Racer or Pacer?

Leonard_JansenLeonard_Jansen Charter Member
edited June 2014 in General Discussion
In a longer swim race (let's say at least 4 hours), do you tend to be a "racer" - i.e. focus your effort on those around you - or a "pacer" - i.e. focus your effort on maintaining a certain pace/effort regardless of the other swimmers around you? This question assumes that you are among, or close to, people of approximately your ability and haven't done anything stupid, like go out with a much faster group that you don't belong with.

I am definately a pacer as I will start slowly and then try to just grind my way past people. I especially try to not have to race anyone in the last 200 yards or so as even a dead fish can out-sprint me.


“Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde


  • timsroottimsroot Spring, TXCharter Member
    I'm a pacer. I start out pretty slow, and usually catch people or pull away from people the second half of the race. I was fortunate enough to win a 25k in May. After 15k, I had maybe a 10 second lead. I ended up winning by about 10 minutes. Some of that was due to better navigation and not getting blown out in the middle of the bay like some of the people behind me, but some of it was due to getting less tired than the guy who was nearly with me with 10k to go.
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoCharter Member
    I hesitate to describe myself as a "racer" since I tend to be in the back half of the field, but swimming in larger fields has taught me that:

    1. I am capable of swimming faster than I think can for long distances
    2. The primary motivation for achieving (1) is presence of another swimmer.

    Last year at Swim the Suck I swam to the left of another swimmer for ~90 minutes and it really lifted my pace. The funniest thing was that she breathed exclusively to her right and never noticed me (our feed stops were a couple of minutes out of sync so we were never together during them), despite the extended amount of time we spent swimming sometimes only a couple of yards apart.

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • SpacemanspiffSpacemanspiff Dallas, TexasSenior Member
    This is why I do 90% of my OWS solo. I have a racer's ego in a pacer's body. It's like a teenager stomping on the pedal of an old rusty camaro with a faded racing stripe. In longer races, the weight of future pain generally facilitates a more realistic inventory of my age and ability. But even then, if you were tracking my speed you'd see periods of great pace fluctuations where the angel and devil duked it out from their shoulder perches... >:) O:-)

    "Lights go out and I can't be saved Tides that I tried to swim against Have brought be down upon my knees Oh I beg, I beg and plead..."

  • IronMikeIronMike Arlington, VACharter Member
    Pacer. I start slow and end slow.

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • flystormsflystorms Memphis, TNMember
    Definitely a pacer. I know from experience in several endurance sports that I can go all day if I need to at a given steady pace. But that doesn't stop me from stepping on the gas a bit if I see someone in my headlights that I can hunt down. :)
  • WarmWaterWarmWater SingaporeMember
    IronMike said:

    Pacer. I start slow and end slow.

    I have a single speed, 20 min/k, the first K is the same as the last. I watch the younger crowd go past then I reel them back in. I don't think anyone plans to go off too hard and cling on do they, they just overcook it. So aren't we all pacers? Or we're all racers with different strategies. It's a grey area!

  • heartheart San Francisco, CACharter Member
    Since I'm always slower than everyone else, I race myself. And hey, it's an endurance sport - isn't there some distinction in being the person who had endured the longest? :D
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