Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Consistent pacing, looking for 1:XX...

When it comes to running, I'm extremely good at pacing.  When it comes to the bike, I'm pretty good.  When I'm swimming, however, I usually think I'm pacing well, but I'm not even close.

When I first started getting coached on the swim, I saw huge, measurable improvements.  In a matter of a few months, I went from swimming 500 metres in 15:00 minutes to swimming it in 12:00.  I had constant breakthroughs, and they showed in my times.

Lately, the improvements aren't quite as measurable.  My feel for the water has improved incredible amounts since the fall, but truth is, I'm not that much faster.  Intellectually, I know that I will never see the same leaps that I did when I was brand new.  Intellectually, I also know that improving my pace by a few seconds per hundred is now considered a great improvement.

And, that's what I'd like to see: a few seconds per hundred.

Because, I have yet to break 2 minutes on a hundred metres.  The best I've done is 2:02.  I easily break 30 seconds on 25, and I consistently break 1 minute on 50, but that 2:00 per hundred has remained out of reach.

Monday night, I thought it might be my night.  I went in feeling great.  We were doing some speed work and some pacing work.  We were doing a lot of 100s, so I figured I'd have a great chance.  But, I just couldn't get it.  First we were supposed to do them at a steady effort, then negative splits, then fast.

Here's the thing, when I try to negative split, I fail miserably and relatively consistently.  I always start off thinking I'm swimming strong, but pacing well.  I generally finish the first half at a faster pace then I can sustain for the whole thing.  Then, I try to hold it together.  I try to go faster, and think I am, but end up slower in the second half.  Arg!

When I got home, I told my husband that, just once, I'd like to see a 100 metre time under 2 minutes.  That's a lie though.  I would like to see it once.  Then, I'd like to see it consistently.  Then, I'd like to see an average pace under 2:00/100 on a longer distance.

It will come.


  1. Deb, I forget when your tri is??? but I think you are doing GREAT! I think it's normal in any physical activity to see fast results and then hit a lull.

    My sisters b/f is an ex professional swimmer and he told me he got SUPER fast and then even cutting a few seconds off would take months.

  2. OH you and I are sooooo in the same boat swimming-wise (with regards to pace). I'm really starting to learn that my definition of easy with swimming is too easy and I have to start sucking it up and swimming harder than I ever did before. I've only broken 2 minutes for 100 yards once and that was in a swim meet with a dive off the blocks, 2 years ago. So I'm hoping all the technique work I'm doing pays off but I also have to start just swimming harder, more often, I think.

  3. Just keep it up—it will come! Try mixing things up a little. I make the most progress after short periods where I'm focusing on kicking, playing with toys, doing different drills, doing strength training, or even just doing continuous circles in a kiddie or hotel pool. If you're going twice a week, bump it up to three or four. Things will just click. :)

  4. Have you tried a private lesson? That's what took me from 2:05/100 to 1:55/100. Now I swim in the 1:50/100 lane but I can get down to a 1:40/100 if I hustle. Keep going! You will get there!

  5. Swimming is one of those things where trying harder is counter productive. The goal is to swim smoother. It sounds like you need to build endurance in your swim muscles. More technique probably wouldn't hurt either.

    One path is swimming intervals. 50 m to start, on 90 seconds. Watch your times. Experiment with small things, one at a time, and see what makes you faster. Head down. Reaching that bit more. Slower longer strokes, or shorter faster ones. Kicking harder, or less. More body roll or less. Breathing every 3 strokes. Playing with the exact dynamics of your catch. Trying to swim with the fewest possible bubbles.

    Geo is right, swimming more often will help. The feel for the water is so elusive, and yet so important.

  6. We are both about the same. That 2:00 minute barrier has been tough. I get glimpses of under 2:00 over 500 yards every now and again, but now consistently.

  7. I can't add much to what Keith said except swim more and do mostly drills like he suggested. Only do long swims once in a while.

  8. Sorry it's so frustrating for you. I hardly ever swim but I find it's one of those things that you do it, and find out later how you really did.

    But I think (and bet) that if you are able to do it'll be able to do it again. So getting that first one's the challenge.

    I believe you can and WILL get the 100m under 2 mins!! :)

  9. I'm in pretty much the same place as you. I've started focusing on front quadrant swimming, but the change to my stroke was such that I now have to go back and retrain different muscles...good luck with your swimming!