Swimming isn’t just about swimming….

We do bang on a bit about swim volume and sometimes it looks a bit like we’re obsessed and you may think perhaps we put ‘too much’ emphasis on swim volume. After all, the biggest portions of a triathlon event are bike and run? Here’s some things that you need to fully understand:

  1. Swim/Bike/Run are all equally important, but for some reason, the swim component is underestimated or undervalued in triathlon. If you’re preparing for Ironman, many triathletes will ride over 100 miles and run 20 miles, but when it comes to the swim component, they fall short. Running 20 miles to prepare for the marathon, would be the same as swimming 5-6k to prepare for the swim. I don’t think swimming is more important, they’re all EQUALLY important, but if you’re doing 100 mile rides or up to 20 mile runs, a 2.5k swim is not on the same level. We’re not asking you to focus more on swimming, we’re asking you to treat them all equally.
  2. The swim has a significant impact upon your bike and run. There’s loads of research (you can see some examples below) which suggest that even a 750m swim can reduce bike power by 5-10% in short events. It’s completely wrong to think ‘swimming is all arms and I don’t use my legs’ so it won’t impact biking. The majority of studies use well trained swimmers, so if you’re not well trained and swimming 3.8k… expect a 10% drop at least in your bike performance. You need VOLUME, you need CONDITIONING and you need to DRAFT on race day. It could save you half an hour on the bike and there’s no point doing all your bike training, only to start in a knackered state.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6524355/

https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/39/12/960

https://hal-insep.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01765340/document

3. We’ve talked about this many times already… Ask a triathlete about swimming and most will reply “I hate it”. It’s no surprise then, that they don’t do it. They swim 1500-2500m maximum and make up a bullshit story that it’s ‘quality rather than quantity’ and ‘it’s all technique’. They continue to pass on this bullshit story to everyone else, who then ‘buy into the story’ because it suits them to do so… (they also hate swimming). The answer is this:

3.1 Accept that 2k isn’t enough, at some point you need to get to 4k+

3.2 It’s most likely just a mental adaption, you’re fit enough to swim 4k, you just can’t be arsed and it feels like forever… Once it becomes the ‘norm’ you’ll question why it bothered you before.

3.3 Why do you dislike swimming? Just drop the constant worry and stress of technique. Look at the basics (you’ll never be perfect), slow down and focus on your flow. Try to enjoy the sensation for once rather than spending every second reminding yourself of how bad your technique is.

3.4 Remember to SLOW DOWN… you can’t build volume and smash it at the same time. Swimming is the worst for this, everything is HARD…. you need to SLOW DOWN and build volume / base.

3.5 Understand that your swim fitness influences your bike performance, way more than you probably think. And of course, how much it affects your bike, will impact on your run, especially over longer distances.

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