Archives for posts with tag: ratchet

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!

Rob

This week we will be doing the ratchet set again where we do repeated swims on progressively shorter turnaround times.  This set is good for improving your speed endurance as you will be trying to hold a good pace with some increasingly short rest intervals.  When you look at some of the turnaround times for the set I know it can appear rather daunting as the later turnaround times are shorter than we usually swim.  However, the ratchet set is possible to complete for most of us as demonstrated by many of you before.  My top-3 tips for how to approach this set are:

  1. Relax for at least the first half of the set and longer if possible. Making the turnarounds for the final few swims will require a lot of effort so you need to conserve as much energy early on in the set to be ready.
  2. Stay calm. It is easy to get tense with the pressure of the clock and tight turnarounds but being tense will waste energy and usually result in poorer technique, too.  So just accept that many of us will end up swimming continuously for the final few swims and try and enjoy the challenge of trying to make the continuous swimming happen as late in the set as you can.
  3. Hold your technique. When the going gets tough focus on the basics – minimising drag, maximizing propulsion & breathing well. Only focus on one thing at a time when working on your technique but you can vary it each length.  Length 1 – drag (still head & narrow continuous kick), length 2 – propulsion (high-elbow catch and full length underwater pull past your hips) and length 3 – breathing (emptying lungs completely from your belly, one goggle in water for minimal head movement to breathe).

See you Saturday!

Rob

This week we will be doing the ratchet set again which, if you remember, was the invention of Alex, our regular leader of lane 1. This set is good for speed endurance and we will also be throwing in some 25m sprints at the end of the session as well.

I’ve always thought doing some sprint work is good for both swimmers and triathletes, even if you never go that fast in a race, as it helps practice maintaining technique at speed, is good for building your aerobic capacity and also just good fun. However, having recently read Joe Friel’s book “Faster After 50”, I’ve also learnt that there is some good research to back up the benefit of this type of training as we all get older. High intensity training, such as sprinting, is apparently one of the best ways of stemming the rate of decline of aerobic capacity as we age. And for triathletes, high-intensity training for running provides aerobic capacity benefits for cycling and vice versa. However, aerobic capacity for cycling and running does not really help swimming aerobic capacity so we have to do specific swimming aerobic capacity training to maintain that.

See you Saturday!

Rob

The main set this week is inspired by Alex.  For those of you that don’t know him he is the guy who is 2 feet taller than the rest of us, leads Lane 1 and generally makes us all look so slow and inefficient when he swims 11 or 12 strokes per length making it all look so easy.  I also understand he has a great capacity for alcoholic beverages after swimming competitions but that’s another story and we probably don’t want to take too much inspiration from that!  Anyway, he has suggested a fun sounding swim set called the “ratchet” where we do different distances off a reducing rest to see how long we can make the turnaround times.  You’ll be pleased to know I’ve watered down his original suggestion of a 5km version of this set into a 1500m main set for us all to try this week.

The set consists of a number of different distances swum repeatedly off a 5s reducing turnaround and it should make a good speed endurance set.  When setting tight turnarounds it is difficult to get the turnarounds right for everyone in the pool with the wide range of different abilities and fitness levels within each lane.  However, I have tried to set it so that you can make most of the turnarounds in the set, if you pace it correctly, but some of you will end up missing some of the tighter turnarounds towards the end of the set and will be swimming continuously.  That’s clearly not bad preparation for the 1500m anyway but if you get the pacing right it should be an achievable set for most of you.

If you enjoy the set on Saturday then thank Alex and if not you can always blame me for getting the turnarounds wrong!  Like last week we will be finishing the 8am session at 9am to allow the Juniors to do their remaining swimming trials for the start of the season.

See you Saturday!

Rob

%d bloggers like this: