys and I figure someone smarter than me chose that color for visibility. I see some people using “swim bubbles” that I can spot from a distance.
Stay away from wildlife. Where I swim, I will often see honu (sea turtles). These are amazing creatures and so beautiful to see in their natural habitat. My direct path would often take me directly over them, but I always divert my course and provide them a wide berth. The water is their home, and I am a guest.
About Rob Sorensen. Rob likes to cycle and only started running 10 years ago when his brother-in-law challenged him to complete a full-distance Ironman. Since then, he’s completed numerous full and half Ironman races, as well as full and half marathons. He is thrilled that his college-aged children are also triathletes, and all completed the St. George Utah Half Ironman with him this past May.