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The art of swim pacing

August 12, 2013
Thomas Lurz

Thomas Lurz

When it comes to pacing a swim in open water it is important to think about a sustainable and efficient turn of speed that keeps you competitive, but doesn’t leave you exhausted for the bike or run. Keeping an optimum stroke rate to suit the conditions and the speed you want to swim at is key. Pacing, especially in longer events, can be tricky with so many vriables and competitors.

I often hear triathletes say they felt overly tired having gone too hard or they could have gone faster. Pacing, especially in an Ironman, is tricky given how cautious most athletes are with so many more hours of racing to come. Paying attention to pacing in training is key and many struggle to hold a similar pace while racing because they are not able to start steady enough or able to change pace when it suits. When swimming in open water there is no clock to keep an eye on pace, so learning to pace in training is key.

Pacing also involves the ability to change speed to make the most of a situation, such as when the opportunity to draft off another swimmer arises. Pacing also means maximising your open water technique so there is little to reduce your ideal race pace. Many things can contribute to a slower pace, such as sighting too much or inefficient turns at buoys where a change in stroke or style will require more effort to return to race pace.

Regular drills, video review, land based training, core strength, mobility and flexibility will all help with the above and I regularly touch on these my monthly swim features in Triathlete Europe. Sustainability is king and without good front crawl technique the mechanics of your stroke will be working against you and tiring you prematurely. Good technique will help you in the water and give you the confidence to take control of your race swim, and should therefore be addressed first. Once a good swim technique is in place your ability to avoid slowing due to fatigue will be increased. It will also help you feel and hold the water more effectively.

Triathlete Europe | Dan Bullock

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