On the TI Discussion Forum, Eric, a 58 y.o. TI enthusiast from Canada shared that his goal is to complete 1km (1000 meters) of continuous freestyle by year-end. At this point he can swim 1km continuously mixing about 70% crawl with 30% ‘other.’ How can he get to 1km of continuous crawl.
The key is to incrementally build the distance you can swim tirelessly rather than just try to build generic — and immeasurable — endurance.
I favor two ways of incrementally building the distance you can swim tirelessly. You can follow either to progress, from swimming a single length to a mile or even a marathon. Somewhere between 500m and 1km of continuous swimming, you’ll find the groove where adding more distance becomes fairly easy.
Here are my two favored ways to get there. Though I’ve been able to swim a mile since my teens, I’ve used both these approaches, over 40 years later, to build a variety of capabilities in my swimming — i.e. to maintain a stroke count of 14 with a tempo of, say, 1.2 seconds per stroke for more distance while feeling relaxed and nearly effortless.
1) Sets of shorter repeats. My favorite example is:
4 x 25
3 x 50
2 x 75
1 x 100
This adds up to 500. Doubling each distance gives you a 1000y/m set.
Rest between repeats with a certain number of ‘yoga’ (relaxing/cleansing) breaths. If you can take the same number of yoga breaths between the 75s as you did between 25s that indicates you’ve maintained ease.
2) An ‘interrupted’ longer swim. You interrupt the longer swim whenever you feel your ease, sense of control — or even keenness of focus — breaking down. The interruption can consist of a taking a few yoga breaths at the wall or substituting a length or two of something that feels more restful — or is a less exacting skill.
As your balance,stability and streamlining improve, your HR will remain moderate and you’ll need fewer and briefer interruptions along the way. In time, you’ll have progressed to a continuous longer swim. The key principle is that you continue to practice relaxed, smooth swimming. So when you complete your first mile, you feel you could do another!
You can build the foundations of Balance, Stability and Streamline that allow Tireless (and thus continuous) Swimming by practicing Lessons One to Five in the TI Self-Coached Workshop DVD
Related article: How to swim Distance Freestyle as easily as Breaststroke