Swim Sets To Get Faster

As you know by now my swim has been the hardest discipline for me to improve upon whether it was getting faster or swimming straighter.  I have truly embraced swim training though because it has been so hard.  I love the challenge of tackling something that is not easy.  I love the challenge of staring fear in the face and saying I'm going to do this and you fear are going to get out of my way. As is typically the case I search for articles and ideas and thoughts on how to improve and figure out if they will work for me.  This is a pure trial and error concept and I think this is born from the fact that I am a marketing professional.  Let's test out A and B and figure which works best.  Then we will introduce C and figure which works best.  It is all about trial and error. So when I came across this article that said you should start your swim at the front of the pack I was intrigued.  I have certainly moved from a mid-back starter to a more mid-front starter.  The difference is that I am now off to the right and after 70.3 Austin I have been wondering if that is the spot for me.  I am more confident in my ability to take a punch or have a leg grabbed and keep swimming without a heart rate escalation.  I am also much more determined to not be nice in the water and will swim over people instead of around them.  Is that nice?  No, but I have goals and those goals are to get faster and faster and faster.  In order to do that I need to swim, bike and run my race.  I apologize if I go over you but I have had it happen to me and it's part of the process. All that being said this article stumped me, not by the content but by the workout that it suggested.  The Warm-Up and Cool-Down are extremely long in my mind and the main set is short but not difficult.  Maybe I don't know what I'm talking about but I would like to get your feedback on this.  I only have 140 days until 70.3 Puerto Rico so we need to make every day count in order to beat 5:28. Here is the article from Competitor.com written by Melanie McQuaid: I am a firm believer that the first 400 yards of any Olympic or half-iron-distance swim makes or breaks your swim split. That’s because nearly everyone sprints the start and then settles into his or her relaxed race pace. The difference is that the first pack of swimmers settles into a much faster pace than the second and third packs. The trick is to settle into a pace faster than you can comfortably handle because the drafting advantage will allow you to stay there, taking advantage of the ability of the stronger swimmers. Obviously, your pack skills in open water will help you tuck yourself into a good draft, but nothing is as effective as starting fast.
Fast_Swim_StartThe first few seconds of the swim can set the pace for your entire race. Photo: Nils Nilsen
To get to the front pack you need to work on your start speed. Start speed is pure horsepower and aquatic velocity, not fitness and aerobic capacity. Many triathletes focus their energy on getting fitter so that the swim will take less energy and leave more for the bike and run. This is a good strategy to keep the swim comfortable, but it won’t get you to the front pack—unless you’re a former Olympic swimmer. Getting faster requires swimming faster with a lot of rest so that you can repeat fast swims. The following swim suggestions are main set workouts. Do a 500–1000-yard warm-up with stroke drills to set your form for the workout and get your nervous system firing. Follow the set with an easy 500–1000 yards to help you recover. In addition to making good technical improvements, these sets will improve your speed come race day.

Pure Speed Set

Purpose: Improve turnover (arm cadence), general power and speed. Kicking is particularly important for speed in non-wetsuit swims. • 8–12×25 kick: alternate medium +20 sec rest, fast +30 sec rest • 200 easy swim • 8–12×25 swim: alternate medium +20 sec rest, fast +30 sec rest

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Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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