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Time to Tri Again … Part 1: The Swim

Last year in Australia, I dedicated a considerable amount of time to training for and competing in triathlons and then Melbourne marathon. After running 90+km a week for a year, I decided to take a break when I arrived in Amsterdam, and get back into it when I felt like it.
A few months ago, I  got back into the gym. Then one of my new friends in Amsterdam discovered I had a road bike, and encouraged me to join her on weekend cycles. Then my godbrother suggested I join him in Austria next year, and take on the Half Ironman Triathlon with him … and somehow I said yes. So here I am back in triathlon training …

What’s interesting is how triathlon training differs here in the Netherlands to Australia.

Join a Club?

To start with, the whole of Amsterdam has only one triathlon club! According to the website, they have one cycle training session a week, one run session a week, but five swim sessions… For a comparison, my group in Australia probably had five or six swim sessions to choose from, plus three bike sessions, and three run sessions… Most of the time in a triathlon is spent on the bike, then the run, then the swim. So why the focus on swimming? And how can you possibly do a triathlon on one bike session a week???

For now, I seem just as well to train myself. So first up: the swim.


The local swimming pool has a “competition pool” and a “recreation pool”. The “competition pool” is 25 metres long, with five lanes. These lanes are:

1 X freestyle lane

1 X fast breaststroke lane

1 X (slow) breaststroke lane

2 X joined up “free for all” lanes. I am not sure why these people need to do a free for all in the “competition pool” rather than the “recreation pool.”

Therefore, for the first time in my life, I am in the fast lane! Unfortunately, so are at least 7 other people every time I go to the pool…

Once you finish in the pool, it’s time for your communal shower! Yes, to get back into the change rooms, you walk through a massive shower area with about eight showers. These are the only showers. So I wash the chlorine from my hair, wash my face etc in a swimsuit, with everyone else who is there – female and male. It’s bizarre. The Dutch just take it in their stride however. Except for one creepy teenage boy who stood staring at the wall the other day, whilst stealing furtive glances over his shoulder at the ladies in the shower …

The pool opens at 7am. It’s kind of late when you consider you need to do a workout, shower, get ready for work, and be in the office at a reasonable hour… And it’s not just this particular pool. It’s not that I’ve picked a strange pool either. All pools seem to open at 7am (same with the gym). In Australia, I used to teach spinning classes at 6.15am – I was pretty much done with my workout by 7am! Anyhow, I’m learning to fit it into my schedule a couple of mornings each week …

Next entry: the bike – and how I am improving my weakest leg in triathlon in this land of bicycles …