Q. I’m a triathlete trying to improve my swimming speed in the off-season. I use your Workouts in a Binder cards when I swim on my own and I also swim with a masters group. I’ve just moved up to a new lane in my masters group and I’m struggling. The lane typically swims on a 1:40 send-off time. Yesterday we had 6 x 100 on 1:40 as the first part of the main set. I made the first three (just barely) send-offs and came in on the 1:41 on number four. Should I have just pushed off and kept swimming what would amount to a steady 300 or should I rest a 50? What is better for me?
A. As a triathlete you do need the endurance to swim long distances at a steady pace. But…too many triathletes settle for slogging it out in all the main sets in a masters swim and they end up swimming continuously. If you are going to improve speed, over a long distance, you need both endurance workouts (working on continuous swimming or broken swims with minimal rest) and workouts intended to increase the speed you can average during long swims (these are sets where you get rest and swim a faster average pace).
So, the answer to the question of “What is better for me?” depends on what you’ve been doing in training and what you need to improve. If you’ve been doing long, continuous swims or broken swims with little rest – sit out a 50 and aim to keep the speed high during these sets. If you’ve been doing a good number of broken swims with plenty of rest, go ahead and aim to finish the main set even if you’re dangling at the end of the lane and doing a continuous swim.