In the past week week since I wrote - How the Pro's Swim and you Don't I have had several interesting chats with swimmers and non-swimmers. Each of these chats had an interesting theme which I think is very worthwhile sharing.
At Ironman Western Australia on Sunday, Seac Studio member Kath won her AG and booked her ticket to her second Hawaii Ironman. This is Kaths second only Ironman!
She did her first 70.3 Ironman last year and qualified for Hawaii. Her race in Kona this year was her first ever Ironman. The reason she is able to take to our sport with such force is primarily due to her swim background. Kath comes from a strong swimming background which lays an amazing foundation for triathlon.
Of course strong cyclists and runners can convert to triathlon with equally amazing results but only if they can get their swimming up to speed first - this is often a major hurdle. For swimmers and their amazing aerobic system, building their bike and run 'can' come easy - if they can avoid impact injuries - but that is another discussion.
The point I am trying to make here is that non-swimmers who want to improve their overall race should be turning their training ratios upside down. As we have previously discussed, many non-swimmers allocate the minimum time possible to the swim thinking they will just survive the swim and then charge through the pack using their blistering bike-run combo. But as we all know this rarely ever happens. Instead try swimming more than the standard 25% of your training time (yep, I get your probably not even doing 25%).
The second conversation was with Ricardo who has been working with Seac Coach Jason Shortis for a few months now. Hailing from Switzerland, Ricardo's swim needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.
Prior to joining Seac Studio Ricardo had tried to fix his swim using the "attend as many squads as possible" approach. He pre-purchased a squad pass with Olympic swimming bad-boy Geoff Huegill and swam squad three times a week. In the end he 'got through' his ironman swim leg, but the time was nothing to write home about and he certainly hadn't improve much.
Recently Ricardo has been a fairly regular attendee of the Drill Master Class and says that he can really feel the difference. His swim stroke is a work in progress, but he is starting to feel the water and more importantly he is enjoying his swimming. I don't think he has wasted a cent on a swim squad in quite some time.
Last weekend he raced 70.3 Western Sydney and swam 33:40 which was the top 1/3rd of the AG. The swim plan was to swim easy first half and swim hard second half. He had more to give in this swim which will come with confidence. He backed that up with an awesome swim in the Bondi to Bronte where he swam 35min putting many so called swimmers to the knife. What did I say about confidence.
Dave is new to swimming. As a former strength trainer and a good runner Dave has historically used force to get better at any sport he tries. More strength, more power, more speed has always worked for Dave in the past. In the water however, this approach simply has not worked for him, or anyone else.
Dave swims his 100's in over 2min. He has employed the "swim correction" approach and paid for one of the best swim guru's in Sydney to fix his stroke. After these stroke correction sessions Dave now knows his stroke is bad. His arms cross his body, his catch is too fast, his exit is too slow, his legs criss-cross, he doesnt breathe properly, etc. But he is still not swimming better.
He mentioned to me that he just wants to get his 100's down to 2min. My response dumbfounded Dave. I explained that swim improvement is not linear. He is not actually getting fitter and improving little by little each week. This is a simple technique matter. When the motor neurons in his head work out where and when and with how much force to send his muscle fibres he will start to swim normally. A normal swimmer will swim around 1:40-1:45min per 100m. Once you are there you simply need to add the fitness to get your swim time below 1:30's.
These leaps in time are huge for Dave, but as I explained the technique has to come first. Working on technique does not show results like improving fitness will. You can work on technique for months with zero improvement and then "click" you are now swimming 15sec per 100 faster. Then in a matter of a few weeks more blocks fall into place and you can wipe another 10sec off. As I said its not linear.
Also in the past week, a few triathletes have told me last weeks article was good and very helpful. Then they proceeded to tell me where and how their stroke was broken. This is a great concept but can be very difficult in practice. This is where the drills come into play. A little Google research can unfortunately unearth some weird concepts about swim drills. The worst of these is a concept that drills don't work?
This is Davids first attempt at 6 kick/1 perfect stroke
I agree that drills practiced poorly will not help. However, the core drills completed with excellent technique will improve your stroke. Simply changing your stroke is not likely to happen because you want it to. This is where the drills come into play. Add the drills to your warm-down and your recoveries. You will feel the difference.
Thank you for reading this far. It is a bit of a quick brain dump, but the racing and the conversations this past week have really shone a spot-light on last weeks article.