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How do you know if your front crawl swimming is getting any faster?

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How do you know if your swimming is getting any faster?

We use pacing awareness and control interval based sets using a tempo trainer to reduce your average pace per 100 metres.

Why would you need to for a race? Don't you just swim all out..?

Well no, that wouldn't really work, you can't fight the water, as it expends too much water. You need to learn how to use the water better, be more graceful and economical with your movements and create as little drag and resistance as possible.

We see lots of swimmers and triathletes who really need to focus and work on their pacing, and to learn how to inherently know what a race effort or other distance effort should feel like?

There is no easy answer to this apart from training at those set paces during your training sessions. With all the swim metrics and watches showing pace, swolf, pace per interval, average pace and total distance there's no end of data, and it can become quite overwhelming.

So I'd like you to think about these 2 scenarios:

1. If you start out too hard in a swim event or triathlon, above your anaerobic threshold pace and heart rate, then you'll go into the red zone (not good) too quickly and be effectively sprinting. This just isn't sustainable! It can also take you 10-15 minutes to recover to a sustainable level and heart rate where you can start to push hard again.

2. If your pace starts at 1:45 per 100 metres and finishes at 2:15 pace per 100 metres, your watch and average pace is likely to read 2:00 per 100 metres. This isn't likely to be a true and accurate reflection of your pacing or ability. Aim to maintain an even pace within 3 seconds plus or minus of your target pace, or "T pace" over the course of your race distance, whether this be 400 metres, 1000 metres, or 3.8km.

Your training should reflect this, for example, over 400m do 8 x 50m at the same pace with 20 seconds rest, for 1000 metres aim to match 10 x 100m at the same pace at 80% effort, or 3800m aim to go slightly over, for 10 x 400m at the same pace at 75% effort.

Set your personal pacing zones by completing one of the following swim time trials. This can be one of 3 types:

  • 1000m TT at 75-80% effort to track your aerobic fitness

  • 500m TT @ 80-85% effort to track your anaerobic fitness

  • 200m to track anaerobic and vo2 max fitness

Then we can calculate your "T pace" or threshold speed which is equivalent to your 1500 metre race pace. This is then inputted into our dynamic training plan on Training Peaks to work out your own personal pacing zones at different intensities. Then we'll use a tempo trainer in mode 1 to gradually reduce this pace fractionally each week per 25 or 50 metres, making your faster!

We use the following methods to benchmark improvements in technique and speed regularly with our squad and private swim lesson clients:

1. Stroke counting

2. Stroke rate

3. Time trials regularly

4. Pacing intervals sets using a tempo trainer

5. Swolf - swim efficiency sets

We believe the tempo trainer is an invaluable tool for improving your pacing, stroke rate and swim efficiency.

Did you know there are actually 4 ways you can use a tempo trainer to improve your swim speed and technique?

1. Pacing sets gradual reduction per length per week - mode 1 2. Pacing counter over 100m - mode 2 3. Stroke rate - improving efficiency, timing and rhythm - mode 3 4. Rotation timing using mode 3 and a Tech toch

Find out how we use the Tempo Trainer to set your threshold pace and personal pacing zones, and reduce this pace gradually over a set number of weeks by a fraction of a second per 25 or 50 metres, according to your goal race distance.

This is such a good device we're using it for all our swimmers, squad sets, private swimming lessons with excellent results all round!

However, you may be racing shorter or longer than this distance, so this is where your personal pacing zones come into the formula:

For example:

  • 400m = T pace minus 2-4 seconds per 100m

  • 3 - 5km = T pace plus 2-4 seconds per 100m

  • 10km = T pace plus 6-10 seconds per 100m

  • 20km = T pace plus 10-15 seconds per 100m

To find out what your personal pacing zones are and how to improve them by up to 10 seconds per 100 metres on average, get in touch below:

If you're intrigued and want to find out more choose from one or more of the following swim coaching options:

We offer

1. Front crawl 1-2-1 and 2-2-1 swim coaching to a levels of swimmers, held at Guildford Lido in Surrey from May 1st 2019:

2. Front crawl video analysis in an endless pool at Tribal in Chertsey:

3. Swim squads for intermediates, held at Aldershot 50m pool on Tuesdays from 8.30pm:

4. Online training plans for swimming and triathlons:

Nick is a level 3 British Triathlon Coach, Level 1 Training Peaks coach, and Training Bible coaching Master endurance coach with 25 years’ experience in triathlon, founder and Head Coach for Speedy Swimming.

Photo's courtesy of Finis

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