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Swim Club Blog: Is there a draft or is it me?

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.

If you follow our blogs, you'll know that we are big fans of 'race specific' training. A real bugbear of mine is that triathlon is becoming more about the 'training' and less about the racing. We swim in the pool doing various drills, watching out splits per 100m and then on race day, often fail to deliver. Training is no more than a means of 'conditioning' but 'racecraft' is key for performance. For example, if you train in open water you should swim close to others, in rough water at a faster pace as that's what you have to do on race day. Open water swim training is often 'far removed' from the 'race day environment'.

All too often we hear people saying that they prefer to swim on their own, they prefer their own space and they hate the rough water created by other swimmers. I'm not knocking the enjoyment of swimming on your own, in a peaceful lake. As a stand alone activity, it can be one of the most enjoyable and relaxing things you can ever do. However, if you're training to race, then swimming alone in a calm lake as a means of preparing for a rough / mass start event with 1000+ other people is not adequate preparation.

Drafting... stay on topic!!

I'm already starting to drift off topic, so lets get back to it. Drafting is one of the easiest ways to save time and energy in the swim. If you can draft faster swimmers, you'll swim quicker, if you draft someone the same pace as you, you'll use much less energy than normal. Here's some things to think about:

1. A large pack can create a large draft, so swim behind a large pack! The issue here is that the water will feel rough/choppy and you will feel as though your stroke technique is faltering (you can't maintain a 'smooth & gliding' stroke in rough water). It's important to understand that even if it feels as though your stroke is faltering, you'll still be moving faster. Forget technique, relax, swing your arms over and focus on drafting.

2. If you're used to swimming on your own, you're more likely to move away from the pack to find your own water. This is the slowest option, move back into the main pack.

3. Ideally you need to find the perfect pair of feet and get as close as you can. If they are swimming straight, let them tow you round the course. DON'T keep jabbing their feet, it's bloody irritating!! It may feel extremely easy behind someone, so control your speed to prevent yourself constantly jabbing them. Many people feel the urge to overtake as the pace feels so easy, when they try to do this, they realise they can't swim fast enough to get past.

4. Position yourself correctly at the start line. If you want to find faster feet, don't go to the back... go to the front and go off fast, then look to your left and right, waiting for someone to come past you.

5. There are times when you'll be swimming and suddenly realise that the person next to you has been there for 15 minutes and you are both swimming exactly the same pace. Drop back and draft, what's the point in wasting energy to swim at the same pace?

6. Drafting should be a strategy which you employ from the start. Don't consider it half way through the swim... stand on the start line with a clear strategy. If you want to find faster swimmers, it's too late half way through the swim.

7. Drafting and pack swimming is a specific open water skill, which pool swimming does not prepare you for. When you make the transition to open water, you should learn the skills and tactics. Pool swimming is a solo time trial, open water is a bunch race with different skills and requirements.

8. You need to practice and become accustomed to open water pack swimming. Don't think you can train in the pool, train alone in open water then simply jump into a mass start swim and be efficient at drafting and pack swimming. Use every opportunity in open water to swim close and swim as a pack, it's your only chance to practice. You can swim alone in the pool for training, so use your time in open water to develop the specific skills required.

Are you struggling to find the correct training environment? If so, you need to COME AND TRAIN WITH US on Wednesday evenings.

The Endurance Store

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