Swimming – 4 years and what?

Four years ago I could barely swim – I could swim one length, then I’d need to stop for a breather. That was my starting point for triathlons – plenty of room for improvement!

And now, with four years under my belt, where is my swimming at?

My first race was a 32:52 1500m swim at Mooloolaba Triathlon in March 2008 (2:11/100m pace), and my last was a 39:09 2000m swim at the Port of Tauranga Half in Jan 2012 (1:57/100m pace). My best was a 25:46 1500m at Noosa 2009 (which was wetsuit legal and I got a fantastic draft) at 1:43/100m pace.

swim race paces.jpg

The chart above shows my swim pace for all races. There are a few factors that can affect each race (wetsuit or not, ocean or canal, downstream or upstream, the length of the swim, was the course long or short?) but it’s good enough to get an idea.

And the idea is…? I made a slow improvement through to the end of 2009, and then, after a year off triathlons with injuries, I’m almost back where I started!

But to be fair, I’ve never really worked on my swim. So I’ve dug through my training logs to find out exactly how much swim training I’ve done:

swim hours.jpg

Over the last four years, I’ve averaged five hours of swimming per month (just over an hour a week). My best ever month? 12 hours!! I’ve clearly never taken it seriously, and I’ve certainly slacked off in the last year.

Well, it’s time to take it to the next level!

Last Monday I took the Critical Swim Speed test. It yielded a CSS of (coincidentally) 1:56/100m.

My ultimate goal is to swim a sub 23:30 1500m (Olympic triathlon distance). To hit that, I need to sustain 1:34/100m, or 47s/50m. My current 50m PB is only 43 secs, so this will take a LOT of work.

This target may seem arbitrary (and it is really), but a 23:30 at Noosa 2009 would have seen me in the top 10% of finishers in my age group (up from the top 25% that my 25:46 gave me). The theory is that if I invest the time now to get my swim down, then I’ll be able to remain fairly close to that level in the future, with a minimum of training.

Will it take months or years or forever? I have no idea! But I’ve got an Olympic distance race in May and it would be nice to be back down challenging that swim PB.

Target locked in. Let’s go to work!

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