Swimming professionals share their tips on how to train for the Flowers Sea Swim.
Excitement is building up once more for the annual Flowers Sea Swim, an open water swim race that attracts hundreds of swimmers of all levels of expertise for swimming, prizes, food and celebration. In anticipation of this year’s swim, some of Cayman’s most seasoned swimming coaches shared their top tips to take your training to the next level.
The key for swimmers who are just starting out or who haven’t been in the water for a while is to train slowly. A good starting part is to get into the pool and swim 50 metres, then working your way up to 100 metres and so on, until you have worked up to a mile. This approach will not only help build a swimmer’s stamina, but their confidence as well.
For pool training, it is essential to focus on the mechanics, says Dave Bott, a swimming coach at Camana Bay Aquatic Club. This controlled environment is where the swimmer can work on pacing and intervals. “Many people swim with their head up too high and their hips too low, so focusing on floating better and becoming more efficient is going to help swimmers not fatigue as easily,” says Bott.
For leg-based training, grab a kickboard or a pair of fins with the goal of building sets up to 400 metres. “The kickboard may feel slower and a bit awkward, but it will build the strength in your legs to get you to the finish line,” says Bott. Training with an organised swim programme such as the Camana Bay Aquatics Club or Stingray Swim Club is also a great way to develop skills.
With over 900 swimmers taking part in the Sea Swim, it’s important to be well prepared for being bumped and kicked and to cope with the confusion it may cause. David Craig Pursley, head coach of the Stingray Swim Club, recommends seeking out informal groups to swim with in the open water.
“The Flowers Sea Swim is organised chaos,” says Pursley. “So training in a group will help swimmers gain experience in swimming in a pack, build their comfort level and learn how to draft off people.”
To spice things up for weekend training, download the open water swim map from the Cayman Islands Amateur Swimming Association’s website, which features easy, moderate and challenging routes. Start with a goal of swimming continuously for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure you become familiar with the environment, like where the water is shallow and deep. Another beneficial skill is to keep your sight focused on something ahead to help stay on course.
On Land Training
Cross training on land is a good way to break up the swimming regimen and continue to build a swimmer’s skills. Triathlon coach and active swimmer William Balderamos suggests endurance sports, which help increase a swimmer’s aerobic foundation. Cycling, running, rowing and even surfing are all good training methods to increase endurance.
On the day of the main event, swimmers should show up early so they can take their time warming up. Swimmers can loosen their shoulders and warm up their joints by swinging their arms and stretching their legs. Before the competition starts, swimmers should also remember to get in the water and move around a bit so that their body adjusts to the water’s temperature. Above all, participants should relax — they have plenty of fun and excitement to look forward to.
Cayman Airways is proud to be the Official Airline for the 2016 Flowers Sea Swim race.
by Shurna DeCou