Archives for the month of: March, 2015

We will be doing the final set of time trials of our 2014/15 Winter training block this Saturday to give you a measure of your current swim speed.  We will be doing the same format as before, with a longer than usual warm-up followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  The main things you should get from this are:

  1. A measure of your current 400m time trial speed to compare against previous performances as a measure of your current speed.
  2. An estimate of your Critical Swim Speed (CSS), measured in time per 100m, which is a good indicator of your likely race pace for 1500m.
  3. Measures of your average distance per stroke and stroke rate, which you can compare with your previous measures and other swimmers, to see how any technique or fitness changes over the Winter have affected the two most important measures of your swim speed.

Try and mentally break up the 400m into 4 x 100m off a short turnaround, all at the same pace, similar to the way we split the main set last Saturday.  To do this, you will need to feel comfortable on the first 2 x 100 with most of the effort going in on the third and fourth 100m.  Try and use all we have practised over the last few months – especially setting a good stroke rate with your legs and having a  strong catch with high-elbow – to swim as fast and efficiently as possible.

See you Saturday!


We will be doing our final Winter time trials next week (28th March) so the session this week is in preparation.  The main set is all 100s swum at your 400m time trial pace off a short turnaround.  There will also be some technique work with finger drag and fists to help you think about getting a good length of stroke and catch using your whole forearm.

The main set is split into blocks of either 3, 4 or 5 x 100s depending on your lane.  Try to make sure your last 100 of each block is at least as fast, if not faster, than your first 100.  To do this you will need to feel very comfortable on the first 100 but I have set some quite tight turnarounds on some of them to make sure you can’t drop much below your race pace!  However, please do try and relax as much as possible on these first few, even if you get less than 5s rest, to make sure you have enough left to put in the extra effort that you will need to keep your speed either the same or faster.

See you Saturday!


I will be away this week and Chrissie has kindly offered to coach on Saturday instead.  It will be my session though (sorry!) and this week I would like you to focus on your legs.

Legs are not something we do a lot of work on as they are less important for distance swimming than good arms and body position, especially when you have a wetsuit to help keep them afloat.  However, they do play an important role in stroke timing and rhythm so are especially useful to think about when we start to try and pick up the pace leading into race season.

I think your legs are a great way to ensure an even stroke tempo and increase your stroke rate without rushing the pull and slipping water.  If you have a constant leg-kick, without pauses, then you will naturally have a constant arm-stroke without any pauses, too, as your arms and legs need to stay in sync.  So if you have any pauses in your stroke then thinking about keeping your legs moving continuously can, somewhat counter-intuitively, help correct this and keep your arms moving continuously.

Also, if you want to increase your stroke rate a great way to do it is to kick faster, as your arms will naturally speed up to stay in sync.  You don’t want to kick fast the whole time, though, as it is too tiring but kicking hard at the start of a race, or even the first few strokes on each length, is often a good way to start with a nice high stroke rate.  This higher stroke rate is often easier to maintain once started, even when you put less effort in with your legs and drop back to a sustainable pace.

This week you will have three opportunities to work on your legs.

  • There will be some kick in the warm-up, where you should focus on kicking with straight legs and pointed toes.  Backstroke legs is great for this – make sure your knees stay in the water.  Many of you are very poor at this so please think about it!
  • The main set has some progressively-paced swims.  Use an increased leg speed to set the tempo for your arms as you increase the pace in this set.
  • The final set this week is 25m sprints.  A fast and powerful leg kick is a key part of sprinting so please, please, please don’t do these like I normally see most of you do with a hardly visible leg kick.  Make your leg kick look like you have an outboard motor attached to you and use this to blow away the person you are racing in your lane!

Have fun and see you next week.


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