I ended up going to a different pool than normal due to logistical reasons, which meant that I'd get a shorter session than normal. As such, I figured that in lieu of the shorter distance I'd likely be covering I should focus on stretching out the distance that I could cover continuously. While I have no problem swimming nearly 3K at a reasonably fast pace, I've still needed to take breaks every few lengths to catch my breath. While that's not a huge problem in a pool, it is potentially a huge issue in a lake with other swimmers surrounding you at all times ;)
While this pool isn't really ideally set up for length swimming, the upside to that is that others stay away and there is a lot less traffic to deal with. Doing continuous sets in traffic can be difficult, as the turnarounds can be problematic when one swimmer is overtaking another. That can, in turn, break up the rhythm and make it difficult to keep fighting when you're tired and just want to grab onto that wall.
As such, I started out by sticking to 50m sets, and began working in 100m sets periodically. I've done these sorts of sets before, so this wasn't too difficult. When I got comfortable, I elected to do a number of 100m sets back to back. After successfully doing four full sets with about 10 seconds rest between them, I figured I should try to push it a little more. As such, I set off with the intention to keep going as long as I could - at the time I figured I'd last about 200-250m or so, but as I hadn't gone into this territory before I really had no idea.
Once I got into it and stopped worrying about how much I had left in the set, I got a lot more comfortable and settled into a pretty good rhythm. I easily pushed past 400m and kept going, hitting 500m, then 600m and eventually getting to 750m. At that point, my arms were beginning to get a bit tired so I elected to call it at that point and take a break (had I done the math though, I likely would have hammered another 50m out).
After about 30 seconds I felt a lot better, and figured that I'd do another 100m set and then see what I could do after that. When I hit the 100m mark, however, I was still feeling pretty good so I elected to keep going once again and push through to 500m. I took about 20 seconds to rest at that point, and then headed out again to do another long set. I managed to get down another 325m before the lifeguards informed me that the session was over (the clock still showed 3 minutes left, but I wasn't really going to waste energy arguing with them) ;)
Either way, thanks to the significantly reduced number of breaks I had clocked in 2,525m in 68 minutes, which is less than 300m short of what I can usually do in the 90 minute sessions I usually get in. Over the entire session, I averaged a 2:42/100m pace - nearly 20 seconds faster than usually. Further, the 750m set only took 15 minutes, working out to an average steady state pace of 2:00/100m. Unfortunately, I didn't explicitly time the other sets (hard enough to keep track of everything else) however they would have been done at a similar pace.
With only a couple of more weeks before the Orillia race, I had been having serious second thoughts about my capacity to pull of the swim stage and was thinking about pushing my goal back to a different race in Guelph. This has done a lot to boost my confidence, although it's not quite the same thing as the push-offs one gets in the pool every length do make it a little easier. I'll have to try to do more of this sort of session over the next few times out to cement my stamina, however this has reduced a lot of the stress that I was feeling about it ;)