Pull Out All the Stops

Swimming is my weakest discipline biggest opportunity to improve when it comes to triathlons.  We could really dig in and do some research to determine why, but here are a few reasons that come to mind right away.

  1. You need a pool.  Unlike running and biking, you can’t just walk outside and go.
  2. People were invented to be on land, not water.  Otherwise we’d all be fish.
  3. I hate it.

Those are just a subset of the infinite reasons why swimming is unquestionably going to be my downfall.

Being the hater that I am for swimming you’d think I’d keep away from it altogether.  Unfortunately it seems to be an unavoidable, necessary evil in the swim-bike-run formula.  So instead of staying away, I’m whining and embracing my nemesis with a full-on bear hug.

Starting in January, I have four months of sporadic swim data in the books (once a week here; oops, missed a week there; etc).  Regardless, when possible I aimed to swim the same 2100-ish yards whenever going for a dip.  Below you’ll see the 9 times I hit that 1.2 mile mark (coincidentally the exact distance for the Half Ironman swim).  For reference, that’s 64 mind-numbing lengths of the pool.

What has surprised me is how much my time has improved in 3.5 months.  From the first time (55 minutes) to yesterday (46:14), that’s 9 minutes improvement!  Even more surprising, however, is how I feel when swimming.  The first several times I needed periodic rests.  Maybe every 8 lengths; maybe every 10.  Yesterday I did the entire swim without a single break.  I’m not quite cool enough to flip-turn just yet; at each end I stop, turn around, and go, all in one relatively smooth motion.

I definitely still need some coaching, but the progress I have made thus far is promising.  It’s also fun to see immediate improvement compared to my running, which is taking a much slower track to greatness.

  1. That’s great that you’re putting so much time in at the pool! My suggestion (if you’re thinking about another tri) would be to do one swim work-out a week in a more “open water” setting. I use Barton Springs bc it’s convenient. Yes, the water is cold, but only at first. There’s an 1/8 mile marker upstream on the main entrance side, and I enjoy my work-outs more when I’m not hitting that wall 18 billion times. You’ll have an even better idea of your time improvements by simulating the open water vs. lap swims.

      • Mike
      • April 25th, 2011

      Great idea! How is Barton Springs real early in terms of lights? Is it pitch black or do they have some overhead lights to give at least a little visibility?

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