View Full Version : Preparing for a 2 mile USMS National Championship race

08-11-2009, 03:11 AM
Last Friday I left work early and drove down to Canandaigua Lake to swim a continuous 2 miles in preparation for the Betsy Owens Memorial 2009 USMS 2 Mile Cable National Championship on 8/15 in Lake Placid. Canandaigua Lake has a buoy line that is 1 mile round trip. I decided to swim with my tempo trainer, but tend to do better if I go a bit slower at first to warm up, so I set it at 1.26 and swam out ~500 yards to the first buoy, then I took a few seconds to change the tempo to 1.22. I swam the rest of the first mile and most of the second mile at 1.22, then took a few seconds when I got to the final buoy to change to 1.18 for the BIG FINISH into shore. My time was an exciting 1 hour 10 minutes, which for me, was almost 10 minutes faster than my previous 1 mile times would've put me at.

Afterwards I wasn't tired, just hungry... it was dinner time! I was amazed that it was much easier than I thought it would be. I had a few different focuses during the swim: streamlining/lengthening, keeping my arms wide and deep, and my hip drive, but my main focus was relaxing with the beep and trying to make each stroke as good, if not better than the previous stroke. I ended up swimming faster than I ever had before; it took maintaining my focus, but it wasn't physically demanding at all. Now that I know I can do it, and that as long as I keep my focus, I'll be fine, has helped alleviate a lot of the apprehension I had about the upcoming race.

I started TI in February 2008 and have spent a majority of the last year and a half relearning to swim; doing lots of drills and swimming slowly so I could focus and imprint the new movements, hence I've been having problems swimming faster because my neuromuscular system has been stuck in slow-mo. With help from my TI coach, Kim Bade, and Terry's suggestions on the proper way to increase my speed using my tempo trainer, I've been able to increase my speed significantly.

08-11-2009, 11:30 PM
First, congratulations! Must feel great and be a big confidence booster!

I've been swimming 1 mi swims lately but I haven't gotten a tempo trainer. I would like to be where you are with your swimming so I may need to buy one soon!


08-12-2009, 04:11 AM

The tempo trainer really is the best way to increase your speed. There are lots of different ways you can use it, but what worked the best for me was the following suggestions from Terry. I had talked to him about the problems I was having getting faster, and that even though I continuously breathe out my nose under water, I was still feeling winded when I tried to go faster. I told him I'd been trying to build up my endurance by swimming 4x500 or 6x500 and trying to increase the tempo trainer along the way, but it wasn't working well. He recommended the following...

Instead of doing 4x500, try this instead:


Or instead of 6x500, try this set:


The reasoning for this is that to hold the faster pace, I needed to re-program my neuromuscular system to hold the same SPL (strokes per length) on a higher SR (stroke rate) or hold the same SR on fewer SPL. He told me that the simplest way to do that without becoming winded (swim faster w/o working harder) is to shorten the repeats.

The goal in these sets is to swim the best possible combination you can manage on the first (longer) repeats, then raise the bar to a more challenging combination (faster tempo with same SPL or fewer SPL with the same tempo) every time you shorten the repeat distance.

The important idea here is that it's more important to do repeat sets that allow you to improve the combination of SPL and tempo you can swim w/o working hard, than it is to swim longer repeats. Using the shorter repeats to improve the quality of your "motor programs" and the longer repeats periodically to test the "sustainability" of your new motor program.

I swam the 2 miles again tonight and cut ~1 minute off my time having the TT set @ 1.22 for the 1st mile, then @ 1.20 for the 2nd mile w/ 1.16 for the last 500 yards.

One other thing that my TI Coach, Kim Bade, has had me try is to set my TT twice as fast, ie: 0.6 vs. 1.2, that way you use 2 beeps per stroke which helps keep me from having my recovery arm "pause" on my thigh. First beep is the deep and wide "mail slot" entry. The second beep is the arm up and ready for entry.