Archives for posts with tag: time trials

Well done for all of your efforts in the pool leading over the last few weeks.  I know many of you found some of the front crawl drills and different strokes challenging but I have seen some excellent improvements from many of you with the hard work you have put in.

Normally in January we start the build-up to the new season by starting some speed work.  This year, however, I plan to delay the start of the speed work until February to give us a bit more time to to focus on the technique improvements we’ve been working on over the Winter.  We will do a bit more work practising an early vertical forearm – since this is the one thing most of us could do more of to improve our speed and efficiency – but also do a bit of work on other aspects like head and body position.

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 from a strong core rotation.

See you Saturday,

Rob

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This week we will be doing the first set of time trials of the Winter season to give you a chance to set a baseline to measure your Winter swimming progress.  It will follow a similar format for previous years with a long warm-up followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  Those not swimming will be counting strokes and taking your split times so you will get numbers informing you how how well you pace the swim together with measures of your distance per stroke, strokes per minute and an estimate of your critical swim speed (the pace you can sustain for very long swims).

Many of you have been doing some excellent work on your stroke over the last couple of months – especially getting an Early Vertical Forearm – so this is a great opportunity to practise maintaining this good technique under the pressure of a race-like situation.  To do this, why not take some inspiration from David McNamee, who came 3rd at the Kona Ironman World Championships this year, who recently tweeted ‘Race the first two thirds of the race with your head and the last third with your heart’ – un…

I think it’s a good way to think about pacing your 400m time trial as well, as it is for an Ironman, the only think I would say to adapt it is to say “Race the first 300m with your head and the last 100m with your heart”.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Thank you for all working hard for Chrissie while I was away last week.  She has given you all a glowing report!  Chrissie has kindly offered to help with some more coaching in the coming weeks, when not coaching the juniors, so I will bring the video camera along for the next few weeks for anyone that wants to see what their stroke looks like above and below the water.  We will use the end part of both sessions for the videoing so please speak to Chrissie or myself if you would like to see yourself and get some analysis.  There won’t be time to do more than a few of you each week but I will do my best to get all of those filmed over the next few weeks that want to be.

We will be starting time trials again at the end of November and running them every two months on the last Saturday of November, January and March to allow you to track your progress over the Winter.  The November time trial is a great way to set a baseline for measuring any changes in technique and fitness that you make over the Winter.  I know many of you don’t like time trials but why not set yourself the challenge of trying to learn to enjoy them a bit more by practising getting better at them this Winter?!

In the session this week I’d like everyone to think about the start of the pull with a high-elbow catch so we will be doing some different drills to help you work on this.  The drills will go as follows:

  • Double-arm pull
    • Use a pull buoy and look straight down at the bottom of the pool
    • Do a double-arm breaststroke pull finishing with your arms by your hips, recovering underwater
    • Focus on getting your forearms vertical (in the Early Vertical Forearm (EVF) position), with your elbows still pointing forwards, before you put any power into the pull
  • Sideline kicking with quarter pull
    • Same as sideline kick but doing the first quarter of the pull with your lead arm
    • Recover the pulling arm underwater, as you would for puppy paddle or doggy paddle drill
    • Swim it slowly without pressing hard – you are not generating propulsion just practising keeping your elbow above your hand and getting ready to catch
  • Reverse doggy paddle
    • Like normal doggy paddle but starting and finishing each stroke with both arms at your sides (like reverse catch-up)
    • Let your shoulders rotate as you would on normal front crawl and breathe to the side
    • Focus on keeping your elbow nice and high at the start and throughout the pull
  • Full stroke
    • Keep the high-elbow catch you have just been practising
    • Do the catch slowly – don’t start pressing hard until your forearm is pointing to the bottom of the pool so you only push the water backwards

 There’s a video also here of me explaining these new drills if you need it.

See you Saturday!

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

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

Time trials again this week to see how you are progressing with your swimming over the winter.  During the extended warm-up we will be doing some Unco drills to help you think about your stroke as well as some fast 50s at the faster-than 400m race pace we were doing during the set last week.  This is to get you ready to swim fast but by swimming fast efficiently and with good technique.  So when you start the 400m remember to focus on relaxing and swimming with good technique.  You want to start with relaxed, easy speed during the first half of the time trial so you can still swim the second half strongly.

See you Saturday,

Rob

This week we will be doing time trials to start the series of time trials we will do this Winter on the last Saturday of every second month (end Nov, end Jan and end March).  As it’s the first time trial of the Winter, and because we have done no race pace swims in preparation, I would like you all to forget about your time and focus on technique.  Hence, we will be doing a long warm-up with some of our recent Unco drills as part of the warm-up in preparation to help you think about your technique.  And the one thing I would like you to think about during the time trial, if you are game enough to come along this week and give it a shot, is getting and holding a good high-elbow catch all the way through the 400.  If you want to think about anything more than just keeping the high-elbow catch then please think about:

  • Keeping relaxed with easy-speed during the first half of the time trial so you can focus on putting your best technique and effort in during the 3rd 100, when typically most of us drop off the pace
  • Aiming the negative split the 400m, i.e. swimming the second 200m faster than the first 200m
  • Keeping as relaxed as possible during the time trial, aiming to feel fresh enough to keep your technique and also put the most effort in the second half

I will be asking those not swimming to take stroke counts during the time trials so we can calculate your distance per stroke and stroke rates.

Remember, this first 400m time trial of the Winter is all about setting a baseline to build from so don’t worry about your time and do think about swimming in the most efficient and relaxed way, with the best possible technique, throughout the whole time trial.

See you Saturday!

Rob

We will be doing the final set of time trials of our 2014/15 Winter training block this Saturday to give you a measure of your current swim speed.  We will be doing the same format as before, with a longer than usual warm-up followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  The main things you should get from this are:

  1. A measure of your current 400m time trial speed to compare against previous performances as a measure of your current speed.
  2. An estimate of your Critical Swim Speed (CSS), measured in time per 100m, which is a good indicator of your likely race pace for 1500m.
  3. Measures of your average distance per stroke and stroke rate, which you can compare with your previous measures and other swimmers, to see how any technique or fitness changes over the Winter have affected the two most important measures of your swim speed.

Try and mentally break up the 400m into 4 x 100m off a short turnaround, all at the same pace, similar to the way we split the main set last Saturday.  To do this, you will need to feel comfortable on the first 2 x 100 with most of the effort going in on the third and fourth 100m.  Try and use all we have practised over the last few months – especially setting a good stroke rate with your legs and having a  strong catch with high-elbow – to swim as fast and efficiently as possible.

See you Saturday!

Rob

Well done to everyone who did the time trials last week, especially those who had to wait over 30 minutes on the pool side for a replacement lifeguard during the 7am session.  Clearly this was not the best preparation for a time trial, and I think it reflected the difference in results between the first and second sessions, but overall there was still an overall improvement in average times since November.  In fact, having looked back at all the results over the last few years there are a number of performances that stand out from Saturday:

  • Alex Bevis beat the previous best 400m time trial result on Saturday by 1s to set a new record of 4:47.
  • Paul Thorby made an impressive 45s improvement in his 400m time since Nov 2012.
  • Anna Blackwell posted a 12s improvement since March 2014.
  • Sarah Parkin swam 27s faster this time than in May last year.

If you haven’t improved as much as you would like then it is worth trying to understand why and what you’d like to do to change it for next time.  We haven’t done much race-pace work over the Winter so any recent improvements I would expect to come from any changes you’ve been making to your technique over the Winter.  Changes in technique do take time to bed in, and reflect in improved speed, so don’t be too disheartened if you’re not seeing much effect yet.  However, do talk to me or any of the other coaches about any changes you are trying to make if you don’t think the changes you are trying are the right thing and will make a positive difference.

We’ll be doing some more faster-paced swimming on Saturdays over the last few weeks.  This week sees the return of Will Clarke’s favourite set of fast and steady 50s.

See you Saturday,

Rob

It’s time for our mid-Winter time trials this week and I’d like you to think about swimming the fastest you can by keeping as relaxed as possible.

We will follow the same format as in November with a good warm-up, including some fast swimming, followed by a 400m and 100m time trial.  Again I am going to be asking those not swimming to take 100m split times as well as counting strokes so we can measure your pace judgement, stroke rate and distance per stroke.  It is hard to get stroke counts for each 100m (it’s a lot of counting) so instead I’d like those counting to count strokes for a particular length on each 100 of the 400.  We will multiply this by 4 to get a measure of distance per stroke and stroke rate.  It’s not as accurate as counting every stroke but an approximate stroke count will be good enough.

I know some of you find that you swim slower when doing a 400m time trial than when doing long sets of 100m reps with short intervals or even just doing a “steady” 400m in training.  However, there is no lack of effort from everyone who I see swim time trials so if you fall into this category then it means your extra effort is not being used efficiently and is either reducing your propulsion, increasing your drag or both.   For you, less is more and I recommend thinking about three things for the time trial:

1)      Try and enjoy the chance to have a lane pretty much to yourself and swimming fast without anyone in your way.  Your  time will look after itself if you try and relax and enjoy it rather than worrying about the outcome.

2)      Don’t press too hard or quickly at the catch.  As you feel the pressure on your hand at the start of each stroke the temptation is to put the power on quickly but unless your elbow is high, and your hand and forearm pointing downwards, most of your effort will be wasted pushing your body upwards rather than forwards.  This wastes effort and increases drag so instead be patient and wait until your forearm is vertical before putting the power on at the catch.

3)      Try and swim an even pace throughout.  Most of you will start quickly, with natural adrenaline, so use that get your arms moving at a good tempo but make sure you are relaxing into a sustainable pace before you finish the first 50m.  Then try and relax, keeping the stroke rate comfortable and your stroke long for the rest of the 400m.  Most people slow down in the 3rd 100 so really focus on maintaining a good form and stroke length then.  The last 100m will look after itself as you finish to the cheers of your adoring fans!

See you Saturday!

Rob

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