While repetition might sound boring, consistently doing something with the correct amount of load is agreat way to make improvements. Consistency is key in triathlon, but by spending a little more time swimming, whether you’re a fast swimmer or not, can lead to significant break throughs.
Greater frequency in the water should not necessarily equal more volume. If your swimming has hit a plateau then you need to gain some momentum to break through. Feeling better about something is a sure way to get you to try it a little more often. Even good swimmers can benefit from a little more time in the water.
Even if time only allows four sessions per week this improved familiarity with the unfamiliar watery environment will allow improvements to shape. The feel for the water is an unnaturally occurring phenomenon that will develop as frequency in the pool increases. Feeling and holding water is essential to improve the distance swum with every stroke. Making the water feel more solid is your ultimate aim here and this will not happen swimming once a week.
The frequency we are looking for generates less time between sessions to allow bad habits to creep back. You will waste less time in the first 30 minutes of you rsession getting back up to speed from your last swim. Skills and swim technique that you acquired in the previous will be present when you get back in the water if you don’t leave it too long. Hit the water with the familiar sensations of feeling good in the water from just 24-48 hours previous and you will start this next session more positively. If you leave it longer the warm-up and sub-sets feel could like you are swimming through treacle, then by the time the main-set starts psychologically you are going to be struggling.
To feel things get easier, even if it’s only for one-week, try to swim for seven days straight and notice the difference as the days pass by. Commit and stick to it. It’s also important to not just turn up and swim. While this will help you’re not going to get the biggest return for your time. Lower down is a seven-day schedule to help you on your way. We need to focus on areas that are going to help and need to test current ability to gauge where things are at throughout the seven days. For this complete a front crawl time trial of at least 400m, anything less than this and you’re relying on improvements to pure swim speed, which is a longer-term goal. The important thing to work on is minimising drag through better technique because this will instantly reward longer swims. Swimming fast for shorter distances can be achieved through improvements to power and strength, but rarely do they carry over into your longer swims.
The technique aspects should work as a reminder of what it is that is slowing you down or exhausting you. How to recognise drag should be a key session. Deliberately over exaggerating some bad techniques can help you recognise ineffective movements in your full stroke. Some fitness work should be included since if you try this you will want to put the improvements under some stress. Most will be familiar with the idea that their swim feels good when it is being performed easy.
Technical endurance is of use since it allows another fitness block, but with good technique pointers punctuating the otherwise continuous nature of a long steady swim where technique often escapes us as the mind drifts.
Test and Technique: Time trial of at least 400m after a good warm up and subsets.Work on leg kick because this is often the worst enemy of many triathletes and it creates the most drag.
Pure Technique: Recognising a streamlined body position and maintaining minimal drag. Learn to channel water in a direction that is beneficial to forwards momentum.
Fitness: Elevate the heart rate for at least 30 minutes maintaining a breathing pattern of three could be enough to do this. Bilateral breathing will help with stroke symmetry.
Pure Technique: Work on body position with effective upper body rotation driven from the legs. Keep the head still when not breathing, which is another key issue thatc an slow progress and interrupt streamline.
Fitness: Aim to go over race distance in some capacity or at least match it. Our broken race distance swims are always popular, 3x200m with 30 seconds rest, 5x100m with 20 seconds rest and 8x50m with 10 seconds rest for example will cover 1500m for an Olympic race. Naturally add more if you’re doing 70.3 or Ironman.
Endurance Technique: Punctuate a long steady swim with technique pointers between lengths at the wall, and off the wall, for just a few metres before completing the length full stroke. No Pullbuoy here.
Fitness and Test: A challenging main set of 50m front crawl rest 10 seconds, 100m rest 10 seconds, 150m rest 10 seconds and so on until you reach 400m. Do not be surprised if this final 400m of front crawl is equal to or better than the 400m time trial completed on day one. If exhausted you could isolate the time trial with more restor a swim down after the 350m.
While you might be able to complete a week of swimming every day for most this will not be sustainable long term. Give it a go and then try to get four swims in regularly for continued improvement. Improving your swim will not only put you in a better position getting off the water but you will do it with less effort and feel better on both the bike and the run.It will also put you in a position to ride and run with better runners that will help pull you along as you race.