Performing high-intensity/lactate swim intervals, with extended passive rest, forces you to tolerate and process higher levels of blood lactate accumulation. This enhances your capacity to maintain speed and hold technique while fatigued; increases swim-specific oxygen uptake capacity; helps you to start fast, then recover while holding race-pace effort; and develops mental toughness.
Performing hypoxic breathing intervals, i.e. reducing breathing frequency to every five up to 10 strokes per breath or performing breath holds before or during a hard swim, can result in similar physiological adaptations and can be performed at a lower intensity.
For a novice swimmer, learning to tumble turn and not breathe on the first stroke after ‘breakout’, i.e. approx. 10m, is a good way to increase functional capacity.
While swimming such sessions, you should always attempt to hold technique/form even when fatigued, as this will transfer well into racing performance.
Richard Smith top 3 tips for taking your swim to the next level
DO HYPOXIC STARTS
Performing hypoxic starts, i.e. holding your breath before starting a hard swim or not breathing for a number of strokes or distance, is another way to develop lactate tolerance.
TEST BLOOD LACTATE
If you’re able to access sport science support, blood lactate profiling using a ramped swim test will help you to
set accurate swim training/race zones.
PUSH YOUR LIMITS
Swimming such high-intensity sessions is a great contrast to a lot of other triathlon swimming and can
lead to race-specific physiological adaptations.
6 x 50m
Build 1-6 progressively
20secs rest after each 50m
6 x 50m
Hypoxic starts, hold breath for 10secs before pushing off and swim fast
30secs rest after each 50m
Gradually increase the distance you swim without taking a breath to 6-8 strokes
10 x 100m max effort
2:30mins rest after each 100m.
Aim to swim each 100m as fast as you can – form/technique will suffer but aim for best effort each time
Super easy drill/swim
ADAPT FOR BEGINNERS
Do a main set of 7-8 x 100m and increase the rest to 3mins after each 100m.
ADAPT FOR ADVANCED
If you can swim with a faster swimmer than you, then you can draft and try and hold on for as long as you can to swim even faster.