Training with a Masters Swim Program

When Bruce & I decided to try triathlon back in 2010, he couldn’t swim more than 10 metres, and while I was comfortable in the water, by no means was I an efficient swimmer. We took some “learn to swim” lessons, Bruce watched a lot of online videos, and we swam 10s of thousands of laps in the pool and in open water over the last 3 years.

The end result? This summer, during our Ironman attempt, I swam 2.4 miles in 1:50, while he swam it in 1:31. He was super excited with his time – it was about 10 minutes better than he was expecting. I was…. not as thrilled. 1:50 was pretty much exactly where I expected to wind up, depending on current, water conditions, etc. (and those were pretty much perfect). I was hoping for better – I’ve had race days where I’ve had the best swims of my life, whether it was adrenaline, good current, drafting.

So after both of us failed to complete the race, even though it was for different reasons, we decided we really needed some guided training this year. We are planning on hiring a coach prior to our next Ironman attempt, but the first thing we did after coming home was to find a local Masters swimming program and sign up.

So what does that mean, exactly? Well, the Masters program we joined has up to 9 sessions a week – M-F from 6-7 am; Sat 7-8:30; Sun 9:30-10:30; and Tues/Thurs from 8-9:30 pm. So that gives us lots of opportunities to swim. We signed up for the maximum program – 3+ times per week (fees are based on how often you want to swim). Each session is coached – mostly by different coaches, although one woman does coach T/T/Sun mornings. We have now swam with most of the coaches, and have found things we like and don’t like about most of them.

In the end, this is not triathlon specific swimming – that is not the purpose of this Masters club. However, a couple of the coaches are big in triathlon, and do a lot of triathlon focus training. Some of the others are at least willing to work with us on helping us with our specific goals. Most of the training spends a lot of time on drills, working on both time and technique. Spending some time working on alternate strokes seems pointless to Bruce, although I am getting some value out of working on a couple of them – it forces me to improve my body position in the water, my stroke turnover, and my breathing.

Is it helping? I think it’s almost too soon to tell. I know I’m swimming faster, at least in short bursts – I can now swim 25m in 30 seconds, which I couldn’t do before, so that’s a measurable improvement. Whether I can translate that to a significantly faster 2.4 miles during my next Ironman, well, I have many months to work on that.

And at this point, at least I still enjoy getting in the water, and trying to swim 3x a week keeps me going. 1 day at a time. 🙂

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2 Responses to Training with a Masters Swim Program

  1. Carina says:

    Almost all my running friends who do tris regularly or occasionally are in masters swim groups here. And they’re always trying to get us “non-tri” people to come along, singing the praises of cross-training, etc. I’m sure it will equate to measurable results at your next IM, but even if it doesn’t, it will hopefully be an experience you enjoy — swimming together (particularly now), both working on fitness, meeting new people, having a (non-medical) hobby, etc. I was so sorry to hear about Bruce, but having things like swimming and training will hopefully help you both a lot — strength, sanity, escape, etc. Thinking of you and sending positive thoughts your way.

    • Kris says:

      Thank you for your thoughts, Carina. I can say that so far, I do enjoy most aspects of the swim club, and even though Bruce & I usually only swim together once per week (just because of juggling the kids), comparing notes on workouts, keeping him active, and just feeling connected is a big deal right now.

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