As you get further and further into the racing season, many people wonder how they can maintain all their winter swim gains. Even though, you may be focusing more on your bike wattage, run splits, and upcoming races, your swim fitness does not have to diminish. It is true that around time of year, many programs have you swimming less but that does not mean you have to get slower in fact quite the opposite is true. To maintain swim speed if not improve it during the season, you have to make sure your workouts are intense, specific, and frequency.
The winter, pre-season months are for double swim days, form and drill work, and building your aerobic base with long workouts at a lower intensity. However, as you transition to the spring and summer season, the focus on this diminishes. Rather your workouts should transform that raw, good form into speed. Workouts should include more sprint and speed work with shorter distances ranging from 25 meters/yards to 400 meters. Even though your swim workouts may be shorter, the speed work will make you faster. Your workouts will also be more race specific.
You are not going to be doing catch-up drills in a race nor are you going to be wearing paddles, so there is no need to spend the majority of your time in the weeks leading up to your race doing them. While drills and paddle work are great in the build phase of training and now the warm up, you now need to focus the pace that you are going to be racing at. Include a few drills and power sets in the warm up and cool down, but spend the main sets on race pace efforts.
Workouts will be slightly shorter than in the winter months, but to maintain swim fitness, I make sure that I am still swimming more often so that I do not lose the feel for the water. Even though each swim may be 500-1000m shorter, I am still swimming more often to counter any losses for swimming “less.”
Just because you are biking, running, and racing, your swim does not have to suffer and can actually improve.
Coach Chris and Kev