Before an ironman triathlete can conquer the land, he must first conquer water. The swim phase in the ironman championship is an arduous 3.8 km in open water. In The Swim episode of The Road to Kona series, Craig Alexander describes what it feels like when the gun goes off and how he manages the hours of pool training.
Craig paints us a vivid picture of the ironman race starting line. He talks about the claustrophobia of being surrounded by over 1,500 highly strung competitors in open surf, the mix of emotions he feels and the chaos of thrashing limbs when the gun goes off.
Included in this episode, is an interview with Craig Alexander's swim coach, Brian Wilkinson. Wilkinson, a former Australian Olympian himself, describes the type of training Craig must go through.
During training, Craig Alexander's goal is to correctly manage the required pace so that he does not overly fatigue himself. Craig will sometimes complete 25-30 km in a week, spread out over five to six sessions.
In this video, we see footage of Craig Alexander's training session. The surging program involves swimming 1000m phases at varying speeds, with the aim of reaching an overall time of 47 minutes in a race.
Craig explains the importance of technique in the swimming phase. The freestyle stroke must be perfected so that maximum water is caught with every stroke. All of these details are watched closely by Brian Wilkinson to ensure not a second is lost.
Finally, Craig lets us in on the details that often set him apart from his competitors. His ability to feel out the conditions and navigate quickly through surf allows him to really execute on race day. Then it's down to just remaining calm and waiting for the cannon to shoot…