Archives for the month of: September, 2016

This week the main set consists some 100s off a fairly short turnaround followed by a 50 flat out sprint.  The aim of this set is to get your heart rate up to maximum by sprinting when you are tired so helps to train and improve your VO2 max.  So please make sure you relax as much as possible on the 100s, getting some easy speed even if you get very little rest, and make sure you give it everything on the 50 sprint.

When going flat out please do swim at 100% speed as well as 100% effort, i.e. don’t thrash around putting in loads of extra effort inefficiently.  I recommend you do this by

  • setting a nice high stroke rate by kicking fast as your legs help set the tempo for your stroke
  • keeping your underwater pull controlled and focusing on just levering your body past your hands rather than ripping your hands through the water too quickly and slipping water
  • doing the simple things well – starting and turning with a great streamline push off and swimming fast especially in the last 5 metres when most people slow down a lot

And if you want a reminder of why the little things can make a big difference, whether you’re an Olympic swimmer or not, try listening to some of the tips from members of the recent US Olympic Team here.

See you Saturday,



The main set this week will be what I call the Brownlee main set of progressively-paced 100s.  All the 100s are swum 1-5 progressive (i.e. each one swum progressively faster) with the 4th one of each set being at your 1500m race pace and the 5th one faster.  Aim for a 10s improvement in your time between the 1st 100 and the 5th 100.

I think this is an excellent set for practicing pace-judgement and progressive-pacing, especially as you get tired, as there are no extra rests in this set.  So please try your best at pacing this well and:

  • Take your times for each 100 to check your pace judgement;
  • Try increasing your pace by increasing your stroke rate; and
  • Relax as much as possible and search for that easy speed at a higher stroke right – just like trying to spin your bike in an easy gear at high cadence rather than tiring yourself out and blowing up by pushing too hard a gear.

See you Saturday,


We will be doing some more fast-paced, USRPT 50s this week where the target is to swim at a faster pace than you can sustain for the whole set without missing some out.  Remember, leave 5s intervals between swimmers and take your times for every 50.  As soon as your time drops by 1s or more miss the next one out and take the extra recovery.

We will be continuing with a mix of fast and speed endurance sets for the remainder of September to help you keep your race speed going until the end of the season.  From October we will drop back to more technique and steady-paced aerobic swimming as the first part of winter training.

If you like numbers, are enjoyed the Swim Smooth Olympic analysis video I posted last week, then you may also be interested in the follow-up analysis Paul Newsome has published on stroke rates and stroke lengths from the Olympics, which you can find here.  The trade-off between stroke length and stroke rate is particularly important and is one of the reasons we measure both of these when we do the 400m time trials throughout the winter.  This is a theme I will return to again when we get into the Winter training.

See you Saturday!


I hope you all enjoyed watching some of the fabulous performances at the Olympics.  One of the things I like best about the Olympics is that you get some fantastic footage of the swimming, both above and below the water.  Swim Smooth have done a great compilation of the some of the best performances in this hour long video by Paul Newsome with commentary on some key coaching points.  I particularly like Paul’s comments about

  • the importance of getting the right balance between stroke rate and stroke length (watch the video starting 10 mins in for the key bits on this), and
  • pace judgement and the swimming a negative split for the best overall time (1-5 mins of the video)

We will be doing some steady-paced aerobic swimming this week during the main set but why not use this long main set to play around with your stroke rate and see if a higher or lower stroke right might help you swim faster for less effort.  As Paul mentions in his video, and backed up by several studies, the counter-intuitive fact is that often a higher stroke rate can be more efficient, faster and less tiring so give it a go!

See you Saturday,



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