Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Book Review: Fearless Swimming for Triathletes by Ingrid Loos Miller aka Cardiac Death, Sharks, and Wetsuits oh my

Although I don't often swim in the washing machine that is the mega triathlon, this book was interesting and at times very useful. I'll review sections of it in depth over the next few weeks, but here's a general overview.

This book has a few goals. One is to teach (as best a book can) the swim and saftey skills to help the swimmer feel comfortable in the water. Another is to demystify some of the fears swimmers might have (sharks, dying, etc). The last is to teach general relaxation skills to help the swimmer through moments of panic.

The book is great at the first goal. I got some cool ideas for both getting more used to cold water (when the lake drops below 60* again, I'll try one) and how to swim straight without putting your head up every third stroke (more about that in a coming post).

For the second goal-- cardiac death and sharks-- the book mostly cracked me up. The appendix is a list of everyone who died (to publication date) in the swim part of a tri. It gave details of what happened and how it could have been prevented. The truth is most of the folks had unknown underlying cardiac issues, and when someone has a heart-attack on the swim, it is much harder to save that person than on the bike or run. Apparently defibrillation doesn't work if the patient is wet.

As for sharks, they are scary but low incidence (especially in the fresh water lakes I typically swim in). I found that section entertaining if not relevant.

Finally, for the relaxation skills, again I didn't find this section particularly relevant. I've had enough cognitive behavioral therapy and yoga sessions in my life to know most of what they wrote about. However, for the less "enlightened" and more fearful swimmer, this could be interesting.

The book was under $20 and worth it. I could see it being highly relevant to someone who really was a fearful triathlete-- I'm a relaxed open water swimmer.

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