Archives for the month of: April, 2017

Well done for all of your efforts over the last two weeks.  You have completed two of probably our most intense sessions, on some very tight turnarounds, with the Ratchet Set and Post-Easter Swim.  We are going to take it a bit easier this week to give you a chance to think about the high-elbow catch.  Simon shared with me a video of a great underwater shot of one of the world’s leading 1,500m swimmers demonstrating this and you can see it here.

To help practice this we will be doing some more of the drills Chloe Sutton demonstrated that I posted a few weeks ago with special emphasis on counting 1 – reach, 2 – hinge, 3 – push with each stroke.  If you need a reminder please see my previous post on this.

See you Saturday!




When I grew up no-one talked about using your core but now it is widely accepted to be a really important part of your strength and conditioning for many sports, and especially in triathlon.  I will be honest that I’ve struggled to find a good way of working on your core for front crawl but one of Chloe Sutton’s recent videos, shown below, is one of the best I have come across and I would strongly recommend watching it here:

I have been trying to improve engaging my core in my own swimming recently and I must admit that although it has felt like quite a subtle effect I do think it has made me more efficient and less reliant on arm and shoulder muscles for the power at the back-end of my stroke.  And I have been swimming pretty quickly recently, off very little swimming training, so although it is difficult to pin it exclusively on improvements in my core I am happy enough to recommend giving it a try and seeing if it could work for some of you, too.  So this week we will be doing three of the drills that Chloe talks about in her video:

  • Stabilized single-arm front crawl, which we have done before and is single-arm with the stationary arm on a kick-board
  • Unco, which Chloe calls One Arm with Rotation, and
  • Power Rotation with Kickboard, where you swim using a kick-board between your legs instead of a pull buoy

In all of these drills I think it is best to focus on engaging your core and using it to rotate your hips in the back half of your stroke once you have got into the high-elbow catch.  And as I always say with drills, the most important thing is taking the focus on your core from the drill set into the main set, which will this week see the return of the ratchet set.  The ratchet set always looks scary when you look at the final set of turnaround times but that is the whole idea.  It is a challenge.  And as part of a challenge I would expect many of you not to make the final set of turnaround time and so be swimming continuously.  Don’t panic – keep calm and relax in the first half, engage your core, and see how far you can get through the set before it turns into a continuous swim

See you Saturday!


Race season is now almost upon us and I know the Basildon Aquathlon on Sunday is the first race of 2017 incorporating a swim for some of us (myself included).  So I thought it would be worth mentioning a few things about the race season and what this means for our Saturday Swimming sessions.

Firstly, I will state the obvious fact that the race season is a long one for many of us with 6 months or more of triathlons, aquathlons and open water swims.  And most of us will be doing different races over this period so it is not possible in a shared swimming session to structure the sessions around a taper for a single big race.  Instead I would expect you to plan your own season and swim the Saturday sessions according to your own training plan.  If that means taking a session a bit easier as part of race preparation that is fine by me.  Please just be considerate to your other lane members and don’t disrupt the set by dropping out part way through to alter everyone elses rest interval or swimming at a pace that means you will get in the way of others.

We have had a good series of sessions since Christmas with an increasing amount of faster swims to get you ready for race pace swimming.  And the time trials have demonstrated a measurable improvement for many of you over the Winter so thank you for all of your efforts.  Over the Spring and Summer we will continue with a mix of fast swims and some technique maintenance to help you keep that improvement in race pace swimming going throughout the season.

Finally, if you want some more advice of planning your race season I would recommend the recent Swim Smooth Blog post about this.  I especially like the comment about getting a good balance between intensity and recovery and using races as a high intentity training session where appropriate.

This week we will be doing some faster 100s with a longer recovery than normal, meaning you should be swimming faster than your 400m race pace and trying to maintain the maximum possible speed to the end of the set.  I will be practising a little of what I am preaching by swimming at a slightly slower pace – actually on my 400m race pace – to help me prepare for the Basildon Aquathlon.  If you are not racing, though, you don’t have a good excuse!

See you Saturday!


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