Swim the distance, in the ocean, on the swim course, in your race kit...and bring some lube!
Advice from someone who has swum at Dig Me Beach hundreds of times.
Unless you are in Kona for more than 10 days before the race, you are probably not going to ride 112 miles or run 26 miles in one workout. It should however, not be unreasonable to swim the 2.4 mile course. After all, that is only 4224 yards. Before you swim make sure you have plenty of sunscreen on, put it on your inner thighs, arm pits and anywhere your limbs touch any other skin. It will help for more than just sun protection as you will see. The reason to swim the distance in the ocean goes way beyond just putting in the distance. Here is why:
1. BECOME ACQUAINTED WITH THE OCEAN: If you do not spend much time in the ocean, it can be overwhelming. There is wind, movement on the water surface, and below the water surface. There is sea life, buoyancy, and salt, lots of it. The only thing ocean swimming has in common with lake swimming is that neither has a black line at the bottom like a pool. Start the first day swimming just 5 or 10 minutes. Swim in the morning before the wind picks up. Swim with someone else, believe me it will be impossible to swim alone all week. Don't expect it to feel the same the next day, as currents and winds may make it choppy or create more or less movement.
2. SIGHTING: As you swim the 1.2 miles out to the turnaround buoy, which for years has been a boat on race day, you will notice that you are swimming almost parallel with the coastline and Ali'i drive. Stopped frequently along with way out and notice the landmarks like hotels, condos etc. This will make your race day swim feel really familiar. Remember don't trust that the person swimming in front of you knows where they are going. They are probably not reading this tip!
3. CHAFING: The saline concentration is different on the Kailua-Kona coast, and with that you may find that salt might cause some chafing between your skin and the garment you are wearing, or even between your skin and your skin! While that sunscreen I recommended will help prevent this, it may not entirely. so during your training swims bring a small 3 ounce tube of vaseline or Aquaphor. Tuck it into your shorts. Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.
4. TAKE YOUR GOGGLES OFF, PUT THEM BACK ON: Do this a few times while you are training so that if by chance on race day, they either slip off, or they get knocked of by a fellow competitor's swimming hand or kicking foot, you will not panic and you know what you have to do to put them back on. Remember everyone is racing, so if this happens it was probably an accident. Don't burn up energy seeking revenge on that person. Chances are you will not have any idea to whom you bumped.
5. ENJOY THE VIEW: The swim course is located in an area where people come from all over the world to dive and enjoy the underwater sea life. Make sure your goggles are clean and enjoy what will surely be a 2.4 mile swim in the world's most amazing aquarium.
6. ENJOY RACE DAY: If you do not plan on winning or placing in your age group, do not let yourself get caught up in the hype and the crowds when the gun goes off. Instead let all those people go. Wait 30 seconds or so, and though it may seem like along time, and you will see how much free open water you will have in front of you. You will not feel people pulling on your feet, or hitting or kicking you. Chances are you find yourself passing many of those people along the swim course.
Finally - don't forget to stop by HP Bike Works on Ali'i Drive to stop by and say hello to Emilio & Tracy. Remember - we are part of your team, and we'll be there to help!
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