Lessons learned from racing

open water swimming

This past Saturday was the Capital District Tri Club’s annual Crystal Lake Triathlon. Per usual, it was an awesome event that was well run and provided local triathletes an opportunity to race on their home course. While many of the racers were seasoned veterans, there were also a fair number of first time participants, who had been preparing for this race all season, specifically the open water swim. After watching many of them not only complete the swim, but also exceed their own expectations, their excitement seemed to carry them through the remainder of the race, leading them to their goal of completing their first triathlon.

As many of you are aware, Excel Aquatics is only involved with swimming (hence ‘Aquatics’), but working with triathletes in their swim discipline by default has made us fans of the sport, and like everything in life, there are always learning opportunities, especially with endeavors such as races that take time, effort, and guts to even sign up for, let alone show up.

After having the opportunity to work with many of these first time open water swimmers at the start of the tri season, and watch their progress on a weekly basis, there seem to be a few of common traits that helped lead them to their success this past weekend.

1-They showed up, which is the first step-it may sound somewhat corny, but showing up is a huge part of success. If you aren’t there, you cannot succeed. Period. Showing up to practices, training sessions, races. It all counts, and many times it is the hardest part.

2-They had a goal-For many this past Saturday, the goal was to complete the Crystal Lake Tri, and for some, it was their first tri ever. Having that goal (or any goal) makes the daily challenges that come with an endeavor more feasible, as you have something specific to work towards. In swimming, the goal could be to hit a certain time for a race, make a specific stroke change, learn a new stroke/flipturn, or to obtain certain paces in a practice. Regardless of what the goal is, having a goal allows you to set milestones and work towards something specific.

3-They worked towards their goal through smaller goals and milestones-as mentioned above, having a primary goal allows you to create and reach certain milestones and smaller goals throughout your journey. For some, it started with swimming in open water for the first time in June and slowly improving from there. For others, it was learning how to swim, then making that transition to open water, culminating in full loops around the lake. Regardless, each week/training session provided smaller goals, which were indicative of tangible improvement leading to the ultimate goal.

4-They had a reason-everyone sets goals for different reasons, but at the end of the day, it is pretty tough to have a goal without a reason why. For some this past Saturday, it was their entry into the sport of triathlon coming from a run/bike/swim specific background. For others, it was a lifestyle change, and for others it was a because of friend’s recommendation. Regardless of the reason, the reason is often times just as important, and even more important as the goal, because once the goal is met, the why helps you to set a new goal and continue your conquest.

As mentioned above, each new tri season always leads to meeting first time open water swimmers, and working with them on a weekly basis on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the CDTC and BTC is always a rewarding experience. Watching many compete this past weekend reinforced the importance of stepping outside of one’s comfort zone, and always looking to improve and change your life for the better.