30 March 2015


During my recent triathlon training I've been including a long swim every fortnight to break up my training sessions and also to build up my distance. Through these long swims I've picked up a couple of tips which I thought I'd share!

1. Break it down
This is something I've found extremely useful - especially if I don't think I'm going to be able to handle a longer swim. 100 lengths of a 25m pool can seem a bit daunting but mentally breaking it up into smaller sections makes it a lot more manageable.
For the 2.5k swims I've been doing, I'' mentally break it down into this:
- 300m Warm Up
- 5 x 400m
- 200 Cool Down
At the end of you'll have swum 2500m but in more manageable sections, rather than saying I'm about to swim 100 without stopping. Although I'm breaking it down I will swim it all at the same pace, sometimes I'll pick up the pace from the halfway point - like you may do in a race scenario.

2. Using a pull buoy
This is just a precaution for if I'm struggling with the distance, but it can help break down the swim again. It's there for variety and to add a bit more of a challenge for the arms. It adds something a bit different to the regular stroke and a chance to have a bit more fun and variety. Although I haven't used it myself during a long swim I always take it with me just encase.

3. Focus on breathing
Although thinking of other things (such as what to have for breakfast - something I commonly think of) can help you get through the set, it's important to focus on your breathing. This focus on the breathing can help the sets fly by as you're not focused on watching the lengths tick away. I normally breathe every four strokes, but I'm also currently working on my bi-lateral breathing.I know people who breathe every two and there are probably those who breathe more than every 4. Find what works for you and work on it. Work on tilting you head to the side rather than lifting it completely out of the water. Bi-lateral breathing can be more beneficial to some and I'm trying to work on it for my open water swims. 

4. Relax your stroke
One of the coaches at my tri club suggested that this may be useful for some on longer swims. It might not be for everyone and isn't probably the best solution if you're aiming for a PB but it can help relax your body and give you a bit of a break. It's basically a fingertip drag (a drill we commonly practice to get high elbows in the water - here's a video for a bit more detail) across the surface of the water. It can help slow down your stroke, but also gives your arm some recovery. 

5. Focus on form
Similar to my point about focusing on breathing, focus on your form. This concentration not only allows the lengths to pass by quicker but it's also an extremely useful time to work on your technique. Concentrate on your kicks, making sure you're utilising your whole leg, from the hip right through to the toes. Focus on the catch and making sure you're pulling all the way through with the stroke. You hand should be pulling back in a straight line rather than wobbling through the water. My form in the water is something I'm still working onbut a strong one will be more effective over longer distances.

So there's just a couple of things I've picked up so far through doing long swims. What are you tips for getting through getting through long distances? Let me know @afloralcrown!

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