Coach Mike Ricci of D3 Multisports has a plan to help me cross the finish line at Ironman Louisville in August. A major component of that plan is preparing me for the rigors of completing a 2.4 mile swim and enabling me to finish the swim with plenty of energy for the balance of the race. While it has been voiced by a certain member of the Tri Blog Community that "it's all about the bike," failing to make the swim cutoff and/or being physically exhausted after the swim can make the bike somewhat irrelevant.
The past six weeks have been part of an eight week swim focus designed to improve my ability to complete long swims. Prior to Mike becoming my official coach, I completed a four week session at his suggestion and saw dramatic improvement. Given the success of that program, I was willing to tackle this more intense and more guided eight week plan.
In the first week of the program, I completed a time trial to determine my "T-pace," which is used for setting time requirements during swim workouts. At that time, I was averaging around 2m 11s per 100 yards. While far from Olympic pace, that showed the value of the first four weeks, as earlier in 2006 I averaged around 2m 30s per 100 yards.
The past two days have had interval sets based on that T-pace. In general, I've found the 2:11 pace to be exceedingly slow. Most of the intervals I've been completing in the 2:00 range. While a time trial is needed to get an accurate number, it looks as if my T-pace has dropped by another 10 seconds or so. That would mean an improvement of nearly 30 seconds since the end of October.
For those who have been interested in the results of these exercises, that should provide sufficient motivation to consider your own swim focus. To put that in perspective, if the improvement is only 20 seconds per 100 yards, I'll be able to get out of the water 14 minutes faster. If I can maintain the 30 second improvement over the course, I'll have an extra 21 minutes.
And Mike's real goal is also being realized. I can maintain that pace for longer distances and come out of the water feeling better. This means more energy for the bike and run. And those are disciplines I can rock.