Good swim technique is vital to effective swimming. However once you’re working along the right lines, from a technique perspective, conditioning is essential. The important point to remember when training for swimming is to be specific. Being ‘swim fit’ is very different from any other sport, in that it is difficult to replicate outside of the pool.
Simply speaking in swimming terms, metres matter. Someone may look what ‘society’ would call strong or even ‘ripped’, but in reality our arms are super weak compared to - for example - our legs which even by standing around are continually being trained at an endurance level. When was the last time you walked to the shops on your hands? In endurance swimming, your arms and upper body take a battering.
The average intermediate triathlete will swim around a stroke per metre. This means that in an Ironman swim of around an hour utilizing 4 different muscle groups the swimmer will be doing altogether 7,600 repetitions on those muscles per arm. When was the last time you did a gym set that involved those numbers?!
Further to this your core takes a hammering in the swim which is why even for Ironman where the swim is proportionately much shorter you still need to get the swim sessions in. Otherwise you’ll find yourself struggling on the bike but particularly the run as you are unable to transfer power with an exhausted core. This is actually why HUUB wetsuits really focus on supporting your core helping you not only in the swim but through the whole race.
So how do you structure your swimming? To make progress you’re going to need to do a very bare minimum of two sessions, endurance and threshold but to make proper gains you need to include speed too.
Do not just go and swim. This is the biggest mistake people make. This is the equivalent of only ever going for a light jog or a multiple coffee stop ride for your run and bike training.