Well done for all of your efforts over the last couple of weeks while I was away.  Chrissie tells me you have all been working hard and enjoying the faster-paced efforts.

Whilst the short faster-paced swims are fun to do, and a good workout, most of our aims for racing this season require us to swim quickly over much longer distances and for that we need efficiency as well as speed.  That is what I call “easy speed“, which will be the focus of the session this week.  The turnaround times will be short though, and I’d like you to vary the pace around your Critical Swim Speed (CSS), so really try and relax and focus on whichever aspect of your stroke helps you do this best.  I know some of you find focusing on the back-end of your stroke – the push past the EVF position – is a great way to keep your speed while staying relaxed.

For those who need a reminder about CSS, your CSS is your lactate threshold swim speed, which is usually the pace you can sustain for a 1,500m swim.  We estimated your current CSS using your 400m and 100m time trial results.  If you didn’t do the time trials then you may know your CSS already but if not the average CSS for lane 1 is about 1m 26s/100m, for lane 2 is about 1m 37s, for lane 3 about 1m 44s and for lane 4 about 1m 55s.

The main set this week is return of the prime numbers set of 100s where prime numbered 100s (i.e. 2, 3, 5, 7, …) are swum on a slightly shorter turnaround than non-prime numbered 100s (i.e. 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, …)  I would like you to swim the shorter turnaround 100s slightly faster than the others.  Aim for a 4s difference between the faster and slower 100s with faster 100s at 2s faster than your CSS and slower 100s at 2s slower than your CSS. This is a good long set and should help work on improving your CSS.

See you Saturday,

Rob

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I will be away on holiday for the next two weeks so will be leaving the sessions in the Tri Club box at the pool.  Chrissie had kindly offered to coach the 7am session but then has to leave to coach the Juniors.  So please do take advantage of Chrissie’s excellent coaching and I hope you enjoy the sessions.

We will be continuing the theme of picking up the pace with some speed-endurance 100s this week followed by the Will Clarke set of fast/steady 50s next week.  The drills will all be around working on your stroke rate as we started to do last week.

Please work on your stroke rate and search for some “easy speed”.  Often I find “easy speed” can come when trying to swim fast off a short turnaround – so knowing you need to keep some energy back for the next swim as the rest between swims won’t provide enough.  A higher stroke rate, without dropping too much length in your stroke, is often the result of this focus so enjoy practising over the next two weeks.

See you soon!

Rob

Well done for all of your efforts last week at the time trials and for the feedback on what you learnt.  It is interesting to get your thoughts on how you did and what to improve for next time.  Generally I would say most of you are rather more self-critical than is necessarily helpful so please do be kind to yourselves even if you didn’t get the time you wanted.  The most important thing for me is that you enjoy it as that is what will make you come back for more and consistency of good training is the best way I know to improve.

We will now start the build-up to the racing season in earnest so will be doing some faster-paced swimming.  For most of us this means getting used to the faster stroke rates that generate faster speeds but while maintaining your stroke length as much as possible.  And faster stroke rates are usually better for open water swimming in a wetsuit, too, as 220 Triathlon magazine reminded us about this week in this article by Chrissie Wellington.

This week we will be doing some head-up front crawl and straight-arm recovery drills to help you focus on a higher stroke rate.  Then we will be going into some golf stroke 50s to help you practice a faster stroke rate with full stroke.  As a reminder, your golf stroke is the total of your stroke count and your time in seconds for each 50m (e.g. if it takes you 40s and 44 strokes for the 50m then your golf stroke is 88).  The aim is to progressively reduce your golf stroke and to do this I’d like you to focus on keeping your stroke count the same and swimming faster to reduce your time for each 50.  You will find it easier to swim faster by breathing quicker and kicking faster as this will naturally increase your stroke rate without trying to force it with a faster pull that can often mean you end up increasing the number of strokes it takes you.

To finish we will be doing some pursuit swims to give you a bit of practice of drafting and reacting to a change of pace by swimmers ahead and behind you.

See you Saturday,

Rob

It is time for our second set of time trials this Winter.  Normally for these second set of time trials we would have started some speed work during January but I’ve delayed the start of speed work this year to give us more time on technique – mainly on the breathing and kick.  So this set of time trials is the ideal one to really focus on making it technically as good as possible and seeing what that does for your time, stroke length and stroke count.

I am a firm believer in only focusing on one thing at a time so suggest thinking about just one key thing per length, such as:

  • Good early vertical forearm on the first length
  • Quick breathing on the second length
  • Good legs on the third (continuous but not too fast or too much effort)
  • Fast turns with good streamlining on the fourth
  • Repeat 4 times to complete the 400

See you Saturday!

Rob

Well done for all of you efforts last week with the quicker breathing.  I saw some excellent improvements in stroke tempo and heard that some of you also felt the increase in power in the stroke.  This week we will be doing a little bit more on the quicker breathing as well as done some work on the legs.  Using your legs well has a similar benefit to good breathing and really helps with the rythm of your stroke (as well as removing the brakes if your kick is poor and affecting your body position).

In the kick set this week I’d like you to think about the following:

  • When kicking try and keep your legs straight, with toes pointed, and kick from the hips. Your knees will naturally flex a bit when you do this but you should resist letting this happen as it almost always results in excessive bending of the knee which just increases drag and slows you down.
  • A great way to check your legs is when kicking on your back without a float, but always remember:
    • Never, ever, kick on your back with your arms by your sides – always keep your arms above your head in a streamlined position
    • Keep your knees under the water at all time – the only part of your legs to break the surface should be your feet
  • When doing full stroke your legs set the tempo for your arms. Hence, a great way to avoid over-reaching on your pull is to focus on keeping a steady tempo with your legs which will make it impossible to pause on your arms stroke.  A pause in your arm stroke is almost always accompanied by a pause in your leg kick.

We will also be doing some sprints at the end of the session this week and this is another great opportunity to work on your legs.  Again, the legs set the tempo for your stroke so focusing on a really fast, hard leg kick will naturally increase your stroke rate without you feeling the need to rip your arms through the water and start slipping water.

See you Saturday!

Rob

This week we will be doing some new drills to focus on breathing and especially the timing of the breathing.  This is really important to try and get right as it really affects the quality of your EVF catch every time you breathe, which is one of the improvements that many of us could make.  Please watch the following video for details of some of the drills we will be doing this week:

This is one of my favourite videos that Chloe has done as it is so packed full of excellent drills and some great examples of both what it looks like when you get the timing wrong and what it should look like when you get the timing right.  I see quite a few examples of the errors in the catch caused by slow breathing on Saturday mornings week so please do play close attention to this video and especially the drills demonstrated on breath timing as we will be doing them this week.

See you Saturday,

Rob

 

Well done for all of your efforts in the pool leading over the last few weeks.  I know many of you found some of the front crawl drills and different strokes challenging but I have seen some excellent improvements from many of you with the hard work you have put in.

Normally in January we start the build-up to the new season by starting some speed work.  This year, however, I plan to delay the start of the speed work until February to give us a bit more time to to focus on the technique improvements we’ve been working on over the Winter.  We will do a bit more work practising an early vertical forearm – since this is the one thing most of us could do more of to improve our speed and efficiency – but also do a bit of work on other aspects like head and body position.

We will stick with the usual pattern of doing time trials every 2 months – on the last Saturday of the month – and the next time trials will be at the end of January.  We won’t be doing any speed work before then so any improvement in your performance is most likely to come from technique. So please focus on your technique over the next few weeks by getting a good lever, with an early vertical forearm, to push yourself forward from a strong core rotation.

See you Saturday,

Rob

Apologies to those to of you who didn’t get my email announcing the change of time for the session last week.  I know some of you were not checking your emails between Christmas and New Year but others did not get the email at all.  Iain is continuing to look into the problems with emails that are not getting through, and I will try link my blog posts to Facebook so there is a another method of notification, but you can also check for all club emails that have been sent from the club website.  If you log into the the members area and go the the “Welcome to your club/communications” page then you can see all the emails sent to the allmembers email link.  Also, if you want to follow just my blog posts you can click the “Follow Rob’s Swimming Blog” link on my blog page or follow me on Twitter (@sivadbor) to get tweets when there are new posts.

After our backstroke and breast stroke technique work over the last two weeks I am sure you will have guessed that this week it is Butterfly!  Although widely considered as the hardest stroke to master it is probably the most beautiful to both watch and enjoy swimming when you learn the technique.  And – guest what – it also requires an Early Vertical Forearm!

Chloe Sutton has an excellent video with some really good tips which you can watch here:

We will be doing some of the drills she demonstrates, especially the Caterpillar and single-arm drills.

For me, the key to a good Butterly is to relax and really get that nice undulating dolphin motion going.  Don’t fight the water, try and get the rhythm using your head and legs, as Chloe explains,  and enjoy the smooth, undulating motion.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Well done for all of your efforts last week with backstroke.  I saw some excellent efforts and good-looking backstroke, especially when some of you took your time a bit more on the drills.  This week we will be doing some breast stroke and I have another excellent Chloe Sutton video for you to watch here:

“But breast stroke is so unlike front crawl – how on earth can it make me a better triathlete!?  You are just having a laugh!”,  I hear you all cry (especially Juliet…!)  My three answers to that question this week are:

  1. A good breast stroke pull has the same key feature as a front crawl pull – a high-elbow and vertical forearm (watch 4:30 into the video for a great demonstration).
  2. Doing different strokes give you a different way of developing your feel for the water – and makes you a better all-round swimmer – and better all-round swimmers usually swim faster at front crawl due to their improved feel for the water.
  3. It’s fun to try and learn new things!

When we do the drills this week we will be following a similar pattern to the drill progression Chloe talks about in her video – kick then pull then timing.  So please do enjoy doing the breast stroke this week alongside our more familiar aerobic-paced front crawl sets.  And remember – bring your feet to your booty on the kick!

See you Saturday,

Rob

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