Understanding and managing your pace

In one of our previous posts, we explained ways to improve your swimming revolving around speed. Speed equals best times, which are the ultimate goal in competitive swimming – there’s no doubt of that. Actually getting there, however, may require a more careful management. A large portion of your training will indeed be pushing yourself to the limits, focusing on speed (as we described earlier) and practicing drills meant to improve this aspect specifically. But surely, there has to be more to it, right?

In fact, it seems it’s not ALL about speed, after all!

Adjusting your pace and knowing when to swim slower will make you a better swimmer overall. It’s easy to understand it in case of competing on very long distances – you start too aggressively and you will surely finish last. This is true in many other sports (and indeed in life!). But it’s not just long distances that require managing your pace. You will learn that this skill enhances all your swimming workouts and the subsequent results in various ways.

Active rest?

Think of pushing yourself to the limit all the time – what’s the actual effect during the workout and in between workouts? If you’re reaching extremes, you can easily get exhausted before the session is even over, making you less efficient in the later part, more interested to somehow push through it, while losing focus on specific objectives and reaching them in a deliberate manner. Incorporating time (or distance) of a slower-paced workout will serve as an active rest of sorts, revitalizing you and giving you energy for another, more intense (but thoughtful) part of your workout. Likewise, in a bigger scale, mixing (this is the key word – you don’t want to exclusively do either!) slower- and faster-paced workouts throughout the week will surely make it so that your workouts don’t feel like an exhausting chore.

Exposing the flaws

Moving on to the less obvious benefits, think of slower pace as magnifying glass of sorts. Many imperfections that these fast strokes simply hid or made to appear less significant, will be more visible now – not only to a trainer, if you have one, but most of all to yourself. With your movements being more deliberate and focused, you will start noticing what may require improvement. Slower pace allows you to better think what you’re doing and to notice the effects of slight changes in real time. This is bound to improve your overall technique, which, in turn, will make you swim faster (when you actually need it).

Aerobic exercise

Swimming at a slower pace also means exercising in a different heart rate zone than that which you are used to. Such workout, as opposed to a high-intensity one, is definitely more on the aerobic side, with all the relevant benefits. This type of workout is going to better prepare you for any long-distance swimming that you may wish to do. You can build your goals around staying in a specific heart rate zone (and pace, for that matter) using your Swimmo.

Don’t forget what it’s all about

Last but not least, there’s just something about swimming slow. While it won’t project the raw power that plowing through water at extreme speeds would, it’s certainly majestic to look at and very satisfying to do. Remember that swimming for most of us is not only a workout but also an active hobby and a relaxing pastime.

As stated above, you want to diversify your workouts and not rely solely on one approach versus the other. Don’t treat this article as an excuse to never push to the limit – you should still do it most of the time!


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It's all about speed - how to swim faster?

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