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Swim Cramps: What, Why & How To Deal With Them

  • By Dan Bullock
  • Published September 19, 2012


Cramps are the enemy of any triathlete because of their debilitating effects, whether racing or training. Traditionally people associate cramps with running, but as those who have suffered with them will testify, getting a cramp in the water is by no means fun and can be dangerous. This month expert coach Dan Bullock from Swim For Tri looks into the possible causes of cramps, how to prevent them and how to deal with them should they occur.

People often think because of my swimming background and knowledge as a coach I don’t get cramps swimming. This is not the case and recently I suffered a cramp because I had let things slip. It occurred two weeks after I’d competed in the World Masters Championships 3K open water swim. Training had been sporadic after the event and with my focus being on pure swimming over the past two months I had not been to my regular yoga class. The cramp happened following a long drive, late night and a morning coffee. I was in the pool with no dry land warm up and because I’d arrived late I had only water. After a solid 50 minutes of swimming I should not really have been surprised to get a cramp in my lower leg because I was guilty of all the key traditional things that might encourage cramp to occur.

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