If you are stuck in a swim plateau then you need to gain some momentum to break out. Feeling better about something is a sure way to get you to try it a little more often. Even good swimmers can benefit from a little more time in the water. Christine Lutsch a 2011 World Aquathlon Champion dropped her 400m PB from 5:49 to 5:30 at the end of one of our Training Camps in Italy after 7 straight days in the water.
Full details of the success of this plan, originally condensed into 7 days on a training camp but now spread over 14days for 'normal life application!'
With no other concerns such as work and family, creating commitment and habit is a lot easier at a training camp I appreciate. Making regular swimming a pattern and a habit is far more likely if all you need to do is walk downstairs to the pool from your hotel room knowing breakfast will be served once finished in the pool. Even if time only allows for 1 session every other day this improved familiarity with the unfamiliar watery environment will allow improvements to shape. The feel for the water is an unnaturally occurring phenomenon that will develop as frequency in the pool increases. Feeling and holding water is essential to improve the distance swum with every stroke. Making the water feel more solid is your ultimate aim here, it will not happen swimming once a week. The frequency we are looking for means less time between sessions, stopping bad habits creeping back. You waste a lot of time in the first 30mins of your swim session getting back up to speed from your last swim if you allow too much time between sessions. Skills and swim technique that you acquired in the previous will be present far quicker when you get back in the water if you try not to leave it too long. Hit the water with the familiar sensations of feeling good in the water from just 12-24hours previous and you will start the next session more positively. If the warm-up and subsets feel like you are swimming through treacle then by the time the main-set starts, psychologically you are going to be struggling.
Think about committing to a schedule for your 14 days of swimming, drop back from the bike and run to make it possible. The added 'swimfitness' will be of great use and more then make up for less bike and run if you need extra time to squeeze it all in. There is no point just turning up to the pool and swimming aimlessly each day. We need to focus on areas that are going to help; we need a check of current ability to gauge progress, work on streamline, improved propulsion and building the swim engine. I would recommend the 400m FC Time Trial at the start of the plan, and a follow up about 3 weeks after the plan to gauge progress. Anything less then a 400m and you are relying on improvements to pure swim speed, which is a much longer-term goal. Minimising drag through better technique delivers a far more instantly rewarded improvement to longer swims. Swimming fast for shorter distance can be achieved through improvements to power and strength but rarely do they carry over into your longer swims. Reducing drag should be a key aim during the plan and some of the swim skills covered will help. Fitness work is key though but we cannot neglect technique. I often refer to this mix of Fitness and Technique work as 'Technical Endurance' as it allows fitness to build but with good technique pointers punctuating the otherwise continuous nature of a long steady swim where technique often escapes us as the mind drifts.
If you want to make the most improvements and are really looking for that breakthrough in your swim technique and speed then I would recommend committing to this plan and completing as many of the following sessions as possible;