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this_guy32

Swim plateau: how to break through

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Looking for some tips. I've been stuck at the same speed over 100m for a long time. 

Generally I'll do 1 long swim per week, (usually something like 1km x 3 or 1km, 4 x 500 m.) And 2 other swims that might total 2km each where I do drills, and max efforts among other things. (either 5-10 x 100m max, or build to max, depending on how i'm feeling. I do plenty of core work.

I've tried to build the number of 100m efforts, decrease rest intervals, do 150m efforts, 200m efforts, but pretty much 1:30 over 100m is all I can do. I can maintain that over maybe 8 reps with 30secs rest, but the last 3 reps will be really vomit inducing tough.  

Technique wise, I can definitely improve, but my catch feels pretty solid after drills and I make a point of pull/pushing past the hip. 

I can't join a master's group - there isn't one! Due to location I'm pretty much limited to a warm outdoor 25m pool in the tropics, so I'm lookin for some ideas for things to work on to get a bit more speed. Why? Just because. I just want to be quicker. I have no races coming up... I can still manage 3.8k without wetsuit in sub 60min, but I really want to try to speed up my shorter distance swims. 

Am I looking at this wrong? Should I forget my 100m rep times and perhaps work on my 500m or 1km TT ? 

Any advice  (other than hitting the lap button early! I had thought of that!) would be good! :)

 

 

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heres three things, 

 

25mtrs flat chat, on 30 seconds. drop it to 5 seconds rest once your use to it, not so out of breath,

10 x 50 with a band round your feet.

catch up drill with finger trail at the same time, in the same motion, 10  x 50.

 

assuming you want to get quicker over a 100.

 

paddles, buoy band if its for the longer stuff

 

 

 

Edited by Oompa Loompa

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I started just swimming more often.

5x 1.5 - 2k swims a week.

I went from 1:50 per 100 to 1:38 per 100 in about 3 months

Swimming 3 x a week isn't worth it

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If you're going to swim 3x a week make it 4k min.  Lots of shorter intervals.  40x50m 20x100 etc.

Build to 4x4k.  Your time will come down then.

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46 minutes ago, this_guy32 said:

Looking for some tips. I've been stuck at the same speed over 100m for a long time. 

Generally I'll do 1 long swim per week, (usually something like 1km x 3 or 1km, 4 x 500 m.) And 2 other swims that might total 2km each where I do drills, and max efforts among other things. (either 5-10 x 100m max, or build to max, depending on how i'm feeling. I do plenty of core work.

I've tried to build the number of 100m efforts, decrease rest intervals, do 150m efforts, 200m efforts, but pretty much 1:30 over 100m is all I can do. I can maintain that over maybe 8 reps with 30secs rest, but the last 3 reps will be really vomit inducing tough.  

Technique wise, I can definitely improve, but my catch feels pretty solid after drills and I make a point of pull/pushing past the hip. 

I can't join a master's group - there isn't one! Due to location I'm pretty much limited to a warm outdoor 25m pool in the tropics, so I'm lookin for some ideas for things to work on to get a bit more speed. Why? Just because. I just want to be quicker. I have no races coming up... I can still manage 3.8k without wetsuit in sub 60min, but I really want to try to speed up my shorter distance swims. 

Am I looking at this wrong? Should I forget my 100m rep times and perhaps work on my 500m or 1km TT ? 

Any advice  (other than hitting the lap button early! I had thought of that!) would be good! :)

 

 

What are your OD/70.3/1km TT times? What would you do your 100s on and what time cycle? Do you know what your stroke rate is like?

There isn't a simple answer, it's a complex stroke. Many people are hamstrung by average technique, especially poor body position  and no early catch. Both cause lots of drag and really slow progression. I would suggest:

- get a video analysis done or post on here or ST

- make sure you understand what the drills are for. Sounds stupid, but go to a masters squad and how often do you hear drills explained in laymans terms

- when doing drills, do half a lap of drill then change to freestyle, you carry forward what you were doing in the drill. 

- increase mileage and or intensity. If you're doing 2km with drills, that means you could only be doing 1km of hard work, My old tri squad we would be doing 4.5 -5km for a 90min session, 3 swims a week, plus OWS, so 15 - 17km. You're doing 7km with lots of drills. Drills are critical, but you still need to get in your work. 

- I'm not really squad swimming at the moment, so I tend to do my own sets mostly. And I generally build them around 400s. When squad swimming we would be doing no more than 200m, lots of 100s. I'm finding my overall swim fitness is better with the 400s. My 100s are much slower though!  But I would stick to 50s, 100s, 200s for the time being. Try and get 1 400m in at least if it's a WU or CD I'd still go 75% especially if you're only doing 2km. And with the drills, change them up a bit so you do the drill, but still work hard. i.e 100m 6/16 would be 6/16 25m, free hard 25m, 6/1/6 25m, free hard 25m and done with no fins. 

- ditch the 3 x 1km and 4 x 500, I suspect they're done at cruise pace? 500s could be good, later on down the track?

- Kicking can help with your swimming enormously. Not just for propulsion, but body position. So many people have sinky legs, kicking helps with that. I've seen people with wetsuits still dragging their legs.  10 x 50m kick with 10s rest, no fins, use a snorkel

Can you take 2 - 3 months off biking/running and focus on swimming? Swimming 4 - 5 times a week, 3km+ per session you'll see improvements in 10 days. Or your money back.

 

Edited by zed
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More Open Water swims, ( if possible ). Less worrying about times in the pool and just look at total distance over time in the ocean / river / dam / creek.

You can still do the intervals in OW swims but it is more an approximation by hammering for a minute, or 2 or 3 every 10.

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self test for kick in triathletes: swim 200,  repeat with a pull bouy - if faster you need to work on your kick (a good kick becomes an efficiant kick)

that helps heaps with body position

that helps with speed

(most triathletes fail this test)

 and a general rule to get better at swimming - never dry out (ie swim at least every second day / 4 times a week) - it is a gross motor skill and nothing beats time in the water* (except time in the water with a coach)

* Swimming, not standing at the end chatting.

Edited by trifun
*
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And if your ever ever in the  Shire, one of the Southwell’s is taking a few squads at Sutho pool. He goes ok and is best there is for knowledge transfer. 

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3 hours ago, zed said:

What are your OD/70.3/1km TT times? What would you do your 100s on and what time cycle? Do you know what your stroke rate is like?

There isn't a simple answer, it's a complex stroke. Many people are hamstrung by average technique, especially poor body position  and no early catch. Both cause lots of drag and really slow progression. I would suggest:

- get a video analysis done or post on here or ST

- make sure you understand what the drills are for. Sounds stupid, but go to a masters squad and how often do you hear drills explained in laymans terms

- when doing drills, do half a lap of drill then change to freestyle, you carry forward what you were doing in the drill. 

- increase mileage and or intensity. If you're doing 2km with drills, that means you could only be doing 1km of hard work, My old tri squad we would be doing 4.5 -5km for a 90min session, 3 swims a week, plus OWS, so 15 - 17km. You're doing 7km with lots of drills. Drills are critical, but you still need to get in your work. 

- I'm not really squad swimming at the moment, so I tend to do my own sets mostly. And I generally build them around 400s. When squad swimming we would be doing no more than 200m, lots of 100s. I'm finding my overall swim fitness is better with the 400s. My 100s are much slower though!  But I would stick to 50s, 100s, 200s for the time being. Try and get 1 400m in at least if it's a WU or CD I'd still go 75% especially if you're only doing 2km. And with the drills, change them up a bit so you do the drill, but still work hard. i.e 100m 6/16 would be 6/16 25m, free hard 25m, 6/1/6 25m, free hard 25m and done with no fins. 

- ditch the 3 x 1km and 4 x 500, I suspect they're done at cruise pace? 500s could be good, later on down the track?

- Kicking can help with your swimming enormously. Not just for propulsion, but body position. So many people have sinky legs, kicking helps with that. I've seen people with wetsuits still dragging their legs.  10 x 50m kick with 10s rest, no fins, use a snorkel

Can you take 2 - 3 months off biking/running and focus on swimming? Swimming 4 - 5 times a week, 3km+ per session you'll see improvements in 10 days. Or your money back.

 

Mate, I watched you swim past. 

**** me you rip your arm through the water. Awesome stuff. 

 

Thanks for the info. Cheers 

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Can't get on board with kicking.  You can get a good position without much kick at all.  The more upper body the less legs the better.  800/1500m swimmers do fark all kicking till the sprint is on and we don't need to sprint at all in our swim.  

 

Just get those arms turning over as fast as possible and switch the core on the legs will float.  

 

In regards to the first poster...can swim sub 60 for 3.8k no wetsuit so they are probably better than most people replying.

 

Just do some flat stick 100s with long rest, leave on like 2.00.  Do 3 to 5 until you start to fail, then 500 pull recover then another 3 to 5.  500 pull.  Repeat 4 times and you've done a solid 4k set and worked on both endurance and top end.

 

You want to improve 100m speed then just do a lot of 25s 50s 100s and 200s flat stick with long rest.  Shortening the rest takes away from what you're trying to achieve which is increasing top end speed.

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Yep 

 

Either kick well and have a low stroke rate 

Or 

Higher stroke rate and not much of a kick, more to balance the stroke. 

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22 minutes ago, FFF1077 said:

 

Higher stroke rate and not much of a kick, more to balance the stroke. 

thought about this some more, just go over to trisutto, search swimming in the blogs, read it

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2 hours ago, RunBrettRun said:

Can't get on board with kicking.  You can get a good position without much kick at all.  The more upper body the less legs the better.  800/1500m swimmers do fark all kicking till the sprint is on and we don't need to sprint at all in our swim.

It may look like that, but I used to swim with Michael Bohles squad, and he had some great swimmers. They looked like they were doing fark all kick, but they would do 50m kick reps, at nearly the pace I was swimming 50m. They had a hell of a kick without it looking like it.

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29 minutes ago, Ex-Hasbeen said:

It may look like that, but I used to swim with Michael Bohles squad, and he had some great swimmers. They looked like they were doing fark all kick, but they would do 50m kick reps, at nearly the pace I was swimming 50m. They had a hell of a kick without it looking like it.

Yep seen some kids at TSS rip through 50s and 100s with a kick board in some impressive times.  Massive difference in ability and technique but I also stand by the comment kicking is a waste of time for triathletes. Maybe I worded it wrong, look at the kicking "effort" those long distance swimmers are putting in and base the effort on that.

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My swim is isn't really suffering but it certainly isn't improving. A combination of work/family and pool times means realistically, I'm hitting the pool twice a week (and not always then) for 35-40 mins a time. I'm approx 2min/100 and my OWS times last week in Portugal were incredibly similar.

I'm not sure my 2 x per week is actually doing anything? But it seems important to 'stay in touch' with the water.

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It’s definitely doing something, don’t let that basic fitness go! I haven’t swam consistently for over a year now, and can’t even remember the last time I got to the pool lately, and it really shows. It will be a long way to come back if/when I decide to. 

As for the OPs question the answer is most likely more swimming.

If you are only doing 6-7km per week you will not get better. I also think you’re wasting your time doing drills specially with such limited time in the water. Ditching the drills will prob allow you an extra 400-500m of swimming for the same time spent in the water.

Swim more, longer sets, get stronger with paddles & a pull buoy.

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Thanks Rog, or as I would have said yesterday, 'abrigado' :)

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13 hours ago, RunBrettRun said:

but I also stand by the comment kicking is a waste of time for triathletes. Maybe I worded it wrong, look at the kicking "effort" those long distance swimmers are putting in and base the effort on that.

Have to disagree with you there Brett :)

What has become apparent to me with my recent forced dabble into duathlon is how badly affected poor swimmers are. Just looking at how well some of the shit swimmers are doing in in the swim cancelled races is astounding. Guys riding 70.3s 4/5 mins quicker because they don't have to swim..   You can get away without kicking in a wetsuit swim, but you have a look next time you're in the pool or a race and have a look at people's legs. You'll see the top guys floating on the surface, weaker ones dragging their legs even with a wetsuit, barely kicking. Check out the guys with the core shorts in the pool, you'll see some of them with their legs 1 foot below the surface, not kicking. That's a shitload of drag. Sure they might pop out the swim with 32mins,  only 4 or 5 minutes behind the top AGers, but the top swimmers are running up the beach like they've just had a warm-up swim, the weaker ones have maxed out heart rates. It's like they've been swimming with a band because of their sinky legs. 

I spoke to a few guys last season, curious because they struggled on the bike and one even struggled on the run, because they went too hard on the swim!? Most decent swimmers have got their HR right back down after 2 - 3kms into the bike. These top cyclists are struggling to get their HR down 20kms into the bike..

The kick does a lot more than just propulsion. You'll see long distance pool swimmers with a lazy 2 beat kick and yeah it's not doing a whole lot of propulsion, but it's giving them balance, stability and most importantly good body position. Wetsuits give you buoyancy, but will not give you perfect body position, your legs will still sink to an extent creating drag if you don't kick. You don't have to kick hard, but you have to kick. No kick, more drag, more fatigue. 

And you're talking wetsuit swims. On the odd occasion I've had a non-wetsuit swim, the gulf between the top AG swimmers and weaker ones is huge. Guys that were only 2mins behind in a wetsuit sprint are 6mins behind. They've never kicked, they've never worked on their body position, always trained with core shorts, pull buoys, wetsuits etc Body position is key and without any semblance of a kick you will not have decent body position. 

Interesting, one of the top junior swimmers in my old squad had shoulder surgery, was out for 3 months and could only kick. She still squad swam, but it was 100% kicking, mixture of free/fly/fins kick and came back faster than she was before. Personally I would have gone insane kicking for 3 months but it really does highlight how effective kicking can be for short stuff (50s, 100s etc)

Edited by zed
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I'm not saying swimmers shouldn't kick or that it doesn't help them.  Our event is very different to a swimming race.  They're only bringing the kick in for the very top end and anyone i swim passed in a race kicking is doing a whole lot more than a 2 beat kick which has to be costing them later in the day.

 

I understand this is almost as contentious as hflc but in my view there is only one person on this forum (currently) who should be utilising a kick in an ironman/70.3 or even oly race.

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My 100 metre times are very slow but my race times are usually around 30% of the field. In Port, I was 32% overall. I only swim twice a week with the rare 3 day training weeks. Sometimes I have been down around the 20 to 25% but only in smaller fields (I am just about to turn 59). My swim is maintenance.  Next season I might have a crack at a bit more swimming. 

Despite what some people think, drills are always important to me. So are paddles. I do all my drills with paddles. Hard yards. I also ensure I do a long swim in each session. Funny thing is my “sprints” are between 100 and 200s and only at the back end of the season. 

Winter is s good time to experiment.  Last year for me was tweaking  my stroke a bit. Experiment time for you me thinks. 

FM

Edited by Flanman

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5 hours ago, RunBrettRun said:

I'm not saying swimmers shouldn't kick or that it doesn't help them.  Our event is very different to a swimming race.  They're only bringing the kick in for the very top end and anyone i swim passed in a race kicking is doing a whole lot more than a 2 beat kick which has to be costing them later in the day.

 

I understand this is almost as contentious as hflc but in my view there is only one person on this forum (currently) who should be utilising a kick in an ironman/70.3 or even oly race.

Nah mate I don't kick. Kicking is hard and anything hard to do isn't worth doing.

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14 hours ago, Rog said:

It’s definitely doing something, don’t let that basic fitness go! I haven’t swam consistently for over a year now, and can’t even remember the last time I got to the pool lately, and it really shows. It will be a long way to come back if/when I decide to.

You are right, you are screwed, Rog 😁

I had 6 months no swimming once and vowed never again. Took me 18 months to get back to pre break times over all distances.   Haven't missed more than a week since. Too scared. And I barely ever race.

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Hi all, 

 

this is absolute gold. I really appreciate the advice! 

Oompa Loompa - I'll try those 3 things. I used to use an old inner tube around the ankles, but haven't done that in ages. 

Peter - yep, i"ll give it a go maybe 5 times a week and see what happens. I'm a school teacher and there's 16 working days left until summer break, so i'll be able to do that as soon as the holiday starts. 7 or 8 weeks of good swimming.

RunBrettRun - I like the idea of 40 x 50. What sort of rest intervals would you take? is 30 seconds too long?

I like the idea of your flat out 100m x 5, then 500m pull recovery and repeat. 

Zed - re. drills - yes I always do some freestyle after a drill to carry it forward. Basically i do some 1 arm laps with then without a bouy. I do some 1 fist laps to work on the catch. I do a one paddle and opposite fin drill that seems really effective for proper kick and proper catch/pull. The difference in freestyle immediately after that one is noticeable. I do kick set with a kickboard but I have no snorkel, so my head is always up, which i dislike. I also hold the board vertically in the water to work hard for 25m every 125m. The last drill i do is hard to explain. Every 2nd stroke in freestyle i put in a backstroke, so i roll over. Keep rolling all the way over into freestyle, 2 strokes and roll the other way. It seems good for 'feel' of the water, and balance/stability. 

Yes, the 3 x 1km are pretty cruisey. I'd be happy to drop them as they really are boring me now.

Rog - I think I'd got in the mindset of paddles = bad. I always take them but rarely use them for long as I read somewhere that becoming dependent on them is all too easy. That's ridiculous, as I've never become dependent on them before?!!?!! Anyway, I used to use them for, say, 5 x 200m at the end of a session to add on some mileage. I'll up my paddle game for sure.

 

I don't think i have sinky legs, and I'm not much of a kicker either.  What i have noticed though, is recently after maybe 6 months of consistent 3 times a week swims and regular hard efforts, my trapezius muscles seem to be much bigger and my posture has changed somewhat. I'm not sure if that's good or not. I very rarely do any backstroke, just freestyle. 

 

 

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