Fear Not the Sea 


“ I can’t swim!! ”,

“ I can’t swim freestyle ” are the barriers to join a triathlon event.

“ Me too!! But we can learn”, I said.

The main trigger to undertake this challenge is the ATTITUDE. I have overcome several obstacles training, why I can’t swim freestyle? Since I can swim like a frog/breaststroke, I must overcome my mental barrier by signing up for Triathlon, METASPRINT SERIES, SINGAPORE 23 April 2017. How do I learn? Watching YouTube; The National Swimmer, Michael Phelps and direct pool observations are the key triggers to acquire a new skill. Focus on one specific move at a time, train at least 1-2 times per week. By the 4th sessions,



” Set a culture, Stick to that pattern ” (Time : 0:00 – 2:30). Credits to National Swimmer Michael Phelps and his Coach.

The 1st swim was triggered by my friends in the sea. They are able to swim far away into the sea using freestyle technique but I can only swim my ‘own’ freestyle technique by the edge. I felt outcast.

                                        Swimming by the edge | Sentosa; Palawan Beach

Feeling uninspired, leaving the bulky kickboard at home and head to the pool lazily. The attempt to swim freestyle fails, I am unable to float in a streamlined posture. My hip feels heavy, rigid like a stone that sink in water like a frog style technique, it does not work.

The 2nd attempt are triggered by the kids.  Gazing at those freestyle swimmers and kids perfecting their strokes with their coaches, I feel motivated again and I must change my attitude. Wearing the goggle is a nightmare!! The rubber strips get loose easily and the goggle fog quickly, remember to invest in a good goggle if you are going to swim in the open sea.

Finally, I bought along my kickboard and remembering to focus one skill at a time. Practice to flap the feet in plantarflexion as close to the surface as possible. After multiples laps kicking, my hip does not sink anymore. I was kicking like a frog while flapping like a fish. After 5 counts of leg flapping, the moving board comes to stationary. I am in a still position,

I wanted to GIVE UP.

The breathing technique is important for the head position. Learn to hold long (5 – 7 seconds) breathe at the same time. The position of the head must look down into the water while you swim forward (not facing the front direction). It will help you to stay afloat and assist you to move forward efficiently.

Focus: Keep your hip and feet close to water surface.

The 3rd attempt are triggered by stationary feets. Learning to swim needs water time, similar to kayaking in the sea. In persistent, focusing on the moves of feet and keeping legs as naturally straight are the fundamental of appropriate technique to float closer to the surface. Flap, flap flap!! Still I cannot move, thinking in deep thoughts and watching YouTube tutorial, I realised I need to relax in the water and my arms are weak.

Yoga: Flex your body, legs and back muscles.

Other than swimming, trainings like Yoga will help to loosen the hip, back and arm muscles so that I can flex well and swim like a fish in the sea. Include body weight trainings will strengthen your abdominals, back, hips & arms for long distance swimming.

The 4th attempt are obstructed by the stationary kickboard. remembering that I need to relax, suddenly I am able to move the kickboard with my flapping legs by the sea. After 2 rounds of sole kicking with the kickboard, the kickboard moves inches by inches. I felt that the kickboard is the barrier. Throw away the kickboard on the white sands, suddenly I am free!! I can SWIM LIKE A GUPPY, I am super delighted. The constant leg kicking, body maneuver with partial arms extension, ‘S’ drawback technique, head tilting sideways and the breathing techniques are the key elements that needs to be synchronise to glide through the water steadily.

Now, I am confident to swim from stationary to a good length of 50 meters.

Freestyle in the Open Sea

It is a different set of challenges to swim in the pool and in the sea. We must overcome these natural challenges.

  • Current condition. You could be swimming against the current if you are heading out the sea. It will be good if you swim with the current that will accelerate your speed up the shore.
  • Objects. Firstly, the sea ‘creatures’ will make feel itchy or uneasy as you swim. Secondly, the floating objects (eg: plastic bottles) may distract your attention that slows you down. Lastly, the person swimming next to you may distract your focus/direction, so be mindful to swim a distant in the open sea.
  • Saline (salt water) in the open sea that clings on your body and flow into your eyes, we need to allow time for the body to adapt the uncomfortable feeling before the actual event.
  • Wind Condition. The wind may deter your speed as you raise/duck your head across the sea. Getting up towards the shore will make you feel ‘heavy’ as you transits for the next station.

However, there is still a need of frequent water time to find the optimal breathing technique at bilateral directions. As you swing your arms forwards a few times, control your breath well before tilting your head sideways to grasp fresh air. This will help to accelerate speed as you glide in the open sea.  You will feel exhausted after the open sea trainings, bodyache will follow but it was worth it. It is your ATTITUDE to overcome your personal obstacles.




  1. There are a few tips I can provide as I have gone through what you are facing:

    1. Learn the technique of exhaling in the water and inhaling as your head come up for air (not exhale and inhale together when coming up for air).
    2. Use a kickboard and clamp it between your legs. Master your arm strokes first and don’t worry about kicking (most triathletes/Ironman conserve their leg energy for biking and running)
    3. Mentally count in your head after every 10 strokes to look forward in the water to find the buoy/marker. This will help you to swim straight.
    4. Lastly, if you are tired, there is no rule or penalty stating that you cannot use breaststroke while swimming to catch your breath. Once you recover from the panting, go back to freestyle again.

    All this did it for me for my 1,500m swim. Hope it will help you some way or other. Good luck and see you on 23rd Apr 2017. =)


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