(tri content) 400m swim time – how to improve?

Home Forum Chat Forum (tri content) 400m swim time – how to improve?

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)
  • (tri content) 400m swim time – how to improve?
  • so, i’m thinking of entering a sprint tri first weekend in april and i’ve been looking at last years times for a guide to give me a goal to finish in.

    today i went to the pool to gauge myself, oh dear! after warming up i did 400m at about 60-70% effort and came in at 9m10s (possibly, may have miscounted my lengths and only done 350m), took a minute rest and went again at a slower pace and came in just around 10m20s.

    from lat years results fastest in my age group (40-49) was 6m01s with the average being around 8m. my times put me in the very slowest.

    obviously i need to work on technique, but whats the best way to work towards an improvement based on a max of 2 pool sessions a week. should i spend a good few weeks just working on building some sort of stamina base then add some shorter sprint efforts come march or should i be spending one session on endurance and another on speed?

    is it also worth doing a bit of strength training, push ups and a bit of free weights, a few times a week.

    don’t get me wrong i’m not out to win, but neither do i want to enter just to survive.


    The bike section is the most important followed by the running simply because they are the bits you spend the most time doing. Improvements in these two areas are worth more than 2 mins off your swim time.

    But someone will come along and help you out – I’m pretty pants at swimming 😳


    Technique is worth a lot more than muscular strength and endurance (particularly at the slower end of the scale), so concentrate solely on that.

    Can you get improvers lessons at your local pool? Failing that buy this and do the drills:

    Bashing out lengths and trying to swim faster won’t improve your technique or your times (much) you really need to think about – and probably change – what you’re doing in the water.


    Also there’s no end of good advice/videos of proper technique etc on this website:


    followed by the running

    not what i wanted to hear! oh heck, better dig the running shoes out. got any tips for getting up to speed on that?

    Premier Icon nickc

    TBH I wouldn’t try that hard. If you’re a half way decent cyclist, you can make up the time (especially in a sprint Tri) and make sure you’ve got your change over sorted. You’re a minute down on the slowest, it’s not the end of the world. I used to go from more or less last out of the pool to top half of the pack by the end of the cycling.


    If you come out the pool knackered having just fought the water for 9 minutes though, it’s not exactly conducive to banging out a good bike and run split.


    Simple – Technique.

    Better technique will allow you to swim faster AND get less tired which will pay off massively. Find a local Tri/swimming club and find out how you can get coaching.

    Sounds like you could see a big improvement from doing a bit of everything:

    Time in the water, to just get used to swimming the distance at high effort.

    Coached swimming, improve your technique and efficiency in the water.

    Weights, to improve your strength and power.


    how are your turns? this is where i am most rubbish.


    Save energy watch this guy….9 Strokes…mad, I can just about do 14 if I really try..must try harder obviously….

    Premier Icon cp

    technique as mentioned above, is what swimming is all about! The kids at Ponds Forge in Sheffield fly along past me, and they’re tiny…. And I can do 400m in 6:30 ish.

    There are some people swim hellish quick in tri’s – low 5mins for 400m.

    I HIGHLY recommended watching the swim smooth and total immersion stuff on you tube, and just work on one thing at a time. The main thing is streamlining yourself, so keeping your legs as high in the water as possible, and being smooth rather than kicking big kicks and arms flailing everywhere, keep the feet close together with small kicks with you ankles almost knocking each other, and really reach far with you arms on each stroke, to the extent you rotate you body a bit each way with each reach.

    Breathing is also pretty important, as it’s the key to swimming the whole distance without stopping, and needing to stop every few lengths. When I first went from breathing every 2nd stroke to every 3rd, I went from being able to swim 400m OK, to *just* being able to do a length. Took about 3 months to get OK at breathing every third stroke!

    Once you get the combination right, it’s almost effortless (relatively!!) to swim, say, 1500m at a steady pace.

    very useful to use pull buoys (between your legs) and hand floats to help you get used to the position in the water your body needs to be in.

    If you have a local tri club, they will almost certainly have coached swim sessions for all abilities. If you’re in/near Sheffield, I highly recommended Sheffield tri clubs coached swim sessions!

    Paul McG

    Another vote for technique here – that’s where you’ll make the biggest improvements in the least amount of time. |Once you’ve got the tech cracked (or semi-cracked), then start working on swim strength and fitness. Otherwise, you just reinforce crap technique and at some point you’ll have to go back to the start and learn again.

    Swimming’s great, cos it’s about technique, not fitness or strength – I was being well + truly cuffed by the 9yd olds in the pool a couple of days ago.


    If you’re in/near Sheffield, I highly recommended Sheffield tri clubs coached swim sessions!

    Cp – when are these? Is anyone welcome? I’m in Sheffield but S10 pool where i normally swim has been closed for ages 🙁 . They’re putting new asbestos in or something.

    All the TI stuff I’ve read says… technique, technique, technique.

    The only other thing it says is that too many cyclists/runners approach tri swimming in the same way they would running/cycling ie focus on endurance not technique.

    Technique, and sprints, but not at the expense of technique.

    I had a few coached sessions then just concentrated on applying that, trick is to swim lengths as fast as you can without letting technique slip and build speed from there.

    Excercises like seeing how few strokes you can do lengths in are really usefull, as as soon as your technique slips the number goes up.

    i’ve heard of the total immersion stuff before, i’ll take a look on youtube later. technique is interesting i have to admit. just before xmas i read a very long thread on an australian surfing site, largely led by a guy who i admire as a surfer who in the early 90’s i learnt a great deal from just watching him surf and his approach to it, about correct paddling technique stemming from correct swimming technique.

    i was then at a pool a few weeks later with my kid, and trying to do a few lengths applying what i’d read, and a guy hit the water who looked like he knew what he was about and my goodness that guy cut through the water with seemingly minimum effort.

    Premier Icon cp

    finbar –

    Weds night at Ponds Forge – focus on drills & strength/knackering yourself out!

    Sat evening at Graves leisure – focus is on technique.

    4 quid per session. Newbies usually welcome to attend one or two sessions to see if it’s for them, but then asked to join the club for insurance reasons mainly.



    IMO it is not possible to learn good technique from a book or video. The trouble is that you cannot see what you are doing wrong. Even if it feels right, it probably isn’t.

    Get some one on one lessons.

    Get them to teach you how to turn properly too, you can probably make up 15s on that alone.

Viewing 19 posts - 1 through 19 (of 19 total)

The topic ‘(tri content) 400m swim time – how to improve?’ is closed to new replies.