By Pam Rogers
Yes, it’s true…winter in New England has been very unkind this year. As the cold and precipitation continues to linger, hopefully we can find refuge and fitness indoors at a local pool. (Cape Cod pools are listed at the end of this article!)
Here are five great reasons to get into the pool now:
1. By logging winter and spring swim hours, you reduce the risk of injury when the triathlon and open water seasons begin.
You will be aquatically fit and prepared if you train in winter. By incorporating a combination of good skills, endurance, anaerobic threshold, and recovery training you can avoid waiting for when the ponds, lakes, bays, and ocean are warm enough for outdoor swimming. Plus, no one wants nagging shoulder pain from punching up yardage too quickly in the late spring and early summer. Be prepared now!
2. You can better improve technique in a pool.
One of the best ways to make progress with your swimming is by getting one-on-one coaching to make stroke improvements particular to your needs. It’s much easier for videotaping, evaluating, learning new skills, and improving weak areas when swimming indoors. Making consistent and permanent changes takes time, so start in the winter. Take advantage of a qualified coaches’ expertise in the winter. It’s motivating to improve and learn, and good technique provides the foundation for faster swims.
3. You can breathe fresh life into your training and try new workout strategies.
For example, you can work on race pace in a controlled setting. Here’s just one of many methods: time yourself on a set of 5 to 8 x100 (yard) swims where you try to hold the same pace per 100 repeats. Toss this into the middle of many of your workouts all spring long so you actually can feel what your sustainable pace is. Of course, based on your heart rate and speed, you can improve your pace and interval as your fitness improves — so keep track of your numbers! Your interval period will depend on your current ability, but initially, try to give yourself 15-20 seconds rest between 100s.
4. You can work on open water techniques in the pool.
- Why wait? Here are some ideas to incorporate open water skills:
- Work on sighting by looking up at a spot the wall of the building. Press down with your hand and arm during the catch phase to lift your gaze without wasting energy.
- Swim a segment of the practice with three people across in a lane to simulate “traffic.”
- Swim with a group of 4 or 5 people in your lane and practice drafting.
- Wear your wetsuit and set up a mock transition station to improve swim to bike efficiency
- Practice bilateral (alternate) breathing—try breathing every 3, 5 and 7 too– and sighting at race pace.
- Use a two beat kick in practice if you use one during a longer open water swim.
- Take out all the lane lines and place a swim buoy marker (or other inflatable) in the pool to simulate race conditions. Practice rounding the buoy in the traffic of your teammates and work on speed and sighting.
5. You have time.
A great reason to spend some quality time at the pool is that in the winter you are spending less time biking and running and, of course, swimming outside. It’s the off-season, so it’s the perfect time to work on your swimming. The water is warm, and there are training groups at most pools.
Live on Cape Cod? Consider:
- Barnstable YMCA
- Sandwich High School (training site for the Aquasafe programs)
- Chatham Swim Club (training site of the Cape Cod Tri Team)
- Brewster’s Woodlands (also Cape Cod Tri training location)
- Mass Maritime Academy (active master’s swim group)
- Mashpee Fitness Center
- Ocean Edge Resort in Brewster (annual membership required)
- Willy’s Gym in Eastham
Please contact me if you have questions or need help.
See you in the water!
Practice, Practice, Practice. ☺ See you in the water!
A former All American college swimmer and National Champion, Pam Rogers raced triathlon professionally in the 1980s. She was an NCAA Division 1 men’s and women’s head swim coach for most of her career before retiring to New England, where she currently is a member of the steering committee of the Cape Cod Triathlon Team and coaches local swimmers and triathletes.