Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Tricks

I would like to be a stronger swimmer. I always knew that I was not an efficient swimmer. I would flail around in the water and even when I felt smooth, I realized I was slow. 2:40 for 100 yards is slow. I don’t expect to be fast (sub 1:00 for 100 yards), but I would like to finish a 1500 meter swim in 30 minutes.

I recently read a blog posting by Alan Couzens at Endurance Corner. A skilled swimmer at a steady pace with a VO2 max of 3.2L/min should be able to swim 1:46 per 100. This I cannot do. I triathlete with the same VO2 max should crank out 2:10, while the unskilled swimmer will flounder along at 2:28. I am that floundering along swimmer. Even my 100 yard time trial will rarely break 2 minutes.

Given my cardiovascular fitness, I would like to get to the 2:10 range which would put me at 35 minutes for a 1500 meter swim. I think this is a fairly reasonable goal. Last year, I was on pace for a 38:46 for 1500 meters based on a 750 meter leg in a stroke and stride event in June. Shaving off 4 minutes would be a 10% improvement. My mileage has increased since last year and I have been participating in Master’s swim workouts.

I am using the 3.2L/min benchmark based on a stationary bike VO2 max estimate performed December 2008. I would like to believe that my VO2 max has improved, but I question whether it has improved significantly enough to alter my bench marks.
I have a rule of thumb that says it takes about 2000 hours to become good at something. An individual who “grew up swimming” could have put that time in pretty easily. Seeing the high school swimmers in the pool for two workouts a day, makes me realize what it takes to be fast.

My current time commitment will have me swimming pretty well in about 20 years. If I can ever smooth out my kick and stop crossing over the mid-plane with my arms, I would like to make an effort to learn some other strokes starting with the breast stroke and back stroke. I cannot even imagine swimming butterfly.

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