My husband and I completed our 3rd triathlon this past weekend. He has completed 1 sprint and 2 olympic distances, and i’ve completed 2 sprint and 1 olympic distance. For me, the swim portion has never been easy. I took a few lessons and my swimming improved quite a bit, but I still have a ways to go. I read this study which was titled Effect of swimming intensity on subsequent cycling and overall triathlon performance published in the Journal of Sports Medicine by Peeling, Bishop, Landers, and Boone.
This study measured 9 well trained male traithletes and timed them through several sprint distance triathlons at varied swim intensities. The 3 swim time trials (STT) were recorded at the following swim velocities, S80: 80-85%, S90: 90-95% and S100: 98-102%. The cycling and running portions were all done at their maximum capacity.
The results measured the S80 and S90 to have better cycle times than that of the S100. Moreover, the S80 had an overall best performance on triathlon time.
In a nutshell, this study showed that you shouldn’t overdo the swim by doing it at your maximal performance. Instead, try and swim at the S80 range and save your power for a speedy cycle and strong finish!