Ok, so this is a bit of strange thing to post as I have yet to attempt let alone succeed in my Channel swim. However, I believe that speed is the key to success in the Channel. I base this on a considerable amount of research.
There is a lot of talk about insulating the body with an extra layer of fat, which I plan to build in the lead up to my attempt. However, this is not the silver bullet soltion that I had first thought it was to fight the cold. One comment from a self proclaimed 'cuddly' swimmer said that he still felt the cold aplenty. This got me thinking, if just getting fat is not the answer what else can I do to fight the cold.
Its obvious really, when you give it some thought. You need to generate and maintain a descent level of internal heat to get across. It also helps to get across as quickly as possible. The research I have read of young girls and boys without any significant body fat getting across really made me think. If I can go faster my chance of success is much greater. Training at one speed and 'hoping' to make it across is not the answer. I don't believe you can enter into this kind of challenge having 'hope' as one of the things you rely on. I recently spoke to a successful channel swimmer who told me that when he entered the water at Dover he knew he was going to make it across. He said that he was that confident in his preperation. That is where I want to be when I rock up next year.
So, what have I done about this discovery? I have added more pace work than I have ever done before to my training plan, but not just added it, I am attacking it with gusto.
I dedicate one session per week completely to Pace training something like:
400 FC ez
2 * (10*100:10)
400 cool down
I also put a pyramid session in each week, this is a really fun session as I get to do lots of different things in one session.
The other sessions are more dedicated to longer straight swims, only now I will do 200m fast for every 800m swam as a continuous swim for 7 - 10km and on the last km I alternate 200 ez 200 fast. Its a real shoulder burner, but well worth it.
Another fun session I enjoy is to do a long set such as 8km, do the warm up, then 3km straight swim followed by 10*100 then straight into another 3km straight swim. Its a hard session, but by having done this for a few months now I am faster on my 'ploding stroke' which is a good sign.
I am also getting more confident that I will be able to attack the tide and currents when needed, to avoid getting swept backwards and not having to spend an extra 6 hours in the water waiting for the tide to turn.
More on speed next time.