Learn Better Techniques By Swimming Together

by Pool Builders on 06-03-2010 in Articles

It's fun and you get more out of it.

In the pool, in the pond or in the ocean, with a little creativity, the training field becomes level. Novice athletes, fitness swimmers, triathletes or active Master swimmers can train together, learn from one another and get faster, while using less effort. Competitive triathletes can train with competitive POOL swimmers. Everyone gets a great workout, everyone goes home at the same time and you have worked together.

As a Master Swimmer and coach for over twenty years, I have learned that the social interaction between swimmers, before, during and after the workouts are as important as the actual time spent swimming laps in a pool or miles in a lake, ocean or bay. Training for a triathlon, open water swim or swim meet. Misery loves company. The short-term pain of serious training effort feels easier, shorter and more rewarding when shared with buddies.

Too often swimmers feel alone as they workout, simply because their pace is different than those around them. Self-motivation is much easier when you train with others. So level the playing field.

In our Masters swim group, we have learned just where each of us "fits" into the speed-spectrum. Some are just better, more experienced or simply younger than others. It's okay to be a slow swimmer in our group as long as you are taking your swim seriously, working to getting better or maintain your fitness level as you age. The keyword here is "working."

It's summer now, so we take our workouts to a local New England pond, where it is 2/3 mile from one end to the other (approx. 1100 yards). We know the distance and most have timed their swim across at least once. One end a small beach, the other a camp with an old swimmer-friendly wooden float for a mid workout breaks.

We arrive fifteen minutes before a pre-arranged 'splashdown' time. This is the time to share social tidbits, discuss some aspect of swim technique we are focusing on or simply trash-talk a little to get motivated. We get suits, wetsuits (as needed), goggles, cap, fins, paddles, pull buoys ready and test the water.

Now the key part and it has just evolved naturally, required no coaching and proves my theory that we all love to swim TOGETHER...... It's the slower swimmers that leave first, followed by the others, almost always in the reverse order of their intended or expected speed. Some wear wetsuits or use fins (me) just to keep their speed and competitiveness.

By the time we have all reached the middle of the swim across our beloved pond, those with the best swim technique, fitness level and younger swimmers begin to catch the first to leave and "the race is on."

Real swim training, technique improvement and cardio workout begins in earnest for most. It happens naturally as one swimmer proceeds to pass another. They drift closer to one another; begin to watch each other's stroke count, breathing pattern and relative speed, and..... learn from each other while almost unconsciously increasing swim stroke focus and effort level to a cardio threshold.

I have had four back surgeries (don't ask), three shoulder surgeries, am "in my sixes" and aging up this year, so you can imagine that after nearly fifty years of on and off competitive swimming and Master Swim coaching I need motivation, encouragement and affirmation.

With this technique of leveling our playing field we all feel good. We stop at the other side, exchange thoughts on the swim, strategy, technique and water conditions. Then it's off again on our return. Again the slowest first, then others begin their "chase." The fastest among us take about 15 minutes and the slower take about 20 minutes, so only a short delay puts us together in the middle of the pond again. Many this year, repeat the process; swimming 4400 yards by the time we're done.

I often say, "I never want to be here when I get here, but I am always glad I came when I leave."

Try this with your swim buddies, learn to get better by adjusting your start times to swim together and make friends for life. Endorphins are a great high we share. And there's nothing better than feeling this high together!

I'll talk about doing this with your pool workouts in another article.

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