Ask Coach Sara: Overcoming Fear Of Jellyfish

Your Twitter questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach and professional triathlete Sara McLarty.

Q: Do you also have fears of jellyfish? What do I do if I’m stung? -@KackieMonster

A: Jellyfish are an obvious worry for triathletes who race and train primarily in the ocean. Pay attention to the lifeguard towers for warnings, and don’t be shy about asking the guards on duty at the races. You can protect most of your body from stings by wearing a wetsuit or other full-sleeve/leg suit. Most of the time, you can continue swimming after a light sting. If you think you made contact with a particularly venomous specimen, swim to shore and seek medical attention.

RELATED: Dealing With Unexpected Open-Water Swim Scenarios

Q: What are some drills to help get a beginner swimmer’s legs up near the surface? –@victoriawardle

A: Most often, the source of the problem stems from the upper-body position. Practice floating on the surface of the water to learn how to hold your body horizontally. See how your body reacts when you try to hold your head too high and when you force your head too deep. Relax your arms so they rest 4–6 inches below the surface of the water. Hold your breath for a few seconds and use your core strength to remain afloat.

RELATED: Priority One For Swimmers – Get Level

Q: Are long, uninterrupted swim sets helpful when training for an [Ironman] or are shorter 200–400s better? –@trimomrun

A: Variety is the spice of life, and it is also the best way to approach Ironman training. If you swim three times per week, make one session distance, the second speed and the third technique. Focus on pacing and endurance on the distance day with sets of 500s, 1000s and even 1500s. On the speed day, focus on anaerobic work like sets of 50s and 100s above race effort, with short rest. The technique day should involve minimal time on intervals and maximum focus on improving your stroke efficiency.

RELATED – One-Hour Workout: Train For Your Swim Race Distance

Q: Is it better to train with or without fins? –@JEatonTri

A: Swim fins are a great tool to use to get faster. They can strengthen and improve your kick, provide momentum when focusing on technique and drills, and teach you how to maintain a horizontal body position. I recommend that you use fins once or twice a week during drills for no more than 1,000 yards.

More “Ask Coach Sara.”

Pro triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty has 25-plus years of experience and knowledge about swimming mechanics, efficiency and technique. Got a swimming question? Coach Sara wants to help. Just tweet your queries to @SaraLMcLarty.