Archives for category: Technique

OK, so it is really hot at the moment so we are going to take a break from the longer sets with short turnaround times and focus on increasing your top-end speed.  To do this we will be doing some faster paced 100s with longer rests, which will give you plenty of time to think about keeping that excellent quick breathing going that we were practising last week!

You should be aiming to swim each 100 as fast as you can at a pace that you can maintain for the whole set.  That should mean that you are swimming each 100 at about your anaerobic threshold.  If the lactic acid starts to build up in your arms on each swim, then you are swimming too fast.  You want to be swimming just below this level so that you are only at the point of your muscles tightening up on the last stroke of each 100.  If you have enough breath after each 100 to chat then you are swimming too slowly!

Please do monitor your times when swimming this type of set as it provides great feedback on how efficiently you are holding your stroke together as you try and swim faster.  I have heard some of you say that you put a lot more effort into the harder swims some times but your times either stay the same or sometimes even get slower.  Feedback from the clock is an excellent way of measuring what actually works in the trade-off between effort, technique and speed.  I find that focusing on pushing hard at the back end of the stroke is a good way for me to keep stroke length and efficiency when trying to swim faster.  Something different may work for you – but if you don’t take your times and try different things you will never know!

See you Saturday,

Rob

 

Photo by Jeff Sheldon on Unsplash

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Well done for all of your efforts last week in what was our longest main set of the year outside the special Christmas and Easter swims.  This week we will be doing some more quick breathing drills before the aerobic-paced main set and some 25 sprints to finish.

Swimming is a total body sport with all the key motions – arms, legs, breathing and body position – affecting each other.  Breathing also illustrates one of the key compromises in swimming.  You will swim fastest when you keep your head down and don’t breathe.  But that is clearly not sustainable for any of the distances we will be swimming in races so the trick is to breathe efficiently to get the oxygen you need but to do it in a way that disrupts your stroke as little as possible.  And this is why doing good quick breathing is so important and can also help with keeping a good stroke rhythm.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

I will be around for part of the first session this week and away next week.

It is the Great East Swim this week for many of you so it may well be a bit quieter in the pool.  I will coach the first half of the 7am session before I have to leave and we will be continuing the theme of last week with some more work on stroke rate with some fist drills before going into a ratchet main set.  The fist drill this week is a mix of tight fists and half fists.  Tightly clenched fists are good to help you focus on really good vertical forearms and will naturally increase your stroke rate.  For half fists only loosely clench your fists to get a bit more surface area for your pull and a bit more power.

Next week the session will be the Will Clarke set consisting of a mix and fast and steady-paced 50s.  To get the most from this set really focus on the fast 50s, even when the turnaround times are tight at the start of the set.  The sessions will be in the box at the pool so whoever is there first please get them out and distribute to the different lanes.

See you Saturday (briefly)!

Rob

Well done for all of your efforts on your feet over the last two weeks with the work we have been doing on your leg kick.  This week we will be doing some work on a drill we haven’t used for quite a while – front crawl with fists.  This is an excellent drill – recommended by Vicky Holland as one of her favourite drills – to help you focus on the high-elbow catch by using your forearms rather than your hands to generate the most power on your pull. Also we be doing some golf stroke 50s to help you experiment with your stroke efficiency by varying your stroke rate and distance per stroke.  The fists drill is a great preparation for your work on this.

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We will finish the session this week with some pursuit 200s where I would like to encourage all of you to experiment with different tactics and changes of pace.  Using the stronger leg kick you have recently been practising is a great way to change pace quickly!

See you Saturday,

Rob

Photo by Oladimeji Odunsi on Unsplash

Well done for all of your efforts last week with the quicker breathing and keeping it going through the main set.  There were occasions where I saw people slipping back into their normal slower breathing patterns but I was really pleased to see the efforts you put into keeping what you practised in the drills going as much as possible through what was quite a long main set.

The person I saw with the best breathing was Elisa in lane 2 during the second session.  If you get a chance please do watch how quickly and well she times her breathing.  She has worked really hard at changing her breathing over the last year since we first did these quick breathing drills and you can really see how well she times her breathing now.  She has also managed to knock 43 seconds off her 400m time trial time, too!

Changing any aspect of your technique requires persistence and effort but with time improvements can be made.  Changing breathing is a challenging change since it is one of those changes that doesn’t feel better when you start.  The problem is that you usually get less breath when you first try it, because you are more tense than usual as you concentrate on making a change and have less time to actually breathe, which can’t be good, right?!  Right!  Getting less breath is not good but quicker breathing usually also helps improve your stroke rate and helps your head position mean you get a stronger catch when starting the first pull after the breath.  So the challenge of making a change to quicker breathing permanently requires you to find a way of getting the benefits from stroke rate and catch but without the drawbacks of getting less breath.  My advice for how to do this is 3-fold:

  • Keep trying and practising and you will get more comfortable and less tense so getting more breath
  • Try explosive breathing – doing a quick exhale before you turn to breathe – to maximise the amount of breath to get each time
  • Think about your breathing especially towards the end of the main sets when you are most tired as this is often when you can get the most benefit and you naturally relax to conserve energy

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This week we will be doing some of the same quick breathing drills we did last week before going into a set of fast ultra-short race-pace training (USRPT) 50s.  The quick breathing fits really well with USRPTs where you will need the faster stroke rate it helps you generate and stronger catch to keep your speed going.

Late breaking news: Did you see Katie Ledecky break the 1500m world record this week with an amazing 15m20s?!  If not you can watch it here.  See if you can manage her splits of under 31s per 50m for some of the USRPT 50s this week to understand what it feels like to swim that fast!

See you Saturday,

Rob

Photo by Robert Baker on Unsplash

There really were some great efforts in the pool last week with our extra long session.  Lane 3 wins the “hardest of the hard-core” prize with 4 swimmers doing the 3-hour double session (Jerome, Jon, Anita & Sheila), followed by lane 1 with 3 swimmers (Simon, Iain & Edda) and completing the podium lane 4 with 1 (our very wonderful Club Chair, Jo).  After talking about Resilience in my post last week I have to say we saw it in spades in the pool last week so really well done to everyone.

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This week we a taking a breath after the intensity of the last few weeks with some steadier swimming and a chance to think about good breathing again.  Please watch the video from my previous post to remind yourself about good breathing technique and see some of the drills we will be doing this week.  The main set is steady-paced swimming so please do the most important thing you can with good technique and try and keep the good breathing you will be doing in the drill set going all the way through the main set.

See you Saturday!

Rob

 

Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash

I was really impressed by your resilience last week when I reduced the turnaround times for the final set of 100s in the second session.  After only a brief dirty look from a couple of you (mentioning no names, Selina and Simon) everyone just got on with it and swam the final set really well on the tougher turnaround times.  You need to be pretty resilient to be a triathlete, especially in open water events, so well done for dealing with the unexpected change so well.

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This week we have the pool for 3 hours so will split the session into two hour and a half sessions as we have done before, so the second session will start at 8:30am and finish at 10am.  You will need your resilience again as we will be doing long sets in both sessions – 5km in lane 1, 4.5km in lane 2, 4km in lane 3 and 3.5km in lane 4.  So I strongly recommend:

  1. Preparing well, by bringing a drink and being on time
  2. Swimming well, by focusing on a good high-elbow technique, and
  3. Collaborating well, by working well and considerately with your lane-mates

See you Saturday!

Rob

What did you notice about the pace of the 100s and 50s you did last week?  I know some of you noticed that you ended up swimming the 100s quite a bit faster than your target 1500m race pace, and they felt relatively relaxed as you focused on the saving something for the hard efforts on the 50s.  If you didn’t notice this then don’t worry – we will do some similar efforts in the future to give you another chance to try and find that easy-speed!

This week is a much steadier session and a chance to think again about your high-elbow catch as well as some aerobic swims.  It will also be a 1 hour session again for the 8am session to give the Juniors time for the final set of time trials this Spring.  We will be doing some of the Chloe Sutton drills by counting 1-2-3 to really give yourselves time to think about the high-elbow catch position.  Look at the two drills starting at 6 minutes into the Chloe Sutton video if you want a reminder!

See you Saturday,

Rob

Photo by Ali Abdul Rahman on Unsplash

 

Well done for all of your efforts last week in the fast-paced 100s.  I saw some more tired Triathletes last week than I have seen for a long time.  We will calm it down this week a bit with an aerobic main set of 150s.  We will also do a golf-stroke set to work on stroke rate and pursuit swims to keep your speed and work on your drafting and race tactics.

Golf stroke is also all about getting a good balance between stroke length and stroke rate.  It is a simple mathematical fact that your swim speed is just the product of your stroke length (distance per stroke) and stroke rate (in strokes per minute).  So you can swim faster by increasing either stroke length or stroke rate so long as you increase one by more than you decrease the other (if at all).  So measuring your golf stroke is a great way to see what works best for you to achieve this.

Most of us do pretty well with stroke length (distance per stroke) so this week we will work on stroke rate.  I find most people are better at increasing stroke rate, without significantly reducing stroke length, by focusing on either a faster push (i.e. back-end of the stroke) or faster leg-kick.  The alternative – rushing the catch – is usually a sure-fire way of reducing your distance per stroke.  So when we do golf stroke this week please try either the faster legs or faster push at the end of your pull and see what works best for you to get your arms spinning faster.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Please accept my apologies for two mistakes I made last week – for mucking up my blog post and for giving lane 4 too short a session.  Well done, however, for coping with my mistakes (as all good triathletes cope with mishaps) and all of your excellent efforts during the very high intensity USRPT set we did.  I saw some of the most tired triathletes after that session that I have seen so far this year.  What was even more pleasing, though, was that most people did the set as intended – swimming at 5s intervals and missing out 2 or 3 50s when their time dropped off – rather than doing the “I’m a tough triathlete thing” of ploughing all the way through the set without missing any out.  Given I hadn’t got my blog post published to remind you that was great to see!

My post last week was all about patience, which you can see here, and I want to continue the theme this week with the drills we will be doing before the main set.  We will be doing hip-connector drill again as well as reverse catch-up to give you the chance to practise being patient with the catch.  When doing hip connector drill aim to only practise the timing of the catch and not to get any propulsion whatsoever (that will all come from your legs).  Do the same with reverse catch-up and focus on getting all of your propulsion from the push at the end of your stroke.  Then transfer that into the full stroke as well.

The main set is the revised version of the Brownlee main set we tried in the late Summer last year with progressively-paced 100s of progressively shorter turnaround times.  As you do this main set please try to keep your patience with the catch and focus on getting the extra speed all from the back-end push part of your stroke and faster stroke rate.

 

See you Saturday!

Rob

 

Photo by Chris Coe on Unsplash

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