Mid-Triathlon Season Swimming Tips
At this point in the season you should have much of your
base training completed and the first few A-level races should be looming on
the horizon. It is now time to
start doing more race specific sets in your swimming workouts. In saying this, it should be kept in
mind that even at this stage of the season, 50-70% of the work you do should
still be geared towards aerobic improvements.
what does race specific work mean for swimming? It is quite simple actually. You want to do in practice what you will be expected to do
in a race. This means working on
the three critical points of the swimming stage that rarely get any attention
in practice (i.e. the start, the turns, and the finish).
start at the beginning… the start.
If you are like me, you want to get out in front of the flailing limbs
that can cause so much damage at the beginning of a race when things are
crowded and hectic. This requires
an initial burst of speed of about 30-45 seconds before settling into your race
pace. For this I would recommend
the following set.
5 X 200 yards on 1-2 minute rest between each 200.
each 200 at about 85-90 % of your fastest pace. Swim at this intensity for the first 50 yards. Use a lot of legs and breathe every
other stroke to one side. Keep
your head down. It is unlikely
that you will need to spot a buoy during this stage of the race. After the first 50, slow down to your
race pace; about 70-80 % of your fastest pace. During this time, make your strokes long. Periodically lift your head to spot
something on the deck (e.g. a deck chair, umbrella, or kick board). For the last 50, slow it down to about
50% of you fastest pace. Finish
each 200 as long as possible.
Allow yourself to recover until your breathing is under control, but not
slow. You want this set to cause adaptations
that will allow you to swim hard for the first 30-45 seconds and then settle
into your race pace without hurting you later in the day.
are the turns. If you can find a
deep end to get into, put some sort of floatation device in the water and
practice swimming towards it and making a sharp turn around it. It is best to do this drill with a few
people in the water with you. Go
as a group and try to get around the buoy and each other. Do this set ten times while trying to
hold a reasonable pace; not too hard, not too slow. Rest about 20-30 seconds between each. I usually swim a triangle while trying
to make my turns as sharp as possible.
the transition. Amazingly, as popular
as bricks are in triathlon training, few people work on the T1 transition. If you have a trainer, this is the
easiest way to go. You will need
to ask the pool management if you can set your bike up on the deck. I usually don’t have any trouble with
this for myself or my clients. I
would recommend the following set:
x 50 on 20 seconds rest
300-400 build to race pace
with the 50’s, swimming long and easy as a warm-up/recovery. Then do the 300 or 400. Start with the same intensity you swam
the 50’s. Slowly build the speed
and intensity until you are swimming at your race pace for the last 100
yards. Hop right out of the water
and onto your bike. Put on your
helmet and follow all the USAT rules that you normally would in a race. With your shoes clipped onto the
pedals, get on the bike and ride for 5-10 minutes. Start at a relatively moderate pace and slowly build up to
your race pace or slightly faster.
Get off the bike and get back in the water. Repeat this set 4-6 times.
in mind that these are just examples of what I do for myself and my
clients. Change this up to suit
your individual needs. If you have
access to open water, use it! If
you don’t have a trainer, have a friend come and watch your bike while you
swim. There are creative solutions
to all problems. I hope this
helps. If you have any specific
questions, I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org,
or you can find my web site at www.highlandertriathlon.com.
Alexander Hutchison, PhD