It’s funny. A few months ago I was reading a friends blog (he’s an Elite Triathlon dude) and he noted weeks where he was pushing upwards of 20,000 yards. I thought to myself then…wow – there is no way I could ever swim that much in a week.

See, I’m not a swimmer. Not by any stretch of anyone’s imagination. I just started swimming last year, everyone else has years of yardage under their belts. But I am getting better, one yard at a time. Over the past two months with the new coach we’ve been concentrating a ton of fixing my swim technique. As I think I mentioned before – when he first saw me swim 50 yards he stopped me, got me out of the pool (literally!) and said:

“Well…I have some good news. I can make you a much faster swimmer.”

So..week after week we’ve been working to fix the 17,575 little things that I do wrong in my swim technique. And slowly but surely it’s coming around. I spend half of my swim sessions working on technique. Swimming faster – not harder is my mantra.

Yesterday was a breaking point for me, mentally anyway. I swam 5,050 continuous yards at the pool. No flip turns, no stopping. It wasn’t super fast. It wasn’t hard. It was just smooth and efficient. It was like when you go out for a long run – you shouldn’t be out of breath – and at the end I wasn’t. I just went back and forth. I could have easily gone on for thousands more yards, I was in that much of a groove. Oh, and the last 3,000 yards were with a pull buoy.


(A photo after the swim. I LOVE this pool, even on crappy days it’s still great to be outdoors)

As you can see above, I was also pretty much the only person in the pool. It was threatening to rain (outdoor pool), so nobody was around. Towards the end of my workout two swimmers showed in up some lanes next door.

The reason this was such a big workout mentally for me is that I’ve never swim that far before. Nor did I have any idea how I would do time-wise. I’ve never been concerned about completing the distance, I’ve been concerned about completing it correctly.

Yesterday I did those 5,050 yards in exactly 1hr 20m. Which means I would do 4,400 yards in roughly 1hr 10 minutes. Even better is that typically I get about 4-5 minutes per mile of efficiencies gained due to wetsuit buoyancy and not having to stop/turn every 25yards. So that puts me in the realm of 60-62 minutes for the Ironman swim. Which is exactly where I want to be.

As for the 17,575 – that’s how many yards I swam this past week. Seriously. Rather mind boggling for me actually.


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  1. And if you add drafting during the race to that, I’m sure you could be sub-1 hr :-) Of course, then you have to add back in getting kicked in the head, etc…

  2. maybe you could share some of those 17,575 things you were doing wrong? Cuz i’m sure i’m doing twice that number wrong.

    but 17,575 in a week, of units of anything–most impresssive!

  3. Jeez. I am way impressed!

  4. Unless it was lightning, why would rain keep anyone away from a pool? You get wet, right? Sounds like your swimming is really maturing.

  5. Dang,

    I just have to get in the pool. I have been a running fool lately. I skimp on the swim workouts because I am a good swimmer. I have to get back in the water!

  6. Outstanding work. I remember the feeling of a 5000 yard swim last summer – it was exactly like you described. Smooth and natural. You’ve found the zone, for sure. Keep hammering that training!

  7. good to hear. i swam tonight – some sprint work because i ran a few miles earlier today too and was with my girlfriend who isn’t much of a swimmer. did 10×100 freestyle’s on the 1:30 but was happy to be coming in on about the 1:15 most of the time. next time i’ll bump up the interval!

  8. Great swimming!

    Are you adding in any wetsuit training?

    I was the weirdo showing up and ripping out 1000 with a wetsuit on, in Florida, in Sept and Oct, in a heated outdoor pool.

    62 minute swim would be an awesome time.

    Oh! That was my swim time at the IM. Sorry, just had to get that in.

  9. The one thing you forget about is that open water can throw some curveballs – chop, current and of course just not being smooth like the pool – so sometimes the times can be off.

    Still, it sounds like your swimming is coming along great. Congrats on the 5000 yard swim!

    17,500 yards…yikes. I don’t think I’ve ever swam that much in a week…well…back in pre-tri days, I’m sure there was a week or two there where I hit that much yardage. Phew!!

  10. Great numbers for anyone, but dang! You’ve only been swimming for a year?! Well done. You are definitely headed for some good splits at IM Canada!

  11. you do 60 62 mins in the ironman and i am predicting now….

    a 10 hour 55 min time….

    whattya think…too ambitious or will you beat that

    just thinking

  12. Ryan – Yup, I do wetsuit swims twice a week during weeks leading up to races (such as this) and once a week otherwise. Yes, it sucks…bad.

    TriguyJT – :) No comment.

  13. Nat

    I’m jealous of that awesome outdoor pool you have! I wish we had something like that around here.

  14. You just started last year? Wow..I never would have known. Just so you know…5000+ yards is unbelievable to me…much less 17575!