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5 Tips for Open Water Swim Newbies

Bang! The gunstart goes off and you rush to the open sea with hundred other triathletes in tow. You had practiced your stroke countless times in the pool. At least you knew you could swim. The technique is there. But 50 meters into the sea, you were swallowing water, you were gasping for air, and now, you are panicking! What have just happened? Next time you knew, you are hanging on to the swim line or buoy, or on your back…waving your arm to the nearest swim marshall.

You may have done the countless laps in the pool but you were not swimming with your fellow age-groupers who are lining up for the same position as you do. Someone is swimming over your left, the other side, and someone will also try to swim over you. And yes, where is the black line that keeps you straight?

And then there is the mental aspect of it, there is just the thought of swimming in an open sea that stress out beginners, and it can cause fear and anxiety. There are just the unknown aspect of openwater that is in sharp contrast to the calm and predictiveness of the lap pool.

However, with practice and a few tips and tricks you can boost your confidence in tackling open water swimming:

1. Practice in Open Water.
This is rather obvious. If you want to get comfortable swimming in open water, you must go out there and practice a lot in the open sea. Most open water swim failures happen when newbies sign up for the race, and their first experience in open water swim happens right there in the race. What usually happens, more often than not, is panic, and might ultimately lead to an early DNF.

Open water swim is a sensory experience. Sun in your eyes, waves and current, salty water, and the fish and seaweeds. The more you immerse yourself in that unpredictability, the more you become comfortable swimming in it. There is the sense that every time you hit the sea, you never know what it feels like, and that is the anxiety that comes before hand. Even veteran triathletes have this litte creep in their mind beforehand. But they are already familiar with the strangeness of that unpredictability that when they get their rhythm, they just swim through it.

It is also important to note never to swim alone in open water. Have that experienced swim buddy with you.

2. Mimic Washing Machine Starts in the Pool
While it is easy to get access to an open water and practice swimming, it will be very hard to tag along a group to simulate the frenzied, wrestling starts that happen in most triathlon races. You can simulate the starts in triathlon races by doing the drills with your swim group.

Share a lane with two other people and make them swim on your sides, with elbow contact and all. The more you do this often, the more you become comfortable being touched or hit while swimming.

While rolling starts are becoming the norm in most huge races, there is still the possibility of swimmers trying to get into a particular position at the same time (u-turns and corners). Be prepared for contact, practice it in the pool.

3. Position Yourself Appropriately
If you’re a strong swimmer, position yourself front and center. But you’re an open water newbie, so expect more contact with people who are aggressive and as fast as you. If swimming is not your strong suit, then seed yourself towards the back and off to the side.
If swimming in chaos is not your liking, you can go far off from the buoys and swim in clear water. You may lose some seconds, but you will get your rhythm faster. Finally, if you are a slower swimmer you can probably expect the faster athletes from the wave behind you to eventually catch up. Just continue with your stroke and expect some contact.
4. Start Slow
This is probably the same as run starts. The runners start off wildly, the faster runners’ pace brings along the crowd with them. After 200-300 meters into the road, your heart rate is beating fast and you are out of breath. You realize that you were running way beyond your regular pace. The only difference, is that you are on the road and walk to catch your breathe. Not in swimming though.

You are out of breathe, and you are swallowing water, and next time you know it, panic creeps in. So instead of starting like a madman, take it slow than your usual pace. When you get your rhythm in your stroke and you are rolling as you practiced, the pace will gradually increase.

5. Learn to Swim with Bilateral Breathing
While swimming in your most natural side is always the norm, there are advantages if you can breath in both sides. If you’ve become comfortable breathing to both sides, you can now choose a side to suit the direction of the swell or sun.
Breathing in both sides also lets you be prepared in whatever orientation the course maybe. Navigation and sighting will also be easier.

Another breathing technique that beginners must train in the pool is hypoxic swimming. It is not holding your breathe, rather it is controlling your exhale and becoming comfortable with not breathing every stroke. Learning this technique is another way to get more relaxed and more comfortable in swimming.

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ironguides Bangkok – August 2020 Updates



ironguides Bangkok newsletter: Stay updated on what our group is up to!

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Dear athletes, below the updates for the upcoming month:

Sessions cancelled on 27,28th July and 12 August – public holidays
Monthly virtual race on Zwift confirmed on 8th August 
Velodrome session on 15th August 
* Aquathlon mini-race confirmed on 16th August @Taco lake
* 5km run test confirmed on 28 th August @Lumphini park
* Slots still available for Hua Hin Camp in August, 2 dates

Enjoy your training,

Members Updates 

* Swimming classes at Raquet club every Monday and Thursday, 19:30
* Run classes on Thephasadin Stadium every Tuesday, 18:30
* Virtual bike sessions on Zwift every Wednesday, 18:00 and 19:15
* Velodrome session confirmed on 15th August
* Open water swim+run session at Taco lake every Sunday, 8:30 (except race weekend and public holiday)
Aquathlon mini race on 16th August
* Monthly virtual bike race on Zwift confirmed on 8th August, 8:00am
* 5k time trial run test in Lumpini park on 28th August, 19:00
* Swimming session on 27th July, run session on 28th July and Zwift bike meet up on 12th august cancelled – Public holidays

Aquathlon mini race @Taco lake

Where: Taco lake
When: 16th August 8:30am
Mini-race distance: 600m swim + 1,6km run


8:15-8:30 Arrive on location
8:30-9:05 Warm up swim 750-1250m
9:15 Aquathlon start 600m (2 laps: 200m+400m) + 1,6km run (800m out and back)
9:45-10:00 Cool down

* Free for club members & coached athletes
* 600THB for drop in athletes (book & pay online, in advance here)
-Includes access to the lake, a personal safety buoy, locker & shower.

*Taco lake is ~1h drive from Central BKK

5km time trial run test, 2nd edition

Photo: Kristian Blummenfelt (IM 70.3 WR holder)

Seeking for a race to check your run fitness or just simply missing run events?

Where: Lumpini park (meeting point: 200m from the entrance @Suan Lumphini school (Witthayu road)

When: Friday, 28th August 18:45-20:15

18:45-19:00 arrive on meeting point
19:00 – 19:25 Warm up run 3-5km

19:30 Intermediate group start 2×2,5km
19:33 Advance group start 2×2,5km
19:35 Beginner group start 1×2,5km

19:55 Cool down 1-2km

Total session volume: beginner group 7-8km, intermediate and advance 12-14km

*Free for club members & coached athletes
*350thb for drop in athletes (book & pay online)


Results of Ironguides third virtual bike race on Zwift 4.07.2020

Top 7 of Ironguides virtual bike race #3.

Distance: 48,7km with 900m of elevation gain.

1. Ivan Vlasenko 1h25
2. Saha Bhasavanich 1h27
3. Romain Chevalier 1h31
4. Sam Burns 1h38
5. Vunh Nguyen 1h40
6. Francois Garancher 1h45
7. Danil Dachkevitch 2h10

Join us next time to push your limits!

 Weekly Virtual Bike classes  

We keep our weekly virtual meet-ups on Zwift leading by coach Ivan Vlasenko

Every Wednesday: Ironguides meet up on Zwift, 19:00 (75min, main set: short intervals/hill repeats 30-60sec repeats to improve your VO2max)

How it works: 
You need Zwift membership and the right set-up at home, ideally including a smart trainer with resistance and the Zwift Companion app on your phone.
In order to be able to join the meet-up, you need to follow “Ivan Vlasenko” on Zwift and Zwift Companion Application.
Once you follow  he will be able to invite you for a “meet-up”, and you need to accept the invitation in the app. It will appear in your planned events in the app.
You must connect to Zwift and start riding by yourself by clicking on “ride” at least 5 minutes before the official starting time. You can select any map, it does not matter. DO NOT click on “Ride with Ivan Vlasenko” on the menu page, else you might miss the official meet-up.

Once “in the game”, you should be able to click on “join Ivan Vlasenko’s meet-up” on the bottom left of the screen. The blue button will appear 5 minutes before the start of the meet-up. We will all be cycling on the Zwift stationary trainer for a few minutes until the official start time, use this as a warm-up and make sure you are ready for the ride (water, food, towels, fan, AC etc).

Ironguides virtual bike race #4 on 8.08.2020

During raining season this session is a good option for your long training on Saturday morning that include volume and intensity plus of course solid work on the hills… Add 30-45min warm up before the race plus 20min easy spin as cool down and you will get around 3 hours in the saddle.

Distance: 44,1km

Elevation gain:1029m

More about race course here

Registration is open on our website

(Book your class >>> Virtual race)

-Free for members and coached athletes
-350thb for drop in athletes.
After payment has done you will get invitation via Zwift companion app.


There are special prizes from our sponsors for top 3 men and 1 women

Race mode is ON

 Slots still availble for August Camp + Olympic Distance Race Simulation in Hua Hin   

Training Camp in Hua Hin with Coach Vinnie Santana

“Some of the best cycling you will ever do, and there’s a race too!”

Slots are still available for the ironguides Training Camp Series in August in Hua Hin with ironguides Coach Vinnie Santana.

Day 1 features a long ride in the morning (75-115k depending on your level), and in the afternoon some technique work in the swim and on the run. In the evening dinner with a lecture on race day strategies.

Day 2 is a race simulation, Olympic Distance.

August 1-2: Beginner to Intermediate level on the bike. Long ride of ~75km at ~25kph
August 22-23: Intermediate to Advanced. Long ride of ~115km at ~30kph

Limited slots. More information – or

Day 1 of August Camp – Long ride with scenic view of Pranburi Dam

Camp Hotel for swim leg of Olympic Distance race simulation on Day 2

Camp will focus on getting ready for race day and race execution

1-2 & 22-23 AUG, HUA HIN – Olympic Distance + Pre-race sessions 

As your fitness increase, so does the race simulation distance. On day 1 we do sessions that will help you perform better on race day, with an easy long ride in the morning, an easy pre-race swim-run in the evening and on Day 2 a race simulation, Olympic Distance

23-25 OCT (long weekend), Hua Hin – Long Distance Camp 

Our final camp of the year is focused on long distances, starting with a long race simulation of 2-3k swim, 77k bike and 9.4 to 14.4k on the run, the day after a long ride of 112 to 132km.

Open Water Swim Session @Taco Lake

Coached sessions

Weekly Brik session – Open water Swim + run off swim – every Sunday 8:30am (except race weekend and public holidays)

Open water swim session 
0800-0830 – Arrival & Gear prep
0830-0900 – Warm up (800 to 1600m or open water skills workshop)
0915-1000 – main set

Total distances (approx):
Beginner – 2,400m
Intermediate – 3,000m
Advanced – 3,200m

-600THB (book here)
-Includes access to the lake, a personal safety buoy, locker & shower.

*Taco lake is ~1h drive from Central BKK


Coached Sessions at Racquet club 

  • Where: Racquet Club (Map below).
  • Time: 7.30pm-8.50pm
  • Monday and Thursday, Advanced and Beginner levels. 


  • Free for club members and coached athletes (2x a week)
  • 600thb for drop in athletes (book & pay online, in advance)


Monthly coached velodrome sessions:

Next velodrome session:15th August

Where: Velodrome inside Rajamangala Stadium (Hua Mak) on Ramkhamhaeng road.

When: Saturdays @7.30-9.30am (technique drills starts at 7.30am)

*Free for club members & coached athletes
*350thb for drop in athletes (book & pay online, in advance)

What if it rains or we cant use the velodrome due to any race/event:
*We do a bike technique & skills drills instead. Same meeting point


Weekly Coached Sessions

Where: Thephasadin stadium 400m track
When: Tuesdays @6.30-7.50pm


*Free for club members & coached athletes
*350thb for drop in athletes  (book & pay online, in advance)

Membership & Coaching Service Offers

Drop in Sessions (book & pay online, in advance)

  • Cost: 350thb run & velodrome sessions, 600thb swim sessions. Payment in advance, non-refundable due to limited slots per class.

Triathlon Club Membership – 3 months option 

  • 3 months membership: 6900thb
  • 6 months membership: 11900thb

Includes access to weekly swim, bike run sessions, training plans library, article & apparel/helmet voucher. (more)

Personalized Coaching:


  • Access to all sessions
  • Personalized training plan
  • Email with your coach
  • Apparel voucher

Starts at 5.900thb/month (more)

Sponsors & Discounts: 


Find the discount code inside your training plan / login area:

TRI-DASH THAILAND: 10% OFF at any event during 2020 – use our coupon code on the members area when registering for the race

 Training Plan library 

Training Plans library updated (workouts in 3 levels Beginner/Intermediate/Advanced):

* 9 Training plans (3 distances in 3 levels): 
Ironman, Half Ironman, Short Course & Duathlon training plans available

* Documents:
-11-page Ironman 70.3 race manual
-Traveling guidelines, Big day – Race simulation workout.
-21 race workouts to your short course plan, ironman recovery guidelines
-guidelines on nutrition, recovery, stress & core training

Access training plan area and sponsor discount codes HERE

Canned Training Plans now in THAI language

โปรแกรมฝึก (ไทย) หรือ คลิก เพื่อดูภาษาอังกฤษ. Training Plans (in Thai) or click here for training plans in English ironguides มีโปรแกรมฝึกที่เหมาะสมกับประสบการณ์และรายการแข่งที่คุณตั้งไว้เป็นเป้าหมาย ทุกโปรแกรมที่ตั้งอยู่บนหลักของ The Method ™ ให้รายละเอียดสำหรับแต่ละครั้งการฝึกสำหรับระยะเวลาที่ดีที่สุดในการเตรียมตัวเพื่อให้คุณอยู่ที่จุดสตาร์ดด้วยความรู้สึกที่ฟิต สุขภาพดี และมีความมั่นใจ

Online Booking system for drop in classes   

Online Booking system for drop in athletes

In order to maintain quality of our sessions as our group grows, we now require advanced booking for drop in athletes via our website – it’s a very easy and simple system and takes less than 2 minutes. Please understand that no more cash payments will be accepted. Note that tri-club members aren’t required to book their presence.

The aim is to increase workout quality to club members while still providing the opportunity for non-members to come in casually & allowing new athletes to try out.

How to make your booking online:

1) Access > booking option is on the top of the page > Select desired class

2) Select date > Confirm availability > Fill in name + email > Send

3) Confirm details > finalize payment via paypal > receive confirmation email. No refund since when you book a class you take one limited slot.

 Maps – Squad location

Racquet Club @google map – Map 1

Racquet Club Map 2

Velodrome @ Rajamangala Stadium (Hua Mak)

Running Track by National Stadium BTS (next to MBK)

Website Refresh

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