Swimming for Hammers and Spoons

To save us hijacking the 70.3 thread, @Hammerer is going to tell @Matthew_Spooner and I how to swim here.

He will also answer your questions :wink:

So…I was on strokes per length.
I could not count this morning.

I was testing a new trisuit and was gobsmacked at just how easy swimming 1:30s in it felt :open_mouth:
If you’re ever in Derby, pay Huub a visit and see what they have in their super special walk-in clearance :wink:


It is surprising how slow “skin” is compared to suits. I suppose that’s why full body suits were banned in pool comps

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It not even touted as a swimskin, just some “hydrophobic” fabric coating.
It’s going under my wetsuit, but just testing it at the minute.

the suits that FINA banned were polyurethane (which is hydrophobic so smoother in water) and also slightly buoyant (they had some air cells in them) so giving swimmers an advantage when wearing one.

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I’ve been using the WU you gave me on FB for months now, still really like it although I modified it slightly with backstroke as I hate kick-boarding. Having the fast 25s every session I think has helped me relax at speed. :+1:

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What’s this warm up?
Mine is generally something along the lines of;

200m easy mixed (free, breast, back)
200m easy pull
100m alternate fists (25m fists, 25 Easy)
100m single Arm
4* (25m free sprint, 25m back) (tumble turning onto back, to get out of the habit of twisting on the wall, saving about 1.5s/100m)

I’ve been conscious of the fact that a tri suit is way faster than “skin” ever since I did some testing for my first pool tri. Probably matters that I have a somewhat hairy chest, although nothing excessive. But the first time I tested, when I wasnt a very good swimmer, I was at least 5s/100 if not more.

I can see why … the smoothing of the water all the way from the shoulders to the knees must make a massive difference.

A swim skin is even better in a pool tri. I’ve used one once (and of course raced with it for the rest of bike-run) and it was significant.

Back in the OW for me this morning. Felt so slow, and the watch bore out 1:50/100 pace. Not good. Having looked at the track though, it definitely seems to have cut off quite a bit, so I reckon the 2k in 36mins its saying is being rather harsh. Given I did 2k in the pool yesterday in 31:40, I’d hope that was the case.

I’ve only swum in this place a couple of times before, both last year, and I set my second quickest lap per the strava segment this morning (I did 8 laps there last year in total). So ignoring the pace reported per the watch, that says I cant be too far off the 1:01 IM swim pace I managed last August.


From last August
“I’d advise something progressive so 200 easy 5/10rpe, 200 kick 200 pull at 6/10 200 swim each 50 faster so 6x7x8x9/10rpe. I’d then do build of 16x25 @ 7/10 off 30 seconds holding distance per stroke to get good form (try 17strokes then kick to end if you don’t make the whole length)”

I do:
200 easy
200 breast/back
200 as 4x50 pull buoy 6/7/8/9 rpe
200 as 8x25 8/10 RPE off 30s

I don’t do drills unless I know the flaw I’m trying to correct, and at the moment I’m not aware of any flaws.

Cheers for that tinpot :wink:
Similar to mine, just way more 25s.

The 25 back/breast is just for my ego!
I’m pretty good at turns, but reckon there’s 15s to be had in a pool Tri if I can nail them.
They take no time out of a session, so I just add them in for the warm or cool (if I’m cool, I focus on accelerating into the wall, or do some somersaults half way down as well!)

Fist drills and paddles;
My left arm is weak.
My right arm has a tendency to do an S shape on the catch.

I focus on correcting the right arm, but also strengthening the left.
This helps with straight line swimming in open water. Doesn’t it?

As for @stenard - GPS open water cannot be trusted. I use it as a guide now. Just have to trust the OW course is correct. My OW pace is slower than pool, mainly down to my turns

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for the elite level juniors we essentailly do the same thing every WU. 800 SKiPS as 200swim very easy long strokes 15-20 SPL depending on boy girl and age 200kick, 200 pull RPE 5-6/10, try and hold DPS. 200 sWim increasing pace last 50 9/10 . WE will then do 16x25 off 30seconds, top boys holding 15strokes 15 seconds down to the slowest girls 20/20.

We will mix it up a bit with kick some will do with board, som backstroke kick, maybe kick on side, maybe make them do 6 fly kicks off the wall …(remember upto junior level all trials for academies and super series events are pool based so pool skills are needed) sometimes i will increase the kick out to 400 also as i like an average of 10% kicking over a week. I may also allow them to do the first 200 as backstroke. some times the 16x25’s will be IM as i put in mixed stroke work regularly especially in winter (i did a mini study over winter for my level 3 and it had a big effect on their front crawl swimming but probably not so beneficial for adults swimming twice a week for an hour with already compromised technique)

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What’s SKiPS?
I don’t know all of these abbreviations!!!

Any of them kick like Popov?

sorry SKiPS is just Swim Kick Pull Swim so the WU described above. is 800 SKiPS 200 of each part.

I have one kid who will kick a 100 in sub 1:20 …I know mental. he sprints about a 58.5 100 off the blocks and will do a 400 in a tri in 4:38ish. which isnt particularly fast but its all you need at any level. benchmark for all trials and elite qualification is holding ~1:10 / 100. (as easily as possible)


with you arms have you tried one paddle one fin…paddle on right hand and fin on left foot. helps you focus on what the individual arm is doing and adjust.

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200m kick…I’d be there all day.

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perhaps you need to practice it :wink:

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That’s an interesting concept.


Me too! I’m about 40s/25m for kick.

Cheers @Hammerer - I don’t own any fins, as tend not to want to kick for the reason above :see_no_evil:

First out of any 70.3/IM will only be doing 1:10/100m, so you’re right about the guy doing a 4:40 400m.
It seems as though 1:19/100m is the benchmark IM Pro level swim speed (50 minute IM swim)

Can you recall what arhy got his swim down to?
IIRC, he wasn’t from a swimming background at all

I think fins are a bit antisocial in a public swim session, even if technically allowed by the pool. Paddles and pull buoy you can get away with, and even snorkel at a push although you do need to ‘site’ to maintain the gaps to others in the lane.

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1:10 / 100 is the BTF benchmark, so T3 academy will be looking at 2:20 for boys 2:30 for girls (although there are run targets and its overall points so you could get away with slower if you can run very fast) Youth and juniors 4:40 boys 5 girls.

IM I would say 1:15 is the benchmark now as most are sub 50 swimmers at the top level. The thing is this has to feel easy as well!

@arhy was low 60’s in the end IIRC, he was focusing on sprinting and was hoping to go sub minute. thing is with swimming its all about time in the water and 3 sessions a week isnt going to cut it, apart from maintaining or if you are an improver swimmer make gains until you reach a natural plateau. I remember your big gains was when you swam most days due to the hip injury after the first forestman wasn’t it?

Huge huge gains then - yes!
Think I swam 1:30-1:40 for that IM, 75mins the year after that, then an hour the year after that.

Bloody good memory, too.
I drove past the pool in Derby the other day (on the way to visit Huub) and recalled hobbling there on my crutches for pull buoy work.

57:44 is my pool PB, but that was a 4K TT (also hit my 1km, 1.5k, 1.9k and everything else in between that day!)

The thing with swimming, is I haven’t a Scooby!

I can see how to improve my cycling (do more hills, make easy rides really easy, follow a WattBike plan), but I’m not mad keen on cycling anyhow, so more than happy to stay at my level for now.

Running I know how to get better. Run more, run slower more, run faster less, do some hills. I’m targeting an improvement to my run; with a huge stretch target. Though that’ll end October.

Swimming??? I know running is detrimental to it, but after October, spending 40 minutes before work and a bit of time after work, supplemented with some gym/dry land stuff, is far more appealing than cycling.
Realistically, it’ll still only be six sessions per week.