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Why You Should Be Swimming with a Master’s Swim Group

My athletes will usually find 2-3 swim workouts per week in their program along with 3-4 runs and at least 3 bike rides. In my opinion, if you can work out with like-minded athletes who are doing what you are doing, you should take advantage of that. I say this for all 3 disciplines- swim, bike and run. In this article I want to share with you why I think it’s really important to swim with a Master’s group and how swimming with a competitive group of athletes helped me knock almost 30 seconds off my 100 yard swim time.

If I’m alone at the pool I will take my time, I won’t push as hard and I will definitely take more rest between sets. I may swim with fins to get the workout finished quicker, or I may skip a set or two only because the only one I am accountable to is me, myself, and I. I used to swim alone all the time until my gym started hosting a Master’s Swim practice MWF at lunch time.

I was a decent swimmer, or so I thought. But after 2 years of swimming regularly with a group of triathletes who were actively racing, wow what a game changer it was for my swim times. I went from barely hanging on to a 1:50 100 yard pace to a 1:24 100 yard pace. Of course, that was an all-out 100, but still almost 30 seconds off my original time.

There is nothing better to improve your technique than to have a knowledgeable coach’s eyes on you while in the water. A swim coach is going to push you beyond your comfort zone and help you train harder and faster than you would on your own. Here are some advantages of swimming with a coached workout in a Master’s Swim group:

Community- You can’t help but form lasting friendships with other like-minded swimmers. Swimmers that workout together share a common bond with each other- the love of the water and getting in a good workout.

Accountability- You are more likely to show up for a workout if there are several people counting on you to be there. Someone is always going to notice if they don’t see your smiling face at 6:00 in the morning.

Pushing yourself harder- You will definitely test your limits when you work out with a coach and a Master’s group. There will always be some level of competition, and sometimes the coach may create groups or teams where individuals race one another. This makes things more challenging and fun. You will always need to push a little harder if you want to keep up with the group and stay within the intervals on the clock.

Social time- Coffee after swim practice makes for a nice social gathering and like I said above, close friendships form between folks who work out together.

No need to write your own workouts- Coached workout means you don’t have to write your own workouts. This is done for you and the workouts are almost always more challenging than the ones you would have done on your own.

Different strokes- Swimming a variety of strokes is good for your body. This helps you learn more about how you glide through the water, it engages different muscle groups, and helps prevent injury from overuse of just one stroke.

Better technique- A coach pacing up and down the pool deck is probably going to notice flaws in your stroke and technique. The coach will use different swim drills to help you move more efficiently through the water. More efficient swimmers are therefore faster swimmers!

Better swim times- Of all the advantages of swimming with a coach and a Master’s group, this is one advantage that most strive for. In my experience, it’s a given that your swim times will improve significantly after several weeks of participation in coached workouts. Consistency is key and you must show up regularly at least 2 or 3 times per week.

I tell my athletes this all the time- if you can swim with a Master’s group a few times a week, ride with other cyclists, and run with members of a run club, this is to your advantage. Working out with other triathletes builds comradery but it also builds fit and competitive athletes who are used to pushing themselves.

Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next Ironman event? Click the link below to message me for a FREE 15 min phone call to talk about your goals!

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

ACSM Trainer

USA Cycling Coach


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