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6982 Views 9 Replies Latest reply: Jun 29, 2010 9:39 AM by TylerDurdinUMD
Brenda Fields Amateur 13 posts since
Feb 1, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Jun 28, 2010 3:24 PM

What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

I'm racing my first triathlon in September (Trek Women Tri in Orlando), and I started training for the swim yesterday.  I swam just over a half mile in about 35 or 40 min with lots of breaks, so I'm feeling really confident that in 9 weeks I'll have a improved a lot and my fears of being rescued by a boat after collapsing mid stroke 5 min in have vanished.  Now I'm wondering what kind of time I should be aiming for.  I'd like to have a decent time, but I'm certainly not expecting to be competitive.  I've been running 5k's for the last 6 months and I usually place around the bottom of the top 1/3 and that would be a great place to be for this triathlon too, but anywhere in the top half would be a major accomplishment.  So that's my question: what is a decent swim time for a half mile swim leg?





runner, cyclist, and triathlete with a healthy Bodyflow obsession

  • longislandguy Pro 121 posts since
    Dec 31, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Jun 28, 2010 3:38 PM (in response to Brenda Fields)
    Re: What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

    If you are looking to be in the top 33%, I would take a look at last year's results to see approximately what time you would need.

  • arcee53 Rookie 4 posts since
    Dec 2, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Jun 28, 2010 4:21 PM (in response to Brenda Fields)
    Re: What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

    You have to do .5 between 15-18 min. to be top 1/3.

  • Iron Dawg Pro 111 posts since
    Oct 8, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Jun 28, 2010 6:09 PM (in response to Brenda Fields)
    Re: What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

    As all race courses are different Longislandguy probably had the best advice - look at the race results from last year for the race you are doing.  You may have to be a little bit faster than last year but at least you'll have a good idea of what you need to do for your race.  Additionally, what length race has a half mile swim?  Typically a sprint is about a third of a mile, a Olympic swim is just under a mile, and a IM 70.3 is just over a mile.  And...take it from a good swimmer....people spend too much time worrying about the swim when they should be out running.  Good luck and have fun.





    Iron Dawg

    Favorite quote:

    "If you're not gettting better you're getting worse."

  • TylerDurdinUMD Pro 64 posts since
    Jun 23, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Jun 29, 2010 6:20 AM (in response to Brenda Fields)
    Re: What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

    For me, my benchmark in any distance event is twice the world record as a decent pace.  (So if Michael Phelps can swim 100m in about 50sec, I'm looking to do it in 1:40.)  The longer distances for swimming, I use the rule of thumb to aim for 1 minute per 50m - that's "fast" for me and that pace puts me in the fast lane at my pool.





    2009 Pascack Valley Sprint Triathlon - 1:20:17

    2010 Pacers Half Marathon - 2:09:37

    2010 NJ State Triathlon (Olympic) - 3:33:19

    Best little forum on the Internet:  http://www.vaughnripley.com/forum/

  • dkhartung Pro 98 posts since
    Aug 2, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Jun 29, 2010 8:30 AM (in response to Brenda Fields)
    Re: What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

    Hi Brenda,

     

    Since you said this was your first tri, I'd like to give you a different perspective...  You're asking the wrong question  :-)

    Focusing on swim time can really put you in a difficult position by driving you to expend much more energy early in the race for very little benefit.

     

    For example, working hard to get a 10% improvement in the swim can take it out of you.  If you want to test this out, next time you're at the pool do a set of 10x50 yards at a moderate but comfortable pace.  If you are able to hold 50 seconds per 50, go back at your next workout and try and hold a 45 second pace for the ten 50s and see how you feel.

     

    And what do you get for that extra expended effort?  In a .5 mile swim going 10% faster will gain you approximately 1:10 in time.  I've watched a lot of people go through this:  swim too hard and gain a minute or two, but then they fumble around in transition and lose time, have a hard time on the bike the first mile or two and give back some more time, etc.

     

    My suggestion would be to forget completely about your swim speed, and focus your effort on developing a smooth, long, and fluid stroke.  I think you'll find that this will actually get you faster, but allow you to exit the water feeling warmed up and ready to race rather than being overly tired.

  • Canucklehead17 Amateur 13 posts since
    Jul 18, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Jun 29, 2010 9:08 AM (in response to dkhartung)
    Re: What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

    I TOTALLY agree with dk.

     

    I am fairly new to triathlon, doing 4 sprints last year.  I completed my first sprint this season a week ago at the Minutman Triathlon.  I have an Olympic distance race coming up in a little less than 2 weeks.

     

    Swimming is all about finding a pace that works for you and not worrying about speed.  I have been pool swimming my entire life and consider myself a very solid swimmer but that all changed my first few open water triathlon swims.  Anxiety and nerves kicked in as I was too busy trying to find a spot and keep up.  I was exhausted in transition and took a long time to get my wind back on the bike.

     

    It is important to note, I am physically challenged, born with achondroplasia, a form of disproportionate short-stature, more commonly called, dwarfism.  Prior to the start of this season I had time to do 2 open water swims with my local tri team here in eastern MA.

     

    When I started the sprint last week, I found my spot, got in the water, and swam.  No anxiety or nerves and a ton of fun.  I got passed by many, and passed a few.  I got out of the water and had lots of energy to have a great T1 and get on my bike and GO!!

     

    I hope this info helps.

     

    "Triathlon has become life in microcosm, a metaphor that gives truth to  the wisdom passed from each generation to the next: work hard and you  will be rewarded, have faith in yourself and you will excel; do not  falter when an ill wind blows your way." Ashley Halsey

  • TylerDurdinUMD Pro 64 posts since
    Jun 23, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Jun 29, 2010 9:39 AM (in response to Brenda Fields)
    Re: What is a decent swim time (.5 mi.)?

    DK has great points for total time and robbing time down the road to gain a minute up front.

     

    Last year I focused on the bike portion, because it is the longest, using similar logic.  (And because it kicked my butt the year before).  You'll spend about half of the Tri on the bike.  The biggest proportional gains will be made there.  My last sprint I swam the swim medium fast, focusing on being fresh out of the water.  Then I hammered the bike leg, taking 10 minutes off my time from the year before, and beating even my best training pace by a couple minutes.  It cost me, though, and my 5k was slow... about 2-3 minutes longer than expected (still over a minute up on the year before).  However, that gain on the bike was a good trade-off for me.

     

    It sounds like you've got the right idea, though.  The swimming should come together for you in the next month, and you'll be knocking out the distance in no time!





    2009 Pascack Valley Sprint Triathlon - 1:20:17

    2010 Pacers Half Marathon - 2:09:37

    2010 NJ State Triathlon (Olympic) - 3:33:19

    Best little forum on the Internet:  http://www.vaughnripley.com/forum/

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