Averaging 2 min. per 100 (yards or meters) in the pool, or open water seems to be a barrier for many age group triathletes. It's like the 4 min mile in running or the Mendoza line in baseball ( 200 batting average). I'm not sure how much of this is physical and how much is mental. I have my own thoughts on this.
To swim an average speed faster than 2 min/ 100, you need to have decent body position, stroke race, and muscle endurance all at the same time. Many can isolate them individually, but putting it all together over the duration of the swim leg is the challenge.
My goal is to create a plan/ system to break thru this barrier over the winter with the athletes I coach who fall into this category. Here are some of the things we will work on:
1. Flip turns- Not having a break at the wall will help build endurance and maintain momentum.
2. Ankle band swimming- Nothing corrects flaws like ankle band swimming. You need to create force, stroke rate, and body position all at the same time. if you get to the other side of the pool, you are doing something right. Start with 25's with plenty of rest and build from there.
3. Fins and paddles- This is a great way to create force and speed. it also raises the HR to feel like a race effort. fins and paddles create a full-body workout
4. Butterfly- One of the best ways to create a powerful pull is by doing butterfly. Start with 4 -8 strokes off the wall. fins help create lift from the legs. Triathletes hate this stroke, but it will help make you a stronger open-water swimmer.
5. Base intervals- create short rest with a specific send-off time. this ensures the athlete is swimming at the desired pace and not dropping off. A good way to determine threshold pace is to do 10x100 with 10-sec rest. time the entire set, and subtract 90 seconds ( total time of rest intervals) to get swim time.
As I begin to execute this plan. I will periodically report back findings, and what has worked and what has not.