Wednesday night it was off to Victoria Park pool for my second Wednesday training session.

Things went much more smoothly in general this week…

For a start I knew where I was going and I chose a route with less traffic to get there, so in general I was on time, less rushed, and less flustered.

The weather was much kinder this week with no rain and decidedly less chill in the air. Whatever issue they’d been having with the pool temperature there last week also seemed to have been rectified, and all in all it made for a far more comfortable swim.

The start of the set was exactly the same as last week:

  • Warm up
  • Kicking drill (I am soooo bad at those!)
  • 3-5-7 breathing drill
  • Weak-side breathing drill

Once those were done it was on to the main set. We did a pace-line. This consists of swimming in order from fastest to slowest, and sticking right on the feet of the swimmer in front of you.

The first swimmer swims pretty hard, in theory at their 1km time-trial pace (ie as fast as you can sustain for a kilometre). The people behind can keep up because in swimming (like in cycling) drafting is extremely effective. It varies from situation to situation and swimmer to swimmer, but I have read that you can gain up to 30% extra efficiency using this technique.

At the end of each 100m, the lead swimmer breaks off and waits and joins the back of the line. The second swimmer then takes the lead, in theory then going a touch slower than the first swimmer and so on and so forth.

It’s actually quite a strange experience. You spend your time adjusting to the pace of the group, and about half the time wishing they would slow down and half the time wishing they would speed up. Then when you think you’ve figured it all out, you end up a the front of the pace-line and realise just how much difference that drafting has made and all of a sudden it feels very difficult to drag your arms through the water.

In addition I swim with my chin tucked in and my head right down looking directly at the bottom of the pool to compensate and correct my natural body position in the water, so I’m afraid I spend a lot of time tapping the feet of the swimmer in front of me and hoping they don’t get too annoyed with me!

Still, it’s a good technique to know how to do, and I’ve definitely used it in races before. It’s also interesting to have to adjust your pace to someone else, and ignore the signals from your body and your inner voices telling you when to speed up or slow down, or when to push harder or back off. Quite good for practising pushing through all that stuff and just swimming.

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