Archives for the month of: January, 2014

Now it’s February we will start increasing the pace so will have some progressive-paced swims alongside the usual steady-paced aerobic work.  We will also be doing some more work on the catch and pulling with the forearm.

As we pick up the pace it is important to try and stay as relaxed as possible and hold your technique together when you swim faster.  There are a number of things you can do to help with this.  You can actively think about your stroke and trying to keep it relaxed as you put more effort in – using things like stroke count to objectively monitor how efficient you are able to keep your stroke as you pick up the pace.  You can also use some passive tricks – of thinking about saving yourself for the next swim rep – so you stay relaxed and fast on the swim before.  For example, many of us find that when we have a hard interval coming up, such as a 50 Fly, we subconsciously relax beforehand and still find we are swimming quickly.  Some of the progressively paced sets we will be doing, where you need to get faster each time but may not have that much rest, are good for this so feel free to try this approach this week and see if it works for you.

The short technique set we will do this week will be head-up front crawl and some front crawl with fists.  The work with fists is the same as last week and gives you chance to think about really using your forearms to pull.  Try and keep your stroke count as low as possible when doing this to get the most from it.  Head-up front crawl is a great drill to help you focus on a strong catch as well as increasing your stroke rate.  It is also hard work, too, as your high head position pushes your hips down so you need to kick hard to keep your head above water.  For a video on this I think the following is good:

See you Saturday!


This week is the final week of longer, mainly aerobic-paced sets before we start introducing some faster paced swimming  as we start to build towards the racing season.  So, after the technique on different strokes we’ve been doing, I want to move back to front crawl so this week I’d like you all to think about using your forearms and the back-half of your underwater pull.

To do this we will do a couple of different drills.  The first is front crawl with fists – which is exactly what it says – front crawl swum with your fists closed.  This will be done as part of a golf stroke set so you see the effect of clenching your fists on your stroke count, measured as part of your golf stroke.  The important thing here is make sure you focus on the propulsion you get from your forearms underwater rather than just relying on your hands.  Try and keep your stroke count with fists as close as possible to your normal stroke count by using your forearms as much as possible.

The second drill, which we have done before, is reverse catch-up.  This is the opposite of normal catch-up front crawl where your arms catch each other up but with both arms by your sides rather than out in front.  This is a great drill to help you focus on keeping the length at the end of each pull rather than at the front.  It also has the added benefit of really helping you think about shoulder rotation.  For a good video demonstrating it see the following:

After the drills we will follow-up with a long set of aerobic-paced 100s, with short rest, and a few IMs thrown in to keep it interesting.

See you Saturday!


No technique tips this week – just a brief reminder on how we can all work together to make sure we all get the best workout we can in the swimming sessions given how busy the sessions often are at this time of year.  It can get pretty crowded, especially the 8-9:15 session, so I just thought I’d send out a brief reminder of standard lane etiquette, that most of us already follow, to make sure every session works for as many of us as possible.  Just 5 simple rules usually make most sessions work well in my experience:

1. Everyone in the lane should stop when the first swimmer finishes the warm-up.  I try and make sure every session fits into the allotted time so if you’re late please don’t continue warming up when the lead swimmer finishes.  It just makes it harder to complete the session on time and if you want to finish the warm-up just make sure you arrive on time for the next session!

2. Try and leave 5 second intervals between swimmers when you can.  It is not always possible, especially when you are doing longer reps or there are too many in the lane, but if you can stick to this when possible it will mean you get the best workout and a chance to monitor your times more accurately.  Save the drafting for sets where we need to use it – such as the pursuit swims.

3. Move to one side when you finish, if possible, to let those behind you finish and take their time.  This is not always possible, especially when it gets really crowded, but it is a real courtesy to your fellow lane swimmers.

4. If you get tapped on the feet during a rep, offer to let the swimmer behind go in front on the next rep.  This is not usually a problem for most, but some of us (and I hate to be sexist and say it is more often the men with a faster female on their feet) sometimes find it difficult to let someone else go ahead.  But please do – it is better for all in the lane.

5. If you are leading the lane, please read the whole set before starting out and stick to the turnarounds as much as possible.  I try and set all sets to work best with the set turnarounds so try not to add extra rest in the middle while you read what to do next.  If I get the turnarounds wrong, and you do need to change them, try to let everyone else in the lane know and stick to them throughout the set.

This week we will be doing some back stroke alongside the aerobic front crawl so you can re-read my previous post on this if you want a reminder.  See you Saturday!


As we’re now into the start of 2014 it is time to start thinking about the next triathlon season and getting ready to swim at race pace.  We will start picking up the pace with some faster intervals in the Saturday sessions from February but for January we will be sticking with mainly aerobic paced swimming.  We will continue doing some different strokes as I know many of you find it useful and I believe it helps many of us develop a better feel for the water.

When we start picking up the pace from February onwards the biggest challenge for most of us will be maintaining good technique.  Many of us can start to feel when our stroke falls apart but training in the pool we have a added advantage of being able to measure both our times and count our strokes per length as a measure of stroke efficiency.  So during January, please get into the habit of knowing what pace you are swimming and what your stroke count is throughout the session.  You don’t need to think about times and stroke count every length – or every interval in a set – but checking them frequently will be very useful.

This week we will be doing some breast stroke as the main other stroke to front crawl so please do re-read my previous post about breast stroke to remind you about the key things to think about.

See you Saturday!

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