Archives for the month of: March, 2016

This week I was planning to do time trials but as some of you are away for Easter we will do them next week on 2nd April to ensure you don’t have to miss them.  Instead of time trials we are going to be doing the same USRPT main set of fast 50s that we did last week.  This week, however, I would like you all to aim to swim on average 1s faster per 50 than you did last week.

“How do I do that?”, I hear you cry, “I was nearly sick after swimming the set last week!”  Well, it is only 1s per 50 so surely that is the just a very small marginal gain.  Here are some ideas of how to achieve it:

  • If you only missed out 2 x 50s or fewer last week, miss out 3 x 50s this week and use the extra rest to swim faster.
  • Swim in the correct lane for your pace.  You should be getting 20-25s rest on this set for the most benefit so to swim in lane 1 please make sure you are able to swim them all under 40s, under 45s in lane 2 and under 50s in lane 3 or try lane 4.
  • Try and relax and search for easy speed.  I know many of you find that by trying too hard you tense up and swim slower so do try and relax as much as possible, keep your streamlining and swim efficiently.
  • Keep the pace going especially in the last 5m or 10m of each swim, which is an area is see many of you slow up quite dramatically.  Using your legs in this part of each swim will really help with this and keep your tempo and stroke rate nice and high.
  • Have a good streamlined push off at the start and turn, keeping your head down and maximising the benefit of the push with your legs.  Do a fast tumble turn if you can, too.
  • Use the warm-up and subset this week to make sure you are swimming with as perfect a technique as possible when you start the set.  Good technique is the best way for getting easy speed.

Blimey, with all these great tips I am actually thinking there’s probably a 3s improvement for everyone this week!  But to ensure I don’t get anyone passing out on me I will be happy to just see a 1s improvement – go on, I know you can do it!

See you Saturday,



This week we will be cranking up the pace a bit more and doing a main set with all the swims at a faster pace than we have been swimming over the previous weeks.  The main set is based on USRPT principles, which stands for Ultra-Short Race-Paced Training.  This is a form of training that is proving particularly effective at improving swim speeds with many clubs.  Simon Bradford did a set like this with some of you a few weeks ago while I was away.  The way it works is as follows:

  • The main set is a set of 50s with every one swum fast – at about your 200m race pace (approx 35s per 50 for lane 1, around 40s per 50 for lane 2, around 45s per 50 for lane 3 and around 50s per 50 for lane 4)
  • You must take your time for every 50 and the aim is to swim every one in exactly the same time, so make sure you leave exactly 5s intervals between each swimmer and allow everyone to finish their 50 and take their own time.
  • At this pace of swimming it should be impossible to complete the set.  So, as soon as your pace drops off (even if only by 1 second) miss out the next 50 and join in on the following 50 and get back onto your race pace again.
  • You should need to miss out between 2 and 3 x 50s over the whole main set if you are swimming at the right pace.  If you miss out less than 2 x 50s, you are swimming too slowly.  If you miss out more than 3 x 50s, you are swimming too fast.
  • If the person in front of you misses out a 50, leave a 10s gap so that you are still getting the same rest interval and leaving a space for them to join in on the next one.

This is a tough set but a great one for improving your race pace swimming as we get ready for the next set of time trials in the lead up to the start of the racing season.

See you Saturday,


We will be continuing to focus on some faster swimming this week as we continue building up to the next set of time trials at the end of March.  However, while we work on faster paced swimming it is still really important to also keep working on your stroke.  One of the main areas many of us could improve is to get a higher-elbow catch by getting your hand lower during the entry into the water.  Please watch this short video from Swim Smooth with a comparison of a swimmer with this fault compared with the strokes of Michael Phelps and others.

Hopefully this will give you some ideas of what is really going on here and why it is important.  So if you think it is something you could improve at what can you do?  My advice is:

  1. Lift your head and look slightly forward once or twice per length to watch your hand entry and check that your hand is lower than your wrist and your wrist is lower than your elbow when it enters the water.
  2. Keep your hand moving all the time after it has entered the water.  Your hand and forearm need to catch up with the water that your body is moving past and you will only get significant propulsion when your forearms are vertical and your hand pointing to the bottom of the pool.  Notice how in the clip of Michael Phelps in the Swim Smooth video he has a lovely long stroke but his hands keep moving forwards and downwards after entering the water.
  3. Be patient with the catch.  Don’t waste energy by inefficiently pressing down on the water after the hand enters the water.  Be patient and wait until your forearm is vertical, and hand pointing downwards, before applying pressure on the water.

You will have plenty of chance to think about this during the session this week during the warm-up, technique subset and the steady-paced 50s of the main set so please do practice and show me how well you can do this!

See you Saturday,



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