Archives for the month of: November, 2019

It’s time trials this week and a great opportunity to get some data to help you plan and track your progress over the winter.  I’ve mentioned before that your swimming speed is the product of two key variables – your distance per stroke and your stroke rate.  What are your distance per stroke and stroke rate?  Mine were an average of 1.3m/stroke and 56 strokes per minute during the last time trial in February.

So why would I be interested in finding out what my distance per stroke and stroke rate are now?  Because I know that stroke rate and distance per stroke are affected by both my fitness and technique.  I know that my fitness is approximately the same as in March, and I am not planning to do much different over the Winter to change my fitness, but I do want to improve my technique.  I am adjusting both my kick and stroke symmetry after some self-analysis and feedback from Tim.

So this week is a perfect opportunity to see what affect the changes I am making are having at this early stage and I will use it to track over the Winter as I continue to work on my technique.  I am not interested in my time at this stage of the Winter – just the baseline variables of stroke rate and length – and will think about speed in the future time trials after Christmas.

So what will you learn from doing a time trial this week?  You have plenty of time to think about answers to that after Saturday but will only get that opportunity if you come along and swim it to generate the data!

See you Saturday!





Great effort last week on the drills with alternating hinge drill.  I saw some good high elbow catches and also had good feedback that you could really feel the difference.  We are going to build on that this week with a final session before we do the first time of the Winter next week, where I will ask you to focus on swimming fast with good technique.

The drills this week will be alternating hinge again followed by catch-catch-pushCatch-catch-push is my new name for catch-catch-pull and I have just changed the name to emphasize the key focus point for this week, i.e. making the propulsion part of the underwater stroke a push rather than a pull.  Please continue to be patient with the catch – as we have been practising – with no power applied during the catch phase.  Please also be patient with the push – starting the push gently and increasing the pressure on the water until the maximum speed of your wrist and forearm is at the end of the underwater stroke just before you start the recovery.  When you do this well you should feel the acceleration of the water past your body as you accelerate yourself through the water with each arm stroke.

As usual, please take the time you need during the drills to get this right and then keep it going into the main set, which will be aerobic 150s this week.

See you Saturday!



Well done for your efforts last week trying to focus on technique and drills in the cold water.  Hopefully it won’t be as cold this week (I have been told that spare parts for the boiler are on their way) and we are going to continue with the focus on pull with some more drills.  I also have a cue to help you think about getting a good catch position.

For the drills please watch the Chloe Sutton video for a refresher on what we are trying to achieve and typical mistakes.  We will be doing the alternating hinge drill as well as some catch-up with a pause at the EVF position.

The other thing I would like you think about when you do these drills is not bending your wrist to make it feel like you are getting an early vertical forearm when actually you are just bending your wrist.  A simple cue I saw recently to help with this mistake, and help with a good catch, is called the wrist watch technique from Triathlon Taren.  I like it.  Check it out.  I hope some of you find it useful too!

After the drills we will be doing an aerobic set and some pull-back sprints to finish.  Pull-back sprints are a fun exercise to see how well you can hold the catch and water when towing someone behind you.  See you Saturday!


Well done for all your efforts last week trying out the new drills.  We are going to do the same drills again this week to give you another chance to practise your early vertical forearm and really feel the progression as you go through them.  The theme this week is patience.

The 4 drills we are doing again are as follows (see the video from last week if you want a reminder):

  • catch-kick
  • sideline kick with quarter stroke to catch
  • catch-catch-pull
  • catch-up

One of the great things about the progression through these drills, if you do them well, is that they really help you think about being patient with the catch.  This is because the first two of these drills generate no propulsion from the arm at all.  Catch-kick relies completely on the legs and sideline kick with quarter stroke to catch should not either – it is all about practising getting your arm into the catch position but not generating any propulsion.

The second two of these drills, though, start to add in power through the propulsion phase.  This should feel great as you go from the hard work of just relying on your legs to now get the benefit of your arms using your powerful core and back muscles.

This relaxed progression from no power at the catch smoothly through to the power generated later in the underwater pull is a great thing to aim for and one of the things that I see will help most people swim faster and more efficiently.  Rushing the underwater stroke – either from the catch or even later in the stroke – can feel like a good thing and fits well with the triathlon psyche of “work hard and put the power down to go fast”.  However, being impatient with the catch typically makes you swim slower and more inefficiently. It is important to be patient with the catch – putting no power to press downwards on the water – and only starting to build the power gradually when your forearm is vertical.  Your maximum hand speed should not be reached until the end of the underwater pull.  I like to think of it as squeezing yourself past a fix point in the water rather than a more impatient grab for the water and trying to throw it backwards.

Try to use the drills this week to be practise being patient with the catch and take this through into the main set of 75s and 125s.  I will put some more drills in the middle of the main set this week to give you chance to reset and think about it again for the final part of the main set.

See you Saturday!


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