General Discussion Triathlon Talk » How much swimming is really needed? Rss Feed  
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2017-02-11 6:59 PM

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Master
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Subject: How much swimming is really needed?

I am gearing up for another season and had to change gyms in the past year.  With changing gyms, I lost my swimming pool.  I have options but it is going to end up more than likely as a pay per use kind of situation.  I want to get my swimming in but I am wondering how much is absolutely necessary.... 1 swim a week? 2?  more?  Does anyone do dry land training to help with their swimming situation?  What exercises do you use?  I'm looking for any advice.  I know getting in 3 plus swims is best but it honestly isn't going to happen in my current situation.  Thanks in advance!



2017-02-11 7:27 PM
in reply to: #5213278

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
Depends. Former high school /college swimmer? 300yard Sprint vs 2.4 mile OWS. Haven't tried it, but Google Vasa Erg.
2017-02-11 7:32 PM
in reply to: crea0029

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
My 2 cents worth: It depends on how good your swim mechanics are and what your racing goals are. For me, I'm a good swimmer, been doing it since I was a kid. My stroke mechanics are very good so my swim workouts are pretty much for swim conditioning. I am also recovering from a running injury and so I promised myself I would only do sprint distance races this year to keep my running goals reasonable. Combine all of that and I am pretty comfortable with one (1) 1500-2000 yard pool workout every week. It keeps me sharp and I think that is plenty training for the 600-700 yard sprint swims. If I was training for Olys I would double that.
2017-02-11 7:44 PM
in reply to: crea0029

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
I swim about 8000 yards a week (3-4 times). I have just purchased a used Vasa to augment with some dry land training.

In my opinion most of us do not swim enough, just my opinion.
2017-02-12 10:50 AM
in reply to: crea0029

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
Pretty general question. I guess it depends on what your goal is and the distance you are wanting to race. The shorter the distance, the more of an impact the swim is going to have. Some of us, like me, are adult onset swimmers and I swim about 1:45-1:55/100 no matter if I go to the pool once a week or 3 times a week. I recently took 3 months off from swimming and swam a mile afterward and was still at the upper end of my usual times.( I could probably use a good coach). Anyhow, I guess what I'm saying is for me for the longer distances, swimming makes less of an impact in my overall outcome. If I work my butt off, I can swim a 1 hour 10 min. IM swim instead of a 1hour 15 min. To me it's not worth the extra effort. During season, I still go as often as possible, it's still a great workout, keeps me in shape and I feel good.
2017-02-13 5:57 AM
in reply to: #5213280

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
I agree with the above posters. I too do not have the time to hit the gym, so I opted for a Vasa Swim Bench. I was a competitive swimmer through high school, so have pretty decent mechanics. For the $80/month that I was spending at Lifetime, just to swim 2-3 days/week, I simply could not justify the time or cost to save 1-2 minutes on an Olympic, 3-5 on a 70.3, or 6-8 on an IM. Plus, with a wife and 3 kids under the age of 8, prioritizing swim sessions was pretty low on my list.

Vasa swim benches will run $250 (used) - $1500 (new) for the Erg model. A much cheaper alternative may be with training cords:

https://m.swimoutlet.com/p/strechcordz-with-paddles-15909/?color=293...

Disclaimer: I have never used these before for training. I know that they have existed for a while, but I am not sure of their effectiveness.

Anyway, at least it will give you something to research.

Good luck.


2017-02-15 11:33 AM
in reply to: crea0029

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
I do mostly sprint triathlons so my experience may not apply to you. If I lay off of swimming for 6 months or more when I jump back in and swim for the first time it will take me about 9 minutes to do 500 yards. If I train reasonably aggressively 3 times a week, over the course 4 weeks I can get my time below 8 minutes and potentially under 7:30. If I really ramp it up and do 4 to 5 times a week I can get about another 15 seconds off. If I drop back to twice a week once I've established a steady state, I will usually lose a little. If I drop back to once a week it seems like I start slipping back a little and will have a little trouble maintaining speed.

My usual time is 7:30 for 500 yds.

Once a week costs me about a minute off my desired speed.
Twice a week cost me about 30 seconds
Three times a week hits the mark
Four times a week gives me about 15 seconds.

Another factor is how you feel when you get on your bike. If you have no "depth" to your training it can make you feel pretty exhausted when you get on your bike. Especially if you're like me and use your lats on the aero bars.
2017-02-17 12:13 AM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
Originally posted by NeilsWheel

I do mostly sprint triathlons so my experience may not apply to you. If I lay off of swimming for 6 months or more when I jump back in and swim for the first time it will take me about 9 minutes to do 500 yards. If I train reasonably aggressively 3 times a week, over the course 4 weeks I can get my time below 8 minutes and potentially under 7:30. If I really ramp it up and do 4 to 5 times a week I can get about another 15 seconds off. If I drop back to twice a week once I've established a steady state, I will usually lose a little. If I drop back to once a week it seems like I start slipping back a little and will have a little trouble maintaining speed.

My usual time is 7:30 for 500 yds.

Once a week costs me about a minute off my desired speed.
Twice a week cost me about 30 seconds
Three times a week hits the mark
Four times a week gives me about 15 seconds.

Another factor is how you feel when you get on your bike. If you have no "depth" to your training it can make you feel pretty exhausted when you get on your bike. Especially if you're like me and use your lats on the aero bars.


My experience is very similar to yours and I think this is a good assessment of how swimming improves and deteriorates with increases and decreases in the number of swim workouts per week.

I feel twice a week can allow me to hit my mark, though. But they have to be tough swims. I swam 1500m in a very sluggish 28 minutes and 11 seconds yesterday. The water felt thick. Never had that sensation before. I had my 1500m swim under 27 minutes just two months ago, but I've laid off swimming lately. Time to get back in the pool!





Edited by Trilogy 2017-02-17 12:13 AM
2017-02-17 7:01 PM
in reply to: crea0029

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?

For me (as a former swimmer),

- 2x/week means barely maintaining what fitness I've got.  If I'm in decent shape, this is acceptable.  If I'm not in good swim shape, this isn't going to get me there.
- 3x/week-  maintaining decent fitness if I can be consistent for a while (months)
- 4x/week - now we are getting somewhere, times are improving, feeling good about things
- 5x/week - times are really dropping, fitness and feel for the water are really high

2017-02-17 7:42 PM
in reply to: axteraa

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
Originally posted by axteraa

For me (as a former swimmer),

- 2x/week means barely maintaining what fitness I've got.  If I'm in decent shape, this is acceptable.  If I'm not in good swim shape, this isn't going to get me there.
- 3x/week-  maintaining decent fitness if I can be consistent for a while (months)
- 4x/week - now we are getting somewhere, times are improving, feeling good about things
- 5x/week - times are really dropping, fitness and feel for the water are really high




Do you find you need to swim that much even with all the other workouts in cycling and running? For me, when it's in the middle of the season (say August or so), I'm certain that good swimming shape helps with running, and good, long endurance or good climbing ability on the bike helps with the other two disciplines. I can't completely lay off of one discipline and performance deteriorates quickly, but I don't feel the need to do any one discipline multiple times every week. I hope this doesn't sound argumentative. I'm genuinely curious.
2017-02-17 8:15 PM
in reply to: Trilogy

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?

Originally posted by Trilogy
Originally posted by axteraa

For me (as a former swimmer),

- 2x/week means barely maintaining what fitness I've got.  If I'm in decent shape, this is acceptable.  If I'm not in good swim shape, this isn't going to get me there.
- 3x/week-  maintaining decent fitness if I can be consistent for a while (months)
- 4x/week - now we are getting somewhere, times are improving, feeling good about things
- 5x/week - times are really dropping, fitness and feel for the water are really high

Do you find you need to swim that much even with all the other workouts in cycling and running? For me, when it's in the middle of the season (say August or so), I'm certain that good swimming shape helps with running, and good, long endurance or good climbing ability on the bike helps with the other two disciplines. I can't completely lay off of one discipline and performance deteriorates quickly, but I don't feel the need to do any one discipline multiple times every week. I hope this doesn't sound argumentative. I'm genuinely curious.

I'm typically a 2-3x/week swimmer because my background lets me get away with it.  If I'm doing a full load of running and cycling then the 2-3x/week is good enough for me.  At the moment, I'm not running and only minimal cycling due to a hip issue so I'm at the 5x/week swim level and the difference is really surprising me.

So, to answer your question.  If I was doing a full load of running and riding, no I wouldn't swim 5x/week but mostly just because I wouldn't have the time.  If I had all the free time I wanted, I think swimming 5x and running and riding on top of it would go a long, long way.  

To your other point, I find very little carry over from running/riding to swimming and vice versa.  Maybe a bare minimum of basic fitness (ie. not dying) but other than that not much.  



2017-02-17 8:34 PM
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Master
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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
I think it very much depends on how proficient a swimmer you are. For someone with a strong swim background (not adult-onset), I think one workout per week would be enough to "survive" a sprint, Oly, or HIM though, albeit taking a noticeable hit on time/fatigue levels (I would adjust pacing in the race accordingly); two to maintain fitness with some sacrifice of top-end speed, three to maintain typical race fitness. This would be true for me--not an amazing swimmer or ex-collegiate type, but I am usually one of the fastest in my AG in local triathlons, especially for longer swims, and was FMOP on the swim at 70.3 Worlds. I would need four or five swim workouts per week to see substantial improvements; probably not doable most of the time for many people, or the best use of limited training time for someone who's already a decent swimmer.

If NOT a proficient swimmer, then I would guess this would need to be moved up by at least one workout (two to survive, three to survive with style, four or five to improve). All of this assumes that the swim workouts you do get in are substantial in terms of distance and intensity, and focused on your technique issues and the race distance--you're not just mindlessly swimming laps or otherwise noodling around.

I haven't used dry-land training significantly as an adult. We did some in high school, but mainly to build strength and/or work on technique, not as a replacement for yardage. Not sure how effective it would be--probably less so for someone who has major technique issues such as body position in the water. But I guess anything is better than nothing. Personally, I would bite the bullet and pay to swim at least twice a week. There is no substitute for swimming in the water!

As for crossover, swimming can be a great way to build cardio fitness, especially if your overall fitness is low (i.e. after a layoff or injury). I do see some cross-over to running in that case; less so to cycling (maybe since there is more of a strength component). I really haven't seen any carryover of increased run or bike fitness to swimming. No matter how fit I may be otherwise, swimming is harder and slower if I've lost my "feel" for the water, and that seems to happen with as little as a week or two off. I would guess it is even more extreme for adult-onset swimmers.

Edited by Hot Runner 2017-02-17 8:38 PM
2017-02-17 8:40 PM
in reply to: axteraa

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
To your other point, I find very little carry over from running/riding to swimming and vice versa.  Maybe a bare minimum of basic fitness (ie. not dying) but other than that not much.  




That's interesting. I guess I don't really know if there's any carry over for me because I typically don't completely stop one of the disciplines during the race season, but it sure does seem like there is some overlap in fitness. For example, I might have a race on Saturday and so only work out once on Tuesday or Wednesday, but then during the week after the race, it seems I can pick up right where I left off in each of the three disciplines. Or I might go up a mountain on the bike and so miss my weekly training on the flats, but then when I do get back to the flats in the next week, I'm ready to go as if I never took that break. And when I'm doing lots of hills/mountains on the bike, I seem to be able to go forever in the pool and so might throw in a 2000m swim here and there (when I typically like the 1500m distance since I do mostly sprint triathlons).
2017-02-20 11:58 PM
in reply to: 0

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
I cut back my swimming a lot during base building phase this year.
I am a solidly mediocre swimmer.
If I swim more like 4x per week with my masters' group, I can get down close to 1:45/100 as a sustainable pace.
If I swim occasionally, sometimes missing entire weeks, I can still do 1:50ish.

I love swimming, but with two 70.3's on the schedule this year, I figure that swimming more than 2x per week is a poor return on investment.
Work like crazy on swimming, and it saves me 95 seconds in a 70.3
For me, that time is much better spent on the bike and run.
YMMV.

Edited by alath 2017-02-21 12:21 AM
2017-02-21 7:15 AM
in reply to: Trilogy

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
Originally posted by Trilogy

To your other point, I find very little carry over from running/riding to swimming and vice versa.  Maybe a bare minimum of basic fitness (ie. not dying) but other than that not much.  




That's interesting. I guess I don't really know if there's any carry over for me because I typically don't completely stop one of the disciplines during the race season, but it sure does seem like there is some overlap in fitness. For example, I might have a race on Saturday and so only work out once on Tuesday or Wednesday, but then during the week after the race, it seems I can pick up right where I left off in each of the three disciplines. Or I might go up a mountain on the bike and so miss my weekly training on the flats, but then when I do get back to the flats in the next week, I'm ready to go as if I never took that break. And when I'm doing lots of hills/mountains on the bike, I seem to be able to go forever in the pool and so might throw in a 2000m swim here and there (when I typically like the 1500m distance since I do mostly sprint triathlons).


I think what benefit, or lack of decline, you speak of here is as much recovery as it is carryover fitness.
2017-02-21 7:30 AM
in reply to: dandr614

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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?

I've had a lot more success moving from an adult-onset, last-one-out-of-the-water swimmer to a mediocre, MOP in a decent local tri swimmer, by:

  1. increasing my swim frequency - even a 500 cool down swim after a run or something helps maintain that feel for the water
  2. join a Masters group, or at least do "Masters" style workouts - make the substantial time you invest getting to/from the pool worthwhile
  3. don't ever stop for a long period of time - as an AOS, I lose that feel (though I will say entering my eighth year that's not as bad as it used to be); even once a week is way better than nothing

For out of the water exercises, straight arm press-downs, pull-ups, and core work, plus I'll do some of those rotator cuff protective exercises too (old volleyball injuries).



2017-02-21 1:30 PM
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Subject: RE: How much swimming is really needed?
Originally posted by axteraa

For me (as a former swimmer),

- 2x/week means barely maintaining what fitness I've got.  If I'm in decent shape, this is acceptable.  If I'm not in good swim shape, this isn't going to get me there.
- 3x/week-  maintaining decent fitness if I can be consistent for a while (months)
- 4x/week - now we are getting somewhere, times are improving, feeling good about things
- 5x/week - times are really dropping, fitness and feel for the water are really high




I concur with this. Once in swim shape, I can maintain decent enough swim speed for triathlon on 2 days a week. I need 3-4 days a week to hold onto Masters Swimming competitive speed, and 5-7 a week to see absolute maximum swim performance

Your mileage may vary. As someone who swam competitively as a kid and has been back at it as an adult for almost 3 years, I have millions of yards of neuromuscular programming of my stroke. If you're an adult onset swimmer, it may be hard to to hold your stroke mechanics and swim fitness together sufficiently on 2 days a week.

Edited by gary p 2017-02-21 1:34 PM
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