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Old 06-20-07, 12:59 PM   #1
fueledbymetal
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How fast can I expect to get in swimming if I train once a week?

I'm a long time runner & weight lifter and entered my first triathlon a few weeks ago. I entered it at basically the last minute so I had less than two weeks to practice cycling & swimming, which I hadn't done in 7 & 11 years respectively. It was a standard distance sprint and I ended up finishing in 90 minutes 23 seconds. I was almost last coming out of the pool, did OK in biking and ended up passing a ton of people on the run. I had a blast and would like add cycling and swimming to my weekly routine and enter some Olympic length tri's later on in the year.

Running and weightlifting are my priority, so my weekly workout looks like this:
Mon - Lift
Tues - Run
Wed - Swim
Thurs - Bike
Friday - Lift
Saturday - Run
Sunday - rest (I'm old, my body needs one rest day a week! )

I'm really not willing to reduce my lifting or running workouts any more than that.

I swam mostly breast stroke during my tri since it's the only stroke I'm decent at. I know I need to use freestyle if I want to get my swim time down. I'm basically starting from scratch with that stroke and I live in a semi-rural area, so hiring a coach/instructor may not be possible. I've considered driving out to a Total Imerssion clinic though.

So, after all that, my question is: How fast can I reasonbly expect to get my 1500m freestyle time by training once a week with minimal personal coaching?

My current 1500m time with all breast stroke is ~45 minutes.

Last edited by fueledbymetal; 06-20-07 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 06-20-07, 01:16 PM   #2
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How long the swim? My swim leg SUCKS! So, I have to swim a lot more than most folks have to to stay where I want to be in the pack.

Plus I float like a rock.

You may want to combine a swim/lift day to get another day.
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Old 06-20-07, 01:57 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AGGRO
You may want to combine a swim/lift day to get another day.
I would definietly like to, but I have a full set of olympic weights & benches at my house that I use and the pool is kind of a hassle to get to, so maintaining a good work/family balance would make it impossible.
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Old 06-20-07, 02:06 PM   #4
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Honestly, one day a week in the pool isn't enough to really improve your time or technique. Especially if you are trying to switch from breaststroke to freestyle.

If you aren't willing to change your schedule to incorporate more time in the water - good luck to you.
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Old 06-20-07, 02:12 PM   #5
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Sunday - Your rest day you can make a swim day but focus only on technique, drills, body position and overall form.

Not really taxing on the body at all.

or, 1/2 a year ditch the weights and focus on swimming
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Old 06-20-07, 08:52 PM   #6
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I wouldn't expect any huge gains. I do just fine on three times a week if you could fit that into your schedule.
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Old 06-20-07, 09:18 PM   #7
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If you swam three times a week with proper technique and training, you could easily reduce your 1500 time down to 25 minutes. But that takes time, commitment, and coaching.
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Old 06-20-07, 11:43 PM   #8
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Try not to worry about it. As long as you can get through the swim before any cutoff times, you'll be fine. I always have people telling me I should swim more but the reality is that in an Olympic distance, you'll probably only get five minutes faster at best (I could be underestimating based on how "bad" you are now). Unless you're trying to make the podium, swim one day per week and have fun in the races.

Your tri can be, Float, Hammer, Sprint

Good luck.
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Old 06-21-07, 06:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjbruin
Your tri can be, Float, Hammer, Sprint

Good luck.
This is funny. Mine are more like "Float, Hammer, Jog"
Haha.
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Old 06-21-07, 09:15 AM   #10
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You may not gain as much time, but if you are comfortable in the water, you expend less energy & will have more to give to the bike & run. I find if I have a really comfortable/good swim, the rest of my race follows suit.
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Old 06-21-07, 10:12 AM   #11
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Then I'd scratch a run day. How about running to the pool or riding to the pool?

I used to ride the the gym to solve some of the same.
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Old 06-21-07, 10:54 AM   #12
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just swim with a set of free weights. Two birds with one stone. Well, just one time and then you will never be heard from again.

Personally, I think you will struggle to see much in the way of gains doing any of the 3 disciplines of a tri just once a week. That said, it is all about time and priorities. If you want to be in good shape for the time you have available and you just want to toss some tri's in for fun, then 1 day a week swimming will probably be fine.

As far as rest - I firmly believe the body needs rest to get stronger (i.e. hard work alone does not do it, hard work+rest=gains), but the entire benefit of doing these 3 fun activities is that they use different muscles. If you want a day off as you are hurt for time and need to be doing something else, that is great, but you do not need to take Sunday off to keep your body rested and healthy.

Aggro has solid advice - try to combine somewhere. Ride or run to the swim if at all possible. When I first started I did that. I now have changed my schedule and can run, bike and swim 2x each per week. I actually toss in a 3rd of one of them based on my current goals (like swim when I have a masters swim meet or running when I have a half marathon). I also workout/lift/core workout 4 times a week. people do a lot more than me and still rest their bodies enough.
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Old 06-21-07, 11:42 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjbruin
Your tri can be, Float, Hammer, Sprint

Good luck.
Haha, I like that!

I sometimes add cycling to my run days (bricks), so I get some extra cycling in there. Adding swim workouts would be so much easier if my pool was closer. Maybe I'll try alternating between 2 lifting days/1 swim day one week and 1 lifting day/2 swim days the next...

Last edited by fueledbymetal; 06-21-07 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 06-21-07, 12:36 PM   #14
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This pretty much sums it up!

Quote:
Originally Posted by cjbruin
Unless you're trying to make the podium, swim one day per week and have fun in the races.
I swam once a week last year leading up to my first oly and finished the 1500M in 43 minutes. After the oly I swam once a week for another month and then switched to twice a week for a couple of weeks. I finished the season with a shorter tri and a 22 minute 1000M split. While that's not setting the world on fire by any means it was a pretty significant improvement for me and it is a pace that I can live with. Running is my strong suit so I love giving up that spot and then passing a ton of people during the run. It just makes you feel great to be wiped out and still be passing people!
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Old 06-21-07, 01:04 PM   #15
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According to my college coach swimming only 1 day a week is torture and a waste of time. He said a minimum of 2 in order to get anywhere.
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Old 06-21-07, 01:14 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markpaul
According to my college coach swimming only 1 day a week is torture and a waste of time. He said a minimum of 2 in order to get anywhere.
I would agree, it's the exact same thing with soccer. Once a week is telling your body just to get it over with. Twice a week or more is telling your body that you mean business.

To the OP, is there a lake nearby that is more convenient than getting to a pool?
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Old 06-25-07, 03:47 PM   #17
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If you merely learned to properly swim free, you could swim 1500m in 30 min. Drop the lifting days, I dont see the point of gaining muscle mass at the expense of cardio endurance if your goal is an olypic distance tri.

You don't need to swim in a lake or open water of any kind until you learn how to properly swim freestyle. The full immersion book is very usefull (not a bible), the class could be helpfull, but it would likely be much more helpfull this time next year. P.M me for questions.
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Old 06-25-07, 05:18 PM   #18
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Okay here's some hope for you. As I explained earlier I swam once a week and threw in a couple weeks of twice a weeks and made progress last year. This year I have only been swimming once a week and I made significant progress in the same race. Last year 43 min 1500, this year 31 min 1500. Again, still not lighting the world on fire but good progress. I'll be posting the complete race report later but you can expect progress if you are practicing the right form and making the most of your swim time.
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Old 06-26-07, 06:53 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bspurrie
Okay here's some hope for you. As I explained earlier I swam once a week and threw in a couple weeks of twice a weeks and made progress last year. This year I have only been swimming once a week and I made significant progress in the same race. Last year 43 min 1500, this year 31 min 1500. Again, still not lighting the world on fire but good progress. I'll be posting the complete race report later but you can expect progress if you are practicing the right form and making the most of your swim time.
bspurrie,

Congrats on the improvement! 31 is an awesome time and you have definitely given me hope. Did you take any lessons on freestyle or did you just practice? Any input on what your swimming workouts are like would be great!


CCFISH81,

I like your advice about the Total Immersion book. I've been thinking about picking it up and while it's late this season to really put it to use, I'm hoping this fall and winter to use it to improve my form.
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Old 06-26-07, 07:11 AM   #20
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As a swimmer who has tried the TI program, I highly recommend it. However, the book is worthless. Get the DVD. They make a freestyle one and a 4 stroke one. I have the 4 stroke one and have found it very helpful
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Old 06-26-07, 11:17 AM   #21
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Try putting some of your work outs together.

I usually swim/run one right after the other. I also try to bike/run (again, one right after the other) 1x per week. These are usually called brick work outs. You'll be supprised how much difference it makes to ride a bike first, then run, on your speed.

Even weight/run together provide you with some extra cardio. Even if you only go a few miles.
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Old 06-26-07, 01:24 PM   #22
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+1 to agracer.

I almost always combine workouts, even if they're not traditional "brick" workouts. For instance, I never drive to the gym; I ride 7 miles there, get a good warm up, do my workout, and ride home. I use the YMCA because they have multiple locations in my area and all have pools. This lets me combine my swim workouts as well.

My workouts yesterday: Swam 1500 at lunch at the nearby aquatics center. After work, I rode to the YMCA at an easy recovery spin pace, ran 3 miles, and did my shoulder and biceps workout. Rode home.

The key is to alternate intensity days in each sport. Ride easy and run, or ride hard and swim easy.
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Old 06-26-07, 03:47 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indygreg
As a swimmer who has tried the TI program, the book is worthless.
Wrong
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Old 06-26-07, 03:53 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fueledbymetal
bspurrie,
CCFISH81,
I like your advice about the Total Immersion book. I've been thinking about picking it up and while it's late this season to really put it to use, I'm hoping this fall and winter to use it to improve my form.
Its not too late in the season to put it to use, you can get some really helpful tips from the book. It may be too late to use the training program exactly how it recomends, however I never used any of the workouts directly, just took bits and pieces from them.

Improving your form is the easiest and quickest way to get faster swimming. Most Triathletes are already fairly fit, once they develope technique they see immediate results.
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Old 06-29-07, 08:24 AM   #25
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My schedule for today is swim 1000m at 0600 (done), bike 1hour at lunch, then 1.5 hours cardio/circuit training. Can be done. As far as getting better in the water, you may have to alter your routine based on your goals.
Good luck,
Mike
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