I’m going to make an assumption and guess that some of you do not particularly like to swim and have a tendency to neglect this aspect of your triathlon training. It is common among many triathletes to focus on the bike and run at the expense of the swim. This would be a mistake. Granted, you may not win the race in the water but you most certainly can lose it. My athletic background was swimming so I am biased about the importance of it. A great swim helps establishes an excellent racing tempo and can initiate a good overall race performance. Entering T1 too far behind leaves no room for error on the bike and run. You are playing catch up the entire race. No one I know has ever had a great race after a terrible swim.
Acquiring swimming proficiency as an adult is a process that requires patience and consistent execution of swimming skills. My goal as your coach is not develop you into the best swimmer in the race. My swim workouts rather, are designed to help you acquire the necessary skills required to swim efficiently. If we can develop your economy of effort then you will be able to increase your speed with less expenditure of energy. Likewise you’ll be able to swim just as fast as ever but with much less effort. My goal then, is for you to exit the swim in a reasonable amount of time but not so fast or with such great effort that you are too tired to bike and run to your fullest potential. Nothing is gained if you have a great swim but then are so tired that you can’t bike or run quickly.
Your triathlon swim should be completed in such an effort that it sets you up for a good bike and run without falling too far behind in the water. I believe in multiple, relatively short workouts per week that will help you develop strong swimming skills. Swimming is a motor skill performed in an unnatural environment and requires constant and repetitive practice to perfect those skills. Just as a pro golfer practices his swing hundreds of time per day, so too must the triathlete develop a feel for the water that can only be acquired through constant repetition.
Many triathletes attend Masters practice and perform inappropriate workouts more intense and longer than they are capable. The workouts I design however, are relatively short, focus on swimming drills, and are never the same day to day. You will learn proper body mechanics before we learn to swim fast. Prematurely performing typical Masters swim workouts of high intensity and duration, prior to deloping the swim skills and fitness necessary to do so, will leave you prone to injury and burnout. Let’s learn to swim efficiently before we hammer out 4000 plus yard workouts. Then once your skills have improved, we can increase the intensity and duration of workouts.
For those triathletes that are aquatically challenged I recommend 4 swim practices per week. My goal is for you never to go more than 2 days in a row without swimming. Swim workouts can be very short in duration - as little as 1000 yards or less. Much more important than the duration of workout is the frequency of practice. Muscle memory improves with practice and you must perform swimming often. Five days of 1000-yard swims focusing on stroke drills will vastly improve your swimming ability then one killer workout of 5000 yards.
If you are already a great swimmer, that’s even better, because my workouts are designed to maintain your proficiency while swimming less yards. This way there is more training time available to improve your bike or run.