Running as fast as I can since '93
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  • Summer 2010 Triathlon Training Part 2: Swim

    Posted on July 25th, 2010

    If I can ever swim a 1500m under 20 minutes (I know, big “IF”) than I think I may have a shot at being a semi-Pro.

    That is what I wrote in my “About” page when I created this website in the Spring of 2009. Later that summer, while preparing for my first Olympic distance triathlon, I swam a 1650 yard (1509 meters) time trial in the pool in 25:55, setting a beginning benchmark. I really had no idea what I was doing: I had never competed as a swimmer before triathlons and I had no idea how to structure a swim workout. With my running background, I started throwing in some intervals — 100s, 200s and 300s — but with way too much rest. I successfully completed the triathlon with just the 56th best swim.

    After the triathlon I quickly transitioned to run-focus and dropped the swimming and biking. A self-proclaimed “breakout” cross country season kept me out of the pool — thanks to 100-mile weeks. Then in December, my battle with Plica in my left knee began, leaving a void in my training. I took to the pool and conveniently, around that time, my coach received an email from Barb Lindquist with the USAT Collegiate Recruitment Program, whose goal is to recruit collegiate swimmers and runners into considering triathlons as their next athletic endeavor after graduation. Knowing that I was interested in triathlons, Coach Heins forwarded me her contact. Since then I have been receiving weekly swim workouts from Barb. I began swimming workouts that were 2500 yards and worked my way up until this summer when I began swimming three 5000 yard workouts three times each week (plus another easy 3000 once a week). With this increased commitment to swimming I have seen my swim times improve nearly week to week.

    One way Barb uses to judge swim ability is a 200/800 test. An athlete swims an all-out 200, takes 1 minute recovery, and then swims an 800 all out. Barb told me that the general range she is looking for from runners is 2:15/10:00. In January I swam the test in 2:27/11:15. The road ahead seemed daunting, but I was able to chip away while my knee was recovering. In June I swam the test again, this time in 2:19/10:26. The hard work was paying off. This last Thursday I took to the pool for my last swim test of the summer and was stunned with a 2:13/10:10 performance.

    These swim tests, along with a 4+ minute PR in the 1650 yard of  21:44, have confirmed that I can swim faster with focus. Still, I have a long road ahead and will need to further increase my commitment to the sport. As I look beyond my final cross country and track seasons, I think there are several very high intensity, high volume weeks of swimming await.