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!