Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions
I want to swim faster over distances from 1.5k to 10k – any tips?
This is a question I get asked a lot! There is no simple answer, but here are a few tips. When training you have to remember that you are not training the athlete you are training their energy systems. A lot of distance swimmers get fixated on swimming long distances at a steady pace. This means that you are only training your aerobic energy system, making it difficult to change gear and pick up the pace. Test your lactate threshold pace or critical swim speed (CSS) by doing a 400m time trial swim followed by a 200m time trial then working out your pace (I recommend using the Swim Smooth app for this). Using your CSS you have a target time to swim to. An example of a good threshold session is 10x100m working at CSS +4 seconds for 4x100m, then CSS +3s for 3x100m, CSS+2s for 2x100m and finish on 100m at CSS pace.
Don’t be scared to throw in the odd sprint session, 10x 25m at max effort will assist in developing your anaerobic pace. If you always train at a similar pace you will never be able to hold a faster pace at an event.
“Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm into it. I am so fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm.”
Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Cassie now coaches and is a frequent commentator at open water events.