Posted on

Practice techniques to incorporate

1. Racing – The drive to win close races to recover from mistakes and overtake your competition, the desire to win!!!! Some swimmers have that desire and others must be taught. You must add racing sets in your workout. Each swimmer must have the ability to start and stop speed (variable speed) throughout the season, no matter what phase of training you are currently involved. Drafting then passing, stagger starts and racing different abilities of swimmers in practice must be some part of a weekly routine.

2. Race Pace – This isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. Let’s take the 100 free for our example: let’s say your goal is to swim a 48.00 in the 100. In order to achieve this swim you must create and instill muscle memory at this speed. You will need to maintain 12.00 while swimming 25’s and 24.00 speed while doing 50’s. Adjust race pace demands based on how you want your swimmer to race.

If 48.00 is the goal and you want 23/25 as your splits then train at that speed. You can eventually work up to 75’s and broken 100’s (breaking them at different distances) and finally a 100 from the block before you actually swim your big race. This will give you the confidence needed for the big race. Start the season with enough rest at each desired distance to achieve race pace goal speed and as the season continues lessen the rest interval and achieve the same result. If you are tired on a given day that you want to do race pace then you must give yourself enough rest to achieve race pace. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a desired workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power. Remember that your dryland program is important and must coincide with this type of training. You will do more race pace as the taper progresses. Recovery and overspeed sets are as important and must be incorporated with race pace. Training with speed and power in the water and during dryland will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.

3. Overspeed – Creating and enhancing muscle memory with the possible speed of a time not yet achieved in a race. Creating speed in short spurts helps train the fast twitch muscle make-up of every swimmer. Cords are a wide spread example usually incorporated during the taper or resting phase of a season and should be used throughout. Overspeed can be achieved off starts and walls and during very short distances or with correct tarzan swimming.

4. Tarzan for speed purposes – Swimmers that do water polo use tarzan to see the ball. They are strong, have arm speed, upper body strength and usually are great at kicking. Wow, everything you need for sprinting! Sprinting doesn’t always mean short distances. 200’s are now in the sprint category.

5. Recovery and dryland – These two categories make most people nervous. Proper recovery must be part of each workout phase and the dryland program must match. You must constantly change body part emphasis in your workouts to ensure recovery. Hard work should alternate legs, core and upper body. That doesn’t mean if you are recovering the legs you can’t work the arms. You need to alternate upper and lower body between dryland and swimming. You can alternate within each set, from set to set, from workout to workout or week to week. Add a true recovery workout once during the week and see how you respond the next day. Maybe you even need a day off as in MENTAL RECOVERY.

6. Set Structure – Sets should include distances as well as the repetitions, mechanics emphasis, and what to do on each part of the swim. For example: 6 X 400’s on 5:00 free with 4 fly kicks off each wall breathing to one side of the pool, to insure breathing on both sides and even shoulder rotation. Odd swims are variable speed 75% – 95% by 50, with numbers 2 and 4 pace holding 1:02 and number 6 being timed with sprint kicking each wall and last 200. Write it down and take it to the pool.

7. Pace Clock – Swimmers must be able to read the clock and understand negative, even, ascending and pace terminology for splits in races and practice. Swimmers should constantly be using the clock even during warm-up and warm-downs so times and speed can be inherent. You must understand a certain speed with feel. You must understand and learn variable speed and repeats of a certain pace physically and mentally. Simple example during warm-up 4 X 200’s with descending send-offs with a goal time on the last 200. For example, 4 X 200’s on 2:40, 2:30, 2:20 and the last one go a 2:15.

8. Coaches flexibility: Stay flexible and evaluate if the swimmers are getting what you wanted out of each set. Don’t force the issue if motivation isn’t the issue. Change the set to achieve your goal, scratch the set if needed, adjust it or use it later in the season. If you change the set explain why and try to get them to understand the reason. If you can’t explain it you’ll never be able to teach it. If too much info is written for the set slowly increase the stimulus over time. Flexibility is hard as a coach feels the time constraint to get it all in. Fight that urge and back up, as that will help the swimmers more in the short and long term.

9. IM (Individual medley) and the importance of doing sets in IM order. Training the muscle memory of going from one stroke to the other and breathing patterns. Breathing patterns change from one stroke to the other, as does the timing of each stroke. When switching strokes the swimmer must gain control of the breathing pattern before settling into the race strategy of each stroke. Doing sets in IM order will help train the breathing patterns.

10. Heart rate is a great tool to see if you are sick, stressed, over worked, need more rest or just out of shape. You can measure this many ways by creating a set that helps you maximize heart rate and measuring how long it takes you or your athlete to recover.

Remember you are not a doctor nor should you diagnose from the results, it is only a tool that can be used to help with each phase of training. This tells you about aerobic conditioning, fatigue during the core of training and the amount of resting needed to create race pace or sprinting. This tool definitely helps during taper and resting before meets. Consult a doctor or read up about heart rate, as there are plenty of studies and information on the subject. This will help you with flexibility and changing your workouts when needed.

Posted on

Challenges in Our Sport

Our sport faces many challenges, such as title 9, foreign swimmers on collegiate scholarships that should go to our young athletes first, long grueling age-group weekend invitational’s and of course controlling parents.

Recently a mother brought her 9-year-old son to my team to try out. He was good enough to join our introductory level. His mother made it clear that he is swimming with the goal of a collegiate scholarship (her goal of course).

Some parents are driving their swimmers out of the sport or any sport for that manner, especially age-group sports. Parents today have their children involved in too many activities with unrealistic expectations. High School and Middle School counselors, as well as educators, have helped create this mindset. It seems to be all about resume building for college. Do you really believe that matters? “Hey look I have completed 20 plus extracurricular activities….yeah but are you good at any of them?” What have you learned? We need to take a step back and really think about what is happening. I truly believe and so do you that if you do your best at one or a select few activities it will carry you further in life. Achieving good grades and doing your best in swimming (any activity) will get you into college.

You can’t progress mentally and physically without putting in the time. The current age of instant gratification and achievement must end. Parents expect it and kids don’t understand it. Parents with children with age-group children surely don’t remember how they were raised.

So how do we combat this issue?

1. We must educate the parents without telling them how to parent. Explain physical and mental progressions of the sport. We need to help them see the whole picture and what to expect at each level. A 10 & U champion doesn’t mean they will be a champion in high school.

2. We need to teach parents that (time) a :55, in any event, is not the only measurement of success. What about the start, turn, streamline, breakouts and kicking skills in practice? These are better gauges of success. Learning the fundamentals as mentioned will create faster swimming in the long term.

3. We need shorter meets for the introductory families and swimmers and fewer of them or at least coaches need to choose meets with this in mind. Add more dual meets to your schedule with shorter events, especially for new swimmers at all levels. YMCA and High School swimming already offer this type of swimming. Why would a novice swimmer and a new family to swimming want to start with a grueling 3 day meet? What incentive do new High School and Middle School swimmers have to continue after their season?

4. It would be great if we could align all States High School swim seasons. This would encourage year-round swimming allowing USA swimming to create a better championship schedule. There are a lot of fast High School swimmers that stop swimming when the season is over.

5. Make sure you have fun with the younger ages and teach mechanics to keep them injury free and interested. Re-arrange expectations and goals so swimmers are their fastest in High School and enjoy training. Teach about plateaus in our sport, tapering, muscular development, weight training and of course nutrition.

Lastly, when does a swimmer commit to swimming? This really depends on the child mentally and physically.

Swimming is an investment but what is the return? Is the return a collegiate scholarship? Some think so. What about work ethic and understanding how hard work relates to results. Don’t forget about discipline, time management, friendship, self-esteem and sportsmanship.

Fun fact: Swimmers at all levels have the highest GPA of all sports in High School and College thus in return very responsible.

Posted on

Lets Talk about Tarzan!

The first item I would like to talk about is Tarzan. Tarzan is used for speed purposes. The proper body position for Tarzan is with the head and mouth out of the water. Keeping hips in line with the shoulders with a controlled fast kick. Tarzan is used for developing arm and leg speed. Leg speed drives the arms so begin by emphasizing the kick. The arm stroke needs to be shorter and faster than the normal freestyle stroke with an emphasis on equal shoulder rotation. There are many variations of Tarzan to train. Two of the main drills to use are just quality Tarzan sprinting and Tarzan to easy as indicated on the outline. “Tarzan to easy” is where the swimmer will work on increasing arm speed until they are unable then drop their head and finish easy to the wall. When the athlete is broken down this will be very hard to do but as the swimmer recovers he or she will be able to increase arm speed for longer distances of 25’s or 50’s.

Please go to Youtube and search “USAswimcoach” or Facebook and search “Faster Swimming” for the Tarzan video. You can also find it on Viddler

I’d like to show a few different drills of Tarzan. First I am having my swimmer do a 25 of Tarzan where he is holding a constant rate of speed, keeping his head out of the water, shoulders square with hips in line and a small fast kick. The next drill is 5 Tarzan strokes sprint up followed by 2 freestyle strokes down easy. The swimmer will just drop his head on the recovery strokes. Make sure the swimmers count their strokes to ensure that they start each new cycle of 5 up 2 down with the opposite arm. This will help ensure equal rotation of shoulders and help the swimmers work with both arms to start swimming. This will translate to their breakout strokes also. Please vary this drill as desired for example 7 up sprint Tarzan strokes then 4 easy strokes, etc.. We are always trying to prime the fast twitch muscles by using Tarzan. We do a lot of Tarzan during taper as well as throughout the season. It is easy to train your fast twitch muscle fibers to move at one speed with long sets, making it more difficult to retrain muscle fiber later. Always throw in some Tarzan or speed work into your workouts. The last 25 of the video is Tarzan where the swimmer is working on increasing arm speed throughout, working on equal shoulder rotation as well as proper mechanics. A variation of this is on the Faster Swimming 23 week outline is called Tarzan to easy. The only difference is that I want the swimmers to start off at a faster pace and when they can no longer increase arm speed they will drop their head and finish the set distance easy.

Let’s talk about Variable Speed

We all know that racing is the drive to win close races to recover from mistakes and overtake your competition at all costs. Some swimmers have that desire and others we must try to teach. This is why adding Speed work should be very important to us as coaches. Each swimmer needs the ability to start and stop speed with their upper and lower body and I call this Variable Speed. Training an athlete and enhancing his or her ability to change speed at any time of the race is key to teaching and giving the swimmer confidence that they can race. It is a big part of our designed workouts throughout the season. You will need to change the variable speed distances and intensities as outlined weekly. Variable speed work in sets is difficult for the swimmer because it spikes heart rates when a swimmer would normally train at one speed.

For example:

A basic 8 x 200 swim set descend by 2 on 3:00 can be adjusted with variable speed work by 100. For example on the first 2 x 200’s have the swimmers work at 70% on the first 100 and 80% on the second. Descending the 200’s by adjusting the variable speed effort. Variable speed work can be similar to Negative split as I just described in this set. The hard part is getting them to understand the actual percentage of intensities and still descend the 200’s. You can mix it up by making the swimmers go out in the first 100 @ 95% and the second 100 back in a controlled 90% by either giving them their splits, doing open turns or breaking the 200 at the 100 for a short rest interval. This will make their set more difficult and train their muscle fibers at variable speeds. You don’t want to get in the habit of training your swimmers at one pace thus making it harder to get into sprint work later in the practice or season.

Using Heart Rate

I am using the measurement of heart rate in this set to get a basic feel of how my swimmers are feeling today. There are a lot of factors that affect heart rate so this is just a guideline. I have created a set where the swimmer must maximize heart rate and created the speed work I wanted to have in today’s workout. This set was given a week after one championship meet and week before another. Prior to this workout, they had two hard weight and dryland workouts and one longer aerobic swim practice. They were sore and a bit tired as they should have been.

This set is all freestyle starting with 2 x 100’s on a 1:30 send-off. The first 1:00 holding a minute pace and descending the 2nd 100 holding a :56. They are to take their heart rate immediately after the 2nd 100 for a starting point. They are taking their heart rate for 10 seconds. I want them to take their heart rate again after+/- 45 seconds to see how fast they recover. Once the heart rate drops below 20 (for :10 seconds) they will finish the next part of the set which is, 50 sprint kick followed by 2 x 25 sprint Tarzan with :20 seconds rest then a 100 recovery swim.

They will repeat the same basic pattern two more times.

Second time starting off with 2 x 50 on a :35 second send off just making the send-off immediately followed by a 100 free holding a :54 or faster again taking the heart rate immediately after the swim. Their heart rate should be above 30 or elevated from the last time taken. Once the heart rate drops below 20 finishing the set with a 50 sprint kick and 2 x 25’s sprint Tarzan with :20 rest and a 100 recovery swim. If their heart rate doesn’t drop you can assume that they need more rest or they are completely out of shape. This is very individual and knowing your swimmer will help you answer that question. If their heart rate doesn’t drop below 20 for a couple of minutes then just have them finish the set or warm down, your call.

Third time thru they will begin with 4 x 25’s @ 100 Race Pace on a :20 second send-off. Each swimmer should have an understanding of the effort needed to maximize their heart rate on this set. Then finish the set once heart rate drops with 50 sprint kick and 2 x 25’s Tarzan then a 100 recovery swim.

Tarzan, Variable Speed, and Heart Rate sets are some of the important items included in the Faster Swimming program. We discussed Race Pace training in the last Journal. If you have any questions please email [email protected] or [email protected]

Posted on

More on Tarzan, Plus a Coach’s Recollection

Effective freestyle that utilizes the mechanical advantage (law of levers etc) and the kinesiological principles (anatomy of muscular movement) and especially the first and second laws of motion dictates the hands should always be opposed to each other throughout the full arm cycle allowing for the most efficient application of muscular force, thus eliminating any stop and go movements that are created with an inefficient catch up stroke (the worst technique ever developed!)…Dara Torres has a very efficient freestyle.  Check it out. Rule of thumb – apply any of the ridiculous swim drills to walking, and you will get the idea!!

FasterSwimming Answer:

Remember to account for body position in your analysis… posture dictates execution and effectiveness, more than lever action.  Tarzan places added emphasis on full hip extension and a tight core that can transmit force.  Try swimming freestyle with your chin on your chest even if you have great oppositional arm force. Tarzan doesn’t replace efficient swimming but adds great cross training that develops core strength, shoulder and leg speed.

Another email about Tarzan, great story!

Hello Coach;

This is the first time I’ve seen your email letter and I got a kick out of the Tarzan article. I used the Tarzan drill a lot earlier in my career in the early 1970s.  I first saw it used by Don Gambril at Phillipps 66 Long Beach A.C. in 1969. Assistant Coaches were Ron Balatore and Flip Darr.

But here is one of my favorite memories of the Man, Tarzan. In 1967-68-69 (can’t remember which year) I was swimming in an East/West College meet at the Hall of Fame Pool. One evening there were some festivities at the pool and I was in the stands along with a few hundred other swimmers. In the late 60s all of those swimmers were baby boomers.  There was a featured sprint race between some of the best sprinters in the country and Johnny Weismuller. Tarzan still looked great and was in good shape.  But, none of us could quite figure out what was going to happen.  Weismuller was about 65 years old. He dove in, flew down the pool, beat everyone (and they were swimming fast), climbed out and gave the Tarzan yell.

They had laid a rope on the bottom of the pool- at night it couldn’t be seen- and Tarzan picked up the rope on the dive.  There were about 5 guys on the other side of the fence at the Hall of Fame Pool.  As soon as they got the signal that Tarzan had the rope, they took off running.

The interesting thing to me and I didn’t quite comprehend this until years later, was the tremendous almost instant togetherness type of yelling that went through the crowd of male swimmers who were kids born between 1945-1950. I think there was sort of a group epiphany.  A lot of us had grown up watching Tarzan movies, being swimmers, and thinking we were unique or alone in all these little towns across the USA. Many of us dreamed of being Tarzan, swimming like Tarzan and loving the Tarzan movies and being swimmers.

Yours;

Marc

Posted on

Building Aerobic Capacity and Race Pace

500 free goal time 4:50.00 training guidelines:

Building aerobic capacity needs to be done by monitoring heart rate.  You can add longer warm-up sets if you feel the need to increase yardage for your swimmer. Each swimmer will have a certain amount of yardage per workout where you need to end the practice and that is just knowing your swimmer. You will build aerobic capacity and a base to taper from if you monitor heart rate. For example; 8 x 100 on a 1:30 send-off, holding Race Pace with the Heart rate at 28 +/-for :10 seconds (each swimmer is different) will build and maintain aerobic capacity faster than doing a set of 4 x 600 where you just tell the swimmer to build or hold a fast pace.  Training at Race Pace will help the swimmer understand/feel the speed needed in a race and give them confidence. Train all your main sets based on race pace and heart rate.  You can still do set of 4 x 600 but don’t make that a habit.  Always do Race Pace in practice and some short sprints or Tarzan in the workout.

Week 15 and 16 of the 23 week FasterSwimming book will give you the longest workouts of the season. Feel free to add or subtract yardage based on your swimmer. I have included workout #79 below for you to use as a test set for pace and stroke count. When you are about a week into the season do this test set to get a starting point for training. Let’s say your swimmer starts out holding a 1:07 pace per 100 and swims 19 strokes per 25. Begin your main sets by monitoring heart rate while holding a 1:03+/- pace per 100 and 18 strokes per lap, for about 3+/- weeks.  As your swimmer progresses drop the training pace per 100 to 1:00 at 17 strokes per lap for another 3 +/- weeks. During the 7 week taper before champs, the training race pace per 100 should :58 or faster per 100 holding a stroke count of 16. Remember this is a guideline and very realistic.   Race pace sets can be written with all distances involved it just takes a little math, so be creative. As your swimmer progresses the rest needed for a particular pace will decrease.

Stroke counts depend on efficiency of stroke, size of athlete and other factors that only a coach would know by training the athlete. As the swimmer progresses adjust goals hopefully faster!

The next step will be to help the swimmer understand how to swim the 500 in a meet. Remember to follow the workouts in the 23 week book and complete all the kicking sets as outlined. It is important to alternate upper and lower body work within sets or by sets. This will help add recovery to every workout while increasing intensity of each practice.

Warm up:  (meet warm up)

600 choice swim

6 x 100  choice 50 kick / 50 swim   :10rest

then stretch based on time allowed no longer than 5 minutes

6 x 75  choice  :10rest with heart rate about +/-20 at a minimum, check  twice adjust heart rate based on age and level of fitness

1-3  kick / swim / kick by 25, 4-6 swim / kick / swim by 25

6 x 50  choice swim – raise heart rate, check heart rate and then :15rest

1-3 heart rate +/-25, 4 easy swim, 5-6 heart rate +/-30

100 easy

2 x 25 sprint (work in starts at meet)

75 easy after each

This workout may not be for all but do your best!

Please adjust test set for age and ability with shorter distances. Remember this is a test set to determine beginning training pace per 100.

2 x 1500 free on 17:30 (1:10 pace per 100)

adjust as needed – 20:00 is a 1:20 pace per 100

use paddles if desired

2 x 1000 free on 11:40 (1:10 pace per 100)

8 x 75 recovery on 1:10

timed 800 free

8 x 75 recovery on 1:10

OVERSPEED

4 x 25 pull only for speed continuous

100 easy

Posted on

The Importance of Fly Kicks

Consistent kick is a must.  Swimmers need to understand momentum and maintain it especially through the break out strokes or the transition between the underwater and swimming. Most swimmers make the mistake of slowing the kick before the break out strokes thus increasing drag and slowing momentum before trying to swim.  A consistent kick will help maintain a better body position in the water throughout the swim.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/253/

Fly kicking on the side helps swimmers understand the importance of kicking both directions with equal force.  This will help with working the up kick needed for speed during the swim.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/254/

Fly kicking off of the wall.

1. Kick immediately upon leaving the wall.

2. Keep you upper body still to reduce drag and focus on a tight streamline.

3. You could actually turn your body slightly towards the wall which will help affect(more force) more water.

4. Kick up and down with equal force.

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/255/

Posted on

Why Swim On Top of the Water When the Fastest Part Is Under Water?

Momentum, Momentum, Momentum

“When an external force acts upon a body, it changes its momentum; however, when no external force acts, the momentum of the body does not change, a fact which is incorporated in the principle of ‘the conservation of momentum’. Therefore, momentum has come to be known as the force of motion that a moving body acquires in continuing its motion by virtue of inertia.” If you can understand this concept then you will be a very happy swimmer.

Maintaining a proper streamline and being able to time your breakout into your swimming is key to fast swimming. If you ever do anything underwater and feel yourself slow down then you have lost momentum. Momentum will be different for each athlete based on body type, flexibility and skill level. What and how you do your underwater mechanics and how you breakout into your swimming all effects momentum.

As often as possible you must try to keep the 4 H’s in line (Hands, Head, Hips and Heels).

The biggest momentum killer for all strokes is the transition from the underwater swimming to the actual swimming on top of the water. Swimmers and coaches do not spend enough time on this aspect of swimming. This is major especially when a swimmer comes off a wall in an un-streamlined position, not kicking, then deciding to breakout of the water too deep and deciding to breath first thing.

Sound familiar?

Use each wall in practice to break your bad habits. The fastest part of swimming is underwater when done correctly. Why do you think the 15-meter rule, and original rules of breaststroke were made?

BACKSTROKE:

A slow down in timing with improper body position will kill momentum. Keeping the head back, controlling the breathing and maintaining the speed of the kick will help maintain momentum. Increasing stroke count through (each lap) your swims will help maintain momentum.

BREASTSTROKE:

Momentum is lost when a swimmer loses control of body position. Speed is in the kick. Swimmers must remember to never let the time between the finish of a kick and start of the next kick get slower. The time between the finish and start of the kick can tell the story of timing. A constant pace must be maintained at this part of the swim whether it is faster for sprints or slightly slower for other swims. You must control the timing of the kick while maintaining proper mechanics of the pull.

FREESTYLE:

Breathing, head position, finish of stroke while maintaining a constant kick will all affect momentum. Learning how to maintain these mechanics during the race will greatly affect the finish of the race and momentum.

Momentum is lost when a swimmer loses control of body position.

BUTTERFLY:

Momentum is lost when the speed of the kick slows. A non-kick, slow kick or bad timing will only make all the other mechanics worse. Timing is key to proper mechanics and momentum.

Posted on

Timing and Rhythm During Breathing and Stroke

BACKSTROKE:

There is a breathing pattern in backstroke. Each swimmer will be a bit different. Have each swimmer determine his or her breathing pattern. The concentration should be during the exhale of the breath with the finish of a stroke this could be every right arm finish or any variation. Tell swimmers as they are sprinting that as they try to increase to rate of exhaling that this will help maintain or increase the turnover of the stroke.  Timing of the kick must be short and faster, as the kick falls apart during the backstroke so goes the stroke. While maintaining a faster and shorter kick remember to finish the stroke near the thigh and the surface of the water. There should be no delay from the finish of one stroke to the beginning of another. This is a major problem with the backstroke with many swimmers. Make sure that the swimmers are finishing the stroke correctly. Most swimmers finish the stroke too deep or off to the side of the body.

FREESTYLE:

Timing of the breath and proper breathing is the most important concept to instill in the swimmer. The first thing a swimmer must be able to do is learning how to exhale while the mouth is in the water so there is only inhaling while the mouth is out of the water. A lot of swimmers take time to exhale and inhale during the breath thus slowing the breathing process and throwing off timing and body position by turning the head to a non-streamline position creating drag and usually affecting the hips. The breathing process begins during the catch of the stroke and is completed at the front end of the pull. If a swimmer sees his or her arm during the breath then they are breathing late.

Timing of the breath is the most important beginning to freestyle. If you can teach this it will eliminate many errors in mechanics. For example: If a swimmer doesn’t kick or the kick slows during the breath then the breath is too late. If a swimmer has a hip swing it could be due to the breath and head control. Make sure the swimmer is finishing the stroke in the proper place as to maintain the rotation of the arms.

BREASTSTROKE:

Timing is the most important aspect of this stroke to understand and grasp. Three parts of the stroke are initiated together. While the beginning of the stroke is initiated the swimmer needs to begin lifting the head to for the breath and the kick needs to begin with a slight bend in the knees. All three of these timing issues take a lot of thought and practice. The breath must be at the beginning of the stroke to again reduce drag and help the swimmer with the timing of the kick and pull. Remind swimmers that while the head is out of the water the swimmer needs only to inhale because the exhale of the breath should have been completed while the head was in the streamline position. The pull and the kick must match so the timing is such that they begin together or end together. The kick must be taught with the concept of reducing drag. If the knees are brought under the stomach or outside of the hips then drag is a huge factor. The kick must be kept behind the hips and is as much of a streamline position as possible. Body position is key all strokes as it is to breaststroke. Teach the kick with the thoughts of being streamline all the way through the swim, initiating the kick, during and especially at the finish of the kick. Most swimmers pull and kick at different times and never achieve a streamline position during any portion of the swim. It is easy to spot timing problems in this stroke, as you will see a pause after the pull because the swimmer is now waiting on the kick to start forward momentum again. Timing is such that as the swimmer is doing the recovery part of the pull he or she is kicking back thus always-maintaining forward momentum while reducing drag.

BUTTERFLY:

The initial start of the stroke with the timing and the kick is the same as the breaststroke. During the catch of the stroke the swimmer begins to lift his or her head for the breath and a down kick is done at the same time. There are two kicks per stroke and each kick has two parts an up kick and a down kick. The down kicks are timed with the catch and finish of the stroke. The up kick in fly is seldom taught and help the swimmer maintain the speed of the kick and momentum. Teach the swimmers how to kick and up as well as down equally. A good way to do this is kicking on the side.

Posted on

Developing Race Strategies and Breathing Tips for your Swimmers

Age-group coaches here some assumptions while developing RACE STRATEGIES and breathing tips for your swimmers.

Remember to incorporate all of this into daily practices so it becomes second nature to your swimmers then you can really focus on their racing!

Assumptions:

1.    Each swimmer will vary on how to swim each event and this should be established between the swimmer and coach.

2.    Training level. How in shape are you at the time of your swim?

3.    What time of the season are you swimming the event? Beginning of the season, heaviest training time or tapered.

4.    Physical/mental capabilities and you know your mental pitfalls better than anyone else.

5.    Remember that this is a training tool for the coach to test and teach the swimmer. While learning it isn’t all about the final time but how that specific time was achieved.

6.    Some swimmers have the ability to swim events differently in a prelim/final meet just to qualify top 8 or 16 at night.

7.    Each swimmer has judged all walls for turns and finishes in warm-up at race pace. The swimmer needs to do a couple of starts to get used to the blocks and this includes a backstroke start.

400 Individual Medley along with breathing tips.

Except for the fly because of the start, each stroke should be negative split by 50. For example, fly :28, :30, back :33, :32, breast :35, :34 and free :29, :28. Splits will vary based on the swimmer’s strengths and weaknesses. Help the swimmer work on splits based on the goal time and work on race pace in practice.

You need to establish the number of fly kicks you are going to maintain thru-out your swim off each wall (breast obviously one). You need to establish this at practice and repeat, repeat, repeat. The more fly kick you are able to do eventually within your physical demands the faster you will swim.

Every time you switch strokes the timing of the stroke changes and your body needs to adapt to the new breathing pattern. “Breathing is your friend”. You need to catch your breath and adapt to the new stroke within the first couple breaths of each stroke.

When doing an open turn (fly, breast and some back to breast transition turns) you need to exhale before you touch the wall so all you are doing when you head is out of the water is inhaling. Most swimmers make the mistake of exhaling and inhaling on the wall. This makes the turn slower and gives you less oxygen to work with to help your distance and momentum off of the wall.

When doing the backstroke turn you need to exhale before rotating on your stomach so you only inhale on the rotation, before your turn. Most swimmers don’t even think about this and the turn takes lots of oxygen. This also plays into the freestyle that obviously is the same turn. When breathing in freestyle remember to exhale while the head is in the water so you only inhale during the breath. If you are trying to exhale and inhale at the same time when your mouth is out of the water then you will develop timing problems and slow your strokes and ruin your mechanics.

Remember that breathing is your friend and the most common mistake swimmers make is not taking enough breaths the first 25 of all races, except the 50 free. You need to start breathing to enable your body to break down lactic acid build-up that will ensue. Lactic acid (lactate) is produced by muscle use and your body breaks it down it thru the breathing process as it tries to supply the muscles with more oxygen to optimize its workload. Without oxygen, there is anaerobic glycolysis which is the break down of carbohydrates which leads to lactic acid to build up in the muscle cells. The process of lactic acid removal takes approximately one hour, but this can be accelerated by undertaking an appropriate warm down which ensures a rapid and continuous supply of oxygen to the muscles. Lactic acid eventually gets converted to mainly carbon dioxide and water while it also gets converted to glycogen, protein, and glucose.

The 50 can be completed with 2, 1 or zero breaths as it is a race that is usually completed within 30 seconds for most year-round swimmers. Remember that this must be practiced regularly prior to racing. When deciding how to plan your breaths you need to keep in mind that if you wait until you need a breath it is probably too late and that particular breath mechanically will slow you down.

Your muscles can continue to work with maximum output up to 30 seconds before they totally tighten-up and stop working due to lactic acid build-up. Swimmers usually wonder why they died in a particular race and a lot can be answered by understanding oxygen deprivation and what it does to your body. Oxygen deprivation leads to a quicker build-up of lactate which makes it harder for the body to use oxygen (lack of) to break down lactate as described above.

Posted on

Masters Swimmers – Start Using Your Legs!

Kicking and recovery swimming are two very important parts of your daily workouts that you need to take seriously!

Most of the master swimmers especially if you swam age-group, high school or collegiate swimming in the 80’s or earlier need to incorporate into your practices kicking and recovery swimming.  We (and I am including myself) need to remember as our bodies age, it has to recover to help the muscle growth. You need to feed your body appropriately before and after each workout.  You need to be smarter as an adult.  Sounds like the preaching never ends but if you want to do your best be smart about it.

Kicking should be close to 50% of your workout. Use kicking not because it is important but as an opportunity to recover your upper body during a set or every other set. Legs are the most neglected part of swimming and the hardest to get into shape.  Think about how much most programs don’t spend on kicking and how much most of you don’t enjoy it.  Use fins and mix it up.

If you are a tri-athlete use kicking to cross train. Kicking drives speed and can help with your open water speed when you need to lift your head to see and move around other swimmers.

Get your legs into shape and enjoy better starts, turns and finishes during your races.

There is more information in the Masters 7 Week Training Manual.