Having to change training programs while preparing for my newest ludicrous Ironman goal has me feeling somewhat lost. With four years of training experience, I’ve decided to take this time to forego a single coach. Instead, I’ll follow the TriDot AI-based training program and pull in discipline-specific coaching. I have seen the ads for TriDot Pool School and spoken to local triathletes who’ve completed the training. They all reported that their swimming technique improved and they shaved off several seconds from their 100-yard freestyle time in just two days. Knowing my swim times needed to drop significantly to meet my racing pace goals (sustain 1:35/100), I was drawn to the TriDot program.
A local triathlete sent me a note about an upcoming session and offered a discount if I was willing to sign up. As luck would have it, I was available, and my training plan was low volume, so I decided to do it. My main goal was to enhance my swimming technique and achieve maximum efficiency. The pace of swimming is largely reliant on technique, and the sustained pace is a combination of both fitness and efficiency. I knew I could enhance both aspects with time, but I wanted to speed up the progress by putting in focused efforts. I aimed to master better techniques earlier, giving me ample time to perfect them before Ironman Cozumel. The other reason for attending was to meet fellow TriDot athletes and establish contacts in cities I frequently visit for work. It’s always better to have a workout buddy when you’re on the road than to train alone.
The weekend activities began with a yoga session that was led by one of the swim coaches. I love practicing yoga and was excited to experience it from a new instructor. We met at the swim facility and spent about an hour moving through poses beneficial to triathletes. I enjoyed it and observed that many in the class were very tight and could benefit from more regular practice. Incorporating yoga would benefit all triathletes, and the need remains largely unmet. After yoga, we planned a group dinner at a local Italian restaurant. The food was very good, and the dinner was a great way to meet and get comfortable with everyone we’d see at the pool for the next two days.
We began the day like true triathletes…by starting our “two-a-day” with a morning run and then swimming. One coach showed us various muscle activation exercises before leading an easy run. When we were done running, everyone looked like they’d already been swimming.
The program is expertly organized and masterfully executed. Before arriving, we were expected to learn and practice specific dry-land drills that would bring everyone to baseline familiarity with the lingo and basic movements. Once in “school,” we rotated between a classroom, being on mats, practicing skills, watching someone execute each skill in the pool, then learning to perform them ourselves. It was beautiful to observe.
We began with the basics of body position, then added, stepwise, deliberate movements of the stroke. The movements included developing awareness of our shoulder, head, elbow, and hand positions throughout the cycle. Being divided into lanes with people who swim at the same pace made lane management easy. Each lane had three coaches (one on each end and a floater) giving us constant feedback. The feedback was so frequent that we had the opportunity to adjust in real-time, leading to better and more rapid adoption of the “good” habits we were learning.
Initially, attempting to remember all the cues while swimming was overwhelming. But, I think that was the point. Allowing us to feel everything and then go through the process of breaking it down helped with the integration process. We were overwhelmed, made errors, repeated the drill, and began to correct ourselves. We didn’t drill for speed, the whole day was done casually with a pure focus on learning to feel proper form. The progression was very systematic and intentional.
I felt let down when the first day came to an end as I had a desire to accomplish more. The atmosphere was open and engaging, I wanted to learn more, not stop. However, day two did not disappoint. We followed the same structure as the first day. Listen to the goal, watch a demo, practice on land, watch again in the water, then execute. Every step is built upon the previous one. When necessary, we even regressed to reinforce previous skills before spending more time on the next step. Eventually, we were putting everything together and swimming normally, but feeling the difference. The process was simple, yet profoundly effective. It was like magic.
Before we concluded the TriDot Pool School experience, everyone had a chance to test themselves by swimming their best 100 yd sprint. The time would be compared to our best effort before beginning school on day 1. Anxiety was on everyone’s faces. However, to everyone’s delight, we all improved, some by a tremendous amount of time, others by smaller increments.
That’s an incredible 100% success rate!
My time dropped from 1:28/100 yds to 1:10/100 yds and decreased the number of strokes per length from 15 to 14 !!
I feel like a badass!
I swam four fewer strokes while dropping 18 seconds off a 100 yd effort. That’s not only faster but more efficient.
Now, the goal is to solidify those gains so that my open-water race times decrease proportionally.