Beware of the Snake!!!

1280029529589528961athelete swimming.svg.hiThis morning I began the new base phase with my customary first morning swim.  The plan originally called for a series of pyramid or ladder laps,  about 3000 meters.  Once I realized that the pool was empty, I changed this plan and replaced it with snaking lane drills.  This is the first time I have tried these and I will say it served up some surprises.

Most triathlons involve open water swimming starts.  Often this is a lake, pond, ocean or any large body of water. A few of them though call for a pool start, utilizing a snaking lane pattern.  Basically the snaking lanes means you go down  a lane and then at the end of a length or lap you hop into the next lane. In the end you tie all the lanes together to make up the chosen distance.  One of the difficulties in this style of swim start is maneuvering over/under the lane dividers.  As my first triathlon will utilize a snaking pattern, I wanted to eventually practice this.  Difficulty exists though in finding a time when my pool has empty lanes.

An example of a snaking lane swim.  This is from the triathlon I am registered for In April.

An example of a snaking lane swim. This is from the triathlon I am registered for In April.

This morning presented a golden opportunity and for thirty minutes I had the pool to myself.  Initially I tried different maneuvering strategies over short 50 meter laps, but I eventually got adventurous and decided to swim the entire 400 in this snaking fashion.  Immediately I realized this proved challenging beyond simple lap swimming.  When I hit the end of my lane I pushed under the water and under the lane cable at full force, entering the next lane.  Immediately I felt short of breath and my heart was racing, it was almost difficult to finish the lap.  With a little tweaking and testing I found that if I pushed lightly off the wall and moved into the other lane a little slower, then followed this up with a slower paced stroke or two I could recover easier and would last longer.

The second oddity I discovered in this process was that the first 100 meters was extremely trying and difficult.  After this the rest of the laps became flawless and effortless activities.  Not sure why this occurred, but this continued after a thorough warm up.  In the end I managed to complete 400 meters in this snaking style in roughly 10 minutes.  Not the worst time, not the best.  I am happy with it right now though.

After about thirty minutes of having the pool to myself I finally finished my final set of laps and found I had gathered a little bit of an audience as they were all curious what fashion of exercise required one to use the entire pool for laps.  I am glad I started experimenting with this method of lap swimming as it presented some interesting challenges I will have to be mindful of heading to the big event. I often hear some of the professional athletes say “Never do anything new on race day” and today I learned why.  If I had never tried this I would have not figured out how to maneuver the lane guides and I would have mis-paced my swim off the turns.  Another great lesson learned.  Not sure if I will ever have that empty of a pool again, so take what I can get.  Til next time.

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3 comments

  1. OneLovelyRun · · Reply

    Interesting. I might try this on the RARE occasion I find the pool empty. I also push off the wall like a maniac, with a powerful thrust in an effort to gain some momentum and steal some distance on the way back, so maybe I’ll try gentler.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. Entire pool to yourself? That would be nice! I’m lucky if I get to share a lane with only one other swimmer. Cool idea though!

    1. It was extremely rare that the lanes emptied for that long and a true gift. I might not be able to do those on that scale again as the pool is usually very popular.

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