Big Time Sinker

author : mikericci
comments : 4

How should I approach swim training? The only way for me to have good form is to swim faster. I have to swim fairly fast in order to keep my body/legs high. This of course makes me tired faster.

Member Question

How should I approach swim training? I am a big time sinker. Here's my issue. The only way for me to have good form is to swim faster. I have to swim fairly fast in order to keep my body/legs high. This of course makes me tired faster.  If I want to swim 800 yds consecutively I have to swim extremely slow, and as a result, with very poor form. If I swim hard I would be around 1:40/100 yards (going all out).  If I'm swimming 600 or more consecutively, I have to go about 2:05/100yds. I've done long races but I've had a wetsuit. Should I just start doing sets of 50 or 100 at fairly fast paces and just see if I'm endurance builds up at that pace? 

Answer from Mike Ricci
Head Coach D3 Multisport

This is such a great question. The first thing I would look into is efficiency. Is your weight where it should be? Could you lose a few pounds to make swimming easier? Secondly, what does your swim form look like? Is there a way to improve your overall swim stroke?

If you are lean as you can be and aren’t dragging 4-5% of dead body weight (aka being 4-5% over where you should be in terms of body fat), and your stroke is solid, let's look at some other ideas to help you get through the water a little faster.

You say that your best pace for 800yd is about 1:40 pace, but swimming slowly is about 2:05 pace. Looking at athletes I coach, if their 1000 yd time is at 1:20 pace, they are typically swimming about 15” a 100 slower or around 1:35 pace. That’s not much off from what you are doing. When you are moving slower, you are moving slower, no matter what your base pace is.

Swim Kick

Now – let’s look at your kick. How much do you kick? In order for you to keep your legs up, you need to have a more efficient kick. It’s going to make swimming easier, period. Having a kick that makes you feel as though you are dragging yourself through the water is a drain from an efficiency standpoint and a mental standpoint. I would add in at least 600 – 1000 yards of kicking to help with that. Start with about 300 yards and then build from there, maybe 1000-2000 yards of kicking a week.

Once you have those three points above addressed (body composition, stroke efficiency, and a solid kick), it’s now time to work on your swim fitness. 

Swim Fitness & Example Workout

For starters, if you can swim 800 yds at 1:40 pace, then you can swim 5x200 on rest interval of 20 seconds at the same pace.

Here are a few examples of sets I would build into;
A typical warm up for each set is the following:

400 swim – easy pace

4x50 drill, working on great technique

300 kick, with the first 25 of each 100, fast.

6x50 on 1:10 at 1:35 or better pace.

Main sets:
#1. 5x200 on 20 seconds rest. You should be coming in around 3:20 or better on these 200 swims. Try to descend the set, so that the first 200 is done at 3:30, and each one is 3-4 seconds faster, so your last 200 is about 3:15 or faster.

#2. 3x400 – the goal here is to swim 1:45 pace on #1; 1:40 pace on #2, and under 1:40 pace on #3.

#3. 20x50, coming in faster than 50 seconds. The first five you’ll do on 1:05, the next five will be on 1:10, next 5 on 1:15 and last five on 1:20. Keep the time under 50 seconds, while increasing the rest.

#4. 15x100 on 2:00. You’ll do these in groups of five. You’ll descend each group from 1:45 down to 1:35. So the first one of each set is relatively easy, and the last one will take some work. You’ll go from #5 right back to #1 without any additional rest between the sets.

From a coaching stand point, I think your fitness is pretty solid, and if I knew what your form looked like, I could obviously make more recommendations. But assuming your form is good, I would work on the kick to get the legs up and keep them up and then I would work through the main sets I laid out for you above. If you have a specific question or video to share, please send me an email and I’d be happy to help you out!

Good luck!

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date: May 26, 2015

mikericci

Our coaching philosophy is to help you get the most out of your available training time. We don’t believe in junk mileage or useless workouts. We combine the most current research and triathlon training techniques with proven race strategies to help our athletes reach their goals.

avatarmikericci

Our coaching philosophy is to help you get the most out of your available training time. We don’t believe in junk mileage or useless workouts. We combine the most current research and triathlon training techniques with proven race strategies to help our athletes reach their goals.

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