You are trying to swim longer distances but you get tired after just a few laps? Or ever wondered why your technique is not improving or why you’re not becoming faster over longer distances? Here’s a thought: swim slower!
Sometimes you have to take one step back to take two steps forward. This is very true when it comes to endurance swimming. Here are 4 reasons why you should go slow(er) when swimming longer distances.
Fix your technique
Swimming slower helps you to focus on your stroke, allowing for heightened accuracy, improved hand and arm pathways and to fix bad habits that may have arisen. It is important to say this. Focus of small parts of your technique while swimming easy and longer distances. Maybe one hand or arm at a time. Maybe it could be as simple as playing with your head position, trying to flipturn or breathing bilaterally (to both sides) to balance out your stroke.
Break (mental) boundaries
Endurance swimming requires a measured effort over a longer period of time, strengthening mind, body and spirit. It is easy to think about swimming 50m as that feels mentally easy. Think about swimming 200, 300 or 400m and then ten times in a row and it becomes a totally different thing in our minds. We are immediately faced with the what-ifs of our swimming capability. Hence the reason why endurance can extend our swimming boundaries considerably.
Strengthen the base
Swimming longer distances on a slow, easy pace helps build greater aerobic capacity, creating a strong physical base to be able to go fast in races or when needed. Swimming the distance makes us stronger swimmers and swim structurally faster when combined with tempo-intervals and speed training. It is the cornerstone of swimming. Nothing substitutes a good focused endurance session once a week.
Know your paces
Endurance swimming teaches us how to pace our swimming more evenly. Start every endurance set at a sustainable pace. This might feel really slow in the beginning, but it is the best way to start off with proper technique and easy breathing. Starting slow prevents your pace to plummet halfway your workout and will result in a best average over a long distance.
When swimming your next endurance set, try to think of one technical element the entire time. Because you know what they say: practice makes permanent!