Ask Coach Sara: The Best Pool Sessions

What are the best pool sessions to increase my speed and overall swimming fitness?

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

Q: What is the proper length from your head that your hand is supposed to enter? Do you reach or pull right away?

A: Your hand should drop into the water in front of your head when your arm is almost completely straight. Reach that hand forward until your other hand has finished past your thigh. Do not place your hand in the water next to your head and push it forward.

Q: What are the best pool sessions to increase my speed and overall swimming fitness?

A: My favorite quality swim workouts are sets of 100s or 200s on a fast interval. The short duration (1–4 minutes) allows me to stay focused and keep the intensity high. The short rest (usually 5–15 seconds) doesn’t allow my heart rate to drop dramatically between reps. Pick a number of reps that will equal 10–15 minutes of high-intensity swimming.

Q: What is the simplest advice you can give to help a slow freestyle swimmer improve?

A: Practice, practice, practice! Swimming relies heavily on technique, so practice means going to the pool on a regular basis and focusing on good form to build muscle memory.

Q: How can I beat you out of the water in a race?
—@Lauren_Goss [McLarty’s former training partner]

The short answer: It’s never going to happen, Goss! I am thousands of hours ahead of you thanks to my years on a club team in Daytona Beach and at the University of Florida. During these years, my body actually developed as a swimmer: I have very pointed toes, tight calves, a sway back and flexible shoulders. However, you can improve your personal swim time by increasing yardage in the winter/off-season and focusing on fast sprint training during the race season.

 Got a swimming question? Coach Sara wants to help. Just tweet your queries to @SaraLMcLarty.

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