Minimum Swim for IM

I was paid up to do Nice IM this June.

Up until November last year things were going ok.

Then every time I went in the pool my ears would bleed - fitted ear plugs, good hat etc etc.

I've had perforated ear drums for years and years and know that I need to be a little more careful than most in water.

Suffice to say, the bone is now damaged in the ear due to the extent of infection over a sustained period and the ear needs time to recover. So, no IM France for me.

I do want to do an IM. My question is : for a reasonably fit person, is there an absolute minimum of swim training I can do in order to get out of the water at an IM without being dead? The infections will happen, I just need to swim less to have fewer infections.

I'm NOT trying to make things easier, I'd love to hear whether drafting and just two swims a week for three months might get me there?!


  • fat buddhafat buddha ✭✭✭
    drafting does help but I'm not convinced you get much of a tow if you're a mid packer as it takes a lot of effort to stay on the feet of swimmer ahead. there will be a general tow created however by sheer numbers of swimmers so accept that and focus on the key for you which is minimising the time in water to get best results..

    I think to an extent it depends on how your swimming is now. if you're generally a good swimmer that just needs some time in the water to keep ticking over then yes, it can be done on minimal training. if you're a poor swimmer who would be struggling with cut-off, I'm not so sure if it's doable

    you can also do some land training to maximise upper body strength to help and there are machines which are akin to swimming in water but lying on a bench which might help.
  • As an average swimmer (reasonable technique) in the 6 months prior to an Ironman ill have maybe 12-20 trips to the pool and 2-3 open water practice swims.  Im usually out of the water in 1.20-1.30.

    This isnt ideal training by any means but I guess like many triathletes swimming is a bit of an after thought and I sometimes find going to the pool a bit of a chore.

    Pre-requisites for getting by would be no swimming issues (i.e. fear of water etc), a reasonable technique and being able to swim 400m comfortably in 9-10 minutes.

    A number of the more average swimmers who did limited training (myself included) saw the downside at IM Germancy 2007 when wetsuits were banned, I think this added 15-30 minutes to some of our swim times.

    I think there is more of a drafting benefit than FB makes out, especially in the sub 1.30 standard, if you can draft effectively its quite noticible how much less effort you have to put into your stroke for a given speed when youre drafting.  Id guess a good draft for say 75% of the course (plus the general pull effect from many swimmers) is worth at least 5 minutes time saving.  On top of this a good wetsuit can add another 5 minutes+ timesaving (15+ if you consider the effect not wearing a wetsuit had on many of us at Germany).

    You may be able to get by on even less swimming than I indicated but you could be getting into risky territory.

    Is there an option whereby you could swim breastroke (head out of the water) or get some air/water tight sealing to further protect your ears?
  • Actually, thinking about it id say that I could have a reasonable bash at completing an Ironman swim on zero swim training in the preceeding year , it'd be a tough swim and take more out of me.  Id also qualify that by saying the previous experience and conditioning would probably hold me in reasonable stead.

  • As you probably know the IM swim cut-off is 2.20, thats quite a conservative margin for slow swimming.
  • swim cap and ear plugs?
  • Sorry to hear about IMF. - have you been able to withdraw and obtain a refund on medical grounds?

    Five years ago My daughter had to have an operation to remove infected bone from her ear following an earlier failed op to clear Glue ear and sticky ear drum.

    After the op she was fitted with a silicone ear plug, the hospital took a cast of her ear and the plug was made within 10 days and was completely water tight, she does not need it now. May be worth enquiring at the auidometry department of the hospital.

    On the general swimming points it may also be worth choosing your IM swim venue, obviously a sea swim can have serious tide and current issues, there is a bit of added benefit from the extra buoyance of the salt water BUT this could be offset if there is a strong current.

    It also helps if the course is the correct distance unlike IMUK last year. 

    As suggested above you could try breast stroke, 

    If you join the gym I go to there are plenty of women in there who swim and never get their hair wet so cant possibly get water in their ears, I could always ask them to give you lessons. image

  • I only went in the water twice last year from the end of May until the Ironman nmid July..and they were boith open water tris.because I hate swimming...........I'm not good at it and never did the distance in training..........

    but I did manage to have a brilliant swim off my adrenaline and luck and did 1:32...........

    as long as your not close to the cutoffs and are bloody minded then i'm sure you can do it...image

  • I'm an openly crap swimmer.

    I've done 4 or so IM races now but last year I got 8 OW swims in before IMCH, and my time was there or thereabouts what its always been. In terms of distance - I dont think I actually dont go over 2000m or so on any of these. Its not ideal and not what you want to do a good time, but it will get you through a swim.

    Unless we get a heatwave and then you're stuffed as IMDE showed me up ! 45 mins longer my swim was !

  • Great help all of you - Thank you!

    I was swimming 5 times a week when I developed the sustained problems.

    I've got the moulded and fitted plugs, I also use a swim cap.

    This has REALLY boosted my confidence, so thank you all again.
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