Well done for your efforts last week on the faster paced 100s.  It was good to see you putting in some great efforts consistently over the whole set and many of you hitting consistently fast times.


I will be swimming and coaching the session as usual this week (4th August) and then away for the next 3 weeks returning on 31st August.  Chrissie and Simon are also away then so you will be doing the sessions yourselves.  I will leave them in the club box tomorrow for you to get out for each of the sessions over the next few weeks so please help set up the pool and get the sessions out if you are there first for the 7am session.  The plan for August is as follows:

  • This week we will be building on the fast 100s last week with some even faster 50s this week with the return of the USRPT (Ultra Short Race Pace Training) set with every swim at your 200m race pace.
  • Next week is more 50s with the Will Clarke Set of faster and steadier paced 50s off different turnaround times.  The aim of this is to keep the top-end swim speed you have been building over the previous two weeks and combine it with some more speed endurance.
  • The week after that sees the return of the ratchet set which is all about speed endurance.  With the faster paced swimming we have been doing leading up to that you should be able to really feel comfortable at the start of the set with some easy speed to help you make the increasingly tight turnaround times and stay relaxed.
  • The final week before I am back will be the main set of positive-split 200s.  It is a very long main set and including plenty of 200s where you will be practising starting fast before dropping back into a sustainable race-pace cruise.

Enjoy your August and your holidays if you are going away.  Have fun and enjoy the swimming wherever you can!


Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash


OK, so it is really hot at the moment so we are going to take a break from the longer sets with short turnaround times and focus on increasing your top-end speed.  To do this we will be doing some faster paced 100s with longer rests, which will give you plenty of time to think about keeping that excellent quick breathing going that we were practising last week!

You should be aiming to swim each 100 as fast as you can at a pace that you can maintain for the whole set.  That should mean that you are swimming each 100 at about your anaerobic threshold.  If the lactic acid starts to build up in your arms on each swim, then you are swimming too fast.  You want to be swimming just below this level so that you are only at the point of your muscles tightening up on the last stroke of each 100.  If you have enough breath after each 100 to chat then you are swimming too slowly!

Please do monitor your times when swimming this type of set as it provides great feedback on how efficiently you are holding your stroke together as you try and swim faster.  I have heard some of you say that you put a lot more effort into the harder swims some times but your times either stay the same or sometimes even get slower.  Feedback from the clock is an excellent way of measuring what actually works in the trade-off between effort, technique and speed.  I find that focusing on pushing hard at the back end of the stroke is a good way for me to keep stroke length and efficiency when trying to swim faster.  Something different may work for you – but if you don’t take your times and try different things you will never know!

See you Saturday,



Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

Well done for all of your efforts last week in what was our longest main set of the year outside the special Christmas and Easter swims.  This week we will be doing some more quick breathing drills before the aerobic-paced main set and some 25 sprints to finish.

Swimming is a total body sport with all the key motions – arms, legs, breathing and body position – affecting each other.  Breathing also illustrates one of the key compromises in swimming.  You will swim fastest when you keep your head down and don’t breathe.  But that is clearly not sustainable for any of the distances we will be swimming in races so the trick is to breathe efficiently to get the oxygen you need but to do it in a way that disrupts your stroke as little as possible.  And this is why doing good quick breathing is so important and can also help with keeping a good stroke rhythm.

See you Saturday!


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Well done for all of your efforts on the 50s while I was away.  It is a bit quieter in the pool now we are into race season so please make use of the extra space and leave 5 second intervals between each other.

This week we will be doing a main set consisting of blocks of 100s off a short turnaround with some extra rest in between each block.  Please try and swim these with a fast stroke rate.  Use some quick breathing to help with this.

See you Saturday!


I will be around for part of the first session this week and away next week.

It is the Great East Swim this week for many of you so it may well be a bit quieter in the pool.  I will coach the first half of the 7am session before I have to leave and we will be continuing the theme of last week with some more work on stroke rate with some fist drills before going into a ratchet main set.  The fist drill this week is a mix of tight fists and half fists.  Tightly clenched fists are good to help you focus on really good vertical forearms and will naturally increase your stroke rate.  For half fists only loosely clench your fists to get a bit more surface area for your pull and a bit more power.

Next week the session will be the Will Clarke set consisting of a mix and fast and steady-paced 50s.  To get the most from this set really focus on the fast 50s, even when the turnaround times are tight at the start of the set.  The sessions will be in the box at the pool so whoever is there first please get them out and distribute to the different lanes.

See you Saturday (briefly)!


Well done for all of your efforts on your feet over the last two weeks with the work we have been doing on your leg kick.  This week we will be doing some work on a drill we haven’t used for quite a while – front crawl with fists.  This is an excellent drill – recommended by Vicky Holland as one of her favourite drills – to help you focus on the high-elbow catch by using your forearms rather than your hands to generate the most power on your pull. Also we be doing some golf stroke 50s to help you experiment with your stroke efficiency by varying your stroke rate and distance per stroke.  The fists drill is a great preparation for your work on this.


We will finish the session this week with some pursuit 200s where I would like to encourage all of you to experiment with different tactics and changes of pace.  Using the stronger leg kick you have recently been practising is a great way to change pace quickly!

See you Saturday,


Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

After the quick start set we did last week we are going to do some work focusing on your legs this week.  Using your legs for selected periods of a swim is a great way to generate a change of pace if you want to bridge a gap and get on someone’s feet, or to make a quick gap to get someone off your feet.  However, using your legs can be very tiring so practising using them in a session is a great way to both improve your leg fitness and get a good workout.

splash of water

Photo by Noelle Otto on Pexels.com

This week the main set is based on one of Jess Learmonth’s favourite sessions that includes several 100s kick alongside some race pace swims.  We will do this after a steady-paced subset of pull with paddles so you will be getting a chance to exercise your full body very well this week!

See you Saturday,


Have spent some time working on quick breathing over the last two weeks I’d like to move onto fast starts.  Fast starts in triathlon are important to help you get the most benefit from positioning in a mass start and are the opposite of how you would swim a normal swimming race, where a negative split (swimming the second half slightly faster than the first half) is usually the way to swim your best time.  So this week we are going to practise our race starts with some positive split 200s – meaning you swim the first 100 fast and then drop back into a steadier and sustainable race pace.


Please do try and keep the quick breathing going that you’ve been doing well over the last couple of weeks.  But combine the concentration on quick breathing with having a bit of fun as we vary the pace in the main set.  A good way to practice this is to leave a 5s gap and try and get on the feet of the swimmer ahead during the fast 100 and then hang onto their slip stream, without any annoying toe-tapping.  Similarly you can try and few different tactics, such as varying your pace a bit to try stay away from the swimmer behind if there is space in the lane, as you may need to sometimes in an open water swim.

Just a quick update about the fast the session tomorrow to help you get a bit more value from it.  Tim quite rightly pointed out that knowing the physiology of the your different energy systems may help you get more benefit from trying different ways of doing quicker starts in the positive split 200s.  For a really fast start you will be using your alactic anaerobic energy system which will allow you to go fast for the first 25m or so without any real downside physiologically but you will then need to back off a bit to ensure you don’t go too fast and fade for later.  However, in an open water start you may still want to go hard for more than 25m to get into a drafting position with a pack to trade off the greater fatigue for the added benefit of some drafting.  Have a play around with different tactics tomorrow to see what works best for you in different situations!

See you Saturday!


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Well done for all of your efforts last week with the quicker breathing and keeping it going through the main set.  There were occasions where I saw people slipping back into their normal slower breathing patterns but I was really pleased to see the efforts you put into keeping what you practised in the drills going as much as possible through what was quite a long main set.

The person I saw with the best breathing was Elisa in lane 2 during the second session.  If you get a chance please do watch how quickly and well she times her breathing.  She has worked really hard at changing her breathing over the last year since we first did these quick breathing drills and you can really see how well she times her breathing now.  She has also managed to knock 43 seconds off her 400m time trial time, too!

Changing any aspect of your technique requires persistence and effort but with time improvements can be made.  Changing breathing is a challenging change since it is one of those changes that doesn’t feel better when you start.  The problem is that you usually get less breath when you first try it, because you are more tense than usual as you concentrate on making a change and have less time to actually breathe, which can’t be good, right?!  Right!  Getting less breath is not good but quicker breathing usually also helps improve your stroke rate and helps your head position mean you get a stronger catch when starting the first pull after the breath.  So the challenge of making a change to quicker breathing permanently requires you to find a way of getting the benefits from stroke rate and catch but without the drawbacks of getting less breath.  My advice for how to do this is 3-fold:

  • Keep trying and practising and you will get more comfortable and less tense so getting more breath
  • Try explosive breathing – doing a quick exhale before you turn to breathe – to maximise the amount of breath to get each time
  • Think about your breathing especially towards the end of the main sets when you are most tired as this is often when you can get the most benefit and you naturally relax to conserve energy


This week we will be doing some of the same quick breathing drills we did last week before going into a set of fast ultra-short race-pace training (USRPT) 50s.  The quick breathing fits really well with USRPTs where you will need the faster stroke rate it helps you generate and stronger catch to keep your speed going.

Late breaking news: Did you see Katie Ledecky break the 1500m world record this week with an amazing 15m20s?!  If not you can watch it here.  See if you can manage her splits of under 31s per 50m for some of the USRPT 50s this week to understand what it feels like to swim that fast!

See you Saturday,


Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

There really were some great efforts in the pool last week with our extra long session.  Lane 3 wins the “hardest of the hard-core” prize with 4 swimmers doing the 3-hour double session (Jerome, Jon, Anita & Sheila), followed by lane 1 with 3 swimmers (Simon, Iain & Edda) and completing the podium lane 4 with 1 (our very wonderful Club Chair, Jo).  After talking about Resilience in my post last week I have to say we saw it in spades in the pool last week so really well done to everyone.


This week we a taking a breath after the intensity of the last few weeks with some steadier swimming and a chance to think about good breathing again.  Please watch the video from my previous post to remind yourself about good breathing technique and see some of the drills we will be doing this week.  The main set is steady-paced swimming so please do the most important thing you can with good technique and try and keep the good breathing you will be doing in the drill set going all the way through the main set.

See you Saturday!



Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

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