Swim Speed Workouts Week 5-1: “Time Trial” or “Testing the Tension”

Swim Speed Workouts Test Team logo

The Swim Speed Test Team is a group of volunteers that is reporting on their newfound swim speed earned over 16 weeks of the Swim Speed Workouts program.

Here’s what testers thought of this workout. You can try out the first six workouts of the Swim Speed Workouts program for yourself! (See below)

Swim Speed Workouts Test Team logoTEST TEAM SUMMARY OF WORKOUT 5-1:

For workout 5-1, we asked the Test Team volunteers to depart slightly from the workout program. Since they just completed the first four weeks of the Swim Speed Workouts program, we thought it would be fun to ask them to swim a brief time trial to see what speed gains they’ve earned so far.

Chad L. (The Sprint Speed Racer): Today’s warmup was long with a nice mix. I alternated kicking with a board and streamlining on my back. The good news is no leg cramping. Then the time trial: I have always been in the neighborhood of 1:30 on my 100s and able to crack into the high 1:20s with maximum effort.  Today I went out too hard on the first set and paid for it, but I can’t complain with these times: 1:17, 1:22, 1:23 & 1:28. I know to a lot of people these times are slow but try to imagine that on the last set I was tanked and just trying to hold on, push through and keep my form as good as possible. To look up at the clock and see it at 1:28 was a shock.  A nice shock, but a shock. The main set was a fun exercise. It felt so weird to do the short and choppy sets, but I’m coming to realize that where I am comfortable with my stroke may be shorter than my ideal extension in terms of maximizing speed.

Jen D. (The Ocean Ultra Swimmer): This week I skipped the bonus set for the first time. Again I appreciate having that option. Today I found the tubing set was more challenging even though I did a shorter workout.

Rebecca B. (The Open-Water Swimmer): The morning swim group completed the “time trial” today.  Most people including myself reported 1 to 1.5 sec improvement (my time was 1:17). Usually in the morning I hold 1:18 for sets of 100s. What is interesting is that the recovery time was much less than what we are used to. My 500 time was pretty decent for the morning as well though I wasn’t pushing.  All in all a good set and a good idea to see where we are with our “speed” progress.

Catherine L. (The Number Cruncher): The warm-up began with 3×250 of varying swims and drills.  I love these it gives the brain a reconnect to get the body ready for the main set.  After the warmup, we were instructed to do a time trial of 4×100 at 90% with :15RI between. This was awesome to see and feel.  My best all-out 100 time before today was 1:29, but I could only swim that once. Today, I swam 1:24, 1:29, 1:31, 1:33. I haven’t gone 1:24 in my life – and :15 seconds later, I pulled off a 1:29! And I was sharing a lane and dodging three people. I am much faster for sure. The main set after the test was 12×50 with varying muscle tension. I found myself hyperventilating on this set and still was not connecting well with the water. In the later reps, my breathing was back to a better feel and rhythm, I felt like I was one with the water.  It was great! Progress? I have yet to leave the pool on this program and not leave feeling some sort of progress. I am getting faster!  I knew that already because of my earlier 500 PR on the cool-down, but now I have a new 100 PR.

Anything else?  I have been feeling tired during my bike and run workouts—more fatigued than usual.  I have had to cut back on intensity with those workouts in order to cope.  I have realized that my pool workouts are not active recovery and I am making so many changes to my body in the pool with the neuromuscular changes that it was a necessary evil.  I don’t know if others have felt the same.  Pool workouts are no longer “active recovery” recovery for my triathlon training.  It’s a good thing, but it kind of snuck up on me.

Greg S. (The 10x Ironman): Changing stroke length in the main set gave me really good feedback about what works well for rhythm and what doesn’t.  That made the workout a good one. Endurance for kick sets keeps improving.  I still need to alternate, when there is a lot of kicking, between kicking with a board and kicking on my back in streamline.  Getting there, though.

Rhoden G. (The Soldier): I enjoyed finding the position and stretch that worked best for me. I also enjoyed reaching long and loading the scapula and feeling the pull all the way through including the serape engagement all the way through the back. Nice 500 there in the middle. I hit a good stretch and a good rhythm. Tubing really set in the burn after this workout.

Rich R.: I can’t believe how far I have come in 5 weeks of swimming. I can kick 250 yards without fins now. And I’m getting faster, though there is a learning curve. This morning I had this thought: every feel like you could really hit a fastball and then all of a sudden a curve comes in and you think, “What was that?” That was me with today’s choppy stroke drill. I found that I could swim faster with a shorter stroke than I could with my normal stroke. It’s becoming apparent to me that my normal stroke is too long and has too much glide. The times are the proof in the pudding. My 25 sprint dropped 2 seconds to 17 seconds. My 50 free at 75% effort is now 38 seconds, 2 seconds faster than before. And I’m now swimming a 100 at 1:25, which is a 5-6 second improvement. My 500 free today was 7:42, and that wasn’t swimming at my limit at all, just an even pace. Everything is getting stronger.  Kick, arms, back, core. Feeling good…

TRY THE FIRST TWO WEEKS OF SWIM SPEED WORKOUTS YOURSELF! Based on our Test Team feedback, you will be swimming noticeably faster after two weeks on the Swim Speed program. You’ll have developed a high-elbow catch and a better feel for the water. You’ll have begun to strengthen your core and your swimming fitness will be rising rapidly. Click here to learn how to try Swim Speed Workouts.