Increase Tempo, Increase Speed? Not Always

Today I had to cut it short, but still got in 2600 quality meters.


10×50 fistgloved warm up- first 25 moderate tempo, 25 easy.


4x [50, 100, 150, 200] where the first half of each was a timed, tempo’d speed effort, and the second recovery but hold perfect form while tired. So it was more like 4x [25/25, 50/50, 75/75, 100/100]

distance TT 1.25 TT 1.20 TT 1.15 TT 1.10


:21 :20 :20 :19
50m :45 :43 :43 :41
75m 1:09s 1:08s 1:07s 1:07s
100m 1:33s 1:30s 1:30s 1:28s


I was feeling a bit stressed today, heavy inside, but that did not diminish my desire to swim. It is a critical form of stress management to divert the mind and body toward something I can be successfully productive in while leaving a healthy after-affect.

The pool, however, was a disappointing 31 degrees celcius, which is near bath water. Still it’s better for the brain, I think, to swim fast than slow in warm water.

I could feel a little muscle soreness in my shoulders but it must have been from hand-tilling our flowerbed with a hoe a couple days earlier since I had not swam since 4 days prior. Instead of swimming 2 days ago I ran in the morning sunshine instead.

I held 16 SPL for every first 25, and noted how I kept around 16,17,18 (respectively) as the distance per set and tempo from set to set increased. I need to do some 25s at higher tempos to see if I can hold that 16 SPL- that would show me what I am capable of.

These were harder sprints for me, but still I was barely pushing into anaerobic range. I used the second half of each repeat for an active recovery and then waited at the wall until my heart rate was ready- about 15-25 seconds. This way I was able to give full effort and keep form for every set. And I was able to achieve times on this set better than I have this year to date, and for several years. I feel I am ready to start doing shorter distances at higher tempo- maybe up to 1.00 seconds now, to build the pathways for high tempo swims.

I have tentatively planned to focus on developing my short-distance speed while in the pool this month and maybe next. After that I will forego the pool fee and head back to the sea for open-water training. So I am working with the Tempo Trainer to gradually work my efficient long-distance TI stroke into a fast 100m stroke. I am more convinced than ever that this little beeper is the right tool for the job.

It is interesting to notice in my brain how my perception of tempo changes during a 100m. Even though I am pushing into faster tempos now, on the first 25m it feels slow and I easily take -1 SPL. Then as I come up from the flip-turn and begin stroking, it feels faster, and each length a bit faster to keep up with. However, it is the restraint on that first 25m that permits me to swim the last 25 with the same long, efficient stroke. Otherwise, I think I would mutilate the stroke in order to keep the same over-paced stroke I was using on the first 25. It totally focuses the brain to maintain a long stroke on the first half so I have ample supply on the second half.


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