Short vs Long

OK.  Take your mind out of the gutter.  Yes, I know that you could assume that this post is going to be something other than triathlon related.  But, this is a G-rated blog.  🙂

Now, instead of the gutter, put your mind in the pool.  This post is about swimming.


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For lots of families, summertime means swim team time.  That’s certainly the case for the Tri Madness family.  In fact, last weekend we attended two swim meets!  My daughters swim in a rec league in our community; my son swims for a competitive team year-round.  Everyone had a meet this weekend.

My son’s meet was a long course meet.  For those of you who don’t know what a long course is, it’s a 50 meter pool.  Basically, it’s what you see swimmers in the Olympics swimming in.  It’s roughly two times longer than the 25 yard pool that most of us swim in.

I’ve never had the opportunity to swim in a 50 meter pool myself, but it seems like the transition from short course to long course would be difficult.  We’re so used to taking 18-20 strokes and being able to push-off the wall.  In comparison, I suspect long course feels more much more difficult as you can’t flip as often.

I’m frequently astounded at how good teenage swimmers can be.  Most of them (ok almost all of them) are significantly faster swimmers than I am.  I guess doing 4000 yard workouts 5x per week helps you get faster.  One race that particularly impressed me was the 13-14 year old 1500 meters.  This distance is one that you and I have probably swam in triathlon (as it’s the “normal” distance for Olympic races”).  So…I could relate my times and performance to what these kids were swimming.  There were two heats for the boys – the winners both went right at 17 minutes.  Just for baselining – that’s an average of 1:02 per 100 yards.  I normally swim about 2 minutes per 100 yards.  Wow.  I was certainly impressed.

I’d love to find an opportunity to swim long course.  I think it would be a good experience and help my swim performance overall.  What about you?  Do you get to train in a long course pool?


7 thoughts on “Short vs Long

  1. Just started working on swimming the last couple months and most of it has been long-course. We have a state of the art facility just 2 miles from my house. They have a big olympic pool where the lanes are sometimes short-course, sometimes long, sometimes half roped off for water polo, etc. There’s also a separate heated 25yd pool used mostly by lessons for kids. To give you an idea how awesome I am, my first several lessons were in the kiddie pool. The reason is my lessons are on Wednesdays and that’s always set up for long course in the main pool. Once we got past some initial basics, all of my work has been with 50m lengths. Baptism by fire.

  2. Never had a chance to train in a long course pool, but I’ve heard that makes for a good workout out.

    As I do my kick drills at the pool, I look at the course records for the highschool I swim at. They even have the pool records for their middle school and kids programs (starting at 5 years old) and I think even the 5 & 6 year olds have me beat.

  3. Yes, actually… The municipal pool in Deerfield Beach FL is often in the long course mode. In addition, at least once a week the set up a 100 meter BOX for swimming distance. More of an open water simulation. Definitely a great training location for those of us in the South Palm Beach or North Broward County areas…

    And yes, it is more dificult at first, but I find it a much better training tool than the normal 25 yrd set up.

  4. In the summer, I only swim open water…the closest pool to me is 90 minutes away, so that is where I go 1x/week in the winter. SO I guess I kind of get a long course. 😉 I have never been in a 50 meter pool though.

  5. When I swam competitively in college, I HATED long course. I was a sprinter, and I rarely raced any distance over 100yds. Now, I’m a triathlete. I LOVE long course pools! Less counting, more rhythm… its something I look forward to!

  6. I was going to make some comment about the importance of girth, but since this post ended up being all about kids, Ill pass. That’d be too creepy. Haha.

    I only swim in 25yd pools, but MIT does have a gorgeous long course pool that I’ve been wanting to swim in for a long time.

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