We went to a swim meet this weekend and to no one’s surprise we learned some more goodies about how to be effective under the magnifying glass that is competition. This particular meet was held in a long course pool meaning 50 meters long. Not only is a meter longer than a yard, when you take away ½ of the turns you really get a good perspective on how the swimmer’s fitness is progressing – or not.
There is one axiom in our sport that goes something like this: one goal of a swimmer is to be long course fit and short course fast. To swim effectively in a 50 meter pool you need to be really fit. To compete effectively in any size body of water you need to have speed. If open water swimming is your thing then you absolutely need to be very fit. If competing in open water is one of your goals you will want to make certain that you have speed as well as fitness. Many a place is determined in racing by the closing speed at the finish. This applies to open water as well as pool swimming.
You can get long course fitness in a short course pool, even a 20 yard pool or a motel pool; simply do a flip turn before you get to the side of the pool, pushing off on the water, not the pool side. Try it sometime. You’ll be amazed at how challenging it is to swim laps like this. We often have our swimmers do 100’s or 200’s doing long course turns at one end while doing short course turns at the other. In our county there are pools that are 50 meters, 40 meters and 33 1/3 yards long. Each of them offers opportunities to get long course fit.
In fact, even swim programs that have 12 month access to 50 meter water day in and day out still practice a lot going short course. Too much long course swimming makes you a sled dog. Too much sprinting makes you a greyhound. If you are going to venture into open water or long course pool swimming make certain you are fit while keeping up your speed so you can be competitive at the end of the race.
We know there are a lot of you who are tri-athletes out there. In the cold of winter you can do a lot for yourselves by swimming even in a short course pool by simply varying your routines. Give it a try and let us know how it goes for you!