Archives for the month of: April, 2014

As I mentioned last week we have an extra 45 mins of pool time this week, as the Juniors will not be swimming after us, so I will be making each session 1.5 hours long.  Hence the 7am session will run until 8:30 and the second session will run from 8:30am till 10am.  This gives us chance to get two main sets in this week.  The first will be a VO2 max set of 300s, so you can refer to my previous post on this topic if you need a reminder, and the second will be a longer set of 125s practising varying the pace.

With the longer sessions please do make sure you adjust your pace depending on the set and take it easy in the sets when you are asked to.  Varying the pace of your swimming is an important skill and generally you see the better swimmers swimming at a far greater range of different paces during a swimming session than weaker swimmers.  I think some of this may come from the triathlete “working hard” mentality but I do think there is a lot to learn from swimming at different speeds.

As I have mentioned before, you should always be monitoring and trying to improve your technique, and swimming at different paces can help you in the search for a fast, efficient swimming style.  When swimming slowly you have a lot more time to think about your stroke, and your muscles are usually less-fatigued, so really try and use the easy-paced swims to swim with as perfect a technique as you can.  Then, when you start to swim faster, try and keep your feel for the water by just applying a bit more pressure to the water rather than trying to increase your stroke rate too much.  Fast, efficient swimming only comes if you can keep a good hold of the water.

See you Saturday!

Rob

This week we will be repeating a session from a couple of months ago that was inspired by Will Clarke.  The aim is to continue working on our current pre-season focus of swimming faster and more efficiently to allow us to build and maintain swimming speed for longer sets.  You can re-read my previous post on this session for a reminder of some things to think about.

If you haven’t seen it already I would recommend Chrissie Wellington’s article about swimming faster in this week’s 220 Magazine, which you can see here.  I think all of her tips are good, especially for the less-experienced swimmers, and particularly like her advice about trying to stay relaxed and work on feel rather than trying to fight the water.

On April 26th and May 3rd the Juniors will not be using the pool from 9:15 to 10:00 so we have a great opportunity to get some more pool time for a couple of longer sessions.  For those weeks I will set two longer sessions, one from 7 to 8:30 and the other from 8:30 to 10, to give us all chance to get a bit of extra quality swimming in ready for the start of the main competition season.

See you Saturday!

Rob

This week we will be doing a fairly fast-paced main set of 200s, 150s and 100s all being swum at your anaerobic threshold pace.  Remember, this is the fastest pace you can sustain for the whole set and is typically around 5s faster than your 400m race pace.  You will get long-enough recoveries to allow you to do this.

I know some of you find it very easy to swim hard but less easy to swim fast.  In fact someone told me how they had given everything in the 400m time trial but swum a 400m faster in training a few days later while putting in much less effort.  If this is true for you then the clear message is that increased effort is likely to be resulting in poorer technique, and hence slower times.  The faster paced sets like we are doing at the moment are a great chance to work on this and try out different things to see what helps get a better balance of effort and speed.  Some things you could consider trying are:

  • Doing a slightly shorter and quicker catch at the front of the arm stroke.  Many people try and keep their stroke length by over-reaching, resulting in both a weaker catch and loss of streamlining by “snaking” with your hips.  Try and keep your catch quick, sharp and strong.
  • Slowing down the underwater pull and just pressing harder rather than faster.  If you lose your feel for the water when you try and go faster you will often slip water, making you less efficient and slower overall.  If you want to increase your stroke rate do it on the recovery rather than underwater – where you want to maintain a powerful pull holding on to the water all the way to the end of the stroke.
  • Using your head to keep as streamlined as possible.  When focusing on swimming fast, and needing to breathe frequently, it is easy to forget that the fastest any of us will ever swim is when our heads are still and we are not breathing.  A moving head disrupts your streamlining so make sure it is looking straight down after every turn and that you move it as little as possible when you breathe by breathing into the bow wave created near your shoulder.

These are just some ideas so play around and see what works for you.  Clearly, the only way to really measure the effect of any change is to make sure you know your times for each swim.  However, you can also use your feeling of how hard you are working and stroke count to try and identify the best way for you to get faster speed efficiently.

See you Saturday!

Rob

This week we will be doing some work on a unique triathlon-specific aspect of open-water swimming – going out fast.  For pool-based racing we all know that swimming an even pace for each 100m is usually the best way of getting the best overall time.  However, in open water with a mass-start often the best way of doing a fast swim for the least effort is to go out hard from the start to get into a good position where you can draft some slightly faster swimmers.  We will be practising this during the main set this week where I will be asking you to do some 200s by swimming the first 100m fast and then dropping back to a steadier and more relaxed pace for the second 100m.  We will also be doing some even-paced swimming in between these 200s.

When doing the 200s in the main set this week please practise your drafting by leaving 5s intervals between swimmers but using the first hard 100m to try and catch the swimmer in front and then drafting them for the remainder of the swim.  You will probably need to use your legs on the first 100m to give you the pace to swim hard but this will prove very tiring so use your legs judiciously.  Also, try and mix it up a bit by not swimming at a uniform fast pace for the first 100m to try and practice for the real-life start where you will have to vary your pace depending on who is around you.  Don’t make it easy for the person behind to catch and draft you.  Have a bit a fun and mix it up a bit!

See you Saturday!

Rob

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