Ask Coach Sara: Making The Most Of 30 Minutes

Your questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach and professional triathlete Sara McLarty.

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Your questions about swimming as a triathlete, answered by coach and professional triathlete Sara McLarty.

Q: How should I respond to someone who wants to share a lane when I know that our levels are very different? –@tri2ride

A: There is enough room in a typical lane to “split” or accommodate two swimmers side-by-side. One swimmer stays on the right side of the black line and the other swimmer stays on the left side. This way, contact can be avoided and a fast and slow swimmer can share comfortably.

If a stronger swimmer asks to share your lane, communicate what side of the lane you will stay on. Take advantage of the other body in your lane to get used to having people near you and making waves in the water.

Make the same accommodations if a weaker swimmer asks to join your lane. Politely notify them if you will be doing any atypical training (diving, sprints, butterfly, etc.) that might cause excess turbulence.

RELATED: How To Choose The Right Masters Lane

Q: I only have 30 minutes to get in the pool. What’s my best option to get faster? –@26Point_2Miles

A: Even 30 minutes in the pool can be turned into an efficient swim practice for a busy triathlete. Save time by starting your swim after another workout so you are already warmed up. If you can get to the pool after completing a run, bike or gym session, you can cut out the typical 10 minutes of warm-up laps.

Maximize your training time by knowing the set or workout beforehand. It should be simple, concise and preferably repeatable to reduce confusion.
Example (repeat as much as possible):
• 4×50 with band on 1:00 (descend 1–4)
• 300 swim strong with 30 sec rest

Avoid getting in the water and swimming non-stop or mindless laps for the 30-minute time period. A high-intensity set will give you more bang for your buck by keeping you in a race-specific mode for a large percentage of the available time.

RELATED: Making The Most Of One Hour

Q: How long does it typically take to see time and/or speed improvements in the pool? –@PaulFwoosh

A: Unfortunately, there is no precise equation—each person’s swimming ability will progress at a different rate. However, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for progress:
• Hire a coach or follow a training plan. Any organized training is better than nothing.
• Set a routine. Swim at a regularly scheduled time for a pre-set amount of time.
• Get a stroke analysis. What we think we’re doing in the water and what we are actually doing is often very different.
• Plan a swim training block. Make two weeks every three months a swim focus where you swim twice as often to break through any plateau.

RELATED: Become A Better Swimmer With Limited Training

Pro triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty has 25-plus years of experience and knowledge about swimming mechanics, efficiency and technique.

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