Practice of the Week — T-Swim Test Set

In the Tuesday night 7:30pm practice at UIC and the Wednesday morning 6-7am and 7-8am practices at Moody, we’ll be running the T-30 and T-20 sets, the 30 and 20 minute swims for distance, respectively.  Our Level 3’s will be swimming for 30 minutes; our Level 2’s and 1’s will be swimming for 20 minutes.

Set Overview

Basically, you are looking to go as far as you can in 20 or 30 minutes, which means that the set should be challenging rather than a long, easy swim. Out of this set will come four important pieces of data: 100 pace, your estimated swimming Lactate Threshold Heart Rate, your stroke count, and your stroke rate. We’ll use all of this information in practice. For more detail on the specifics of the set, you’ll want to review the document on our website,What is a T-Swim and how to you do it?

How to Get the Most out of the Set

1.  Come to Swim –The information derived from this set doesn’t mean a lot unless you really push yourself in the set.  If you do it too easily, you’ve swam for 20 or 30 minutes and learned nothing about your swimming.  The rest of the practice will be easy, so get your game face on for this set.

2.  Swim Hard to the Finish and Get your Heart Rate — When the whistle blows, you are going to finish the length you are on before stopping.  Don’t let up on the pace.  Keep working hard to the end of the pool.  When you finish, get your final time and immediately take your heart rate for 6 seconds.  If you let up, the final time and your heart rate won’t mean anything.

3.  Don’t Draft — Swim your own swim.  If you draft off a person in front of you for 20 or 30 minutes, you are going to over-state your pace and under-state your heart rate.  If you are coming up on a person, tap their feet to indicate that you want to pass.  Conversely, watch for others in your lane and pull off to the side if you see them coming up on you.

Interpreting the Results — Lane Groupings

You can use the results to figure out if you are in the right lane.  The pace derived from a long swim is a much better indicator of your fitness, efficiency, and speed.  You can probably fool yourself on 50’s and 100’s by swimming really hard but you can’t fake 400’s and 500’s or sprints.  If you swim in too fast a lane, you will be working the wrong energy systems and building inefficiencies into your stokes.

T-30 Minimum Distances per Lane Grouping (Yards/Meters)

Level 3A:  2400/2050

Level 3B:  2150/1850

Level 2A:  1900/1600

T-20 Minimum Distances per Lane Grouping (Yards/Meters)

Level 3B:  1450/1250

Level 2A:  1300/1100

Level 2B:  1150/1000

Level 1A:  1000/850

Level 1B:  850/700

How to Use the Results in Practice

When you review the results, you’ll want to keep the pace, heart rate, stroke count, and stroke rate in mind when at swim practice.  Work in the period between T-Swims on swimming at or around your T-pace (i.e., the pace at which you did the set).  Work on lowering your RPE when swimming that pace.  Work on lowering your stroke count and slowing down the stroke rate to increase efficiency and reduce the effort it takes to hold your T-pace.  Also work on swimming some high-intensity sets faster than your T-pace but hold onto your efficiency.

Use the next run of the T-Swim to help you judge if you should move up a lane rather than how you feel each day.  If you can go further on the next swim and you can hit the threshold for the next lane, you’ll know that you can comfortably swim all of the intervals in that lane.

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