How to get faster

Discussion in 'General Fitness' started by Stp, Feb 14, 2004.

  1. Stp

    Stp Guest

    I've decided to do a couple triathlons this summer so I have to do some swimming. I'm swimming
    during lap swim at the local Y and I have some observations I'd like to pass along.

    Some background - I am a long retired competitive swimmer. I swam in college. I was not an "elite"
    swimmer but I did get a scholarship to a Div I school so I've actually been paid to swim. I swam to
    compete and I did enjoy the competition, hard training and camaraderie of my teammates and
    competitors but the simple joy of swimming really wasn't enough to keep me in the pool so after
    college I took up other things and haven't done any sort of training in the pool for about 20 years.

    Now I am tooling around with the lap swimmers at the Y. I figure the people I am swimming with now
    are a fairly representative cross section of many of the people who post and lurk here.

    If someone at the pool asked me how to get faster, this is what I would tell them.

    1. Make the absolute best use you can of what time is available to you. Don't scale a 5 hour per
    day training program down to 1 hour. Come up with a 1 hour program if that is the time you have.

    2. On that note, there is an awful lot of kicking with kick boards going on. I think a lot of this
    is a waste of time. I have nothing against kicking per se and I did my fair share of it when I
    was a full time swimmer (and after reading Larry I wish I had done more) but for working men and
    women trying to squeeze a workout into their busy lives, its a question of best use of time. For
    example, last night a lady in the lane next to me kicked for 1/2 her 40 minute work out. While
    she was kicking I did a set of 5 x 200 free swimming each above a pace I could have held for a
    straight 1000. Yes I am faster than her but she would be faster than she is if she did this set
    too instead of pushing the kickboard around for 20 minutes. I can assure all of you that no
    elite swimmer spends 1/2 his or her workout time kicking and that if a rule went into effect
    limiting pool time for elite swimmers to 1 hour per day virtually all kicking in practice would
    cease immediately.

    3. I was surprised that most of the swimmers are really not all that bad in terms of basic
    technique. But - they are weak and are going through their time in the pool at a very low
    exertion level. I know you think it hurts but you really need to push HARD to improve. I have 10
    years of serious puking hard work in me and even after a 20 year layoff some of that is still
    there. If you don't have this background you need to do some seriously hard swimming to get your
    strength built up. I'm not saying the only way to improve is to swim 14,000 yards a day but if
    you are going to swim only 2000, you better have some serious trouble lifting your arms to comb
    your hair after you get out of the pool if you want to get faster.

    4. Put some swimming specific strength training into your program. The less time you spend swimming
    the more important strength training is. Suggestion - spend $25 on some stretch cords and use
    them 3 -4 times a week. If you are only swimming 2 -3K just this 5 - 10 minutes a day will have
    the same effect as doubling your weekly yardage.

    5. Technique is important so don't take the lack of my mentioning it as my discounting it but most
    technique flaws once you have the basics down can be traced back to a lack of swimming specific
    strength. Train hard in the time you have available and your technique will improve and you'll
    go faster.

    Of course, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. (e.g. If you like kicking, kick all you
    want) Personally I think swimming is a rather miserable way to get basic exercise given the other
    options available so my hat is off to all you folks who do it regularly - you are inspiring me.

    STP
     
    Tags:


  2. Allen Weiner

    Allen Weiner Guest

    "STP" <[email protected]> wrote in message news:<[email protected]>...
    > I've decided to do a couple triathlons this summer so I have to do some swimming. I'm swimming
    > during lap swim at the local Y and I have some observations I'd like to pass along.
    >
    > Some background - I am a long retired competitive swimmer. I swam in college. I was not an
    > "elite" swimmer but I did get a scholarship to a Div I school so I've actually been paid to swim.
    > I swam to compete and I did enjoy the competition, hard training and camaraderie of my teammates
    > and competitors but the simple joy of swimming really wasn't enough to keep me in the pool so
    > after college I took up other things and haven't done any sort of training in the pool for about
    > 20 years.
    >
    > Now I am tooling around with the lap swimmers at the Y. I figure the people I am swimming with now
    > are a fairly representative cross section of many of the people who post and lurk here.
    >
    > If someone at the pool asked me how to get faster, this is what I would tell them.
    >
    > 1. Make the absolute best use you can of what time is available to you. Don't scale a 5 hour per
    > day training program down to 1 hour. Come up with a 1 hour program if that is the time you
    > have.
    >
    > 2. On that note, there is an awful lot of kicking with kick boards going on. I think a lot of
    > this is a waste of time. I have nothing against kicking per se and I did my fair share of it
    > when I was a full time swimmer (and after reading Larry I wish I had done more) but for
    > working men and women trying to squeeze a workout into their busy lives, its a question of
    > best use of time. For example, last night a lady in the lane next to me kicked for 1/2 her 40
    > minute work out. While she was kicking I did a set of 5 x 200 free swimming each above a pace
    > I could have held for a straight 1000. Yes I am faster than her but she would be faster than
    > she is if she did this set too instead of pushing the kickboard around for 20 minutes. I can
    > assure all of you that no elite swimmer spends 1/2 his or her workout time kicking and that if
    > a rule went into effect limiting pool time for elite swimmers to 1 hour per day virtually all
    > kicking in practice would cease immediately.
    >
    > 3. I was surprised that most of the swimmers are really not all that bad in terms of basic
    > technique. But - they are weak and are going through their time in the pool at a very low
    > exertion level. I know you think it hurts but you really need to push HARD to improve. I have
    > 10 years of serious puking hard work in me and even after a 20 year layoff some of that is
    > still there. If you don't have this background you need to do some seriously hard swimming to
    > get your strength built up. I'm not saying the only way to improve is to swim 14,000 yards a
    > day but if you are going to swim only 2000, you better have some serious trouble lifting your
    > arms to comb your hair after you get out of the pool if you want to get faster.
    >

    Could you expand on this. How should the 2000 yard workout be designed? Can it be completely aerobic
    or must it include some anaerobic sets? (I'm assuming that for the aerobic part, you recommend
    conventional interval training).

    > 4. Put some swimming specific strength training into your program. The less time you spend
    > swimming the more important strength training is. Suggestion - spend $25 on some stretch cords
    > and use them 3 -4 times a week. If you are only swimming 2 -3K just this 5 - 10 minutes a day
    > will have the same effect as doubling your weekly yardage.
    >

    Which stretch-cord exercises do you recommend? (Keeping within your stated constraint of 5 -10
    minutes a day).

    > 5. Technique is important so don't take the lack of my mentioning it as my discounting it but
    > most technique flaws once you have the basics down can be traced back to a lack of swimming
    > specific strength. Train hard in the time you have available and your technique will improve
    > and you'll go faster.
    >
    > Of course, the most important thing is to enjoy yourself. (e.g. If you like kicking, kick all you
    > want) Personally I think swimming is a rather miserable way to get basic exercise given the other
    > options available so my hat is off to all you folks who do it regularly - you are inspiring me.
    >
    > STP
     
  3. Hi, STP. Welcome back.

    Nice post. Good reading. Thanks.

    Just a brief note: Maybe the lady who kicks with a board for half her workout is less interested
    in improving her speed in the pool than in improving/maintaining her physique. A half hour of
    upper body and a half hour of lower body is a pretty fine workout for the latter goal. Buns of
    steel, and all that.
     
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