My first swim practice was done at a short course meters (SCM) pool.  My focus was to find out what my threshold pace is for 100’s freestyle — or at least get familiar with where I’m at currently.  Normally, an easy measurement tool is to do a timed 3000.  Whatever you can hold for 3000 meters (or 30 minutes) is your threshold pace (EN2).  But, for beginners, swimming two miles straight is essentially impossible.

So, here is a modified way to figure out where to get started so that you can build up to being able to do a 30 minute straight swim — or 3000 yards/meters.

300 choice — I mix up swimming, drilling, kicking, and sculling of all 4 strokes.  Really, I’m just trying to stretch all my muscles in as many different variations as possible to really get loose and stretched out.

6×100 Freestyle; all I’m focusing on is my technique and making the intervals.  You’ll want to adjust the intervals based on your ability.  Perhaps you need to start on 3:00 and move the interval down by 10 seconds from there.  It’s better to start conservatively; sooner or later, you will not make the interval.

My intervals:
1@2:00
1@1:50
1@1:40
1@1:30
1@1:20
1@1:10

Do not get frustrated if you can’t make the interval — I did not make the 6th 100.  The fastest interval I could make was 1@1:20 and I barely made it.

After another 300 choice easy, I decided to find out how many 100’s on 1:20 I could make in a row.

I ended up being able to do 3×100’s on 1:20.  I was getting about 3 seconds of rest in between each one.  Needless to say, I was trying really hard.  My heart rate was hovering at 180 after that set.

After doing another 300 choice easy, I wanted to see how many 100’s freestyle I could make on 1:25 — a slightly slower interval.

I made 6×100’s on 1:25 before falling off.  I doubled my distance by going 5 seconds slower.

At this point I was pretty tired and worn out.  So, I did another 300 choice easy and went home.

Total Distance:  2700 meters
Total Time:  about an hour

Now, I’d like to find out how many 100’s I can do on 1:30.  Looking at what I’ve done previously tells me I should be able to do at least 12 of them.  I’ll let you know when I give it a shot.

Even though I didn’t exactly find my threshold pace yet, I certainly have a better understanding of what it probably is.  And, now I can begin setting daily goals at practice to facilitate my improvement.

If you’re interested in learning more about Color Zone Training that Jon Urbanchek created, click here.