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Highway to Hell

Swimathon report

ghylandby ghylandApr 21st 2010
I entered the Swimathon in January to give me a goal to help build up my swimming. I know I can be a good swimmer as I have always been naturally what would to most people would be considered a 'strong' swimmer but apart from learning to swim have never had a lesson.

I realised that both my volume of work and technique were lacking after two poor swims out of 3 events last year.

I had done 8 weeks of consistent work of usually two swims a week focusing partly on endurance with main sets of between 1200-2000m and also doing plenty of drills. My favourites are single arm front crawl, single arm extensions and easy strokes focusing on rotation.

My technique and efficiency has improved and also stamina, I no longer felt like fainting after doing 10x100m!

The distance I had entered was 2.5km or 100 lengths. I was treating it as an extended training session to put a cap on my winter base training. The format of the Swimathon is a bit odd. You get put in a lane with fellow swimmers who are doing the same distance and I can partly see the sense in this because it makes counting easier for the marshalls but from a swimmers perspective it is bad news if you have a very slow (or fast) swimmer in your lane as it will disrupt your rhythm. You get a different colour swim cap so they know who is who, I went for black as I have pretty much all the other colours - except pink - already!

My plan was to swim it as 25x100m with about 5 secs rest between reps. This is slightly harder than my training sets which would usually have up to 10 secs between reps. I worked out a reasonable time would be 55 minutes based on approx 2mins per 100m but factoring in rest time, fatigue over the longer distance and traffic, plus I would allow myself two longer stops of about 20 secs for a drink, goggle adjustment etc.

The two guys in my lane luckily were both proficient swimmers. One guy was about 25 and the other in his 40s. I got the impression they both were doing the race for training rather than it being a goal in itself which was fine by me.

I went out steady and let the other two go about 15 metres off before starting. I swam my own pace and got to 40 lengths barely out of breath. I stopped for a drink and stretch, cleared the goggles and set off again, immediately losing count but kept tapping out 100m reps. I had two occasions to sit on the older guy's feet and found it made a huge difference to my effort levels. I was taking long, easy strokes in his slipstream. Swiming side by side he was probably 1-2 secs per length quicker than me but I could easily sit behind him, a lesson in drafting!

I stopped at what I thought was 80 lengths and was told I was correct. I then bashed out the last 20 with very little rest between 100s but for the first time felt my form was slipping which I expected as I was getting fatigued. I touched home in 54 minutes so snuck under the target time. Fair play to the people doing the 5km event I was both tired and very bored after my effort!

I am aiming for sub 30 mins at my Olympic distance swim in July so this puts me very much on course for that so a satisfactory day's work and £145 raised for Marie Curie Cancer Care as well.

I also logged all my training plans building up to Eton in 4 weeks or so. Its a key race for me because I did it last year and can make a direct comparison on time. I am really hoping to break 1hr20 but anything around 1hr21 is acceptable and will show improvement. On the swim I want to go under 8 minutes as its usually a real scrum at the first swim buoy and also the water is freezing!

Training wise its a week or two of build work but will do some swimming on 400m time trials to gauge where I am. More bike volume is needed and running need to reduce the steady runs and do some intervals and bricks. Don't want to overcook it though and get injured.

UPDATE (17.05.10) I found out my result the other day. I came 322nd out of more than 2000 competitors over the distance. For males I was 139th out of more than 700. For my age group I was 46th out of 240.
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