Saturday, August 30, 2008

Learning to be a Stronger Swimmer

For the month of August, I swam more than 100,000 meters. However, in a way, that is nothing special. I have gotten so used to just going through the motions of swimming, that I can do this kind of training week in, week out without feeling any muscular discomfort. At the same time, I am not really getting any faster.

So, now I have to crank "it" up. Exactly what "it" means, I am not so sure. However, I read that to get faster, I need to train faster, and to get faster I need to get stronger and to get stronger I need to swim faster, etc. I measured myself today, and while I am between 192cm and 193 cm tall, if I lie on the ground and stretch out my hands, the distance from middle finger tip to middle finger tip is 202cm. So while is those respects I am not that different from some of the taller, elite swimmers, I am a lot weaker, and a lot slower.

Each day during the last week, I have been doing sets and taking rests in between them, sometimes more than one minute. So after the first three days I was on 12,600 meters (Tues, Wed, Thurs). On Friday, I covered 4,250 meters, and while I felt tired and slow that day, at least I was doing things, like 150s and 100s and 50s towards the end. On Saturday, I swam 4,350 meters, and the last 1,000 or so was mostly 100m or less at a time. Today, Sunday, I swam a total of 3,850 meters (I overslept slightly, thus reducing the available time for training). At the end of the practice today, I raced my friend over 100m, and although I barely broke 1m 30s, at least I got several fairly fast 100s, 50s and 25s in beforehand. So my swim total for the week was 25,050 meters, slightly less than in previous weeks, but then I need to focus a little more on speed now. Two "hard" 50s appear a lot harder than an "easy" 100.

While my goal may be to become an open water swimmer, speed work is important. For one thing, incorporating it in training may raise the overall pace on a long swim. In addition, it has tactical advantages. By being able to shift gears now and then, maybe I can catch on to a good draft. Then, near the end of the swim, I hopefully can outsprint the person I drafted off most of the race and then run hard up the beach to finish in a higher position.

I'm not thinking of trying to beat Alain Bernard (pictured above), the Frenchman who won gold in the 100m freestyle in Beijing in 47.21 seconds I think, but at least I hope I can learn a few things from him, without throwing up my breakfast in the process if at all possible.


Steve Stenzel said...

That's a LOT of meters for just August!! Great work!!

And thanks for the updates on Bree!

LeAnn said...

I didnt get faster until I started doing drills and a lot of emphasis on technique. Pool and open water swimming is SOOOOO diffent.
For example, how are your lose considerable amount of seconds if you do not know how to do a fast flipturn...theres technique in that. Hows your push off the wall? Are you streamlining? Do you dolphin kick when you push off the wall? Hows your turnover...and list goes on...these are just a few questions to make you think that pool swimming IS different from open water.

I think youll find youll be a lot faster than all the previous Hapuna swims that you did in the past. Youre a good swimmer...I think youll do fine and you will surprise a lot of people next summer including me!

ShirleyPerly said...

Wow, my arms are tired just thinking about how much you've swam in August!

Good points about how useful having swim speed in addition to endurance would be in an open water swim race. I really don't know much about pure swim training but do know that periodization of one's training (prep, base, build, peak) is key for improving in running and triathlons. If I always ran the same comfortable distance nearly every day and just added some speed work, I might see a little improvement but probably not as much as if I had an annual training cycle and a lot more variety in my workouts. At least, that's my guess.