Thursday, February 17, 2011

Something New - Open Water Swimming

I have not put up a new blog entry in sometime. I actually think that joining Facebook along with a new job resulted in my low Blog Output over the past couple of years. It has been an interesting couple of years some of which would have made for some interesting reads but most likely would have fallen under the category of Too Much Information.

Those of you that have read my postings know that my current obsession has been road cycling. I started out riding a Specialized Langster Single Speed and then added a Specialized Tarmac Comp. I have been averaging around 5000 miles a year riding by myself and with some local A/A+ groups. It has been a lot of fun and I have met a great group of people. In this group are several Triathletes who obviously do a lot of swimming. Specifically open water swimming. The more I heard about it the more I thought I might like a little change up in my routine. So I ordered 8 pairs of swim tights, 5 pairs of swim googles, 5 swim caps from The Finals , found how to get in to pool of my gym (even though I have been going there for 6 years) and officially added swimming to my weekly workout.

When I was young and in middle school I was a member of Boy Scouts. For me the highlight of the year was the Summer Scout Camp and the annual mile swim. Basically the goal was swim a mile nonstop in the lake after 3 days of working up to it. On Monday was 1/4 mile attempt (one lap), Tuesday was the 1/2 mile attempt and Wednesday was the 1 mile attempt. It was always fun and definitely a challenge. I even had a favorite navy/red speed that I always wore. Most of it was done using the side stoke but I would break into freestyle just to pick up the pace. I was always proud that I one of the faster swimmers. From my stand point I would rather be one of the swimmers than one of the rows that would follow along with the swimmers for safety.

My high school did not have a pool or a swim team so Boy Scouts, some lifesaving classes at some of the country clubs that did have pools and taking lifesaving as my gym elective in college was the extent of the swimming that I have done since middle school. I read about the Dolphin Swim Club in San Francisco and have toyed with the idea of competing in a Triathalon but I was never really thrilled with the idea of getting wet as part of a work out. Not really sure what has changed but the weather on the East Coast of the US was not going to allow for much winter riding so I need to do something keep up my cardio fitness. My last ride was a 66 miler on my birthday in December on my Langster.

So armed with some new swim gear and an invite to swim with some local folks over the summer in Manasquan I decide to jump in and give it a try. My goal was to work my way up to a mile but I had trouble making it a single length of the pool (25 yds). Maybe I could get 2 lenghts but it was not pretty. I would start out freestyle and then have to go into breast. I pushed myself to try to spend at least an hour in the pool the first day. I think I made it about 45 minutes. Time really dragged. Since I had a goal and I had made a small investment in gear I was going to give the thing a fair shot. The next day I was able to get an hour in the pool but I was definitely going to need a plan.

Of course the best place to look for a plan is the Internet and typing "swim workouts" into Google I found the this well written and informative site by Ruth Kazez. The 50 workouts listed are tough and definitely not for a beginner like me but I did find the 0 to a mile workout. This was perfect even though at first it was really tough. The plan is based on swimming at least 3 days a week. Each workout is broken up in to drills with the first set increasing each week. The first week was 4 x 100, 4 x 50 and 4 x 25. Since I found this at the end of my first week of swimming this was a tough workout. The 4 x 100s especially. The goal of the workout is to make sure you are uncomfortable for every set so the there is only a couple of breath rest between each 100, each 50 and each 25. The lack of rest is very important and helps out during the next week.

I suffered through the first week but since I could get the prescribed workout done in about 20 minutes I made sure I did other things to make sure I was in the pool for an hour. This usually meant doing additional sets. By the end of the 3rd week I was able to swim a 400 without too much trouble so I decided to go for an 800. I got to the 800 mark and felt really good so I decided to keep going. I hit the 1000 mark and decided to push through for a mile. After I got done with the mile I was tired and very excited. It was the first time I have swam that far since my Boy Scout Days. Unfortunately there was no one in the pool area to share my excitement. In reality I am not sure anyone but maybe my mom would even care.

I have to say my joy was short lived. The next trip to the gym/pool was not as productive. I had not allowed enough recovery time and I was definitely not eating right. I ended up bonking on every working for the next week.

So now I have been swimming on regular basis for almost 3 months. I can try to do a mile every time I hit the pool and I have done more than 2 miles once. Generally I try to do drills after my long swim. I a tow float and resistance paddles that seem to really help with my form. I try to use the kickboard as well but I find kickboard drills to be really boring.

I have two main goals now:
  1. To swim 1 mile with the Manasquan group once the warmer weather gets here.
  2. To swim the Nav-E-Sink or Swim on May 30 (Hopefully the 2.4 mile swim)
  3. To swim from Alcatraz to San Franciso on September 4.

Since my bike has not been touched since December 24 I do feel like I am cheating on it but the nice weather will be here and it is nice to have something that I can do mid week or on rainy weekends.

I will post here with any progress or news.


Howie S said...

Pat - I see aerobars in your future....

Great goals - I look forward to doing the sink or swim with you.

Flametop59 said...

I have had my eye on a Specialized Transition to compete in the NJ Time Trial Series. I just have not been able to swing it and I have been afraid I will not have time to really do it justice.

I do not think I am going to do a Tri since it all comes down to the run and my legs just will not take that kind of beating.

The swimming has been good because it is a new challenge. Also it is a good cardio source for mid week
when I cannot ride.

I am looking forward the the Nav-e-sink or Swim as well but I am little concerned about the pace. I still have a couple more months to train.

stevewckrt said...

The swimming has been good because it is a new challenge.
Water sports and its importance, Sparing few hours daily for water sports can help us to maintain a healthy heart, healthy vascular system, tension free and flexible life style to keep going our busy and punctuated life quite smoothly and hazardless.