44-time aQuellé Midmar Mile finisher, Martin Godfrey, took a break between training sessions to give us his five top tips for a successful crossing of Midmar Dam.
Tip 1: Start training
The sooner you get into the water, the better. Start out by doing 1 000 metres per day at a steady pace, at least five days a week. If you are a beginner, you can take this down to 400 metres per day.
Tip 2: Bilateral breathing
Difficult as it may be at first, learn to breathe bilaterally. In other words, you need to breathe on the alternate side every fourth stroke. This will be a massive help to you on race day if the water is a bit choppy.
Tip 3: Get your sighting right
At the start of the race, look across the dam to the white tents at the finish area. That is where you need to aim towards while you’re in the water. Whilst swimming, look up every eight to 10 strokes, look for those tents and make sure you are heading in the right direction. Adjust accordingly if necessary.
Tip 4: Be ready for your event
It is vitally important that you are there on time and ready. Make sure you are in the start area at least an hour before your swim, and that you have your cap with your race number on it. Have your number written on your arm by the body-marking team and make sure that your barcoded tag is pinned inside your costume. The final step is to make sure that your timing chip has been properly placed around your ankle. These are of the utmost importance to the photography and timing teams. Once all this is done, listen out for announcements from the marshalls, lifeguards and announcers. These announcements on race day are for your own safety.
Tip 5: Slow and steady
Unless you are among the top 20 contenders in your event, remember that you are not swimming to win. You can, however, win your own personal race against the clock. The start is important, but don’t race out too quickly. In the first 200 metres, swimmers tend to fan out across the width of the course. Choose your line and stick to it with a steady stroke, looking up regularly to make sure you are swimming in a straight line. There are various currents in Midmar dam, so it’s easy to go off course a bit, especially if the water is a bit choppy. Your main objective is to finish within the allotted time, and pushing yourself too hard at the start will tire you out quickly. Stay focused on your own race to the finish line.