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jesse_d
March 3rd, 2010, 02:23 PM
I started swimming 2 years ago as part of doing triathlon (please, no one beat me up). Up to this point while I've taken swimming somewhat serious I've certainly let biking and running be my focus while just trying to be an "okay" swimmer. Currently, I swim 10@100 at around 1:25 ish (I don't leave at 1:25 by my actual swim time is 1:25 per 100) with a god-awful flip turn. My volume starting this season is roughly 8 - 10k/week.

I really want to start putting more emphasis on swimming and becoming a better swimmer. I enjoy swimming and think there is a lot ahead of me. I met with a good swimmer and he is starting to point me in the right direction. The first thing we are doing is just upping my volume. I'm going to start putting in 12 - 15k each week.

My question for the good swimmers is: are there volume levels where you noticed improvement in your swimming. I mean, for example, when you starting putting in X yards per week consistently you noticed an improvement in swimming. I know this is probably different for everyone but I just wanted to get a general feel...

I know I can translate this into running - when I hit 50 miles a week I can feel the difference in my running. And from there it is usually in 10's for me. 60 miles a week and 70 miles a week.

Thanks.

Rykno
March 3rd, 2010, 02:48 PM
I don't think just swimming more each week will help you be a better swimmer.

you have to swim better to be a better swimmer.

I swim 4x/week.
once a week is a 1 hr sprint workout about 2000-2500m

the other three times can be anything from 3500-5000m

my 3km open water times have dropped from 45:15 to 36:30 in 2 yrs (3 annual races). the biggest drop was between 2007 and 2008 över 7min. this year I am hoping to get down under 36:00

TRYM_Swimmer
March 3rd, 2010, 03:13 PM
Agree that swimming with better technique will trump distance. Get that good swimmer to give you some stroke pointers, or better yet, find a team with a real coach.

jesse_d
March 3rd, 2010, 03:27 PM
Agree that swimming with better technique will trump distance. Get that good swimmer to give you some stroke pointers, or better yet, find a team with a real coach.

He is a coach. Yes, stroke advice is part of what we are doing.

ande
March 3rd, 2010, 03:34 PM
More is better to a point.

Swim Faster Faster (http://www.usms.org/forums/showpost.php?p=205225&postcount=1375) can help you

Especially
Tip 265 Train harder, smarter, faster, further, more often, with a coach, with a team, in a convenient facility & at a convenient Time (http://www.usms.org/forums/showpost.php?p=188495&postcount=1252)

Tip 165 Build a Better Boat (http://www.usms.org/forums/showpost.php?p=73330&postcount=601) can help you too

I train in Austin TX with Longhorn Masters. Some of Austin's best pro triathletes train with us.

Desiree Ficker, Michael Lovato, Ritchie Cunningham, Amanda Lovato, Brandon Marsh, Amy Marsh, and Patrick Evoe to name a few.
They don't train with us every day but they are quite regular.
We tend to do 4,500 to 5,500 per practice.
Your biggest improvements will come from improving your technique and increasing your volume and frequency.
Just showing up regularly and training hard should help you improve.

Ande

rtodd
March 3rd, 2010, 07:02 PM
Always think of it in time, that takes the skill out of it and measures effort only. To get serious about swimming and have good breathroughs, you need to train 4-5 times a week and each training session should be 60 min minimum, 90 min preffered. To maintain, you may be able to get away with three times a week, maybe. To improve look to add training time. Triathletes can probably cut way back on the swimming in the competative season, but I bet they pack on the yardage off season.

I noticed big improvement when I was able to cope with and work through shoulder issues as a new swimmer and get to the point where I could train 5-6 days a week.

Ahelee Sue Osborn
March 3rd, 2010, 07:10 PM
We tend to do 4,500 to 5,500 per practice.



WE??

orca1946
March 3rd, 2010, 07:30 PM
A lot of better yardage is what you need to do , not just more of the same.

qbrain
March 4th, 2010, 10:16 AM
Since you are a triathlete, volume actually does matter to you.

My 50 free has been steadily improving since I started swimming again. I think I am technically a better swimmer than I was 2 years ago.

On the other hand, I would say my 200 free was probably better a year ago than it is now.

A year ago, I trained 5 days a week, 4-5k yards a day, mixed stroke in about 75 minutes. My conditioning was much better than it is now.

For the last year I have been training 3x/week at 3k mostly free, 1x/week at 2k sprint free and 1x/week 4-5k aerobic free.

My recommendation to you is to try to increase your time in the water to between 60 and 75 minutes 3x a week. Even though you are a triathlete first, I think you should train mixed stroke and kick without fins on the shorter kick sets. Do IM sets but substitute one armed drill for the fly. Breaststroke and backstroke are both valuable tools during an open water swim and a strong 200 yard kick will get you up and out of the water with your legs pumped full of blood ready for your transition. In addition, training mixed stroke will make it easier to keep your heart rate up the entire practice, since you are mainly concerned with the aerobic side of swimming, while providing you with variety and a break from the shoulder stress that can come from all free.

On the freestyle sets, really work to keep your rest short and keep dropping the interval you train on. Track your performance on your free sets and try to improve week over week.

I think over time this will allow you to add yardage and get to 4k/75 minute workouts, which should give you a good base for your swim leg, and then you can start discuss more specific strategies to get faster.

RJCurwen
March 4th, 2010, 12:26 PM
I can share my experience being a newbie to triathlon last year. I swam competitively when i was young and most of my training in the early parts of last year were swimming. I figured out more of what to do in June, July and August, in order to reach my goals in triathlon.

Unfortunately, I didn't start tracking my workouts until last July, but here's the data for those months:

July 46k
August 36k
Sep 36k

I found that later in the season it was more beneficial for me to concentrate on biking and running. My volume of swimming went down in August as my cycling mileage went up. But my swim splits remained solid.

From my limited experience, I found that getting into good swim shape early then switching my focus and maintaining the swim worked well for me in the latter stages of the year.

I think it really depends on your goals and the timing of your races. Personally, I'm going to swim as much yardage as possible now, i really feel that swimming helps me get into shape. While long bike rides help me get good overall endurance.

Running is for the birds.

Lump
March 4th, 2010, 12:59 PM
My biggest break throughs came when I increase my swimming frequency from 3X to 4-5X a week and with the interval training ( I wasn't doing enough or enough on harder intervals).

__steve__
March 4th, 2010, 01:50 PM
Did you swim competatively when you were younger? If not, it's going to take alot of time, and requires in depth form developement. I've been swimming for about 20 months myself, and although there's much room for improvement and they seem very slow at times, they are consistant nonetheless.

One thing that holds truth however is something Ande stated, I cant remember the exact words but it's something like this, "Anything you measure and work hard on makes you swim faster". Whenever I apply this theory I get results!

orca1946
March 4th, 2010, 02:39 PM
Swimming is the shortest time in a tri. Time should be spent in training in proportion to each segment, IMHO

tomtopo
March 6th, 2010, 11:23 AM
Adding stress effectively can be done different ways but how to do it effectively can be difficult without baseline training records. Adding yardage, decreasing rest intervals, increasing intensity are the most common ways to add stress to your workouts (adding yardage may or may not be the best method). The adaptation to the stress will create your opportunity to drop some time. If you've developed a training regime revolving around baseline times you can begin to understand what kind of methods you want to use to help drop your times. Speed, endurance, pain tolerance, stroke efficiency, flexibility, and so on, should be measured if you're serious about dropping times. Please email me at tomtopo@netzero.com and I'll send you an article about baseline training that will help you and your coach (I'm not trying to sell you anything). Good luck, Coach T.

spell_me
March 6th, 2010, 12:39 PM
I'm reading this thread with interest--I've been wondering the same things. I started seeing a lot of big improvement when I added strength training to my regimen. If you don't already do weights, I recommend it! Also, I increased my volume from about 10K per week to at least 15K.

My times dropped a lot (not that I was all that fast to start with). I seem to have hit a plateau, though, so I'm looking at what I need to do to keep moving forward.

qbrain
March 7th, 2010, 09:22 AM
I seem to have hit a plateau, though, so I'm looking at what I need to do to keep moving forward.

The theory goes, 1. you need to either increase training volume at your current speed or 2. you need to increase training speed.

1. 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15 becomes 9x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15
2. 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15 becomes 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:14

#2 is easier to do in a coached practice, and if you are not a clock watcher it means you are trying to move up in lane order, trying to lead the lane, trying to move up to the next fastest lane. Eventually you need to become a clock watcher.

Herb
March 7th, 2010, 05:52 PM
The theory goes, 1. you need to either increase training volume at your current speed or 2. you need to increase training speed.

1. 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15 becomes 9x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15
2. 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15 becomes 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:14

#2 is easier to do in a coached practice, and if you are not a clock watcher it means you are trying to move up in lane order, trying to lead the lane, trying to move up to the next fastest lane. Eventually you need to become a clock watcher.

How much of this kind of workout improvement can translate to improvement in sprint races?

Over the past year I have brought my intervals down considerably and as such my times in 200+ yards are much better. Yet my 50s and 100s have only improved by tenths. I would like to be able to bring those times down just by ramping things up and working harder (going from 3x a week of 2000 yards) to 4x a week of more yardage. And I am talking more everything including sprint training.

SolarEnergy
March 7th, 2010, 08:01 PM
Swimming is the shortest time in a tri. Time should be spent in training in proportion to each segment, IMHO Well, that depends.....
- - - - -

The first thing we are doing is just upping my volume. I'm going to start putting in 12 - 15k each week. 12-15k done in 3-4 workouts is a decent volume for a triathlete. Unless you have solid reasons, it may become counter productive to try to go over it.

But how old are you? And what are your goals? How are you performing on bike/run?


I know I can translate this into running - when I hit 50 miles a week I can feel the difference in my running. And from there it is usually in 10's for me. 60 miles a week and 70 miles a week. can you really afford volumes in excess of 60 miles per week?

As a comparison, for a triathlete that is holding 4:30/kilo as an easy mileage pace and 20min per kilo in the pool, 60 miles equals roughly little over 20k per week in the pool. That is little less than 7hr engaged per week per sport. That is excluding the bike.

That said, 20min per kilo is little slow. A triathlete that can afford to run 60miles per week will hopefully swim faster than 3kph. Assuming a velocity of 4kph in average, you're up to around 27k per week of swimming.

You don't need to visit this sort of mileage unless you want to race as an elite. If it's the case then you may need to even go over this in order to exit with the front pack to be able to stay with these guys on the bike. I have a client in this situation. He'll be busting 30k per week this year, in order to get closer to 19min flat over 1500, which is what it takes to compete with the front pack.

spell_me
March 8th, 2010, 07:44 AM
The theory goes, 1. you need to either increase training volume at your current speed or 2. you need to increase training speed.

1. 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15 becomes 9x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15
2. 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:15 becomes 8x100 on 1:20 holding 1:14

#2 is easier to do in a coached practice, and if you are not a clock watcher it means you are trying to move up in lane order, trying to lead the lane, trying to move up to the next fastest lane. Eventually you need to become a clock watcher.

Thank you qbrain!! You always have the answers I need. I work out alone, and am a dedicated clock watcher, so I have both options available to me. During January/Feb I was doing the second one, and things were going very well, but lately I just can't hold anything faster, can't GET there at 1:14. So I guess I need to try option #1.

qbrain
March 8th, 2010, 09:24 AM
How much of this kind of workout improvement can translate to improvement in sprint races?

Over the past year I have brought my intervals down considerably and as such my times in 200+ yards are much better. Yet my 50s and 100s have only improved by tenths. I would like to be able to bring those times down just by ramping things up and working harder (going from 3x a week of 2000 yards) to 4x a week of more yardage. And I am talking more everything including sprint training.

Herb, the theory is the same, but the sets would be different.

You would focus on 12.5s, 25s, 50s ... up to 200s, with more focus on the lower end.

Short rest helps longer events, so you want to work with generous intervals on the shorter stuff and really hammer out some max speed work.

The goal isn't really to drop your training interval but your times. You can stick with 1:20s all season, but you may start the season holding 1:15s and finish the season holding 1:05s. As a sprinter, dropping down to 1:15 intervals and only holding 1:09s will be less beneficial than 1:20s holding 1:05s.

Again, the 100s are just an example, you really want to focus on shorter stuff.

qbrain
March 8th, 2010, 09:36 AM
Thank you qbrain!! You always have the answers I need. I work out alone, and am a dedicated clock watcher, so I have both options available to me. During January/Feb I was doing the second one, and things were going very well, but lately I just can't hold anything faster, can't GET there at 1:14. So I guess I need to try option #1.

Hey Suzy,

Alternating between the two methods is a good strategy for breaking through plateaus.

aztimm
March 8th, 2010, 12:13 PM
To the OP--what distance triathlon are you training for? Pool swims or open water?

I swim mostly with triathletes. One thing that I like that our coach does is a variety of swims geared for longer distance; a timed 60 min, timed 20 min, 2000 or 1000 for time. Then he'll also assign sets such as 10 x 100 w 30 sec rest at your race pace (whatever distance that is), as well as that 10 x 100 on something like 5 sec rest. Of course the goal is to get those long swims down.

From personal experience, for open water I like having a strong breaststroke. It can be handy if you start cramping or going numb. It is also useful for sighting. And I also find a strong breast kick handy when someone gets too close (those persistant folks who follow me and swim at/poke at me).

There are some good tips so far, but I think much really depends on the swim distance. I know several Ironman finishers who push the limits completing the swim on time and focus more time on bike, a lesser extent on run (but certainly not 60 miles/week more like 30-35).

jesse_d
March 9th, 2010, 02:05 PM
Since you are a triathlete, volume actually does matter to you.

My 50 free has been steadily improving since I started swimming again. I think I am technically a better swimmer than I was 2 years ago.

On the other hand, I would say my 200 free was probably better a year ago than it is now.

A year ago, I trained 5 days a week, 4-5k yards a day, mixed stroke in about 75 minutes. My conditioning was much better than it is now.

For the last year I have been training 3x/week at 3k mostly free, 1x/week at 2k sprint free and 1x/week 4-5k aerobic free.

My recommendation to you is to try to increase your time in the water to between 60 and 75 minutes 3x a week. Even though you are a triathlete first, I think you should train mixed stroke and kick without fins on the shorter kick sets. Do IM sets but substitute one armed drill for the fly. Breaststroke and backstroke are both valuable tools during an open water swim and a strong 200 yard kick will get you up and out of the water with your legs pumped full of blood ready for your transition. In addition, training mixed stroke will make it easier to keep your heart rate up the entire practice, since you are mainly concerned with the aerobic side of swimming, while providing you with variety and a break from the shoulder stress that can come from all free.

On the freestyle sets, really work to keep your rest short and keep dropping the interval you train on. Track your performance on your free sets and try to improve week over week.

I think over time this will allow you to add yardage and get to 4k/75 minute workouts, which should give you a good base for your swim leg, and then you can start discuss more specific strategies to get faster.

That seems like sound advice - I've been doing just that = 4 - 4.5k per workout. And trying to squeeze in a 4th shorter swim for frequency.

jesse_d
March 9th, 2010, 02:10 PM
Well, that depends.....
- - - - -
12-15k done in 3-4 workouts is a decent volume for a triathlete. Unless you have solid reasons, it may become counter productive to try to go over it.

But how old are you? And what are your goals? How are you performing on bike/run?

can you really afford volumes in excess of 60 miles per week?

As a comparison, for a triathlete that is holding 4:30/kilo as an easy mileage pace and 20min per kilo in the pool, 60 miles equals roughly little over 20k per week in the pool. That is little less than 7hr engaged per week per sport. That is excluding the bike.

That said, 20min per kilo is little slow. A triathlete that can afford to run 60miles per week will hopefully swim faster than 3kph. Assuming a velocity of 4kph in average, you're up to around 27k per week of swimming.

You don't need to visit this sort of mileage unless you want to race as an elite. If it's the case then you may need to even go over this in order to exit with the front pack to be able to stay with these guys on the bike. I have a client in this situation. He'll be busting 30k per week this year, in order to get closer to 19min flat over 1500, which is what it takes to compete with the front pack.

Currently - I'm IM training. Although I am only doing one this year. Other races will be mostly OLY and a few Sprints.

My current goal volume = 15k pool, 170 Bike, 45 - 50 run. When my tri season is over I'll switch to run and increase my run volume. So, I'm not doing 60 now but will do well over 60 miles a week (running) come late in the years.

(I'm 37)

SolarEnergy
March 9th, 2010, 02:58 PM
Currently - I'm IM training. Although I am only doing one this year. Other races will be mostly OLY and a few Sprints.
My current goal volume = 15k pool, 170 Bike, 45 - 50 run. When my tri season is over I'll switch to run and increase my run volume. So, I'm not doing 60 now but will do well over 60 miles a week (running) come late in the years.
(I'm 37) It's a great schedule. I'm not sure if your 170 / 45-50 are in miles or kilo. I'll assume it's all kilos.

If your run mileage is done in only 3 workouts, try to gradually build your longish run up to at least 40% of your overall mileage. Could be more.

Don't go under this running volume, unless you're a very competent marathon runner.

Bike is little low but probably enough. Given that you commit to a long ride of about 80-90k, that leaves you with only 60-70 more k spread across what.... 2 rides?

In the pool, 15k per week is a nice peak. You certainly don't need to go over this if you train smartly. If you train in the pool like you'd train whilst running, even 50k per week won't change anything. By working with a highly competent swim coach, you could progress a lot with only 10-12k per week, leaving you with spare time to boost your bike volume up to 200k.

Enjoy!

jesse_d
March 10th, 2010, 11:58 AM
It's a great schedule. I'm not sure if your 170 / 45-50 are in miles or kilo. I'll assume it's all kilos.

If your run mileage is done in only 3 workouts, try to gradually build your longish run up to at least 40% of your overall mileage. Could be more.

Don't go under this running volume, unless you're a very competent marathon runner.

Bike is little low but probably enough. Given that you commit to a long ride of about 80-90k, that leaves you with only 60-70 more k spread across what.... 2 rides?

In the pool, 15k per week is a nice peak. You certainly don't need to go over this if you train smartly. If you train in the pool like you'd train whilst running, even 50k per week won't change anything. By working with a highly competent swim coach, you could progress a lot with only 10-12k per week, leaving you with spare time to boost your bike volume up to 200k.

Enjoy!

Hehe - everything in miles.

I am swimming 4x, run 5x, bike 4x. I'm busy!

I have yet to take my first lesson with the new coach although I'm excited to do so.

elise526
March 10th, 2010, 12:46 PM
I think it is not how much you are doing, but what you are doing. Even with the amount of yardage you are doing now, you could see improvement if you are doing the right things. I've seen folks who do triathlons make big improvements on 3x a week at 3,000 yards per workout.

With the running and biking that you are doing, I'm guessing that you have somewhat limited time on how much you can get in the water. It is helpful to locate a coach that can eyeball your stroke and write up some workouts for you. Your workouts should contain drills and interval work.

IMHO, I don't think you need to do more than 12,000 yards a week if you are doing intense training outside of the pool. I will say, however, that added volume in the pool does seem to enable one to recover faster from the swim on the tri and thus, allows one to have a good bike split. Still, I think increasing from 8,000 to 12,000 and doing the right things in your swim workouts should be enough to enable you to see the improvements you are looking for.

RJCurwen
March 11th, 2010, 12:32 PM
I think it is not how much you are doing, but what you are doing. Even with the amount of yardage you are doing now, you could see improvement if you are doing the right things. I've seen folks who do triathlons make big improvements on 3x a week at 3,000 yards per workout.


Agreed. But with one BIG exception - depends on what your goals are. I could go into an ironman swim without swimming at all. I could go into an ironman without training at all. But would you reach your goals?

Be overprepared, not underprepared.

knelson
March 11th, 2010, 12:42 PM
Another thing to consider, in addition to total volume, is the length of the main sets you are doing. I think you will see marked improvement in aerobic distances if you do lots of long sets (maybe 30-45 minutes) that emphasis swimming at a strong aerobic pace with not much rest between repeats. Just doing sets like 10x100 isn't going to do this for you, but a 3,000 yard set will.

aquageek
March 11th, 2010, 12:58 PM
From personal experience, for open water I like having a strong breaststroke. It can be handy if you start cramping or going numb. It is also useful for sighting. And I also find a strong breast kick handy when someone gets too close (those persistant folks who follow me and swim at/poke at me).

Learn to sight using free. People who sight using breast will get clobbered, in addition to bringing your swimming speed to a dead stop.

elise526
March 11th, 2010, 01:11 PM
Be overprepared, not underprepared.

Can't this type of thinking also lead to overtraining so that you never get there or never come close to achieving your goal?

My observations have come from having watched two IM triathletes with no prior competive swimming background. One did 10,000 to 12,000 yards in 3 workouts a week. He is doing a 10 hour, 40 minute IM which is not bad for a 49 year old. The other was a Kona qualifyer who did quite well on 3 workouts of 3500 yards each.

Seems like the best thing to do in your situation is to get with an IM coach who can evaluate your skills, and then taking into account your life situation, make suggestions to you on how much training you should be doing in each area. I know of such a coach who has had tremendous succes in training IM triathletes. If you would like his contact info, feel free to PM me. He has a competitive swimming background.