The typical answer is: Long Course. And that actually has been a reasonably good solution for me… until this week. With the UIC varsity teams now approaching the championship phase of their season, the pool we share has now switched to short course ’til mid-April. So… three months until Tampa Bay and nothing but flip turns every 25 yards? Oh no!
Marathon swimmers need endurance, but equally important is being able to psychologically tolerate swimming for long stretches without stopping. This isn’t as relevant in pool competition, where the longest race is only a mile. In the mile, you still need good speed, so lots of interval training is the norm. Even in my younger days when I routinely covered 10,000m over a morning & evening practice, I’d rarely do sets that required me to swim more than 20 laps at a time (500 SCY or 1000 LCM).
In preparing for a marathon swim, though, long steady-state swims should (in my opinion) be an important part of the training diet. If you have year-round access to open water, the task is less daunting. But if you’re limited to short course and, like me, your eyes start to glaze over after 40 laps or so, you may have to get creative.
Thanks to recent advances in technology, there are now some interesting ways to mitigate boredom during long swims. In particular, waterproof MP3 players offer musical distraction, which runners have enjoyed since…I don’t know… the Walkman? And swim watches – which automatically count your laps and strokes – offer freedom from maintaining your own internal lap count (which, for me, is unreliable after about 40-50).
Over the next few posts, I’ll review four of these “swim toys,” two in each category:
Check back soon!