Triathlon Swimming - Using the clock

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Triathlon Swimming - Using the clock

_Use the clock!  - Author Scott Larsen, Tri Edge Coach

Swimming is much different from cycling and running in the intensity that you can train.  Water provides a weightless environment and there is no impact on you muscles.  This will mean your recovery time from swimming training will be much shorter than the other two disciplines.  So how can you use this to your advantage?
One way of getting the most out of your swimming training is working with a time clock.  It absolutely amazes me how many athletes can not use these clocks.

Here are some tips:

Leaving times – in general triathletes will push off the wall right behind the person in front.  The excuse for this is “we draft in a triathlon so we are practicing it now”.  To a certain degree I agree that you should practice what you will do in a race however there should be sets designed specifically for this reason.  I.e. Steve often has a 25min drafting set which is great for practicing this very skill.   The rest of the time you should be using the clock and waiting your full 5 to 10 seconds behind the person in front.
You will be amazed at how much space is created in your lane, how much harder your workout will be and how much your swimming times will come down by as a result.

Working off a clock – in main sets you need to be working off a clock!  Many triathletes give themselves rest times rather than target times.  What’s the difference?  A rest time is giving your-self 20seconds rest between each portion of the set.  A target time is a set time you have to make.  Why does this make such a difference to the quality of your set?  The problem with rest times is that the speed of your session is completely self controlled.  It takes a very strong mind and will to keep pushing your sets when you are exhausted.  A target time means if you don’t maintain the set pace you will get no rest.  This means you are pushing yourself the entire set.
Note of caution:  When you are working off the clock make sure you’re in an appropriate lane.  Missing lengths defeats the purpose of the set.  If you miss the time don’t stop, push yourself to try and catch back up, this is great race practice.  I.e. when you get dropped off a swimming pack you don’t just stop you struggle to get back on.

The clock is king:  There is nothing more important than the clock.  Swimmers that can use it beyond a timing mechanism as a motivation and honesty tool will rep the rewards beyond belief.


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