The triathlete may be tempted to avoid a Masters swim group for a number of reasons. Perhaps they feel that Masters groups are for former high school and college swimmers, or perhaps they feel that they should follow their own swim training program, prescribed by a triathlete coach. I’m here to tell you differently, a triathlete in training should absolutely join a masters swim group and here are six reasons why:
1. The Importance of Knowing More Than Freestyle
It’s doubtful that any triathlete will break into butterfly during a triathlon. But, there are actually several benefits to knowing all four strokes. When conditions are rough in the open water, or when an athlete takes in an unexpected gulp of water, swimming backstroke or breaststroke for a minute or two could be a life saver. Getting your head out of the waves for some survival swimming, some sighting or to regain your composure and settle down, could be critical to even completing the event. Another reason to actually swim a few strokes of breaststroke or backstroke during a triathlon is to switch up the muscle groups. If an athlete encounters an unexpected muscle cramp or muscle fatigue during their open water swim, it may be necessary to give those freestyle muscles a rest and switch to breaststroke or backstroke for a portion of the swim. As for butterfly, you probably won’t need this one in the open water, but practicing this stroke in the pool will improve your overall fitness and prepare you for your swim, bike and run.
2. No One Will Push You Harder Than Your Lane Mates
Swimming your triathlon driven workouts in the pool is not only lonely, it is not the best you can do! Even if you follow prescribed intervals, you simply will not push yourself as hard as you would if you were leading a group of 5 swimmers in a set in your lane, or racing the guy next to you in his lane, or trying to keep up with the other 4 swimmers ahead of you in the set in your lane. Bottom line – swim with others and you will train harder!
3. Embrace the Waves
Any triathlete or life-long swimmer enjoys hopping into an empty pool and being the first and only to make waves as you cruise down the lane; no water splashing in the face, no choking, no waves, just you and the clear calm waters. But, in reality, this is not how your triathlon is going to go and it also isn’t how a typical masters swim workout goes. Swimming with others during a masters workout is a great way to embrace the choppy waters and get used to feet in your face and the occasional hand hit.
4. Improve Your Stroke Technique
Swimming speed has been said to be 80% efficiency and 20% fitness. The point here is your stroke technique is critical to your speed. Your swim workouts should focus on improving your efficiency just as much as they focus on improving your strength in the water. Having a masters swim coach to share drills and technique tips is key to your success in the open water.
Let’s face it, swimming laps can be boring. Swimming with a masters program is a great way to keep your swimming interesting. Most programs focus at least 20% of their workouts on drills, utilizing these drills not only helps to improve your technique, it also keeps things fun. Additionally, masters workouts typically include pull buoys, paddles, kick boards, fins and other gizmos. Using these correctly and effectively in a masters workout will add a ton of fun to your swims.
Be accountable for you swim workouts! Masters programs meet the same times every week, this is one way to help you stick to your workouts and ensure consistency in your training! – Laurie Jones