After my last triathlon, I promised a post reviewing the swim and why I thought I'd had such a weak swim. I did the 500 metres about a minute slower then I thought I should have. I was disappointed in my performance, but rather then wallow in the disappointment, I needed to figure out why I didn't swim well. The reason was pretty easily identifiable. It had to do with my training.
I didn't race fast because I didn't train fast.
Simple as that. I'm going to get into my swim training a bit more, but ultimately, I hadn't done any speed work in the pool since my coached swim course ended early June. Now, it's not exactly that I decided to leave out speed work; more a fact that I didn't really have a plan going into the pool. I put in the time, and did lots of drills, but don't really know how to develop a swim training plan.
A bit of background on my swim training:
May 2010: I decided I wanted to do a triathlon. I didn't know how to swim - at all.
May-June 2010: I did my first adult swimming class. By the time I finished it, I knew how to do front crawl, but couldn't even finish a full length without stopping for a break.
August 2010: I managed to swim a full 500 metres without taking a break. I could do it in about 16 minutes.
Oct 2010 - Nov 2010: I took my second adult swimming class. I theoretically learned side stroke and breast stroke and got a few tips on front crawl. I could finish 500 metres in about 15.5 minutes.
Fall 2010: I continued to swim three times a week. My training consisted of nothing but swimming endless laps. I'd usually do three sets of 500 metres. By the end of 2010 I could swim 500 metres in about 15 minutes.
Jan 2011: I started the coached program with Angie. She introduced me to drills and started correcting numerous flaws in my stroke.
Feb 2011: I felt like I swam better but not faster. I timed myself once on 500 metres, and could do it in about 14.5 minutes. I decided not to time myself for a while since I was a bit disappointed I hadn't gained more speed. I continued to use the drills Angie had taught in my own swim workouts as well as the coached sessions.
April/May 2011: Angie started doing speed work in most of the coached sessions. Early April we did a timed 500 metre swim, which I completed in just over 12 minutes. I continued to swim 2 additional times a week and do drills during my own swims.
June 2011: The swim session ended. It was originally going to end in May, but got extended for June. Unfortunately, we were going away, so I had my last coached swim at the beginning of June.
June 2011 - Aug 2011: I continued to train on my own 3 times a week. I generally did drills and steady swims.
Hmm, see what changed?
After the swim session ended, I stopped doing the speed work that had been a key part of the coached swim for the last couple months of the session. Not surprisingly, I slowed down.
Ultimately, I think it comes down to the fact that I didn't have a plan in the pool. I would go in and pick a few drills to work on. One part of my technique to focus on, perhaps body roll, or high elbows. Sometimes keeping my entry wide enough or slipping my hand into the water rather then flipping my wrist up. All important things.
But, I didn't work on speed.
And, I think that is why my swim suffered in my last triathlon and I slowed down.
Once I realized this, my plan didn't change significantly in preparing for my Olympic triathlon. I did start doing some faster swims, but with only three weeks between Strathmore and Banff, it wasn't the time to bring in a new plan. It does make something clear about next season though.
I need a swim plan. I would love to have a coach. Ideally, there will be somebody giving me my swim workouts who knows what they are doing and helps me balance technique work, speed work, and endurance work. I don't know if that's in the budget yet though. In the absence of a coach, next year's training plan is going to have more then just the minutes I am supposed to swim.
The group coached sessions start again in a few weeks...