View Full Version : how do you swim for that long?

May 17th, 2005, 01:28 AM
For those open water crazies who can swim hours and hours non-stop, I have a question: how in the world do you do it?I just cannot imagine swimming like 50 miles or so.And what do you feel while swimming?Pain?If so, how can you endure it for so long and not have your muscles shut down on you?I noticed when I swim for a long time(well, not even that long), I reach the point where I almost cannot get my hands over the water because my muscles tighten up so bad...

Leonard Jansen
May 17th, 2005, 07:56 AM
Don't extrapolate what it feels like to swim a 100 meter race by saying "a 10,000 meter race must feel the same, but is 100 times longer." Generally, you are racing at/below your aerobic/anaerobic threshold, unlike the shorter pool races, so the pain you experience is more gradual and not like that of a 100. There is a lot of mental gamesmanship that you play with yourself as well - "if I can just make it to the next pier...", "I'll stay with this person for the next mile...", "I've hurt much worse than this before..." etc.

Just for "fun", try this: get in the pool and swim SLOWLY (say easy freestyle cool down pace) for 1/2 hour without stopping. I bet that you will make it physically, but you will find that it is your mind that is more problematic. The good news is that if you do it a number of time, your mind will adjust and it becomes no more daunting than most of what you are doing now. From there, the only limit to what you can swim is the amount of time that you want to put in to it.


Rob Copeland
May 17th, 2005, 08:20 AM
“how in the world do you do it?” One stroke at a time.

“just cannot imagine swimming like 50 miles” Neither can I, my limit is 30 miles.

“what do you feel while swimming?” Over the course of 8-10 hours you go through lots of different physical and emotional highs and lows. As Leonard said “is a lot of mental gamesmanship”

“how can you endure it for so long and not have your muscles shut down on you?” You train properly before the swim and pace properly while swimming. Race pace is critically important; no one ever won a marathon swim in the first hour, but plenty have lost it in that first hour.

“I reach the point where I almost cannot get my hands over the water because my muscles tighten up so bad...” You reach that point for a couple of reasons; first is pace, try Leonard’s suggestion of a 30 minute easy swim and see if you tighten up (don’t get bored and cheat by sprinting a 50 or 2), second be efficient, marathon swimmers are usually very efficient in the water, third work on upper body flexibility.

May 19th, 2005, 12:17 AM
I suppose it does amaze some that a person actually enjoys swimming for 8+ hours non stop. I know I love it.
But I wasn't convinced at first. Infact when I was handed a pamphlet on a 11.8km or 7.3 mile swim, I looked incredulously at it and thought "that is the most ridiculous distance I can imagine"> Then I looked at the records. Did a bit of math and told myself I want to break that record. As luck would have it, the weather was perfect and I did break the record for my age group.
I must admit the mere thought of swimming that distance set my pulse way over the aerobic zone. But once a goal has been set, and I have set my mind to it then completing the goal is what it is all about.
Now I do all distances, the longest I have done is 34kms.
As has been said, it is about pacing.
I train all energy systems and especially work on speed so I can improve my times in a marathon.
regular training throughout the season sets the base. By February march I increase my longer distance training days by 10% per week. So now I am able to swim 8kms in a session. When I hit the lakes in mid June I will be doing some longer sessions. Mostly 2x a day in 3 hour sessions and then in July step up some sessions to a 5-6 hour session. It's really not as boring or 'hard' as it sounds. It also helps to have some others who are training for these events. We email each other with motivation tips and swap 'sick workouts', which adds to the fun and makes you look forward to meeting them in the water on race day.
After my first marathon, I thought I would not be able to use my arms for a week!! WRONG! They were just fine the next day.
Part of it is conditioning, flexibility and shoulder prevention diligence, balance in all muscle groups. However an important part is how much fuel, what type and how often to fuel up during the swim. I train using the fuel I will take on race day so I can swim without getting depleted and therefore my energy system will stay even.
I agree with the mindgames. If possible take a look at the course up close. In a boat, and even swim parts of it. When you are familiar with the course, you can set little goals for reaching certain parts. I sing happily as I go along keeping my pace in time to the beat. I have a whole lot of favourites as well as pick up the pace songs.
What can make the day tough is inclement weather. Lots of waves and wind make the going slower. Warm fuel helps keep you warm and the spirits up, so I am prepared for the not so warm weather.
Being out in the open, checking out the scenery and the wildlife is a wonderful feeling. Plus the fantastic feeling of setting a goal and reaching it is so worthwhile.
Perhaps if you are new to distance, choose a shorter distance like a 2km or 5km and see how you liked it.
Hey, before you know it you to could be upping your distance and setting bigger challenges for yourself. Besides, just think how much "you've come a long way" means!!

May 20th, 2005, 11:20 AM
Marathon swimming is to let the water do most of the work for you. You get the body level and let the water push you to the surface. No more trying to swim in the air. It has to become automatic or as Chrysler called it put it in fluid drive. Don't over kick, a little sprint or two or it becomes so repititional and you will fall asleep.

Race pace in training is more important than fast repeats. How to train? I would swim 1 hr, 2 hrs, 3hrs a day some times,1 hr or 2 hrs twice a day, but never more than a 9 mile swim for pratice. During race season 2 days of recovery and 4 days of 1 hr swims a day of rest, then the next race, Could be 10, 15, or 25 or more mile race. then all over again. Every week, sometimes two races in a week. Raced from first week in July to second week in September, Then to Egypt, South America, Yugoslavia etc