Ok, maybe I’m the last one to join the party on this one, but I’ve just come to the realization that I’ve been swimming MORE yards than I thought! I mean, I knew there was a difference between meters and yards, but I thought it was ever so slight. Technically it is, with 1.09 yards for every meter, but over several hundred meters, it actually makes quite a difference!
All of this was discovered when I read Page’s blog post about her use of this handy swim pace calculator (Page is also training for her first IM – Arizona!). According to this schedule, if my 100 yard pace is 140, then my 100 meter pace would be 149! That’s 9 whole seconds. When I first got back into the pool after taking a hiatus from swimming after my last Olympic triathlon, I was noticing that my times were slower. I got discouraged, thinking that I had suddenly added 10-15 seconds to my 100 time. However, when I had my swim stroke analysis with Jim Vance, he told me that I was swimming 50 yards in 37 seconds and I felt like I was back on my game! As soon as I got back in the pool to practice the technique pointers he gave me, I was seeing the old numbers again and got frustrated but just assumed that my new technique was temporarily slowing me down.
Then, a few weeks ago I realized there was a sign on the wall in the pool area announced that the pool was in meters. I told Mike this and he confirmed that I was swimming a little bit farther than we did at other pools. I didn’t really think about it much, since I haven’t been focused on my pace much lately. However, last week I tried out our local YMCA’s master’s swim and I realized I was actually swimming pretty fast. In fact, this morning I was doing some of my 100s at 1:35!
The funny part is, I’m quite a numbers person (I’m a CPA). I’m really surprised I let this one get past me! Although, admittedly I’ve never been very good with distances and never have had an interest in figuring out exactly how many kilometers are in a mile or anything like that.
So, the moral of the story is that I’ve been swimming more yards than I thought, but at the end of the day, the Ironman is still measured in METERS. Meaning, that although the 2,600 meters I did last week was really closer to 2,834 yards, I still have to swim 4,000 meters on June 24, so really it doesn’t matter.
Really the best part of the discovery of this chart is that I can now predict my race times. According to the handy swim pace calculator, if I usually swim 100 yards at 1:40, then I can expect to finish the Half Ironman in 36:58 and the Ironman in 1:13:55. At this point I tire out when I swim over 3,000 yards, so I know I have some work to do to get to that pace. I’m also not sure I could actually sustain a 1:40 for that distance. At TriRock Olympic, I did the 1,500 yards in 27:02, which is a 1:48 pace and the chart indicated I would have swam it in 26:15 (I think my base was 145 then). It’s hard to say what my base 100 was then and what it is now though. Obviously there are various factors such as drafting and using a wetsuit that can also change things.
Triathletes, does this chart accurately reflect the relationship between your own base and your race history? If you’ve done an Ironman or Half Ironman, were you able to predict your time fairly accurately or did it take longer than you thought?
Everyone else – do you have issues with distance conversions like I do? Don’t you wish the US would just convert to the metric system and made everything easier!?
erm, for me, this chart isn’t even close. but I’m not a strong swimmer, so maybe that’s it? I don’t know.
Boo! I guess I’ll test it out for everyone on March 31….although I’m not even sure what my base is anyway. Oh swimming, I hate it.
Yep, its a pace chart (if I hold X pace for Y distance my time will be Z) rather than a pace prediction chart (if I can hold X pace for a 100, what will my time be for Y distance). I wouldn’t worry too much about the difference in distances. Think of swimming in meters as bonus training!
Nice way to find speed 🙂
You might be able to pick up speed in the open water. I know I’m usually faster in open water b/c there are no turns, I have my wetsuit on, and I get on someone’s feet to draft.
Practice drafting in open water if you can 🙂
LONG LIVE METERS!!! (And thanks for the shout out!)
Thanks for posting this! I found your blog because I did a web search for information about swimming yards vs meters. My 9 year old son is a competitive swimmer and I have been going crazy over the different pool lengths and how they affect his times. I too am a numbers person so you would think I would have been on top of this! I have a math degree and write software for a living. But this is something I never paid much attention to until we started setting some goals for my son to try to beat at his swim meets. His swim team is very competitive and he’s not one of the kids who wins or even places in the top 6 very often. So beating his times is what makes him happy and keeps him going. Compared to you, he swims very short distances 1 to 4 laps. But the small difference in pool length still affects his times. I’ve got it straight now, but it is still hard for him to understand that he did better when his time seems worse. He gets out of the pool and immediately looks at his time to see how he did. Now that I have armed myself with a good understanding of this, I am prepared to figure out what the pool length is at the start of a meet and help him understand what his best times are for that length. He loves the sport and doesn’t need pool length confusion bringing him down!!
Glad I could help!!