Swim faster without spending more time in the water
Discover the 4 most common swim killers and how to fix them so that you can shave minutes off your swim time.
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BB: We head back to Belgium. Maarten Seghers joins us now. Maarten welcome back onto The Kona Edge.
Let’s talk about your Ironman swim. You mentioned in our first chat that you swam a little bit as a youngster. Not a lot, it’s the weakest of the the 3 disciplines. Is it something you have to work hard at?
Is swim volume the key to progress in the water?
MS: It’s a mixed feeling. If I keep on swimming 4 times a week, every session is about 3-and-a-half to 4 km, I get the level that I have right now. Normally on an Ironman distance, I swim between 55-minutes and an hour. So, it’s not too bad but if I want to make progress I think I need to swim almost every day.
Personally, I feel it’s better to put a little more effort in the bike and the run, than to go swimming every day to gain maybe 1 to 2 minutes. I’m not a pro so I don’t need to be out of the water with the top level of the field. I prefer to put a little more effort in the bike and the run.
BB: You mentioned 55-minutes to an hour. What’s the secret? What’s the key to being able to swim less than 60-minutes for an Ironman swim?
Follow fast feet in your Ironman swim
MS: I go to the starting line, whether it’s in the pool or on land, with the top age groupers and I try to start as fast as I can. If I’m lucky I’ve got some good feet to follow. After the first 400/500m, it’s just following the group. That’s the main reason I sometimes finish in 55 minutes, and sometimes it’s closer to an hour. I think part of it is being lucky.
BB: And finding good feet, that’s definitely one of them. When it comes to your Ironman swim training, do you swim in a squad or do you do all your training on your own?
MS: Most of the time it’s alone in the pool. I don’t really like swimming outdoors because I think the quality of training is better in the pool. If I go swimming outside, it’s more like freestyle. Just relaxing and enjoying nature. For me, the quality of training is more efficient indoors.
BB: What do you enjoy doing? What are your favourite workouts in the pool?
MS: I know it’s better to work on technique, but I like the main part of the swimming session. So, if you swim 3 x 300m and 4 x 400m at a different pace. Sometimes with paddles, sometimes not. The main part of the training session is my most favourite.
BB: And as far as looking over your triathlon career, can you put it down to one or two things that you’ve done that you think has given you big benefits in the water?
Correct your Ironman swim technique after race day
MS: In the winter period I work on technique. I do some analysis with the Go-pro or get a swim coach who can tell me what to change.
But I think it’s important for an age grouper, at a certain point of the preparation, to just let that go and use the technique that you have at the time and swim your sets. Then after your race make those changes. Not to make changes 2-weeks before race day. You have to have your mind set on the race. Swim the sets and then change your technique in winter or after your race.
BB: I think that’s such an important point. At that stage when you’re building up to a race you want to be building volume. You don’t want to be working with how is your hand getting in the water, what’s your catch looking like. And you make another important point there too, do it after a race. Do it through winter if you’re not training through winter.
Be consistent and avoid starting over
It also then comes down to the consistency that you’re not starting over every season. You’re swimming right the way through. I’m guessing that is something you do, you swim all the way through. You might not be doing big blocks and big building, but you’re consistently in the water.
MS: Yes I am. I noticed it after Kona this year. For 3 or 4 weeks I didn’t do a lot of swimming. The first or second time that I went back to the water, it felt like I’d never swum before. Where I was at in my swim, it felt that it was all gone.
BB: Maarten, thank you very much for sharing your swim tips. We’ll chat about your bike tips next. Thanks for your time today on The Kona Edge.
MS: Perfect. Thank you.
Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).
Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.
He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.
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