Sunday was my first ever Open Water Swim (OWS) practice during my triathlon training.  Wow, what an experience.

I signed up for the OWS clinic put on by One Step Beyond Multisport Coaching:  http://www.osbmultisport.com/  The owner and head coach of OSB is Marty Gaal.  At the very beginning of my journey to be a triathlete, I had some private swim lessons with Marty at the fabulous Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary, NC.  It is a great facility, and Marty taught me a ton in those sessions.  A few months later, I found myself once again under the tutalege of Marty and his wife (Bri).

The clinic included a training lecture to start, which was insightful – followed by some in water lessons/practice.  I will tell you, I was nervous getting into the lake for the first time.  I am so used to watching a black line move beneath me while I swim, but at the clinic I was looking at some seriously murky lake water.  I was also nervous about swimming out into the lake (deep water), sighting our turns and of course being able to swim the full distances.

Our practices started with a simple one at a time swim out and around someone on a surf board, then back to shore.  This first ‘lap’ was short, probably only 40 meters out and 40 back.  Simple – and I am certain designed to give all 30+ of us confidence.  The lesson we were practicing here included sighting our turn and swimming a good line.  I found myself able to sight fairly well, so my confidence was improved.   After doing this simple lap a couple of times, the distance was increased and we begun to learn how to draft off of someone.  Now we were sent out in pairs, with one person set to follow closely to get the draft.  This is a great concept, but fairly hard to practice in this situation.  The issue I had was that we were paired up at random.  This unfortunately meant that I was too fast for my partner.  When I was in the ‘lead’ position, I swam purposely slow, but by the time we were back to shore, I was a good 30 seconds in front of her.  Then during the next lap, she was to lead me – but pulled herself out for a goggle issue, so I was forced to swim on my own that lap.

After the follow behind drafting, we worked on the off the hip draft position.  This time we went a little further and with three people – one lead, and two drafters.  I was again paired up at random with two people.  This time it was a mother/daughter pair from Charlotte.  The mother was the lead first, so I swam right off of her right hip the whole way.  She wasn’t fast, but I was able to hold that position.  Then we rotated.  Unfortunately, I left the pair behind when I was in the lead – even with trying to swim a very slow pace.

With all of the drafting practice over, we began to work on starting and swimming in crowds.  Marty split the group into 2 groups and had 1/2 of us do a ‘mock start’.  We lined up, heard the word go and swam straight out to a turn around point.  We then treaded water for a minute or two, then received another ‘go’ and thus practiced a deep water start.  This was great.  I loved the start practice.  It is one thing that I was anxious about, but it turned out to not be too bad.  It is difficult of course, but my anxiety wasn’t too high.

After practicing the crowded starts – we transitioned into swimming a longer course (about 400-500 meters) out and around two turns before heading back to shore (sort of a strange looking triangle).  He broke the group up into boys and girls and sent us on our way.  This was tough.  My anxiety was fine at the start and I was able to sight the turn easily.  The issue came when we all reached that first turn.  The crowd was tough and I found myself expending a lot of extra energy just to round the turn.  The same thing happened on the 2nd turn, but not quite as bad.  I swam the rest of the way to the shore feeling fine, but a little short of breath.  — — After a 2 minute break… we were off again.  The same thing happened at the turns for me, although this time I did catch a left hook to my cheek.  That caused a little panic and caused me to lose some of my breath.  I made it around the 2nd turn and back to shore, but this time much more ‘spent’ than the time before.

We then had one more practice lap – this time a little further out, with a shorter ‘over’ and of course a longer back.  I enjoyed this lap since I was able to clear myself of the crowd before the first turn, which meant my anxiety was lowered due to less traffic.  I swam back to shore at a nice low effort pace.  I felt great getting out of the water.

We then had a second training lecture about swim workouts presented by Bri.  This was very informative and I will likely insert her suggestions into my workouts moving forward.

After that, it was time to pack up and head home.

Overall I am very pleased that I attended this swim clinic.  I think that for the money, it was definitely worth it.  Getting some expert advice and training in a simulated OWS race is extremely valuable.  I will carry this forward to my first Open Water Swim mile long race in August.

Thanks Marty and Bri!



Not much time to write today.  I got in a great swim workout this morning before the heat settled in – although the water was like swimming in bath water it was so warm.  My workout today was another recovery short time workout – only 29 minutes in the pool.  I focused on smooth strokes, light kick and bilateral breathing – with some sighting practice thrown in for good measure.  I ended up doing 1100 meters and felt great at the end.

BTW, anyone else watch the US Olympic swim trials?  It is so much different watching them now that I am swimming so much.

Today’s workout:

Plan: 29 minutes in the pool

Actual: 29 minutes – 1100 meters in the pool

Just a quick post today.

This morning I woke up early to hit the pool at 6:00 am with my 14 y/o daughter in tow.  Once again I planned out a good ~45 minute workout that looked like this:

1×100 meter warm-up

3×200 meter – negative splits (goal: 4:17, 4:12, 4:05)

1×500 meter – @ olympic race pace (2:02/100 m)

2×200 meter – 150@ race pace, 50 @ sprint)

1×150 – cool down

All of that swimming equals 1750 meters in the pool.  My daughter was going to match 50-75 meters for every 100 meters I did.

It was a great workout.  I felt strong, and smooth.  My negative splits came in better than planned – 4:12, 4:05, 3:55!  That lest set was fast (for me).

All in all a good start to the day.

Today’s workout:

Plan: 48 minutes in the pool – 1750 meters

Actual: 48 minutes in the pool – 1750 meters.  spot on.

1750 meters before 7am = The start of a good day.

Another beautiful morning in Raleigh.  I woke up with ease today after a good night’s sleep, ready to put in a good workout at the pool.  Once again, my 14 year old daughter joined me for the pool workout.  These workouts with her are great.  She can go at her pace – and I can go at mine.   But the whole time, we are right there next to each other, encouraging and commenting.  It is wonderful.

My workout called or 48 minutes in the pool.  I took that 48 minutes and broke it down into: 150 meter warm up, 3×200 meters @ race pace, 1×500 meters @ a slightly slower than race pace, 2×200 @ all out sprint pace, 1×100 cool down – for a total workout of 1750 meters, mostly at a good fast pace.  I only allowed myself a 10 second break between 200s and a 30 second break after the 500.

All in all it was a good workout.  I am very pleased with my swimming progress.  Plus, I really enjoyed having my daughter there working out with me.  (BTW, she got in ~850 meters).

Today’s workout:

Plan: 48 minutes in the pool

Actual: 48 minutes in the pool – 1750 meters.

Let me tell you a little about my Father’s Day.  It was a fantastic day spent mostly outdoors, doing all sorts of activities – both by myself and with my kids.  It was a perfect blend of serious training and relaxed family fun.

The day started off with my daughter and I heading to the pool to do some laps.  She swam on the local swim team last summer, but due to many reasons isn’t swimming this year.  I thought it would be good fun to take her to the pool and show her my swim workout, while she swam in the lane next to me doing 25 meter repeats.  I felt pretty good during my session, getting in 1750 meters – but the best part of the workout was enjoying this time with my daughter.  What a great way to start off the day.  Funny thing about swimming with my daughter.  I had a flashback to being young and back in St Louis.  I remembered swimming in our backyard pool with my Father – it actually made me choke up.  It was a nice memory to have while I was sharing a similar experience with my daughter.

Next it was home to enjoy a wonderful breakfast of French Toast w/ blueberries and pecans made by my wonderful wife.  After enjoying that decadent meal, it was time to spend some play time with the littlest Breakey.  She and I played with some puzzles and basically enjoyed being with each other.  Unfortunately, I had to cut this short because I had some actual work to do (bummer).  So, I spent the next 3 hours or so knocking out some work.

After working, it was time for another workout.  This time I was scheduled to go for a 1.5 hour ride.  I decided to go for 25 miles up towards Falls Lake.  Everything about the ride went well.  The weather was perfect, the cars were ‘nice’ and I was feeling good.  I rode at about 75-85% for most of the ride, keeping my heartbeat as close to 150 bpm as I could.  I really enjoyed the weather – and seeing all of the families out on the lake made me smile.  Everyone was having a good day.  I got my ride in – and was still feeling great.

View from the turnaround point on my training ride

Then – after a good training ride, I wanted to take my daughter out on her bike and get in another 5-6 miles with her.  We casually headed for the greenway and spent some real quality time together.  This 40 minute ride was more fulfilling than the training ride I just completed.  I need to do more of this!

Taken during my ride with my daughter on the Upper Neuse Greenway

Finally it was my boys’ turn.  We grabbed our baseball mitts and hit the backyard for a good game of catch.  It is amazing to see how much they have changed this season.  My oldest is getting so good at catching and throwing, it is almost to the point where I can actually throw it fairly hard to him.  My younger boy is getting better too.  He catches most, and has a great arm.  We played catch for about an hour while my wife was once again cooking an amazing meal.  

After hanging out with the boys, it was time for the wonderful dinner followed by a post-dinner family walk on the greenway.

The family walk

I found this Father’s Day to be one of my favorite ones to date.  It was so great to spend individual time with each of my kids as well as some quality time as a family.  Thank you family for making me feel special.  I appreciate it.

Oh – and yes, I finally loaded the Instagram app onto my phone.

– Adam

Today’s workout:

Plan: 1:37 bike, 29 minute swim

Actual: 1:27:56 training on the bike (23.7 miles @ 16.2mph), 32:35 casual on the bike (5.52 miles @ 10.2mph), 45 minutes at the pool (1750 meters) + 1hr of baseball + 1hr family walk.  🙂

5:45am, the alarm (or more accurately, my phone) buzzes quietly.  I do my best to get out of bed without stirring my wife.  After a couple of minutes getting ready, I make my way over to the pool.  My workout today is a 40 minute swim, with a focus on distance and endurance, rather than speed.

The temperature this morning: 58* F.  That is a little chilly for a morning swim, but I find it refreshing.  I slip on my goggles and head out for a nice pace 300 meter warm up.  Things feel great, I am moving through the water smoothly – slowly, but smoothly.  I intentionally backed down my pace by about 10 seconds per 100 meters as a way to focus on my distance – and it is working.  At the end of the 300m warm up, I am not out of breath, I feel great.

Next up – a 500 meter set at cruising pace.  I settle in nicely at a good pace and keep my breathing and heart rate under control.  I then think to myself – “Wow, this is working”.  I go past 300 meters, still feeling strong.  400 meters, more of the same, things feel great.  Finally as I am nearing the end of this set, I push it for the last 50 meters for a strong finish.  Wow, I just swam 500 meters and hardly feel out of breath.

After about 30 seconds of rest, I set out on another 500 meter set with the same game plan, with one adjustment.  This time I am going to work on recovery from too fast of a pace/too high of a heartbeat.  So, I set out for 100 meters at cruising pace, then I put the hammer down for 100 meters to get my heart rate up and my breathing at its max.  This really works, I am pushing it hard for these 100 meters.  Then, without stopping, I spend the next 100 meters working bringing my heart rate and breathing back down.   To my excitement, this works well, it takes me about 25-50 meters before I am swimming with a controlled heartbeat again.  I then repeat the sprint/recover to round out this 500 yard set.

I am now only 300 meters away from swimming a full 1600 meters (or one mile).  After only 15 seconds of rest, I set out to finish the workout with a nice steady pace (slightly faster than cruise, but slower than sprint) 300 meters.  I keep my breathing and heart rate under control and finish up strong.

I am very pleased with this workout today.  I had been struggling with the transition from a yard pool to a meter pool – but today, something unlocked.  I felt more in control and more confident.  It was great.

Next week’s swimming sessions will include me bringing my 14 y/o daughter with me, so she can get some workouts in as well.  I am looking forward to those.

Today’s workout:

Plan: 40 minutes in the pool

Actual: 44 minutes in the pool – 1600 meters (1 mile!)

Things were so much simpler when I was training for the sprint tri.  Swim, Bike, Run, Swim, Bike Run, Day off.  rinse repeat.  Now things are so much different: Sun: Bike/Swim, Mon: Run, Tues: Swim, Wed: Run, Thur: Bike, Fri: Swim, Sat: Run.  —  It doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as easily.

Today is Tuesday, so that means (let me check… um… ) swim.  Yes, swim.  ok.  44 minutes in the pool working on form and relaxation.  I can do that.  I hit the pool in the early hours of the day.  It is so nice to have be outdoors, in the slightly cool air doing laps.  I love it.  It is so quiet.  I settle in for my workout by starting with a simple 200 meter warm up at a slow pace.  Things feel good.   I then attack my workout plan and do 10x100m @ 2:05.  That gives me anywhere between 2-6 seconds of rest before I head out on the next 100 meters.  Just barely enough to take a few breaths.  This all becomes a struggle by my 7th 100m.  I find that my rest is only a couple of seconds (at most).  Ugh… keep pushing.  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming…  I finish the main set.  I then settle in for some 200 meter cruise speed sets to round out the workout.

And before long, my 44 minutes are up.   My next swim workout I will work on distance.  I hope to swim 750-1000 meters without a stop.  Wish me luck.

Today’s workout:

Plan: 44 minutes in the pool

Actual: 44 minutes in the pool (1800 meters)

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