I've been swimming for 1,5 year and 4 times per week in average. I had a period of 6-7 trainings during a week and with spring coming I switched 2-3 trainings to running finally because this is simply more fun and unfortunately I've found myself to be sick of swimming at the end of winter. I'm amateur not professional swimmer. That's why my goal is to be fit and have fun. But I want to improve my performance too, of course.

I was asked to participate in 500 m free style amateur swimming race.

The problem is that I'm sprinter. I really VERY enjoy fast speed and my favourite distance is 50 and 100 m. And I would say this is the reason why I like swimming. Experience that beautiful feeling of literally cutting water in a high speed. I use short fins or/and swimming paddles very often during my workout. I simply internally LOVE 50-100 m of burst then some time of rest and doing these intervals again and again.

I know what to do, I know how to train. My question is more likely psychological.

How to force my mind not sprinting the first 100 m of 500 m race and not totally exhaust myself so I'm not able to finish a race in a good time?

Of course I'm able to swim 500 m but I find it very boring, very slow and I can't enjoy it now with current mind set.

How you are dealing with is? Is it possible to switch my mind and body set from sprinter to long race swimmer?

  • Why are you participating in the race?
    – FredrikD
    Jun 9, 2013 at 9:02
  • 1
    This is short amateur triathlon and 2 friends of mine asked me to help them and create team together. 1 is running, 1 is cycling and 1 is swimming. And I said yes :)
    – tsykora
    Jun 9, 2013 at 9:13
  • @Hartley Brody can help you through Online Swim Trainer. All the best for your race.
    – Freakyuser
    Jun 10, 2013 at 10:15
  • I added the tag 'triathlon' to the question, because a slightly different style of swimming is followed in a triathlon.
    – Freakyuser
    Jun 10, 2013 at 10:16
  • Okie, thanks, could be useful for others too.
    – tsykora
    Jun 10, 2013 at 10:23

3 Answers 3


You can train your mindset alongside physical training. You should be focusing on aerobic and anaerobic threshold training with sets that prevent you from getting by with sprinting. Example: 8 - 10 x 100 on an interval that allows you 5-15 seconds rest with great difficulty once you settle in will not allow true sprinting. If you accidentally do sprint early on, you'll still need to settle in and tough it out. Focus on how you feel later in the set and force yourself to use proper technique. If you can barely make it but do, you are on the right track. This will help develop the psychological mindset that you need to foster for the 500 freestyle event.

  • Hmmm sounds very interesting, thank you. I'll try it already today.
    – tsykora
    Jun 10, 2013 at 14:59

One way of getting your mind from the sprint to the 500m distance is too get at swim pacer, e.g. this one from FINIS.

Try to figure your current tempo, e.g. see this question and reduce the tempo to a rate that you can sustain for 200m, then 300m and finally 500m.

This method is more likely to succeed than training to keep the higher tempo for 500m.

Given the context of your race, the team depends on you to finish the swim race, not to win it. 500m swimming is easily done under 10 minutes, so it is likely that it is a small part of the total race.

  • Thank you! I will definitely try that "toy". I probably need something which will externally force me to swim slower.
    – tsykora
    Jun 10, 2013 at 10:07

Since you say 500 and you're European, I assume the race is open water? That assumption is strengthened by that it is the first leg of a team triathlon. In that case, I'd say you worry for no reason at all. Without the turns you get in the pool, your mindset will be so different anyway, there's no way you'll sprint hard enough to not finish well.

On the other hand, in open water swimming, you do want to get out ahead before the first buoy, so "sprinting" a bit at the start actually is something you do want to do. And being a properly trained sprinter, you have enough stamina to finish such a race – and definitely faster than any non-swimmers in the triathlon crowd.

In short: just do it.

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