Swim slow slower, Swim fast faster

There’s a possibly-apocryphal story about Matt Biondi (one of the fastest swimmers ever) that he always made a point of being the slowest person in the pool during warm up, no matter the skill level of the other swimmers surrounding him.

Matt BiondiI think there’s something to this idea. In training, most swimmers succumb to laziness from time to time. It’s been my observation (in myself and others) that swim-laziness comes in two basic forms:

  • not swimming slowly enough, when you’re supposed to be swimming slow
  • not swimming fast enough, when you’re supposed to be swimming fast

There’s an important purpose to slow swimming and drilling: Ingraining perfect technique, and being mindful of each part of your stroke by reducing it to its components. Drilling well requires focus and concentration, and the path of least resistance is to do it sloppily – or just skip it altogether. Sloppy drilling is, of course, self-defeating.

There’s also an important purpose to fast swimming. As my college coach Rob Orr liked to say: You’ve got to swim fast to swim fast. When the coach assigns a 100% effort, the path of least resistance is often to give a bit less – perhaps 90%. People prefer to avoid pain – and 100% is painful. The problem with giving only 90%, though, is the last 10% is where a lot of the improvement happens.

Don’t be lazy! Swim slow slower. Swim fast faster.

2 thoughts on “Swim slow slower, Swim fast faster”

  1. Huzzah! Thank you!

    In retrospect I look back on my four year stint as a Collegiate SPRINTER and credit it with making me a better marathon swimmer. The faster you can go for a 50 yard freestyle, the faster your 50 mile pace is.

    I also am constantly fighting with lane mates over going last during warmup. I don’t get serious about moving forward until after at least 2k.

    1. Could not agree more completely.

      Truth be told, this was originally a rant… but eventually I found a way to be more diplomatic. I am constantly infuriated by people swimming through ‘drill’ sets in a team environment. No, I don’t enjoy having you on my feet because I’m drilling and you’re swimming. It causes me to either (a) skip my own drilling to get away from you, or (b) stop and let you pass. In the end, I usually just insist on going last in the lane for warm-up sets, even if I subsequently lead the lane on the main set.

      I appreciate your comment, and hope you are well. I’m very excited for your upcoming big trip and race!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.