Structured and rigorous triathlon training has come to end for a lot of northern hemisphere athletes. It is this time of year I find myself encouraging athletes to stay in touch with the water over the cooler months. Yes, it can be unpleasant heading to the pool in the dark cold days of winter, but the benefits may far outweigh the challenges.
The most obvious is to maintain a level of swimming endurance and fitness so come spring you are not beginning with remnants of your swim capabilities. I have seen programs suggesting as many as 5 swim sessions per week for those athletes whose swim leg is their weak link. That may be great but, in my experience not very realistic. I will say 3 swim sessions per week would be fabulous and if you hit 2 sessions a week…..wait for it……consistently…..over the winter you would be doing nicely.
The two sessions do not have to be stressful or super intense. They should be targeted and specific to your technique weaknesses with a moderate amount of effort and duration. Keep it simple, specific and enjoyable. Here is a guide to finding your swim plan for the winter.
- Find 2 to 3 times during the week that you can dedicate to pool time. Find a swim buddy for accountability, or devise your own reward system for completing your swims.
- Find your weaknesses. Have a coach look at your swim, or you may know what needs work. Make that your winter swim project.
- Devise your practices. Use practices from Fresh Freestyle: 99 Practices for Triathletes and Swimmers, pull out sets specific to your swim needs.
- Branch out and do something completely out of your comfort zone that is swim related and may even be fun! Road running has trail running and obstacle courses, road cycling has mountain biking, swimming has water polo and Masters swim meets! I find my tri swimming is greatly improved by going to water polo practice and scrimmages. And this fall or winter I am committed to diving back into a pool swim meet purely as a fun challenge. Come join me!