Good work last week on the drills focusing on EVF and the transition into the powerful push-phase of the underwater stroke where you get the majority of your propulsion.  The push phase is the what we are going to focus on throughout December leading up to the Christmas Swim.  So this week we are going to work on using your core to help with that push phase using some of the core rotation drills from Chloe Sutton.  We are going to be doing the prone kick with rotation, hip-connector drill and support single-arm freestyle drills from Chloe’s video, which you can see here:

After the drills we will be doing a Pyramid main set where I would like you to focus on keeping the powerful core driven push throughout the main set.  If you get this right it should feel easy as it will be using your powerful lats and core to generate your speed rather than your shoulders.

See you Saturday!

Rob

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An EVF is important to set up you for the underwater pull but only fully effective if you use that good EVF position to get the power from the push phase of your underwater stroke.  This is what I would like you to focus on during the session this week.  Aim to keep your vertical arm accelerating and pushing the water straight backwards right to the end of the push-phase.  Engage your core for extra power during the push.

To help we will be building up from drills focusing on the EVF catch and then into full strokes with the push as well.  As part of these drills we will be trying a new drill called catch-catch pull that was in one of the videos I shared a couple of weeks ago from Effortless Swimming.  Look at the video below from 3:46 onwards for a demonstration:

In December I will be alternating the sessions I swim and coach to give the 7am session a chance for some coaching.  This week I will coach the 7am session and swim during the 8am session and change next week.

See you Saturday!

Rob

 

It’s time trials this week and I’d like you to focus on doing your time trial with good technique.  Maintaining good technique at speed, especially the EVF, is one of the most challenging things we can do and also one of the most effective things you can do to swim faster.

Also, I would like you to not worry about your time and be more interested in seeing what your distance per stroke and stroke rate (measured in strokes per minute) is.  Knowing your distance per stroke and stroke rate will provide a good baseline to measure changes against as we work on other aspects of your stroke over the winter.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Well done to everyone that has been brave enough to watch yourself on video and see what your stroke really looks like rather than what it feels like you are doing.  We have one more week of video and EVF drills before our first time trials of the Winter and I will write a bit more about what I am looking for in the time trials next week.

Back to this week, though, and the most common question I get on EVF is what should a good EVF look like?  If you look at many elite swimmers like Rebecca Adlington or Sun Yang on Youtube you will see extreme examples of what is possible for EVF by the very best in the world.  Few of us are ever likely to get near these extreme EVF positions but all of us can improve and get better.  And for many of us, improving EVF is one thing that is likely to make a big difference in swimming speed and efficiency, which is why I bang on about it so much!

So what should an EVF position look like for a regular swimmer?  The picture below is a clip from an Effortless Swimming video analysis of Triathlon Taren, who I know some of you follow.  The straight red line from his shoulder to wrist shows where he is with his catch at present and he is aiming to improve by getting to more of the bent red-line position shown on top of it.  You can watch the full video podcast showing this from this link.  

So how do you improve your EVF?  Many different drills can help and we have been practising many of those that I think can work well.  The following video from Effortless Swimming is also excellent and well worth a watch.  I particularly like the suggestion about shoulder position to help with a good EVF position, which is something you can all try this week.

After the EVF drills this week we will be doing an aerobic set of 200s, 150s and 100s before doing some pull-back sprints to finish.  I will be using lane 1 again this week for more video work during the pull-back sprints for anyone else that wants to be filmed.

See you Saturday!

Rob

It’s been great to see how keen many of you are to work on improving your technique and I’m conscious I’ve been giving you some quite challenging drills to work on EVF.  Well done for trying these – we will be doing some more of them this week – as improvements in EVF are the biggest improvement in speed and efficiency that could be made for many of you.  If there is one thing I would encourage everyone to aim for when doing these drills it is to do them slowly and as relaxed as possible.  I know this is hard as some of these drills are challenging.  Please persevere and try and get just a bit more comfortable and relaxed doing them this week.

Also, do think have an underwater video taken if you haven’t already.  I know it can be a bit uncomfortable to watch as I find it exactly the same.  However, if you can get past the discomfort it is a great way to see the difference between what it feels like you are doing and what you are actually doing in the water.  And getting a video done now is a great way of getting a baseline to compare against when you try and make some changes.  This week I will be using lane 4 at the end of both sessions to do some filming so please ask me if you are interested.  I will keep bringing the camera for the next few weeks if there is not enough time this week.

See you Saturday!

Rob

PS  Do watch the Rebecca Adlington video again if you want a reminder of one of the best examples of EVF to suit a long and relaxed, fast and efficient front crawl.

We will be doing more work this week on the high-elbow catch with some more drills we haven’t done for a while, namely double-arm pull, sideline kick with a quarter stroke to catch, and reverse doggy paddle with rotation.  These drills form a nice progression through the key elements of the high-elbow catch in different body positions.  Please do them as a progression as follows:

  • Double-arm pull: Pause at the EVF position and check your forearm is vertical in the water, with your elbow pointing forwards, before pressing through the rest of the pull.  This is best done with a pull buoy and head down without breathing – so take your time to allow you to do as much as possible without breathing.
  • Sideline kick with a quarter stroke to catch: This is all about getting into the EVF position on your side in the sideline kick position.  Do not put any effort into the pull (as you shouldn’t anyway when getting to the catch position) as this drill is all about getting to the EVF position before you start to apply the power.
  • Reverse doggy paddle with rotation:  Do this by starting with your arms by your sides and do doggy paddle but finishing each stroke with both arms by your side again.  Pause at EVF and check you have a good EVF before starting the push at the end of the stroke.  This puts together the EVF work of the previous drills combined with the rotation that is part of a good full stroke.

The main set is an aerobic pyramid and we will finish with some 25m sprints.  We will use only lanes 2, 3 and 4 for the sprints as I will use lane 1 for videoing anyone that wants to be recorded.  I would strongly encourage anyone that wants recording to take advantage of this.  Doing this regularly is a great way to check on your stroke as it often feels very different to what it looks like.  Helen filmed me racing last weekend and it was a great way of spotting some errors I make in my stroke when racing that I will be working on over the Winter.

See you Saturday!

Rob

It was interesting to see how many swimmers rushed through the drills last week without taking enough rest.  I will forgive you for this last week, as it was our first week of Winter training, but please do try and take your time over drills this week and every time we do drills in the future.  The reason I think this is really important is that most of the drills we do are best accomplished when you are not breathing, with your head still, and you are as relaxed as possible.  This is really hard if you are tired or out of breath so take plenty of rest to allow yourselves to do as much of the drills when well-recovered and with as few breaths as possible.  I will not complain if you take a little bit more rest before or during drill sets.

However, on aerobic sets with fixed turnarounds please do not add in extra rest whenever possible.  These sets are designed to be swum straight through, often forcing you to improve your pace judgement early in the set to swim them well, and this is best done by sticking to the turnaround times.  If you are changing lane order please don’t take extra rest to do it.  Sort yourselves out at the start of the set and do a quick change in order if someone behind is swimming faster than you.

This week lane 1 will be doing some race pace 50s for the main set, like last week, for those racing in Ibiza and Sheffield next week whereas everyone else will be doing steadier-paced aerobic swims for their main set.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Photo by Agê Barros on Unsplash

Well done for all of your efforts for the longer session last week – especially the hard core who did a full 3-hour session (Team Bradford, Anita & Jo.)  I hope I didn’t forget anyone?!  A fantastic effort all round!

This week we will be starting our Winter training for most people but continuing some race-pace efforts for lane 1 and lane 2 (8am session only) for a couple more weeks, as I mentioned a few weeks ago, for those racing at the end of October.  The race-pace efforts will be USRPT 50s and for everyone else aerobic-paced swims after some technique work focusing on a high-elbow pull.

So have you come up with some Winter swimming goals after my post a few weeks ago?  Is it improving your 400m time trial time by 10s over the Winter or just learning to swim at the same pace more efficiently so you can focus on improvements for your bike and run?  Whatever your goal is, have you come up with a plan for how you will try to achieve it with some process and performance goals to help you along the way?  I would be very happy to hear about them if you have.

I would strongly recommend thinking hard about what you think will help you achieve your swimming goals and also getting some help.  I am very happy to provide any coaching advice so please just ask.  Also, Chrissie has kindly offered to help coach some sessions over the next few weeks so please do ask her advice.  And I will plan to bring along a camera to as many sessions as I can over the next few weeks for anyone that wants filming – above or below the water.  This is a great way to see what you are doing and decide on any technique changes you may wish to make in support of your goals and also get a baseline recording for comparing against.  There is nothing like having feedback to compare against to check that the changes you are making are effective.

See you Saturday!

Rob

As mentioned last week, it’s time to celebrate the end of the triathlon season (for most of us) with our special swimming session.  The Juniors will be at Thetford so we have the pool for 3 hours meaning we can do our favourite long set of 100s.

We will be doing two 1.5 hour sessions from 7am till 8:30am and 8:30am till 10am.  We will be doing a long set of 100s in both sessions giving you the opportunity in each session to do 5km in lane 1, 4.5km in lane 2, 4km in lane 3 and 3.5km in lane 4.  Or why not double up for a really monster set of distance training!?

Three things I’d like you to do on Saturday, please:

  1. Bring a drink and appropriate nutrition for the length of set you are planning to tackle.
  2. Focus on efficiency in your stroke and good technique – especially maintaining a high elbow catch with core rotation to finish each stroke strongly – when you are starting to fatigue.
  3. Enjoy both the personal challenge and sharing it with everyone else in your lane, too.

See you Saturday,

Rob

 

Photo by Guy Roberts on Unsplash

This week the Juniors will be doing time trials again so we will be finishing the 8am session at 9am to give them a bit more time.  As usual, in return, we will be getting the pool for all 3 hours on 6th October so we will be taking full advantage with two hour and a half sessions to officially mark the end of the our main Triathlon racing season.  That means we will be starting Winter training on 13th October (for most people) so I hope you have been thinking about your swimming goals for this Winter as I wrote about in my post last week.  I will talk more about that in a future post.

The slight exception I will be making this year is to keep our faster swimming going for those who are racing at the end of October in Ibiza at the ETU Championships and also as the Masters Short Course Championships in Sheffield.  To accommodate those doing these races I will be keeping the race pace sessions going for lane 1 in both sessions on 13th and 20th October as well as the 8am session for lane 2 on those dates.  I think that covers most of those racing at these events and also provides options for those wanting to start the Winter training by choosing a different time or lane for the sessions on 13th and 20th October.

For our last race-pace session this week we will be doing some speed endurance 100s followed by 100% effort 50s.  This is a good session to keep your speed endurance going for any late season races and enjoy a max effort blow out for those who just want to finish the season with a blast in the pool.

See you Saturday!

Rob

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