I first met Sandy in December of 2010. I was coming off a year of firsts including my first ever triathlon of any distance (Kansas 70.3). While I should have been happy with this accomplishment, the disappointment at Kansas continued to bother me. In addition to losing my timing chip coming out of T1, my swim split was slow (59 minutes) and left me fatigued for the remainder of the race. I felt I needed a coach to help me with my swim technique. After having no success finding a swim instructor a friend of mine told me about Life Time Fitness in Omaha, and how they specialized in the sport of triathlon. The sales staff at LTF got me in contact with Sandy and we began weekly lessons in January.
After reviewing my swim stroke, Sandy quickly realized I was going to need to start from square one, and that’s what we did. She taught me how to breath out underwater; the importance of floppy feet and loose ankles; body rotation and strengthening the core; and trying to limit the amount of power generated by the legs thus saving them for the bike and run. Sandy also tried with limited success to teach me the importance of bilateral breathing.
After five months of training I participated in my second 70.3 triathlon at Kansas in 2011. To my surprise I found that my swim split time actually had increased by about seven minutes; however, the lake conditions at Kansas on June 12th were difficult to say the least. Looking back at it, without Sandy’s training I’m sure I would have been one of several people they pulled out of the lake that day. As difficult as the conditions were, I just kept resorting back to my training. Once out of the water I found my legs were much fresher on the bike,I had a better run and both of those splits improved. Later that summer I raced in the Austin 70.3. My swim split improved by six minutes from the prior year, and 13 from just a few months earlier.
In the beginning, Sandy stated that learning to swim and “feeling the water” was going to be a two year process, but that the learning process never ends. In the off season she urged me to develop bilateral breathing. I’m now well into my second year with Coach and my swim stroke is night and day from a year ago. Bilateral breathing is the norm for me, and at least in the pool, my 100 splits have improved. With Sandy’s help I’ve become a much better swimmer and have learned to appreciate the sport more than I ever thought possible.