Archives for category: Frontcrawl

We will be doing time trials this week and the second of our three regular time trials over the Winter.  To help you prepare please try and get into a good mindset.  The challenge starts now and can be split into several phases.  Phase 1 is making a commitment to give it a go.  Subsequent phases are up to you!

I know many of you get anxious and don’t like the pressure but I do hope you are able to give it a try. The article I posted last year about getting into a good time trial mindset is very relevant here based on one of Helen’s articles about “Challenge and Threat.”  You can read it again here.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We’ve done a lot of work on the fundamentals over the last few months, mainly focused our underwater stroke but also combining it with posture and breath timing.  This week is the last week before the second set of time trials so we’re going to focus on putting it all together and start thinking about increasing stroke rate with some golf stroke.  Golf stroke (adding the total of your strokes and time for a 50) is great for measuring the balance between stroke rate, distance per stroke and efficiency and I’d like you to try reducing your golf stroke by:

  • Keeping your stroke count the same for each 50
  • Keeping your leg kick the same frequency and power
  • Increasing your speed purely from increasing your stroke rate

I think a good way to increase your stroke rate without slipping water is to keep your catch patient and strong at the same rate but just applying a bit more pressure on the water towards the end of each stroke.  Your stroke rate will naturally increase when you do this as you will be going faster through the water and moving your arms faster in the recovery due to this extra speed at the back-end.

After golf stroke we are going to do a set of 75s and 125s with some drills in the middle to remind you about keeping good technique throughout the set.  Use the main set to play around with adjusting your speed a little when the turnaround changes just with the stroke rate in your arms that you will have been practising with golf stroke.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Great work last week working on posture and keeping your shoulder forward and near your chin.  I saw some really nice swimming last week doing this, especially on the three-quarter catch-up drill.  We are going to do more practise on the same thing this week with three-quarter catch-up as well as shark-fin drill.  I am going to ask you to do the shark-fin drill every 3 strokes so you can keep your speed going.  Watch the following video for a good example of this:

One effect you should see from these drills, and improved posture, is a greater distance per stroke.  Please count your strokes every once in a while during the session to see whether or not it is having an effect.

Next week I will be away so will be leaving the sessions and want to move onto thinking about breathing.  We’ve worked on quick breathing drills before and I’m going to ask you to use the cues from the following Effortless Swimming video to try and think about breath timing.

To hit the cues talked about in the video – starting to turn your head on hand entry and finishing it before the catch – you will need to breathe quickly.  If you do though, it will really benefit your stroke and combined with a good posture is a great way keep you swimming efficiently, powerfully and fast.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We are going to keep the technique work going throughout January, as we did last year, before we start the build towards more race pace swimming from February onwards.  And for January the focus is going to continue to be on the underwater part of the pull by focusing on connecting your catch, with good EVF, to the powerful push part of the underwater pull.

This week I would like you to focus on your posture and shoulder position.  This should help you get more power in each stroke.  To focus on posture this week I would like you to think about keeping your shoulders forward and close to your face during the pull.  You can see the difference between a weaker and stronger shoulder position in the photos below.

 

These photos are from Sheila Taormina’s excellent Swim Speed Secrets book and show Jack maintaining a strong, high and forward shoulder position, which helps engage his strongest muscles for a powerful pull.  The drills we will be doing this week will help you focus on this and will consist of a number of different catch-up drills:

  • catch-up with a pause at EVF, where you pause before applying any force in the push part of the underwater stroke
  • regular catch-up, which you all should know and love, and
  • three-quarter catch-up, where you start one arm moving just before the other arm catches it up

Please use these drills and also work on your shoulder position during both the drill and main set and see if you can feel the difference in power connecting your catch to the powerful back-end of your underwater pull.

We will stick with the usual pattern of doing time trials every 2 months – on the last Saturday of the month – and the next time trials will be at the end of January.  We won’t be doing any speed work before then so any improvement in your performance is most likely to come from technique. So please focus on your technique over the next few weeks by getting a good lever, with an early vertical forearm, to push yourself forward using a strong core rotation all controlled with shoulders near your chin.

See you Saturday and remember the new start and and finish times of 7am-8:05am and 8:05am-9:10am!

Rob

Well done for your efforts last week working on rotation and especially hip connection.  We are going to do a bit more work on that this week to give you more chance to practise this so the theme for this week is hip-connection.

One thing to be aware of when thinking about rotation is avoiding over rotation and also avoiding over reaching, which is something I do see sometimes on Saturday.  A recent video from Brenton Ford at Effortless Swimming talks about this, and how to correct it, and I would recommend watching it here:

We will be doing some of the drills from last week – prone kick with rotation and hip-connector – as well as one of the  drills from Chloe Sutton’s video we didn’t do which is power rotation with kick board, so watch the video from last week if you need a reminder about this.  But in all the swims this week – technique set, main set and subset – please focus on hip-connector timing.  Engage your core and start your rotation as you start the catch of each stroke.  And please do use your kick timed with this hip-connector rotation to help – even when doing the pull set.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We have focused a lot on the catch over the last few weeks and I have seen some good improvements from many of you, especially in increased patience with the catch and avoiding wasted effort pushing down on the water.  I now want to focus on the transition to the power phase using rotation from your core – building on your patient catch.  The following video from Chloe Sutton is a good summary of what to think about and some drills we will be doing this week.

I’d like you to particularly focus on timing.  We will be doing the hip connector drill to help you focus on this.  We will also be doing quite a lot of work on the legs so really think about timing your kick to help with the rotation.  After the drills we will do an aerobic pyramid with some sprints to finish.

See you Saturday!

Rob

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!

Rob

 

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!

Rob

Most people have now pretty much finished their race seasons so we will be starting Winter training this week for most lanes.  However, I know quite a few lane 1 swimmers will be competing in the National Masters in late October so I will keep the faster sessions going for lane 1 until then.

The technique work for lanes 2, 3 and 4 will be starting with sideline kicking before going into an aerobic main set of 75s and 125s.  I would really like everyone to take their time over the drills and aim to swim them as comfortably and relaxed as possible.  The drills we are doing this week, and for most weeks, are best swum with your head down and breathing as little as possible.  You can only do this in a relaxed way if you are rested and take your time to have good enough rests after each 25.  So take your time, relax and try to take advantage of the time to work on a great high-elbow pull, with excellent early-vertical-forearm (EVF), and combine this with a rotation as you build through the drills.

The main set for lane 1 will with USRPT fast 50s – which is ideal 200m race pace training – so aim to swim all of them at your 200m race pace and miss some out as soon as you drop off this pace.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Good work last week on the drills focusing on EVF and the transition into the powerful push-phase of the underwater stroke where you get the majority of your propulsion.  The push phase is the what we are going to focus on throughout December leading up to the Christmas Swim.  So this week we are going to work on using your core to help with that push phase using some of the core rotation drills from Chloe Sutton.  We are going to be doing the prone kick with rotation, hip-connector drill and support single-arm freestyle drills from Chloe’s video, which you can see here:

After the drills we will be doing a Pyramid main set where I would like you to focus on keeping the powerful core driven push throughout the main set.  If you get this right it should feel easy as it will be using your powerful lats and core to generate your speed rather than your shoulders.

See you Saturday!

Rob

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