I got into the pool for the first time in a very long time to do an actual swim workout.
And I suffered badly.
I get into the water from time to time to test drills and progressions or a piece of a set to make sure they work for my athletes. But the truth is I don’t actually workout in the pool anymore.
Until three weeks ago.
A local Tri coach who’s following the SwimFaster Program challenged me to do one of the workouts after sending me his times.
The test was a 750m time trial.
Knowing I have done no swim training I guessed I’d be able to go somewhere in the region of 9.30ish for the 750m. That sounded reasonable and achievable.
Full of confidence I pushed off after warming up and doing my drills.
The first 450m felt like chocolate.
Smooth, long and efficient.
And then someone dropped a Grand Piano on my back.
My shoulder, lats and abs started to BURN. My breathing shortened up and so did my reach and the finish of my stroke. My kick slowed and my head started to creep higher out of the water for each breath.
It all fell apart.
I was was eternally grateful to get my hand on the wall on the last length! Stop the watch, pull off the goggles, taste some fresh, sweet O2, and look down at the time…
What the actual hell?
I got back in the pool the next day.
And again the day after that.
And have continued to swim three times a week until that time changes.
Here Are 4 Endurance Tips About Fitness & Technique You Can Learn From My Sufferfest:
1. Great technique will only carry you through about 400m before you need fitness.
You already know this. Technique will set the limit on where your fitness will take you. But technique on it’s own will only carry you through 4-5 minutes of swimming. After that you better be fit or you’re going to suffer.
2. Consistency is the key to success in swimming
It’s been close to 4 years since I followed a regimented training program in the pool. And I felt every day off I’ve taken during that 750m.
The water is a wicked mistress if you don’t pay your respects to her on a very regular basis. The more you get in, the faster you will get. I wish it wasn’t the truth, but it is.
3. If your shoulders burn when you swim, you don’t need strength work, you need to swim more
I’ve done nothing but strength work for the last couple of years. No swimming, just strength. When I hit 450m the fire that consumed my arms and shoulders was like nothing I remember. Strength work won’t take that burn away, more swimming will.
4. Accept where you are right now
After reporting my time back to the Tri coach that challenged me, he asked “Are you happy or not?”
The answer is no, but, it is what it is and I need to do something about it.
That time isn’t good or bad. It’s the starting point.
You may look at me and say “yeah but your pace is worlds ahead, if I swam like that I’d be happy”.
To which I will reply; “there are people just starting out their swimming journey that say the same thing about your stroke and the times you swim”.
Where you are right now is just the starting point for what’s to come. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is.
My time will change in the coming weeks and months, it’ll either get faster, or it won’t. Whichever way it swings, the responsibility lies firmly on my shoulders. Just as the responsibility for your times lies with you.