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!

Rob

Well done for all of your efforts at the time trials last week.  This week we will go back to some steadier-paced swimming, with time to focus again on your technique, together with some pursuit swims to add a bit of speed and racing tactics at the end.

We will start with some aerobic-paced 150s this week, half of them pull with paddles, and I’d like you to use this to focus on the high-elbow catch that we worked on a few weeks ago.  Please watch Chloe Sutton’s excellent video on this if you need a reminder.  Then we will be doing a short technique subset to focus on increasing your stroke rate, with some golf stroke, where I’d like you to focus on quick breathing as we again have been practising recently.  And to finish off we will do some pursuit swims for a bit of fun and fast-pace practise.  Try and mix it up a bit this week and try some different tactics.  Remember, you don’t have to wait until the “live” 50 to go fast if you want to get away from the swimmer behind, so long as you’re not being held up by the swimmer in front!

Also, I’ve been contacted by TYR, the swimsuit manufacturer, with some free samples of a really interesting new spray-based Lycra swim suit they’ve developed that was used with great success in the Rio Olympics.  It is FINA approved and helped swimmers achieve some of the incredible times many of you will have watched.  Drop me an email if you want to try it out this week for some extra speed in the pursuit swims and I will bring some samples along.  You can find more details about on this website.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We will be doing time trials again this week as we follow the usual schedule through the Winter of doing it every 2 months.  I know some of you love time trials and others hate them but I do genuinely believe everyone can learn and benefit from them.  You can use the learning suggestions I talked about last time (Time Trials – What do you want to learn?) or focus instead on an aspect of technique we’ve been working on and see what difference that makes to your times, splits, stroke rates or just how it feels.

It has been great to hear how much some of you have found the breathing drills we did last week.  I know some of you are still finding it hard, though, to keep one goggle in the water and don’t yet have confidence that it is possible to keep a goggle in the water and still breathe effectively.  So please watch another of Chloe Sutton’s videos below if you want to see why it is possible if you keep your head in the correct position.

So if you are unsure about whether or not to do the time trials this week why not come along and focus on the breathing instead as an experiment and see what effect it has?

See you Saturday,

Rob

This week week we will be doing some focus on breathing drills and the Will Clarke set of fast and steady 50s to provide some more speed work.  Key things to think about:

  • Please watch the video I posted last week from Chloe Sutton about how to breath well in front crawl.  You will have chance in the technique set this week just to focus on quick breathing and keeping one goggle in the water as she demonstrates really well in her video.  A quick breath will also help you maintain a good tempo with a quick stroke rate.
  • Please try and make sure you get a good pace variation in the 50s, even when the turnaround is tight, to get the most from the Will Clarke set of 50s.  Re-read my previous post on this for some ideas to help

See you all Saturday!

Rob

Well done for your efforts last week on the new “stabilized single-arm” drill and “catch-up with a pause” drill we did from the Chloe Sutton video to work on the high-elbow catch.  We will be doing them again this week during the warm-up to give you some more chance to practice the high-elbow catch before we start the main set.

The main set this week will be a set of speed endurance 100s where you should be swimming fast on a short recovery but with breaks after every few 100s to recover before the next block.  During this set I would like everyone to think about breathing quickly and correctly, keeping one goggle in the water, as I think a short and quick breath really helps with both good technique and, most importantly, having a good quick stroke rate.  You can watch another great video from Chloe here to see how to breath really well and quickly.

Please watch especially closely how quickly Chloe breathes 1:24 into the video and try and emulate that speed of breathing when you swim on Saturday.

See you then,

Rob

Well done for all your efforts last week on the USRPT 50s, which is probably the most intense session we have done so far this year.  We will be doing some more of these again soon as I think they are a great session for increasing the speed that you can comfortably maintain.  However, this week we are going to slow it down with some steadier-paced swimming to give you more chance to think about technique.

As you know, I love to particularly focus on the high-elbow catch as it is the area of our stroke most of us can gain the most benefit by improving.  And there is a great video by Chloe Sutton, a US ex-Olympian, that has a great demonstration of this together with some drills we haven’t done before.  It is a 9-minute video and I highly recommend watching all of it.  But if you just want to know the drills we’re doing this week look at the two drills starting at 6 minutes into the video – stabilised single-arm and catch-up with a pause.

See you Saturday and I look forward to watching some beautiful high-elbow catches both in the technique subset and also continued into the main set!

Rob

Well done for all of your efforts last week in the prime number set.  It was a tough set, especially for lanes 2 and 3, so well done for sticking with it.  Also, well done for coping with the change of lanes.  It can be a little disorienting to have to cope with a different size of lane and turn the opposite way round but it is good practice to mix it up as well as allowing Doug and myself to have a different look at your stroke.

For those of you that follow 220 Triathlon on Twitter you may have seen their tweet this week about Dave Scott’s top tips for improving your triathlon swimming.  It is not a new article, and I have written about it before, but I still like it and I think it is always good to be reminded every once in a while about the basics.  I especially like the comments about keeping your hand entry a little bit wider and the visualisation of the eyeball in your elbow to help you remember to keep your elbows high underwater.  The high cadence drills of head-up frontcrawl and straight-arm recovery are good for practising exactly these and we will be doing them again this week.

The main set this week will be some steady-paced 150s with some 200 pursuit swims to inject some speed at the end of the session.  Please do use the opportunity on the steadier-paced swims to think about that nice high elbow (try Dave Scott’s eyeball visualisation) and also trying to keep that going when you increase your stroke rate on the faster swims.

See you Saturday,

Rob

After the time trials last week we are going back to work using some of the information we learned last week, specifically your current Critical Swim Speed (CSS).  As many of you will know your CSS is your lactate threshold swim speed, which is usually the pace you can sustain for a 1,500m swim.  We estimated your current CSS using your 400m and 100m time trial results and this was in the results I circulated last week.  If you didn’t do the time trials then you may know your CSS already but if not the average CSS for lane 1 is about 1m 26s/100m, for lane 2 is about 1m 37s, for lane 3 about 1m 44s and for lane 4 about 1m 55s.

The main set this week is return of the prime numbers set of 100s where prime numbered 100s (i.e. 2, 3, 5, 7, …) are swum on a slightly shorter turnaround than non-prime numbered 100s (i.e. 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, …)  I would like you to swim the shorter turnaround 100s slightly faster than the others.  Aim for a 4s difference between the faster and slower 100s with faster 100s at 2s faster than your CSS and slower 100s at 2s slower than your CSS. This is a good long set and should help work on improving your CSS.

See you Saturday,

Rob

We will be doing time trials again tomorrow in the usual format with a good warm-up followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  What do you want to learn from it?

  • Do you want to learn if you can swim faster over 400m at the higher stroke rate we’ve been practicing recently?
  • Do you want to learn if you can to swim your 3rd 100m split so that it is not the slowest?
  • Do you want to learn if you can “negative split” the time trial and swim the second half faster than the first?
  • Do you want to learn if you can control your usual pre-time-trial nerves with a new mental approach?
  • Do you want to learn how your training is translating into 400m race pace times at this stage of the season?
  • Do you want to learn how to keep your good high-elbow technique when you get tired?
  • Do you want to learn how swimming a more relaxed time trial just focusing on effective stroke rate and technique affects your 400m speed?
  • Do you want to learn whether or not you can remember to keep a good kicking rhythm all the way through the 400m?
  • Or do you want to learn something completely different?

Whatever you want to learn I suggest coming along tomorrow with one primary learning goal and at most one or two secondary learning goals.  Then let me know how you got on because my goal is to get your feedback on what you learned from the time trial!

See you tomorrow,

Rob

This week it is the return of the Will Clarke set of 50s swum as a mix of fast and easy 50s with increasing amounts of rest.  The reason I really like this set is that it is a great mix of tight turnarounds near the start with a high frequency of high intensity efforts near the end when you are getting tired.  It also fits really well with our intensity build towards time trials next week.

One of the things most people find most challenging about this set is varying their pace between the fast and slower 50s at the start of the set when the turnarounds are short.  You cannot say you have really mastered this set until you are able to vary the pace when the turnarounds are short so please do try your best to do this.  Try and use a fast and  relaxed stroke rate, which we will be doing drills for before the main set, to make sure you can make the short turnarounds and still be fresh enough to push the faster efforts.  Other things to think about are:

  • Take 5s intervals between every swimmer and make sure you know your times for all the fast effort 50s
  • Try and make every fast 50 the same time – ideally 2-3 seconds faster than your 400m race pace (divide your 400m time by 8 to calculate your 400m pace for 50m, e.g. 6 mins 400m time / 8 = 45 secs per 50m so each one should be swum 42-43 secs)
  • Keep the stroke rate high and the effort low for the most relaxed but fast swimming you can

See you Saturday!

Rob

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