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Swim Club Blog: Is The Swim The Least Important Of The Triathlon Disciplines?

The Endurance Store Swim Club provides you with simple swim training plans throughout the winter months. The plan runs October to October and is completely free. We only ask that you pre-register so that your training plans can be emailed directly.

Registration is free and you may unsubscribe at any time from the Swim Club and stop receiving updates. Overview of the swim plan be seen below, but before you start you need to complete a test to set your swim paces, then register and download the sessions. GO HERE to register for swim club.

I've heard it so many times I've heard it so many times... "the swim is the shortest part of the triathlon, you spend much more time on the bike and run, so your training time should reflect that". If you're a weaker swimmer then that might be music to your ears, but sadly it's not the truth and I'm here to explain why you need to re-think your view.

I appreciate that not everyone races Ironman distance, but I'm going to use it as an example all the same. Having said that, you can apply this advice to any distance, from sprint triathlon right up to the full Ironman distance event.

The first mistake...

"When I race an Ironman, I'll be swimming for 90 minutes, cycling for 7 hours and running for 4 hours. Clearly the swim is the least important as I'll spend much less time in the water, than I will on my bike or the run". This view is the first and the biggest mistake you can make. It's wrong to look at the event as 'overall time on each discipline', you should really be examining the rate at which you can lose time during each discipline to your fellow competitors.

I'm lost already...

Ok, let's look at this in a simple way. A good club triathlete can exit the water in 60 minutes, whilst many age groupers who are not strong swimmers will be 1:30 or more (the most common time for age groupers will be 1:20-1:30). That means, that a 1:30 swimmer loses half an hour in the first 90 minutes of the event, that's 50% slower. What are the chances of gaining 30 minutes back on your club mate in the first 90 minutes of the bike ride? What's the chances of gaining 30 minutes back on the first 90 minutes of the run?

The reality is, if you lose 30 minutes to your club mate during your 90 minute swim, you'd have to make a huge effort to pull that back by the end of the 112 miles bike. It's important to understand that time losses are far greater during swimming, than any other discipline. You can lose a whole lot more, in a very short amount of time. The time losses are not the same across the disciplines, so you can't assume that as you spend less time swimming, the bike and run is more important.

I don't race Ironman...

That's fine, look at the swim results on an olympic distance race. The top swimmers at most age group races will be 19 minutes and you have to be a decent swimmer to exit in 25 minutes. That's 6 minutes gone in the first 25 minutes... who pulls back 6 minutes in the first 25 minutes of a bike leg?? Most age groupers are above 25 minutes and closer to the 30 minute mark, those time gaps are huge and you can't pull them back on the bike or run. The rate at which you lose time on the swim, is very different to bike and run, more time is lost in a shorter space of time.

Still think the swim isn't important? Have a re-think and start getting to the pool more often!

The Endurance Store Swim Club

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