Friday, February 20, 2015

Being a Slow Swimmer Can Be Discouraging

When I am I am a slow swimmer, that's not some kind of modesty.  I'm quite slow.  I don't mean I feel inadequate when someone zips along in the lane next to me.*  I mean I have like... ya know... hard evidence with numbers and stuff.

The US Master's Swimming Postal Swim posted some preliminary results.  The Postal swim is a race (used mail in the results, hence Postal) where you get in the water and swim as far as you can for an hour. Average for my age category?  A bit over 3400 yards.

I swam 2200.


Now my goal isn't to be spectacularly fast, but the recommendation for one swim I want to do is to be able to swim a mile in a pool in 40 minutes.  At that speed, I would have had to have done about 2650 in an hour. Put another way, I swam a mile in 47:08. I need to be able to do it in 40:00.

I get discouraged when I look at the numbers, I admit it.  And it probably isn't either fair or reasonable with myself.  I just took some swim lessons and yes, my speed is definitely improving,  But to be honest?

Yes, technique can always be improved, but mine was never so egregiously bad that I'd see a huge, dramatic improvement in pace after lessons.  Improvement, yes.  Dramatic, no.  The worst you can say at this point is that I can't do a flip turn.  That's going to be good for about a 2% improvement on  my speed.  That means I would have swum a 2250 rather than 2200 in the postal swim, by the way.

And it won't count for anything in open water, anyway.

As technique-based as swimming is, I'm less and less convinced my lack of speed is really a technique thing.  I suspect it is more a fitness thing and an effort thing.

You see, I train wrong.

I love swimming distances. Just put me in the water and let me go.  That's what I like.  I'm constant, I'm steady.  My technique has been compared to a machine, and the adjective "diligent" has been used more than once.

That's not a problem. In fact, for what I want to do, it's a plus. The problem is the slow part.

Guess how you don't get faster.

I broke down and took lessons hoping I could avoid what I've got to do next.  I'm not sorry I took them.  My technique has improved as has my speed.

What's next?  <shudder> Interval training.

I know why I'm avoiding it. I'm obsessed with getting a certain number of yards in when I train, and I have at most 45 minutes in the morning to get those yards in.  Interval training means you have to go hard, then actually *gasp* stop and rest for a few seconds before swimming the next set.   Which will translate into fewer yards per session.  Yes, yes, I know, this will help me speed up.  When I speed up, the yardage I'll be able to get in will go up, too.   I know throwing long term in favor of right now is a fault of mine. You're not telling me anything I don't blasted well know!

I've got to suck it up and do it, it seems.  But because I am totally immature and need lure of pleasure to do anything, my weekend sessions are still going to be those long sets and meditative distances I so love.

*  I don't actually feel badly about people in lanes next to me because I'm pretty much in my own head when I am swimming and generally feel pretty good in that moment.  It's why I do this.  The act of swimming feels good.
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