Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Technique, technique, technique?

I have been told I have a "pretty" freestyle ... well, it is definitely pretty ...

Pretty slow that is.

I know that if I swim every single day and put all of my effort into being a "swimmer", I will get faster, although I honestly question how much faster I am capable of being without a fundamental change in how I swim.

I am a middle of the pack swimmer who enjoys the swim, but I am a realist as well. Where we spend our time is an investment and it is also an opportunity cost. An hour in the pool might mean saving a few precious minutes on the swim, but that same time spent in the saddle on a weekly basis can create huge dividends in terms of time saved on the bike in a race.

I guess what I am trying to say is that I am disenchanted with the swim. I have been swimming for three years and I worked pretty hard leading up to Florida and Cedar Point to get faster and logged tons of hours and yards in the pool. Circumstances changed (primarily how much I travel for my job) and I did less swiming leading up to IMTX and guess what, my swim time was nearly exactly the same WITHOUT a wetsuit in washing machine conditions! So, go figure, less training = similar results. I am sure if I had been swimming more I would have been a couple of minutes faster, but not the 15 minutes faster I would love to be (sub 1:15 on an IM swim vs my actual time of sub 1:30).

So, what I really want to know is ... what's the secret to getting faster in the pool? Is there some change to my form that is going to yield huge dividends? I don't have the time (or frankly the desire) to invest in becoming a "swimmer". If the answer is that the way to get faster in the pool is to swim faster in the pool, then I will have to deal with that, but I just can't help but think that I am missing out on some secret that is slowing me down in the water.

I have heard from many swimmers that you can log endless hours in the pool and if your technique is not right, it is going to yield marginal returns. I was regularly attending Masters and learned to swim from a coach, but I have definitely hit a plateau. Any advice?

8 comments:

Matthew Smith said...

No advice from me, because I'm a pretty slow swimmer too. I agree with the time spent and where it gives you the best benefit, but I still wish we could swim better. Hopefully someone will give us both some tips! :)

Love and Puppies, Christy said...

Yeah, unfortunately, you have to A.) get good form (doesn't have to be perfect, but good) and B.) log some hours. I'm kind of with you though - it's just not worth the time it would take for me to get good. Oh well!

Kelly said...

Get an underwater stroke analysis from a good coach, and then have them give you specific drills to work on...you'll see quick improvements, I would bet.

Rhona said...

Hi Anne,

Yes, technique makes a big difference! We are running a contest on our website to win a Swimsmooth DVD (worth $60) - to enter you just have to do a race report. If you're interested have a look here: http://www.intelligent-triathlon-training.com/triathlon-events.html Swimsmooth have some great stuff on their site even if you don't want to enter, or don't win! www.swimsmooth.com

Carole Sharpless said...

Bottom line, sweet girl. Technique is great, and to some extent necessary in that you do not want to fight you own body mechanics. HOWEVER - I see people put way too much time into "perfect form" but they are slow as dirt. Form is good but you need to WORK HARD!!! That's it. I see so many people resist working hard in the pool. They go to the track and do 400's, breathing through the roof, until they drop, but they won't let themselves breathe hard in the pool with the effort. ? WHY? Same thing.
You've got to do hard sets, no rest, go again, get to muscular failure.... form is great but if you never get outside your comfort zone it won't matter.

Erin said...

I was thinking the same thing, but as usual, Carole said it better.

Jamie said...

I've got nothing for you, but I like Carole's advice.

I have the same problem. I've worked a lot with paddles and tried to clean up my form and add more volume, but with little benefit. I'm taking up Masters this winter. Hopefully that gets me to work as hard as I do with 400s on the track.

Colleen said...

This post couldn't have come at a better time for me... I'm struggling with my swim this season. Guess i need to do it more and do it harder. Humph... okay...