I am totally addicted to swimming. You are able to reach totally own world while swimming. As your body becomes weightless and all the sounds falter in to silent ripple of the water. The tranquillity and roughness brought by water is something you just cannot experience on dry land I want to swim almost every single day.
Despite the fact that I love swimming it has also brought me a lot tears during my triathlon career. If I were even a slightly better swimmer I would most likely have representent Finland in the Olympics. If you cannot stay with the lead group during the swim leg on a olympict distance race, it is more or less a game over even before hitting the bike course.
I is not that have not tried. I have trained more swimming than cycling and running together during my triathlon career. I have had several swim coaches. I have tried volume, intensity as well as technique drills. As an example, I have over ten pairs of different swim paddles to guide the freestyle stroke.
I started competitive swimming at the age of eleven back in 1992 as my friend insisted me to join. At the begining I did not even like swimming, but our coach was really nice and the group was great, so I started to enjoy our joint training sessions. During the first months and years, my development was fast and soon I was one of the fastest in our group. The number of sessions went first up to three and then to five times per week. I was always early at our sessions and in addition to swimming I cycled to school as well to the swimming pool and during free days I did also practice by my own. My enthusiasm was acknowledged and I got transferred to the best group in our swimming club.
At 7th grade, at the age of 13, I was already swimming six to ten times a week. I was clearly the slowest in our group. Despite this I always came early to warm up and I never ever missed a training. Every day I did gather all my sisu and just fought and fought to stay with the others and be able complete the sets in time. My coach tried to slow me down, to relax and search for a good technique. But I did not have time for this, I would have missed the kilometres. I loved our weekend training camps the most, when we swam even 50 km just in three days.
At the end of upper secondary school my development in swimming had stopped completely. My best friend had moved to another club and my motivation to counting the tiles started to fade. So, I decided to try a triathlon race and the selection was obvious as soon as I reached the finish line. I raced a way too big bicycle borrowed from a friend of my father, but I just loved each and every meter of the race and as it happened I won by great margin. Even after this I still mainly trained swimming, but a couple of running or cycling sessions appeared into my weekly schedule. Next summer I won the Nordic Youth Championship in triathlon and got a triathlon coach.
Year 1999 I participated in the European Youth Championship. I was confident that swimming would be my strength since I had been a competitive swimmer. But I was left behind in the start and was third last out of the water. This was quite a blow to my confidence.
Since then I have been fighting with my swimming. At the beginning my coach reduced the volume a lot, since he felt that recovery and learning new technique would be important. I did improve a bit, but the style I had adapted deep in me was much harder than we thought and I still came out from the water with the slowest swimmers. We increased the volume and soon I was swimming once or twice a day. Improved a bit again, but not enough. My pool swimming was decent, but I failed in races. We started to practice more open water swimming and I improved again, but this time it was mainly marginal.
So, a lot has been tested. Last major changed when it comes to my training is that I changed my coach. Siri Lindley did put much more emphasis on force and added hard short sets at the beginning of 2017. This has had positive impact, but still swimming was my weakest link in racing during the last season.
For this season, we have started with a new approach. We have tightened the collaboration that we already started back in 2016 with an innovative Finnish company Trainesense that has developed the SmartPaddle. With these we have been able to analyse the force and the direction of the force on my strokes. With the analysis, we have identified the gaps and holes in my swim and developed drills both to dryland and to the water since we believe that with this we are able to make a difference. And what is great with the continuous monitoring with the SmartPaddles I can really see the development.
SmartPaddle provides you with accurate and instant data about your swimming performance. With the SmartPaddle you can improve the power and effieciency of your strokes. SmartPaddle has been developed by Trainesense Ltd, a Finnish company established in 2016 with a passion to help you to find your potential. Read the story behind at smartpaddle.trainesense.com.