As a currently competing masters swimmer and a daily user of Firebelly, people often ask me if Firebelly has made me faster. It's a tricky question for reasons I'll explain, but in my opinion "I'm not getting faster, but I am becoming a better swimmer."
Getting Slower, Slower
As a masters swimmer, I am getting slower. I've been a lifelong competitive swimmer and my times continued to drop through college. I hit the "reset button" on my best times when I started masters swimming and as a masters swimmer, improved my times until about my mid-thirties. I've started to accept that my times are only going to get slower from here. Only half-jokingly, I tell people that my goal is to get slower, slower – i.e. slow down the process of getting slower. So Firebelly isn't making me faster, because I'm not going to get faster, but I do think it has slowed down the process of getting slower.
I have a much better idea of what a particular pace feels like and what my tempo should feel like for a given race.
Becoming a Better Swimmer, Not Faster
More importantly, I think Firebelly has made me a better swimmer.In one of my previous posts, I discussed the importance of learning how to pace and having an "internal pace clock". With a good internal pace clock, you can make sure you pace your races for success. Firebelly has significantly improved my internal pace clock.
We have been doing a lot of race pace training with Firebelly. This means doing sets like 40 x 50 on :50 holding 1000 goal pace or 24 x 75 on 1:05 holding 500 goal pace. Following the guidelines of USRPT protocol, I stop if I'm no longer able to hold the pace. Doing these types of sets with Firebelly on, I have been able to dial in a particular pace. I have a much better idea of what my goal pace feels like and what my tempo should feel like for a given race.
Instant and Accurate Feedback
With Firebelly, you can quickly correlate what you are feeling in the pool with a number in your ear. Firebelly can give you your times, stroke count, and stroke rate each length – all the measures you need to hit your desired race targets.
For swimmers learning how to pace, using Firebelly can speed up the learning curve. "Feeling" you might be going out too fast isn't as effective as actually hearing a number that tells you your time. For swimmers that have a sense of pace but are looking to dial in a new target or improve their accuracy, Firebelly can provide the feedback to make those changes.
Happy Swimming & Getting Faster (or Slower, Slower)!