Swim volume: An experiment. How I took a minute off my 1000 meter time trial in 2 weeks.

I’m a big fan of volume. Anyone who has been here a couple of times should have come across that little piece of information. I’m a big fan for one reason. It gets results, and it gets them fast. I know what volume does to me but I’m still pleasantly surprised every time I rediscover it. On our training camp in Lanzarote I wanted to kick start my swimming for the year so I had planned a big week of volume. I wasn’t going to do anything fast, no speed work, no strength work so no paddles, and as it turned out no drills because the pool was too cold. The volume of swimming would provide enough of a load without tipping myself over the edge by pushing too hard.
My last swim of the week was Saturday morning and it took me up to and past 30k. A monster swim week for me, 50% bigger than I’ve ever done before and coming only four weeks after I started back in the pool after what is almost two years of no swimming it was a very big ask.

I was really sore and tired but I wasn’t going to miss out on hitting such a big target. I started slowly and easily (to be honest it was all I could manage) and was very surprised to be moving much faster than I expected. I was almost half way through my last 1000 when I noticed the time. I realised that I would be on for a decent time so pushed on a bit. In the end for a straight through 1000 I finished up almost a full minute faster than a 1000 meter TT I did two weeks before the camp.

Related: 20 Things I did to improve my swim

It will be very interesting to repeat it again in a week or so when I’ve absorbed and recovered from this week. I would hope for another decent jump in speed and when I add in strength work with paddles and speed sessions over the coming months I would again hope to see another jump in pace.

I’ve thought it for years big volume is the best “magic bullet” there is. For me this week just confirms the answer to the question of whether to focus on technique or volume at first. There is no doubt in my mind that to be able to swim well for 3.8k first I must be able to swim 3.8k easily. When I’m swim fit it will be much easier to work on technique, strength and speed to add further improvements.

For anyone interested in the numbers. My 1000 tt times were; on the 4th of Feb 17:52 and on the 20th of February 16:58
Getting fitter, faster and stronger is very simple. But don’t confuse simple with easy. Simple half killed me this week.


If you want to check out the blog from Day 1 & 2 of the camp it is here

I have written a report examining how 5 of the most successful Irish Ironman triathletes have qualified for Kona an incredible 29 times. You can access it free here.

You can read a little about us how we got into Ironman and how I went from smoker to Kona here

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