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Bite Size - Mix Up Your Swimming To Improve

Varying intensities is a critical part of any endurance training program. There are benefits to going easy, hard and only sometimes somewhere in between. All too frequently athletes tend to drift into the middle ground, failing to do longer and slower training and failing to do shorter and harder training.

Swim training in particular tends to fall into this category, more so than cycling or running. Things you commonly see during swim training sessions are:

1. The warm up is swam too hard, with people being lapped in the first 400m of the session. During cycle and run sessions, we will more often than not, complete an easier warm up period. Often with swimming sessions, people will swim just as hard during the warm up as they do during the main set.

2. Poor knowledge of pace. Swimmer will generally not know their paces for race distances. Asking people to swim at 400m / 1000m / 1500m pace means nothing to them as they have no concept of paces. Generally, everything is just swam as HARD.

3. Poor judgement of pace. Even if swimmers actually know their paces, their judgement is very poor. If a swimmer is told that their 1000m pace is 1:45, they have little concept of how that feels when they are in the water. Often if asked to swim 1:45 per 100m, a swimmer will complete the first repetition in 1:38 as they have no idea how 1:45 'should feel'.

4. No objective or structure to the session. A lot of the time, sessions have no objective or structure and without this, it's impossible to select your pace and intensity. For example, most cyclists and runners will complete a longer and easier ride or run on weekends for endurance purposes.

In a similar manner, you may wish to complete one swim set per week which is a longer, endurance based session. Knowing that, your target swim pace should be slower, so you can swim for longer.

5. No variety in pace or intensity. Following from above, sessions can often show a lack of variation in intensity. If you are training for long distance swimming and doing 3 sessions per week, then a simple guide would be one long swim at slower pace, one swim at a 'threshold pace' and then one shorter and high intensity session at a fast pace.

It's important not to fall into the habit of swimming the same speed every session and producing the same outcome.

Take away tips:

1. Learn your swim paces for all distances and use them to set sessions 2. Look at the clock or your watch and learn pace judgement, can you guess whilst you swim what the time will be for each rep? 3. Vary the paces during the session. Warm up at an easy pace and then change pace for the harder parts of the workout. 4. Why are you doing today's session? What's the objective? Is it to develop endurance, threshold, speed or something else?

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Sisu Racing Triathlon Coach

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