Podcast Episode #48: The Answer to 17 Open-Water Swim Questions That Will Instantly Make You Faster

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Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode


This June 18, 2009 free audio episodeincludes a special swim interview for you triathletes, as well as listener Q&A's on “Chia Seeds” (are they actually superior to flax seed?), Peanut Butter (is it really as bad as some nutritionists say?), Insulin Spikes from post-workout nutrition, Fasting for Weight Loss, and one very interesting natural remedy to fix a knee injury…

This Week's Featured Topic:

By now, you have probably realized that there is a pretty stark contrast between swimming 25 yards, pushing off a wall, and swimming back…and fighting your way through 1.5K or more in choppy lake water. This is especially true if you like to follow the big black or blue line on the bottom of the pool.

So who's to blame? You? Or your pool-side coach/master's swim instructor/triathlon mentor for not teaching you a stroke that actually works in the open water?

Maybe a little bit of both.

So today's podcast episode contains the answers to “17 Open-Water Swim Questions That You Should Probably Ask Your Swim Coach.”, and it features John Kenny, a triathlon coach from Pacific Elite Fitness. John was a 5-time US National champion in open water swim distances ranging from 10K up to 25K.  He was a 7-time National team member and has competed at a wide variety of races including Nationals, Olympic trials, Pan Ams, Pan Pacs, World Cups, and World Championships. He has been competing at local open water races since 1990, attended his first Open Water Nationals in 1997, and most recently represented the USA in the 25K at World Championships in 2008. From short races to marathons, flat lake swims to rough ocean or turbulent river swims, John Kenny is the most experienced open water swimmer in the United States, if not the world.  Other coaches in the triathlon realm claiming to be “open water experts” do not come close.

In addition to a host of immediately practical open water swim tips and tricks, my discussion with John includes:

1. Should my stroke count and arm turnover increase in the open water?

2. If so, by how many strokes per minute?

3. And if so, should I be using a swimming metronome?(click here for more information on the “swim metronome/pedometer” that John mentions)

4. Should my breathing mechanics be different in the open water?

5. Should I do the 2 Stroke R, Breathe, 1 Stroke R, Sight, Switch Sides pattern that I see almost all the pros doing in triathlon swim video footage?

6. If so, how do I do that?

7. Should I sight first, then breathe, or breathe first, then sight, and does it matter?

8. How often should I sight?

9. Should I change my swim mechanics if I'm swimming downriver?

10. What about in a choppy lake vs. a choppy ocean with breakers?

11. In an ocean start, at what point should I stop running and start swimming?

12. Can I learn how to “porpoise” or “dolphin dive”, and will it make me faster?

13. How far away from the feet of the person in front of me can I be before I lose the draft?

14. How hard should I work in the first 200 meters to catch a draft?

15. What is the #1 Workout to get more comfortable with open water swimming?

16. What is the #1 Workout to get faster in the open water?

17. Is there a way to eat and drink while swimming in the open water?

For more information on hiring open water swim expert and pro triathlete John Kenny as your coach (and I can personally testify that just a few of the tips in this interview brought me through one of my best open water swims at the recent Boise 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlon), just click here.

Also in this podcast:

Listener Scott asks:

Brad Pilon has a popular e-book out called Eat Stop Eat in which he presents several studies showing the benefits of short term intermittent fasting, especially for fat loss.  Have you read very much on this topic, and do you have any opinions about it?

My second question involves post workout nutrition after strength training and fat loss.  I have read a few blogs from fitness/nutrition expert that discourage the use of it when attempting to lose fat due to the spike in insulin the meal causes.  They state this may lead to fat storage since any leftover calories not utilized to replenish muscle glycogen would be stored as fat.

I know you are a fan of low to moderate GI foods.  I've been incorporating a whey supplement and piece of fruit after my strength training sessions, both of which are going to cause some form of insulin spike I'm sure, but are low GI foods.  I can't see how supplying my body with a serving of protein and carbohydrates after a lifting session, especially when they are low in calories, are going to be detrimental or encourage fat storage if my muscle glycogen levels are low or even depleted.

I've also realize there are different approaches to strength training when trying to lose fat vs gaining lean mass.  I feel there is significant research to support the idea you can lose fat while building or maintaining lean muscle or lean body mass.  So, if you are lifting to encourage increases in muscle or lean mass, incorporating HIIT cardio for fat loss, and maintaining a diet with a caloric deficit to encourage fat loss while providing your body with the macronutrients it needs, shouldn't you be able to burn fat and gain/maintain muscle?”

Listener Peter asks:

“Everything you say is pretty much on the money, however everyone else on the net seems to rave about peanut butter. Possibly, can you write a little more on the topic and possibly uncover why everyone is on the PB band wagon. I have a scraping of it with blueberry jam and a banana on toast on big training mornings.

Another wonder food which I thought you might want to look into is Chia seed. It's touted as having the highest level of Omega 3 compared to any other grain out there. I use this in my sports drink, salads, with cereal and/or yogurt.”

Listener Gary also writes in with a very interesting home rededy he used for knee pain.

Do you have a question? Remember, you can now ask your questions via *audio* to me via the free Skype software by simply “Skyping” me at username “pacificfit“. You can also call toll free to 1-877-209-9439 and leave a voicemail for Ben Greenfield.

Special Announcements:

holisticfueling-Just released: “Holistic Fueling For Ironman Triathletes” – the ultimate solution to fueling your body with the thousands of calories necessary for Ironman triathlon and ultra-endurance sports – without doing lasting damage to your vital organs, brain cells, skin and immune system! It's only available from “MindSet Triathlon”, and for the next few days, they've featuring the new release with a huge $10 discount! To get the book now, just click here.

Ironman Coeur D' Alene Triathlon is this weekend, June 21st! Contact Ben at[email protected] if you have last minute questions about pacing, nutrition, hydration or race day logistics.

-Brand new “Unparalleled Secrets of Fat Loss” clinic in Spokane, WA and Coeur D' Alene, ID. WARNING: this is not a run-of-the mill program or standardized “weight loss clinic”. You will be exposed to cutting-edge tactics  like toxin-free food planning, hyper-metabolic response exercise circuits, dietary thermogenic supplementation, food allergy elimination, hormonal response meal timing, grocery shopping mind-trick strategies and metabolic testing secrets. Click here for more information and to reserve your spot (only 12 people allowed in the class). This class is postponed until full – contact [email protected] for more information!

-The ultimate audio collection: Ben Greenfield Fitness, Volumes 1 & 2 have been released as a 10 CD multi-disc set:Now you can listen to any of the health, fitness or nutrition audio episodes on the convenience of your home or car CD player. I've only ordered 100 of the sets, but you can get over 1500 minutes of cutting-edge audio today for the web-only special of $47 by clicking here. A $10 discount is given away in this week's podcast. Just listen in to get your $10 gift!


That's all for this week. Be sure to leave our podcast a rating in iTunes! Just click here to go to our iTunes page and leave feedback!

Ask Ben a Podcast Question

5 thoughts on “Podcast Episode #48: The Answer to 17 Open-Water Swim Questions That Will Instantly Make You Faster

  1. stepquick says:

    Good then, I'm sticking with it. Swam a 1.5 mile open water race today and the sight after breath served me well. I'm a structural engineer so perhaps we think along the same lines.

  2. stepquick says:

    has anyone ever commented that you are one of the few who recommend sighting after a breath? personally i agree with you and have tried the popular sight then go right into your breath technique and find it awkward. i must admit however that the popular opinion makes me wonder if i am being inefficient doing the sight after breath.

    1. Yes, I realize it is not universally preached BUT it works like a charm and, frankly, as a biomechanist, it made perfect sense to me as I experimented with the two types of breathing and sighting. But it's harder to learn, which is why most people don't do it…

  3. Sam says:

    Swim metronome link takes you too a list of products. Does not help! Which is the one he is talking about?

    1. I use the one called Wetronome, from http://www.swimsmooth.com

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