Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming

LA Fitness Pool

I started swimming again right after the Carmel Marathon. It felt good to be back in the water. I had the intention of swimming twice a week during my marathon training however the pool was closed for a few months so I concentrated on my running. And let’s be honest, the last thing I wanted to do after it being -20 degrees outside was get into a pool.

The Tuesday following my marathon was my first swim session since December. I found a 6 week Olympic triathlon training program  in Triathlete magazine that concentrates on the swim. I’m going to strictly follow the program for my first Olympic triathlon in August, but for now my plan is to loosely follow it.

My first swim session consisted of a 400yd swim warm-up, followed by: 5X100 free w/ :15 rest descending 1-5, 5X100 pull w/ :15 rest desending 1-5, 4X50 nonfree/free cool-down for a total of 1600 yards. The next day I swam a 6X50 kick w/ :10 rest warm-up, followed by 2X50 fast w/ :10 rest, 400 pull breathing every 5 strokes (for me this means 4 or 6), 5X100 w/ :15 rest of 25 nonfree/75 free, and 4X50 nonfree/free cool-down for a total of 1500 yards. I didn’t swim the rest of the week because we were in Boston for Bryan’s Boston Marathon. However, swimming was a great active recovery following my marathon. I was still keeping up my fitness level without destroying my already broken down legs. It also allowed for my minor injury to heal itself.

I didn’t swim again until May 13th because the week after Boston we had to pack our apartment because we were moving into our new home! I didn’t realize how much stuff we had accumulated in our apartment the past three years until we had to go through it all. So every evening after work we were packing. The week after we moved in and unpack as well as prepare for the Mini Marathon, so my evenings were spent foam rolling, stretching, and a small, easy run along with getting settled in to our new place. The week of May 5th was a 6 day work week and I had something every evening after work: Carson’s vet appt, IOA dinner/meeting, work seminar, so I was only able to get in one measly run and no swimming. Flash forward to May 13th again…back in the pool.

Tuesday 5/13: 400yd swim w/u, 4X100 swim w/ :15 rest descending 1-4, 6X100 pull w/ :15 rest descending 1-3 and 4-6, 4X100 swim w/ :15 rest descending 1-4, 4X50  w/ :10 rest of 25 nonfree/25 free c/d for a total of 2000 yards.

Saturday 5/17: 6X50 kick w/ :15 rest w/u, 4X50 swim w/ :15 rest  of 25 fast/25 easy, 300 pull breathing every 4 strokes, 200 swim of 50 free/50 nonfree repeat, 4X50 w/ :10 rest of 25 nonfree/25 free c/d for a total of 1200 yards.

Getting my swim on.

Sunday 5/18: 600 yd w/u of 100 free/50 nonfree, repeat, 8X50 swim w/ :15 kick on wall between sets, 1000yd swim nonstop, 4X50 breaststroke c/d for a total of 2200 yards.

My swim endurance is definitely there. I feel as if I could swim forever at an easy to moderate pace. Maybe it’s the mermaid in me. But going at an all out sprint, I’m winded easily. So I need to work on my speed. For my 1000yd, I swam at a nice easy pace and finished in 29:42. I’m sure that’s slow for most but I think that’s really good for someone not coming from a swimming background.

1000 yard swim nonstop at easy pace.

Having my Garmin 910XT watch is definitely helpful. Last year when I swam, I had to count my laps and I would get distracted and lose count never really knowing what distance I swam. But now I don’t have to worry about that. I just swim paying attention to my form. I definitely recommend this watch if you are training for a triathlon.

I had Bryan take a video of me swimming and he said that I looked okay. I wasn’t flailing or struggling. He also gave me some pointers on my swim stroke which helped tremendously. After each stroke count to two so that way I can take advantage of the glide, which I wasn’t doing previously. So now I can the same speed with less effort.

I also need to work on my legs. I find that I concentrate so much on my arms that I often forget about my legs and I’m barely kicking. When I think about my legs and kick faster and stronger, I’m swimming faster obviously.

Another modification but I don’t think I’m willing to change is breathing on both sides. I always breathe on the right. When I try to breath on the left I feel like I’m sinking and then suck in water and then I have to stop. It’s not good. I could either slow down my pace and distance and concentrate on breathing on my left or I can continue to up my speed and distance and breathe solely on the right. I’m going with the latter. Chrissie Wellington breathes every two strokes, so why can’t I? I’ve played around with breathing every 4 strokes so I’m still on the right, but depending on the day, sometimes I can’t and sometimes I can. I read that breathing on both sides is helpful during an ocean swim due the waves, but I’m in Indiana. There are no waves. And during a race, I want to be comfortable, and what’s comfortable is breathing on the right. So that’s what I’m going to stick with.

Having pool workouts has definitely improved my technique and speed. Before, I was just swimming to swim and it would get a little boring after 30 minutes. But now I’m doing specific drills that are working on either technique, speed, or endurance. So in just the few weeks that I’ve been swimming again, I’ve already noticed an improvement from last December. Hopefully this will translate to my first sprint triathlon in two weeks. Obviously the conditions are different: open water and battling people in the water. But at least I’ll have the confidence that I can swim 400 yards without stopping and panicking and having to swim the breast stroke like my first sprint tri last year. So for now, I just have be like Dory from Finding Nemo: ‘Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.’

Just keep swimming.

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