"What's the best way to increase my swim yardage?"
Swim training provides many benefits for the triathlete and at various times of the year it’s worth increasing your yardage. Although sport specific training is the absolute best way to get better, endurance athletes need to pass as much oxygen through their bodies as they can. Swimming provides aerobic training in a low-impact environment and allows for great volumes of aerobic work with a low risk of injury. Because swimming is horizontal and a full body workout it provides universal circulation and volume can be added as easy recovery sessions as well. Efficient swimming, which occurs when adding yardage with proper technique, requires less energy expenditure - this translates into less fatigue coming out of the water on race day and quicker swim splits.
Like most things in tri, increasing swim yardage is very athlete specific. Overall though, every triathlete should start by increasing swim frequency before increasing daily yardage. Shorter more frequent swims 5-6 days a week working on proper body position are more beneficial than monster endurance swims once or twice per week. These shorter swims will allow you to gradually increase volume in an efficient manner, while maintaining form. Swimming with proper technique and body position is far more beneficial than slogging through the second half of a long workout with dropped hips, or sagging elbows. Shorter more frequent swims will also keep you motivated, fresh and engaged in your workouts. At the end of day when increasing yardage do what it takes to get in the water frequently. Find a way to make it fun for you. If swimming every session with buoyancy shorts a wetsuit and pull buoy is fun, then do it (we don’t recommend this, but you get the point!).
Originally published in Triathlete Magazine. July 2019.