It has often been said that the best way for triathletes to improve their swimming is to join a Masters swimming team, I regularly get resistance from my athletes, particularly those for whom swimming is a weakness, to try Masters swimming.
Masters swimming is basically swim team for adults. You have a coach who gives you a workout and stroke instruction and you have people to swim with who can help keep you motivated. Admittedly, not all Masters Programs are created equally. There are good ones and not so good ones, but if you have access to a good Master’s program and you are not taking advantage of it, you are really missing out on an excellent opportunity to improve your performance. Swimming is much more technical than cycling and running. Technique makes a big difference in both speed and required effort. In other words, better technique means you go faster with less effort.
While the swim portion of a triathlon is short compared to the amount of swimming and running, is importance should not be discounted. Every second counts and at some point improvements in running and cycling become extremely difficult. Mentally, there is also a difference between “surviving” and “racing.” If the swim is something you just get through you are surviving; not racing. Swimming is also low impact and puts nowhere near the kind of stresses on your body that running does.
I encourage all triathletes, especially if you are racing 70.3 or longer, to try a masters programs for a minimum of 3 months. I guarantee you with a minimum of 3 swims per week you will see rapid gain. Add a few 1:1 lessons to ensure your technique is ok and stick with it.
1- Money….how much do you spend on biking and running? How much do you spend on race fees? Most masters programs are $45-60 a month. If money is tight where can you cut- skip a few lunches out or scale back your entertainment.
2- Time- most masters programs offer early AM (5:30 and 6:30) am workouts and pm workouts- before or after work. Many offer lunch (if you have that flexibility) Most programs allow 1 week or a few free workouts to give it a try. Some offer reasonable drop in fees- But be sure to commit.
3- I am not a good swimmer….EVERY program has beginner lanes. Introduce yourself to the coach, explain you are new to Masters and any good coach will be helpful. Ask questions, when you see the workout on the board and it looks foreign- ask a lane mate or the coach to interpret “masters speak”
Any more….send them to me and we can talk. Questions….. firstname.lastname@example.org Information on 1:1 lessons, please email me as well.
Happy Swimming in 2014!