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Swim - over reliance on toys?

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I swam with my mates tri squad the other day and we did close to 4km. I reckon 2.5km was with toys, fins, kickboard, drills, PB etc Easiest 4km I've ever done! Really if you break it down, take out the warm up, cool down, easy stuff, drills etc there was about 1000m of hard work. So not really 4kms.....   It did get me thinking, perhaps there is an over-reliance on toys? I've been guilty of this in the past. But my current coach is a firm believer in no toys, or use toys sparingly. And its surprising the contrast in how hard his 4km set is vs my mates tri squad.  I can see how a lot of tri swimmers can plateau with long, but "easy" swim sets. 

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8 minutes ago, zed said:

I swam with my mates tri squad the other day and we did close to 4km. I reckon 2.5km was with toys, fins, kickboard, drills, PB etc Easiest 4km I've ever done! Really if you break it down, take out the warm up, cool down, easy stuff, drills etc there was about 1000m of hard work. So not really 4kms.....   It did get me thinking, perhaps there is an over-reliance on toys? I've been guilty of this in the past. But my current coach is a firm believer in no toys, or use toys sparingly. And its surprising the contrast in how hard his 4km set is vs my mates tri squad.  I can see how a lot of tri swimmers can plateau with long, but "easy" swim sets. 

Definitely. You only have to see the way people turn up basically with a suitcase full of gear to use in a session...

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11 minutes ago, zed said:

I swam with my mates tri squad the other day and we did close to 4km. I reckon 2.5km was with toys, fins, kickboard, drills, PB etc Easiest 4km I've ever done! Really if you break it down, take out the warm up, cool down, easy stuff, drills etc there was about 1000m of hard work. So not really 4kms.....   It did get me thinking, perhaps there is an over-reliance on toys? I've been guilty of this in the past. But my current coach is a firm believer in no toys, or use toys sparingly. And its surprising the contrast in how hard his 4km set is vs my mates tri squad.  I can see how a lot of tri swimmers can plateau with long, but "easy" swim sets. 

I don't use toys - but I am so hopeless I find the toys terribly hard. Apart from fins - those are awesome. 

Pull buoys are so hard! and kick boards - holy cow I almost drown by the end of the 50m lol (I'm all about saving my legs for the run, clearly)

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Burgs was talking up his floaty pants recently. 

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16 minutes ago, AA7 said:

Burgs was talking up his floaty pants recently. 

Yeah i saw that.... and was face palming... He meant well, but he doesn't know how many triathletes rely on them!

I actually use mine once a month or so, just when I'm f**ked. They're good if used sparingly. I used mine for 18 months when battling a chronic shoulder injury. Took me 3 months to correct my technique once I took them off. My body position was shit! 

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I only use paddles (large). It’s about 30% - 40% of my session most times. I use them for strength and technique with single arm drills and catch up. I have been lucky not to have a shoulder injury. 
I have only just started using a pull bouy occasionally to mimic a wetsuit swim. The pull bouy is about 10 years old and small. I have never used it on my long swim (1.5 - 2.5 kms) within the training session. 
to me it’s horses for courses  I find I go well with the sessions I do. However, I have started to experiment with my long swim (ie, 100 normal speed, 100 at 200 mtr pace - for the whole swim). Not too many toys though. 
some people go well with toys, others may not. Others may not use them but might be missing out. Experimentation is the key. 
FM

 

Edited by Flanman
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Please post your current 1KM TT swim time when commenting.  You know, to validate your comment.

 

 

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3 minutes ago, Peter said:

Please post your current 1KM TT swim time when commenting.  You know, to validate your comment.

 

 

“I don’t keep score”: Chevy Chase - Caddyshack (1980). 

FM

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5 minutes ago, Flanman said:

I only use paddles (large). It’s about 30% - 40% of my session most times. I use them for strength and technique with single arm drills and catch up. I have been lucky not to have a shoulder injury. 
I have only just started using a pull bouy occasionally to mimic a wetsuit swim. The pull bouy is about 10 years old and small. I have never used it on my long swim sessions (1.5 - 2.5 kms) with the training. 
to me it’s horses for courses  I find I go well with the sessions I do. However, I have started to experiment with my long swim (ie, 100 normal speed, 100 at 200 mtr pace - for the whole swim). Not too many toys though. 
some people go well with toys, others may not. Others may not use them but might be missing out. Experimentation is the key. 
FM

 

I love my paddles! I have the Finis agility ones. 

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15 minutes ago, Peter said:

Please post your current 1KM TT swim time when commenting.  You know, to validate your comment.

 

 

Straight from the AP playbook...

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23 minutes ago, Peter said:

Please post your current 1KM TT swim time when commenting.  You know, to validate your comment.

 

 

Irrelevant. I'm in WA = no swim. Remember!

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Love paddles and buoy.  Hate fins, I reckon I'm slower with them :o.  There was a time when I swam faster with a pull buoy than without (probably still do).  Funny enough, I only breathe to the left, but when using paddles and buoy I bilateral breathe.

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28 minutes ago, Peter said:

Please post your current 1KM TT swim time when commenting.  You know, to validate your comment.

 

11 minutes ago, pieman said:

Straight from the AP playbook...

Look I'm not a fast swimmer.  But I did do a 1K TT in just under 16 minutes a month or so ago.

But if someone giving advice on swimming, and you swim 19 mins plus for a 1K TT, then your advice isn't valid for ME.

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Like the 36hc'er giving the 5hc'er advice in golf (yes, I have heard this).

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24 minutes ago, Peter said:

 

Look I'm not a fast swimmer.  But I did do a 1K TT in just under 16 minutes a month or so ago.

 

That's quick for triathlon, esp if you did it in a 50m pool. 

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29 minutes ago, Peter said:

 

 

But if someone giving advice on swimming, and you swim 19 mins plus for a 1K TT, then your advice isn't valid for ME.

Defo give more credibility to someone who swims quick, but then there are a lot elite swimmers who end up becoming shit coaches. I listen to everyone and anyone and then decide what advice to follow.  My 10 year old gave me some advice on breathing patterns a while ago, she swims easy 4-4-2 and now I do! 

Edited by zed

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3 minutes ago, zed said:

That's quick for triathlon, esp if you did it in a 50m pool. 

I did it in a pool and was ruined after.  Not in a Triathlon.

 

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Just now, Peter said:

I did it in a pool and was ruined after.  Not in a Triathlon.

 

No I mean that's quick in terms of triathletes e.g top 10 AG.

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Just now, Peter said:

I dont go that fast in a race.

 

Got a few mates that I can't beat in a pool, but always do in the ocean.... I'm a draft bitch though (swim, not bike). 

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2 minutes ago, zed said:

Got a few mates that I can't beat in a pool, but always do in the ocean.... I'm a draft bitch though (swim, not bike). 

Being a west Australian I'd assume your 1K TT is only 850mtrs

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2 minutes ago, Peter said:

Being a west Australian I'd assume your 1K TT is only 850mtrs

lol

Edited by zed

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1 minute ago, Peter said:

Being a west Australian I'd assume your 1K TT is only 850mtrs

And probably ran it in the shallows!

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Just now, goughy said:

And probably ran it in the shallows!

These WA "jokes" will have to end when the WA conglomerate inc take over Trannies. 

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Haven't done a 1km TT in forever but based on recent long (800m) intervals done at a comfortably hard pace I reckon I'd be in the 16-16.5min range at the moment if I shelled myself, on the back of not much swimming.

Paddles and pull have a use for triathletes but most overuse them and how much good they do can depend on which ones you use and when.  Big paddles are great to teach you what it feels like to engage your lats properly but little ones that don't let you feel the flow of water on your hand can be terrible for technique, for example.  When you are using them you should know exactly why and be mindful of it.  "Simulating wetsuit swimming" is not a good reason, you might as well say "I'm too lazy to work on my body position."

Finis Tempo Trainers are absolute gold as a tool if you aren't swimming in a squad.  The immediate feedback they give you on pace is valuable for learning pacing and pushing yourself.

Unless you have someone giving you feedback on drills then they can do more harm than good.  Too many people execute them poorly and embed the wrong patterns.  If you are doing a drill perfectly without feedback then you probably don't need that drill anyway, unless you've already done it enough under supervision to know what it should feel like but still have to focus to get it right.  Even then it's amazing what difference there is between what most people think they're doing and what they are actually doing.

My swim bag has a Tempo Trainer, big paddles, pull buoy, fins, Finis Agility paddles and a band.  That's listed in the order of frequency I would use them, with the last three rarely seeing the water and only then when I notice something specific I want to correct.  When I coach squad, fins and pull will get used occasionally for certain drills and paddles can be used rarely, it would be lucky to be 10% of the session.

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I needed to check.  Just did this 

Afternoon Swim

Distance

1,000 m

Time

16m 22s

Pace

1:38 /100m

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2 hours ago, goughy said:

Love paddles and buoy.  Hate fins, I reckon I'm slower with them :o.  There was a time when I swam faster with a pull buoy than without (probably still do).  Funny enough, I only breathe to the left, but when using paddles and buoy I bilateral breathe.

I also breathe bilaterally when I use a pull buoy - if you aren't using your legs, then you are expending less energy and therefore don't need as much air.

I find swimming with paddles easier, so when I program my own sets, they are only used at the end for a strength set.

(Probably about a 15:45 in a chlorine pool atm)

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3 hours ago, Peter said:

Please post your current 1KM TT swim time when commenting.  You know, to validate your comment.

 

 

And Ironman swim time.

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2 hours ago, zed said:

No I mean that's quick in terms of triathletes e.g top 10 AG.

No it’s not. And I am in the 50-54 age group. I swim in the pool anywhere from 16-18  in the pool and the last two Ironman this year I swam 1:02 at Port and 1:03 at Cairns and that was apparently a bloody tough swim this year..

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I’m a bit of a believer if you can swim ok 

ditch all the fluffing around and just jump in an do a main set around 2k get out .

i swim mainly all the time now with a pool bouy throw the paddles on here and there 

and do a bit of band only every now and then .

We are not pool swimmers so the perfect technique is not going to happen for most of us just get strong ,fit and swim more 😁

 

 

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CHOMP..... 

 

ZED I've bitten the bait 

 

 

I use Paddles and Bouy for most of my swimming. 

Did so for IMWA last year. Yeah I swam a slow time. That was more about my fear of failing. But I was so strong/swim fit Th t I didn't feel like I had swam AT ALL. 

 

Strength. At catch. OWS requires strength at the catch phase. 

Keeping HR lower than straight swimming meaning work gets done without taking any freshness for other sessions. 

Saving legs for the other two components of the sport 

Most Tri swims are Wetsuit(big pull bouy simulate this body position) 

https://youtu.be/4oJLBDayk_8

 

Edit to add - I'm definitely not offering swimming tuition or advice. Just contributing my opinion to the thread 😎👍🤘

 

 

 

Edited by Jim Shortz
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30 minutes ago, IronmanFoz said:

No it’s not. And I am in the 50-54 age group. I swim in the pool anywhere from 16-18  in the pool and the last two Ironman this year I swam 1:02 at Port and 1:03 at Cairns and that was apparently a bloody tough swim this year..

That would put you top 10 in your AG for the swim wouldn't it?

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Paddles are ok for strength, but over use can stuff your shoulders. More importantly, improper use can lead to an incorrect stroke as well as injury. Band is good for core strength.

I only use pull buoy for warm up/down only - majority of set is no toys. Fins are useless for triathlon - as Jim S says, save your legs for bike and run.

My 2 IM swims have been sub 1 hour. I hear the swim at Busso is downhill, so here’s hoping for a third under an hour...

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2 hours ago, Peter said:

I needed to check.  Just did this 

Afternoon Swim

Distance

1,000 m

Time

16m 22s

Pace

1:38 /100m

That's fast in a pool without a wettie! Good thing it makes up a tiny proportion of triathlon race time or you'd smash me 😂

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But if you don't drop a bag of toys at the end of the lane, how does everyone else know you're a triathlete?  Are you saying the M dot tattoo needs to be increased?

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My 2 cents worth....I used to be rigid in limiting toys then read something from Brett Sutton that said triathletes can mix it up if it helps them swim longer with form. I now use them about 50% of my laps....... don’t think my speed has improved or declined but my swims are less boring and feel like less effort!

14min km, 53-55min IM but poor technique and certainly not a gun swimmer.

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18 minutes ago, Cottoneyes said:

But if you don't drop a bag of toys at the end of the lane, how does everyone else know you're a triathlete?  Are you saying the M dot tattoo needs to be increased?

By spending more time sipping needless calories and adjusting your goggles while wearing an MDot swim cap.... 🤦‍♂️

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I liked a blog that Sutto did recently that basically said,

‘there is no substitute for time in the pool. If toys help you spend more time in the pool, use toys.’

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I've ditched most toys... mainly due to shoulder issues. Can't swim with paddles, can't swim with a buoy... have even taken to doing a fair bit of the w/up & w/down with fins.

In my opinion, you just need to get in 1-1.5k of good hard work without aids, and you should be fine.

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22 hours ago, Peter said:

Please post your current 1KM TT swim time when commenting.  You know, to validate your comment.

 

 

It’s over 16 minutes right now. Sigh.

The rot set in in late May last year. I’d actually doe a 2km triathlon swim in 28 minutes in April and 13 minutes and change for 1km (Garmin measured) in Sydney Harbour just before that and had rolled out a lazy 14:40 in the pool as well.

Then I got ‘golfers’ elbow and my 2km swim time dropped 10 minutes, just like that: 38+ for IM Cairns 70.3.

3 plasma injections and 18 months later I can now do about 5km per week in the pool without pain.

Anyway, enough of my pity party. Can I comment on this thread Peter?

Edited by Andrew #1

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My TriSquad typically does 4km swim sessions (which includes around 800m warmup, if you arrive on time). In the off season we will typically use a lot of toys. Far less as we get closer to races.

I'm not a great swimmer, so it is common for my technique to start falling apart in the 2nd half of the session, in which case I grab for the pull buoy. I see no point battling through the session with shit technique. Would rather slot in the pull buoy which helps me swim better and usually enables an extra kilometre of swimming. As the season goes on and I get more swim fit, I grab for the pull buoy less.

I use small paddles, but only attach them to one finger on each hand. Find they help with hand entry which in turn improves my catch. Have suffered shoulder issues when I've tried the bigger paddles (probably indicates poor technique - lack of lat activation). But my swim times have noticably improved since switching to the smaller paddles.

Fins have their purpose. Allows poorer swimmers to perform drills properly. Allows people like me to be able to swim butterfly and backstroke. Can also be used for overspeed work. Have one coach that occasionally makes us swim 400m in fins, but we have to do it a full minute quicker than normal.

We have a few athletes who wear the floaty pants to every session. I can see the purpose of these pants (ie. allowing you to jump up to a faster lane), but not for every session.

For what it's worth, I am a shit pool swimmer (only learnt to swim at 35yo). Doubt I could do 16 min 1000m TT in the pool. However I'm much better in the open water with a wetsuit. At Geelong 70.3 I was second out of the water in my Age Group with a 28m15s swim split (with nobody to draft off).

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I'm also a fan of toys to make sessions more recovery and strength based.  I use paddles with caution as I have poor shoulder mobility with an injury history. I find pull and band great for feeling the effects of tautness and addressing the snaking I tend to do. Like most people I don't need to kick as much to lift my legs in a wetsuit or when using a pull, but I have to ask myself why do my legs sink without them? Weak core and poor shoulder mobility! A pull will do nothing to improve my core and that's a real downside of over relying on one particularly you're not doing anything to address these issues. My swim has slowly improved over the years, I tend to take too much time of swimming after race. Below are my 1k TT times over the past 5 years. 

Dec 2014 19:57
Feb 2015 18:37
May 2015 18:24
July 2015 18:48
Sep 2015 17:57
Dec 2015 17:55
Jan 2016 18:12
April 2016 18:30
Nov 2016 18:00
Mar 2017 17:10
Aug 2019 17:13
Oct 2019 16:55

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On 20 November 2019 at 10:01 AM, Flanman said:

I only use paddles (large). It’s about 30% - 40% of my session most times. I use them for strength and technique with single arm drills and catch up. I have been lucky not to have a shoulder injury. 
I have only just started using a pull bouy occasionally to mimic a wetsuit swim. The pull bouy is about 10 years old and small. I have never used it on my long swim (1.5 - 2.5 kms) within the training session. 
to me it’s horses for courses  I find I go well with the sessions I do. However, I have started to experiment with my long swim (ie, 100 normal speed, 100 at 200 mtr pace - for the whole swim). Not too many toys though. 
some people go well with toys, others may not. Others may not use them but might be missing out. Experimentation is the key. 
FM

 

I'm much the same as Flanno. I've always used paddles in my training, and for the last ten years I've used a pull bouy regularly as well. I use them for technique and strength. I like Sutto's approach to using paddles. "If you're not using paddles and a pull bouy as part of your swim session, you should be."  

As with all things, using paddles comes with a caution. Start out small and easy and develop your progression to prevent injury. 

Edited by Greyman
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I agree that some squads are over the top with all the toys. I also think that 90min squads are bloody overkill as well. 

I use the buoy for front end drills, and I use fins for ankle flexibility work. Nevermore then 400mts in total.

The rest of my swimming is freestyle, and freestyle only.

 

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