To be a successful distance swimmer, it takes a combination of great technique and proper pacing. These are skills that require practice every day during workouts, as well as during the race itself. Steven VonSchriltz, head coach at Dublin Community Swim Team in Dublin, Ohio, has a few tips for swimmers to think about related to both pacing and technique as they train and race longer swims.
We focus on pace as a percent effort, especially with the legs. One of the biggest challenges is getting age group kids to know what their current pace 50 time is, and goal pace times for each distance event. You can’t practice a 50 time if you don’t know what it is.
I try to get the kids to understand that your pace is determined by the first two stroke cycles off your breakouts of each wall. We work all turns at 100% and then fall into whatever pace we are working on within those first two stroke cycles. We also really try to get them to control their heart rate in practice by seeing how fast they can go within a certain heart rate range.
Break down the race into smaller increments – break down the strategy so they aren’t focused on the total distance of the race, but achieving the desired pace goal per segment of the race. Getting age group swimmers to control the first 50 seems to be the hardest – don’t get too excited at the start of a race!
I want the swimmers to feel like they’re controlling their heart rate early in the race, especially in the 800 and mile swims.
Just like any other distance, race all turns and have consistent breakout distances off every wall, while keeping your stroke count and kick consistent on every lap.