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2013-08-16 12:22 AM

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Subject: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!
A few months into my base training for IM I swam a pace of 2:20 per 100 yards. That was my "comfortable, all day" pace. Tonight, 8 MONTHS LATER, I swam 2.4 miles at a 2:20 per 100 yd pace. WTF?! I have been swimming 3-4 times a week most weeks during that time. Started at 1200-1500 yards 3-4 times a week, now swim about 2200-2500 a session 3 times a week. I have watched a tone of videos and read a ton of tips. I have done drills. Almost all my sessions are interval training. So here is my quandary: IMAZ is in 3 months. With NO IMPROVEMENT in 8 months it seems I may as well swim just enough to maintain my comfort in the water, and spend the extra free time on the bike. Or should I try to do longer (3000-3500 yd) interval sessions 3 or even 4 times a week and see if that finally yields speed results?


2013-08-16 12:27 AM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!
What type of intervals. I can do long slow 400s or 800s ... contrast that to a set like 60x25 flat out on a fixed interval of 25s
2013-08-16 12:53 AM
in reply to: simpsonbo

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!
I vary them but usually do a workout of 10-12 100s followed by some 25s or I will do 10 50s followed by 10 25s. Often I do several sets of a descending ladder of 200, 100, 50, 2x25.
2013-08-16 1:18 AM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!

If you can get a coach or post a video here of you swimming (preferably with underwater shots but from above, the sides, swimming away from wall and swimming into wall would tell us a lot too), there's probably some basic help we could give you with getting your technique up to speed. Just watching the video yourself frame by frame will probably give you a lot of starting info. Part of it is also having/building the strength to hold that technique over the long haul ... a good proportion of those intervals should be real suffering.

With 3mos to go, I would STRONGLY recommend getting a copy of Sheila Taormina's Swim Speed Secrets and Swim Speed Workouts (available as a package; it's advertised here on BT, usually bottom left) AND DO THEM. I am in touch with many people (including Sheila) who have followed the progression, and I have used them extensively in my own training and coaching.

Even as an advanced swimmer with very good technique, where it gets progressively hard to shave even a few seconds here and there, I saw marked improvement in 8 weeks (the sequence is 16 weeks). My observations of others is that the more room for improvement you have, even more so will they help.

2013-08-16 7:30 AM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!

Originally posted by wanderwoman11 A few months into my base training for IM I swam a pace of 2:20 per 100 yards. That was my "comfortable, all day" pace. Tonight, 8 MONTHS LATER, I swam 2.4 miles at a 2:20 per 100 yd pace. WTF?! I have been swimming 3-4 times a week most weeks during that time. Started at 1200-1500 yards 3-4 times a week, now swim about 2200-2500 a session 3 times a week. I have watched a tone of videos and read a ton of tips. I have done drills. Almost all my sessions are interval training. So here is my quandary: IMAZ is in 3 months. With NO IMPROVEMENT in 8 months it seems I may as well swim just enough to maintain my comfort in the water, and spend the extra free time on the bike. Or should I try to do longer (3000-3500 yd) interval sessions 3 or even 4 times a week and see if that finally yields speed results?

You have improved in one way... your endurance and fitness in the water is far beyond what it was eight months ago.  You may not be faster but you'll be less shelled coming out of the water.  That's a big deal come Ironman day.

More to your point.  You have obvious stroke mechanic issues to overcome.  2:20/100y is a pretty slow pace.  You may have reached the ceiling with your current flawed stroke.  I'd find a good swim coach in your area and have them do a stroke analysis and listen to their wisdom and advice.  This may sound silly but try to find a swim coach who specializes in teaching kids.  You're basically a newbie swimmer and kids coaches are often much better at teaching fundamentals to adult onset swimmers than masters coaches.

I'd also suggest swimming more.  Four swims per week totaling 10,000+.  Long swim intervals won't do much to make you faster.  They're great for fitness though.

2013-08-16 10:14 AM
in reply to: GMAN 19030

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!
Originally posted by GMAN 19030

 You have obvious stroke mechanic issues to overcome.  2:20/100y is a pretty slow pace.  You may have reached the ceiling with your current flawed stroke.  



Is this safe to assume because it would be very difficult to go that slow and not improve if I had decent technique? I mean I FEEL like I am swimming like the people in the videos and doing everything the tutorials tell me to do...but I guess the proof is in the pudding With a coach and some focused lessons you think there is time to improve in 3 months?


2013-08-16 11:23 AM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!

Originally posted by wanderwoman11
Originally posted by GMAN 19030  You have obvious stroke mechanic issues to overcome.  2:20/100y is a pretty slow pace.  You may have reached the ceiling with your current flawed stroke.  
Is this safe to assume because it would be very difficult to go that slow and not improve if I had decent technique? I mean I FEEL like I am swimming like the people in the videos and doing everything the tutorials tell me to do...but I guess the proof is in the pudding With a coach and some focused lessons you think there is time to improve in 3 months?

It's very safe to assume that your swim technique has flaws to it.  I guarantee that to be the case.

Swimming is very, very technique specific.  That's why you see 10 year old scrawny kids who are competitive swimmers swimming circles around very athletic and obviously much stronger adults.  They learned the proper fundamentals and have been swimming a bazillion yards/meters a year with really good stroke mechanics.  You haven't learned the proper fundamentals and stroke mechanics necessary to swim say a 1:30/100y pace (which is a pretty decent swim for a triathlete but laughable to a real swimmer like Bo).  You probably have good fitness and endurance but your limiter is the actual mechanics of an efficient swim stroke. 

2013-08-16 11:27 AM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!

Originally posted by wanderwoman11
Originally posted by GMAN 19030  You have obvious stroke mechanic issues to overcome.  2:20/100y is a pretty slow pace.  You may have reached the ceiling with your current flawed stroke.  
Is this safe to assume because it would be very difficult to go that slow and not improve if I had decent technique? I mean I FEEL like I am swimming like the people in the videos and doing everything the tutorials tell me to do...but I guess the proof is in the pudding With a coach and some focused lessons you think there is time to improve in 3 months?

Technique is key in swimming, but knowing how to push hard helps too. What are your paces when you do intervals? I go much faster doing 10x100 than I do in a 1000 TT. How often do you go all out effort?

2013-08-16 11:58 AM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!
Originally posted by wanderwoman11



Is this safe to assume because it would be very difficult to go that slow and not improve if I had decent technique? I mean I FEEL like I am swimming like the people in the videos and doing everything the tutorials tell me to do...but I guess the proof is in the pudding With a coach and some focused lessons you think there is time to improve in 3 months?


I'd say it's 100% a technique issue from what you describe. I'm actually in the same boat. Training for my IM last year I did a mix of OWS and pool intervals yet was never able to get my pace under 2:00 and that was for my "hard" 100 yard intervals in the pool. I was comfortable swimming the 2.4M for the race, and it didn't wear me out, so the endurance was there, but I ultimately swam a 1:41, which is clearly pretty slow.

It's difficult to say whether or not you'll be able to improve in three months, especially since you think you're swimming correctly, since this means that you'll likely have a lot of bad habits to break. From what I hear, following coaching, a lot of people just have a moment where it clicks for them and they see noticeable improvements in a relatively short period of time. Not having reached that point myself though, I'm not sure how often this happens. Good luck, and regardless, I hope you have a great race!
2013-08-16 3:56 PM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!

1.  Agreed you probably have some stroke flaws that should be easy to fix in 3 months.

2.  You're swimming a decent amount, but swimming more would really help if you want to see improvements.  6-8k a weeks is a pretty good distance to see minor improvements or maybe simply maintain fitness.  If you want to see bigger improvements than what you've seen over the past 8 months...you need to swim MORE than what you've been swimming the past 8 months.

3.  Swim harder.  I don't know how hard you're doing your intervals, but if you're not showing improvement, you're probably not swimming hard enough.  If you're getting out of the pool 2-3x a week feeling like your arms are going to fall off...you're probably headed in the right direction.

Improving your swim takes hard work.  No different than improving your bike or run.  This is not directed soley at the OP, but I think therer is some type of misconception that you can make swimming improvements just by getting in the pool X number of times a week and magically it will take care of itself.  After a good swim session...I'm exhausted.  I find when I have lots of good swim sessions in a short period...I get faster.  And when I just go to the pool and swim moderately too often...I lose that edge and regress. 

As they say...the proof is in the pudding.  I highly doubt the OP has some sort of deficeincy where hard work in the pool doesn't pay off like it does for others.  I know it sounds harsh, but it's reality.  And sometimes you need to take a good look in the mirror at what you're doing and how does it coorelate to your expectations.  Or just be content with the fact that swimming is not that much of a priority...and just getting through the swim is good enough for you.

Best of luck.

2013-08-16 8:35 PM
in reply to: Jason N

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!
I agree with a coach. I'm actually getting slower the more I swim and I can't figure out why. I used to be under 2:00/100m and now I'm creeping up to 2:10. For my IM, I swam in 1:21 but that's with my wetsuit crutch. I went to a local triathlon club meet up last week and talked to one of the senior members. He said he's coaching someone at my gym and he'd look at my swim at the same time too. Score! I went and I told me right away the things I was doing wrong and some drills to help correct it. Like you, it FELT like I was doing it right but I knew for damn sure I wasn't, based on my times. I went swimming tonight and most, but not all, my sets were at 2:00/100m or under (improvement). I got tired during the later sets but I could tell that I was moving ever so slightly faster. Not saying I'm done at all but I'm going to work at it and join a master's swim next month and work on it all winter.


2013-08-22 4:45 PM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!

I'm similar but my swimming hasn't improved in over 5 years.

I swim usually slower than 2:00/100 and have hired and worked with 5 different private swim coaches, spent much time, money and effort on improving. I have made slight progress but not had that ahhh break through many assume comes easily to those who are slower swimmers.

What I did find important for me in training for IMs, if I swam 4x a week, the 2.4 mile swim felt easier and I came out of the water feel fresher than if I swam less.

My IM swim times 1:47, 1:46, 1:40, 2:02

The year I did 2:02 I didn't swim much until 2.5 months before the race and had a shoulder issue that I battled...time reflected lack of training no real difference in pool 100s speed.

As mush as time is important now, if it were me I would not cut back on a swim.

If you aren't doing hard intervals like panting on side of the pool add some of those in.

I would suggest adding hard intervals, keep swimming more often, do a ows/bike brick or two if you can.

Enjoy the journey!

2013-08-23 10:13 PM
in reply to: KathyG

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!
I was in the same boat about a year ago. Working on my form was the only thing that helped. I went from 2:10/100 at best, and feeling really tired keeping up this pace, to 1:25/100 and it feels way easier. My head was too high, my legs dropped and I didn't roll at all. Form work made all the difference.
2013-08-24 2:34 PM
in reply to: wanderwoman11

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Subject: RE: 8 months of swimming and NO FASTER!

I agree with the majority of the other comments re:

  1. Based on your paces, you almost certainly have some technique issues that, if fixed, could result in significant improvements.
  2. Get a coach.

A couple other observations:

  1. Doing drills will do nothing to improve your swimming if those drills are selected randomly and if you don't have a good understanding of what each one is meant to accomplish.
  2. Watching "a ton of videos and reading a ton of tips" will provide limited benefit, because we often think our body is moving in one way when in reality, we're doing something completely different.  It takes an objective observer or video analysis to determine how we're really moving and develop specific movement patterns.
  3. It can help to view fast swimming like a layer cake.  The bottom layer is technique.  You need this first.  Then add a layer of fitness on top through hard swimming.  After that, additional layers of fitness and technique can be added over time to continue performance improvements.  IMO, your currently indicated paces imply that you likely haven't laid down a sufficient layer of technique to add much fitness on top through hard intervals without risking shoulder injury.  Most shoulder issues are the result of too much intensity/volume combined with technique deficiencies.  By addressing technique first, then adding hard training, you reduce the chances of injury slowing your development.
  4. Once your training progresses to hard intervals, you will see the greatest improvements through a variety of different work/rest ratios each week.  For example, threshold intervals of 100s at 5-10 seconds rest, anaerobic intervals of 50-75's at 20-30 seconds rest, speed intervals of 25-50's at 30+ seconds rest.

 

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