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The Open Turn

The open turn is used for the breast and the butterfly. There is another flip turn for these strokes. I have only been witness to this turn at higher level meets.  This turn takes a lot of practice and excellent judgement especially as the swimmer goes into the third turn of the 100 or continues racing the 200. The key to the other flip turn is that a swimmer must touch with two hands first before the flip. The timing must be perfect upon judging the wall and the swimmers need a tight tuck and have good lungs. Swimmers do this by touching with the back of the hands shoulder-width apart and slightly deeper in the water. Then initiating a tuck, twisting and pushing off the wall with the breast facing down.

Judging the wall is essential. Swimmers must look for the wall with every breath. Your brain constantly perceives distances to an approaching object or walking would be very difficult. Help yourself out and look for the wall. Speaking of breaths, a swimmer must exhale upon touching the wall so as to take advantage of the time that the head is out of the water at the wall. Inhaling should be the only part of the breath when the head is out of the water (every breath should be the same. It is amazing how many advanced swimmers don’t inhale and exhale correctly). If a swimmer exhales and inhales while hanging on the wall the turn will be slower. A swimmer must touch the wall with a full extension of the body in a streamlined position. Swimmers have a tendency to dive for the wall and reach down thus increasing the distance to the wall. Maintain body position! Once the touch has been completed the time it takes you to touch your feet to the wall after the hand touch will determine the speed of the turn. Remember two-hand touch and proper breathing on the wall. When touching the wall the legs must be brought up to the wall with proper placement of the feet. The feet must be placed on the wall so that the push off the wall is parallel to the surface of the water but deep enough to do the pullout or fly kick needed. The legs must be brought up so the knees are pointed to the ceiling or sky (upward). The turn must be completed with the concept in mind that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”. Bring the legs up in a tight tuck to the chest using the core of the body including the hips and abdominals. Swimmers need to remember that pushing off the wall with their hands will not create a fast turn. The shoulders must stay at water level and the head must continue to look forward at the wall, until both hands have left the wall and the swimmer has submerged to begin the push off with the legs. The time it takes the swimmer to touch the wall with the legs after the hand touch and the timing of the breath are major factors in speed of the turn. The swimmer must point one arm to the other end of the pool after the touch immediately, during the tuck part of the turn. Once the feet have touched the other arm will leave the wall passing by the head submerging the swimmer for the push off of the wall. The head turns once the second arm passes by. Achieve a tight spike immediately and maintain good body position. You are now ready to begin the underwater pull or fly kick. There are four other open turns and three are transitions involved in the IM, with the fourth hardly used anymore call the “Nabor” turn. This was developed by John Nabor an Olympian backstroker from the 1970’s when you had to touch each wall in the backstroke before turning. This turn will not be described. Please look it up or ask an older swimmer.

Fly to back is as described above with the exception of pushing off with the breast of the swimmer facing up instead of facing down.

Back to breast is initiated as if you are going to do a backstroke finish. When your hand touches the wall you will use your abs and bring your knees to your chest. If you touched the wall with your right hand then you’ll spin your feet towards the right and your left hand will point to the opposite wall initiating the spike. The tighter your tuck the faster you’ll spin. Keep your shoulders at water level.

Breast to free is the same as the open turn described above.

Please feel free to comment or post your ideas for turns!

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Backstroke and Freestyle Turns

Backstroke turn:

Let’s start with the backstroke turn, which technically is the same as the freestyle turn, once the swimmer has changed his or her body position. The last stroke taken from the flags of backstroke is the key stroke where the swimmers change body position to the breast facing the bottom on the pool. When the last stroke is initiated (recovery part) the swimmer leaves the arm over the head with the fingertips pointing to the wall. The swimmer adjusts body position by rotating the shoulders (A swimmer can spin by rotating the shoulders to the desired position while the rest of the body will follow.) to the freestyle position with one arm stretched over the head as if doing a one-arm spike. Remember to take a breath while turning over to the freestyle position. The swimmer is now in proper freestyle body position and ready to begin the first underwater stroke followed by the one allowed, by USA rules, recovery arm stroke then followed by the final underwater stroke thus beginning the turn. The other variation of that begins after the swimmer changes body position with the spiked arm. The swimmer then does the one allowed recovery stroke followed by a double arm underwater stroke (both arms at the same time) into the turn.

Freestyle turn:

Let’s assume that you have mastered judging the wall for your turn. Do not change your arm rotation into the wall as you need to hit the turn as if you are continually swimming. Let’s say that you are going into the wall with your right arm out pointing to the wall meaning that you have completed the underwater part of your left arm. Leave the left arm at your side while starting the underwater stroke of the right arm. When this is complete both arms are at your side. Turn your arms so the hands are facing palms down to the bottom of the pool. You are now ready to initiate the tuck of the turn. Start by bending in half where you bring your legs and chest together. Once this has happened, bring your legs over and your feet to the wall. The tighter the tuck the faster the turn or the closer you can bring your legs to your chest the better. During the tuck you bend your arms to your face using your “arms and hand” to help speed the turn. Once your hands pass your face they will extend past the head into your spike. Do not touch flat footed or come to a stop. Touch with the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent. The turn must be completed as one continuous motion, thus leaving the wall immediately. You may push off of the wall on your back. If on your back you will need to turn on your stomach by rotating your shoulders. This begins after your feet leave the wall and you have achieved a spike. If you are more advanced, you have initiated the shoulder rotation slightly, as you are tucking before the feet hit the wall.

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Tapering Explained with Example Workout

Tapering means a lot more than resting and is a long process to prepare the athlete for a series of championship meets or “The Big Meet”. The athlete will still increase aerobic capacity while developing the speed needed for the end of the season. Developing Speed and Power is the focus for the athlete’s niche events.

Let’s walk through the first taper workout. Each coach will need to adjust this workout based on practice time constraints and ability of the athlete. Set #1 could be completed once. Set #4 could be eliminated as it is a repeat kick set. Set #5 could be changed to 4 x 100 instead of 200’s and you could adjust your speed to 100 Race Pace work.

Warm up:

You will notice that % of effort is noted throughout the workout. Variable Speed is a major part of the workouts. You don’t want your swimmers training at slow speeds for long periods of time so Variable Speed is always used. You want Race Pace work! Emphasize to your athlete that perceived effort is a major part of the 23 week and 14 week plans. Make sure that your swimmers understand the importance of QUALITY work during taper. TAPER DOES NOT MEAN RESTING BUT THE SPEED AND POWER PHASE.

“No Grab Start: is a drill used to get the swimmer to use legs first when reacting on a start.

Tarzan is used a lot as a speed drill throughout the taper. Please email me with any questions or further explanation of drills or this workout. [email protected]

Heart Rate is only used once in this workout during warm up but is a great tool and used a lot during taper.

Warm up: start into 300 choice swim Variable Speed by 150 70% – 75%

6 x 50 all no grab starts (emphasize leg reaction first no arm swing or upper body movement)

1-3 25 choice swim / 25 Tarzan heart rate above 25 beats for :10 seconds

4-6 25 choice swim / 25 3 strokes Tarzan fast then 1 stroke easy freestyle with head down repeat pattern.

25 or 50 easy based on what end of the pool you train.

Set #1

Sets are designed for this workout alternating upper body and lower body by set. This is built-in recovery work and a planned part of each workout. All workouts will either alternate upper body and lower body sets or the sets are designed to alternate upper and lower body within the set.

For ex: 4 x 100’s alternating 25 kick @ 70%/ 25 sprint swim/ 25 kick @ 80%/ 25 drill swim.

Incremental Stroke Count – Where the athlete increases the number of strokes per a specific distance to increase speed. This does not imply less efficiency or a change in stroke mechanics.

Complete the set below IM with :15 rest into the 3 x 100 IM on 1:20 send off followed by the 50 easy into the second time swimming freestyle also with :15 rest.

The freestyle part includes incremental stroke count and variable speed work by a specific distance or by stroke count.

The variable speed work in the 400IM is a great way to teach your swimmers how to actually swim the 400IM in a meet.

Set #1 complete this swim set twice – 1st time IM(Individual Medley), 2nd freestyle :15 rest

3 x 200 reverse IM order (combo fly 2 right arm, 2 left arm, 3 swim both arms) @ 75%

(2nd time thru free – incremental stroke count each 50)

400 IM order (combo fly as above) Variable Speed by 50 75% – 80%

(2nd time thru free – Variable Speed by 50, 75% – 80% with incremental stroke count on the 2nd 50).

3 x 100 IM on 1:20 1st one @ 80% with last sub +/-1:05 adjust for ability.

(2nd time thru free with :15 rest, 1st 100- 15 fast strokes / 15 slow strokes,

2nd 100- 10 fast strokes / 10 slow strokes, 3rd 100- 5 fast strokes / 5 slow strokes)

50 easy into 2nd time

Set #2

This kick set includes variable speed work by a specific distance and kick count. Make sure your athlete understands the importance of kicking. Kicking is specifically outlined throughout the season and especially during taper. Understanding the importance of kicking for speed and power and how to taper legs are essential. This taper process takes you step by step.

Set #2 top stroke kick set :20 rest

2 x 300 VS by 150, #1 70% – 100%, #2 100% – 70%

4 x 50 #1 5 fast kicks / 5 slow kicks, #2 10 fast kicks / 10 slow kicks,

#3 15 fast kicks / 15 slow kicks, #4 20 fast kicks / 20 slow kicks

50 easy

 

Set #3

Race Pace is the goal time the athlete wants to achieve in a specific event. Holding Race Pace when asked for shorter distances is necessary to prepare each athlete for the physical and mental demands of the work needed. Know what times you want the athlete to swim for each distance. When tapering, the athlete will complete race pace sets with less rest, on faster send offs and for longer distances to prepare them for the eventual swim.

Set #3 top stroke swim

25 on :25 @ 100 Race Pace

75 on 1:20 @ 200 Race Pace

50 on :45 @ 100 Race Pace

100 @ 200 Race Pace

100 easy

2nd stroke swim

50 on :50 @ 100 Race Pace

100 on 1:50 @ 200 Race Pace

75 on 1:30 @ 100 Race Pace

125 @ 200 Race Pace

100 easy

Set #4

Complete as noted above

Set #4 2nd or 3rd stroke kick set repeating set #2

Set #5

Achieving Race Pace is essential and the athlete needs to take responsibility for this. Please adjust rest when breaking the swim or allowing more warm down or recovery time if needed. Try to consider where the athlete is in their training to help you decide parameters for the set. Adjust as needed to achieve Race Pace time.

Complete from blocks if time allows – top stroke swim

flyer’s swim the 1st 200 freestyle, add warm down if needed between 200’s

4 x 200 on 3:30 – 4:00 +/- based on quality and time needed to recover

1st @ 400 IM Race Pace or 500 Race Pace

2nd @ 200 RP – 400 Race Pace/500 Race Pace broken @ 100 for :05 – :15 as needed

3rd and 4th @ 200 Race Pace broken @ 75 and 150 for :05 – :15 each time

100 easy

Total yardage = 6,725

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Mistakes When Swimming the 100

There are two major mistakes that most swimmers make in the 100 of any stroke, sprinting the first 25 full speed and not breathing.

Teaching the swimmer how to control the beginning of the race is key.  Swimmers need to understand the importance of breathing.  Except for the 50 free, breathing is one of the most important things a swimmer needs to focus on especially the first 25. Breathing begins the process of removing lactic acid from the body.  

Teach your swimmer to control(speed) the first leg of the race and how it will affect their splits.

Start by having your swimmer do a 25 sprint from the block.  Let’s say your swimmers time is :13 on the sprint.  Have them do another 25 from the block making sure that they breath maybe 3 times and swim a controlled 13.3. This 25 isn’t a full speed sprint but maybe 90%-95%.

This will take time for them to understand and control but is key to their future sprinting especially as they age and develop.

Using the VASA ERG has helped my swimmers understand effort needed at the beginning of the swim in order to maintain and increase effort throughout the swim.  The VASA reads output in effort that is measured in watts.  The sets below are designed to help the swimmer understand output and effort needed. The idea is to complete the VASA ERG set first then repeat in the water.  The swimmer will need a significant warm down if you have them swim immediately after the Erg sets.

The set is 4 x 100 using the VASA ERG machine followed by 4 x 100 in the water.

I have included only two of the swim videos in this collection.  Please copy and paste the links below into your browser.

First 100 fly

Descending 25’s continuous.  Have the swimmer watch output to control.

VASA ERG DESCEND

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/271/

SWIM 100 DESCEND 25’S

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/272/

Second 100 fly

25 strong (:10 rest) 50 sprint swim (:10 rest) 25 sprint.  The first 25 strong is key!

VASA ERG BROKEN 100 FLY

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/269/

BROKEN 100 FLY SWIM

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/273/

Third 100 fly

100 fast from the block

VASA ERG 100 FAST

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/268/

Fourth 100 free

100 broken as second 100

VASA ERG BROKEN 100 FREE

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/270/

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More on Momentum

We have covered momentum before but it could be the most important concept for all swimmers to understand.

Do your best to convey to all swimmers the importance of maintaining and creating speed. This takes focus and efficiency!

Maintaining momentum from a start, turn, the finishing of strokes and kicking are extremely important.
Teach your swimmers not to slow down underwater before swimming on top. The underwater part of swimming off the start and turn is where a swimmer can be at their fastest. They must be efficient in their break-outs, streamline, underwater pullouts and of course fly kick. Why do you think we have the 15-meter rule in swimming? Because the underwater part of swimming can be the fastest part of the race. Plan practices accordingly and stress its importance.

I feel the next big momentum killer is the timing of the breath in all strokes. Teach the swimmers when to breath in each stroke. If the breath is taken at the wrong time the mechanics of the stroke will slow and will usually be accompanied with a slower kick. The timing of all strokes/kicking and breathing is covered in depth in the Faster Swimming book.

Judging the walls for turns is another biggie. If you can get the swimmers to understand that if they slow down into their turns it will affect the speed of the turn and the speed off the wall severely slowing momentum. Time their turns in practice and meets to get your point across. The 14 week and 23-week training books dictate when to time turns and plans for it weekly.

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Race Pace

Race Pace isn’t sprinting to exhaustion but creating the speed that will be needed to achieve goal times for each event. The main emphasis of Faster Swimming is if you train at slow speeds you will compete at slow speeds. If you train 500’s and you are a 50 freestyler you are not maximizing your potential. If you train long fly sets with bad mechanics and timing you can’t expect that to change when you are trying to sprint!

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. For example, 8 x 25 on :45 holding race pace at the beginning of the season. As the season progresses 8 x 25 on :30 holding race pace. Continue to shorten send off as taper progresses finally holding race pace for 4 x 25 on :15. This same concept is applied to IM and long freestyle swims. This doesn’t have to be the main set but just the last 10 minutes of a workout. Please remember to do race pace during the aerobic phase of the season and during holiday training. If your swimmers are tired on a given day and you need to do race pace then you must set send off that help swimmers achieve race pace. Race pace develops muscle memory and helps create speed and power.

Let’s take the 100 free for our example and 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. You can have your swimmers either hold pace to a hand touch or to a flip turn(feet). If you want the swimmer to hold race pace based on their race strategy then build that into your sets. For example, first 25 hold 11.5 from the block to the feet. Middle 50 hold 24.0 to the feet and the last 25 hold 12.5 to the touch. 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 your swimmer the confidence needed for the big race.

You will do more race pace swimming as the taper progresses if you follow the workouts laid out in the 23-week training manual. Recovery and over-speed sets are equally important and must be incorporated with your race pace work. Remember that your dryland and lifting program is important and must coincide with this type of training. Jumping and reaction time are extremely important and should be included in all your workouts. Training with speed and power in the water, as well as dryland, will enhance everything you are trying to achieve in your program.

Dryland and weight training should incorporate the same basic principal as your swim training: Training intensity is directly proportional to your competitive results. For swim training, intensity is based on goal speed to improve sport performance specifically. For weight training, intensity is based on percentage of max effort and speed to improve strength, speed, and power generally. For dryland, intensity is based on work density (movements per time) to improve work capacity, speed and power endurance generally. Quality (intensity) is important in your dryland and lifting as well as in the pool to improve your performances generally and specifically.

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Race Readiness

Practice

You must simulate race conditions in practice to get better at racing. This includes having a plan for a general warm-up, perhaps an event-specific warm-up, what to do if no warm-up pool or lanes are available during the meet, what your athletes need with them behind the blocks (goggles, a relay card (?), a cap (?), their suit tied (?), everything); all to get their minds focused and their bodies ready to race. In practice the swimmers can race against the clock, race against teammates, and/or race against the whole team. This is one of the basic advantages of being on a team, competitive cooperation. Swimmers can push each other to get better not only by lane talk and finishing their sets well, but by racing and competing against one another at practice to push all of the team to a higher level, and then be able to compete better as both a team and as individuals.

This article focuses on the basics of physical race readiness – it goes without saying that an appropriate race strategy, as well as any mental/psychological preparation, should be planned for and practiced as well. The way the below warm-ups are structured leads naturally to an increasing level of focus, so include strategy and mental prep within the warm-up as works best for your swimmers.

Warm-ups

Warm-ups should move from general swimming to specific skills and proceed from lower intensity to higher intensity. This goes equally for start-of-the-competition team warm-ups to specific individual or relay warm-ups. We establish a general team warm-up early in the competitive season that progresses as above to get our athletes energy systems on-line first (moving from aerobic to anaerobic) and then bring their nervous-systems on-line once they are fully warmed-up (starts, short full speed sprints, etc). A set warm-up routine allows the swimmers to individually tailor their efforts in order to be race ready, whether adjusting efforts within the team warm-up, adding extra efforts at the end of team warm-ups, and allowing for any specific pre-race warm-ups.

Our base warm-up is as follows:

A. 10 min aerobic swim (HR 25 +/- for 10 second count)

B. 6 x 100 choice on 1:45, last 2 100’s build to sprint

C. 3 x (4 x 25 sprint choice on :40, 1 x 50 easy on 1:20)

D. Starts with 15 to 25 yard sprints

E. Additional swimming (pace?), turns, relay starts, etc

This simple plan allows us to easily make adjustments for time available and allows each swimmer the ability to find what works best for them to be race ready individually within our team warm-up structure. Some athletes may need more volume and/or more intensity, and this can be adjusted once a basic team warm-up is in place and well practiced.

If by chance there is no warm-up pool available during a competition, any type of whole-body deck-based dryland for 10 to 15 minutes +/- can be helpful for specific race preparation, especially if there is a significant break between team warm-ups in the pool and a specific race. Just as with the swim warm-up, steady efforts at a lower intensity shift to shorter efforts at a higher intensity. We use the deck-based warm-up that follows as needed, and practice this warm-up at swim practice, at dryland, and at early-season meets so that each swimmer can find (and then use) what works best for them to be race ready.

Deck Warm-up Example

3 to 5 x 15 Squat-Thrusts :30 rest +/- between

then,

3 to 5 x 5 Clap Push-ups or 10 fast Push-ups :30 rest +/- between

then,

3 to 5 x 3 Full Jumps :30 rest +/- between

This example is simple, easy to do, and easy to practice. The above deck warm-up would take about 12 to 15 minutes to complete, so if you want to be behind the block and ready to go 5 minutes +/- prior to your race, you’d want to start this about 20 to 25 minutes out from the projected race start time.

Many times I have my athletes do some of the above after a specific swim warm-up even when there is a dedicated warm-up pool. Fast, powerful, explosive movements fire up your nervous system and get you ready to compete. Again – this should be something learned at practice!

Behind the Blocks

Assuming you have done both a general and a specific warm-up for your race, the last 5 minutes +/- behind the blocks should be race prep time for the individual swimmer. Different athletes get prepared for races in different ways – some joke around, some zone out, some become mildly excited, some hyper-excited, etc. What works best for one swimmer may not work for their teammates – and they will never know what works best for them unless they experiment at practice! One thing I try to have sprinters do (from 200m and down) is to get their nervous system completely fired up by slapping themselves – arms, legs, back, chest (or doing “percussive” massage – which is a fancier, Eastern-Block way of saying “slapping”). This should be done just prior to racing – like one minute or less prior to your race, maybe even up on the blocks. Another easy way to get the nervous system firing is to grab the block hard when given the “Take your mark” command, and be sure that this does not interfere with start mechanics by – yet again – practicing this.

Practice (again!)

This brings us full-circle back to practice. Practice racing. Practice sprinting. Practice general and specific warm-ups. Practice deck warm-ups just-in-case. Practice being prepared behind the blocks. Practice nervous system activation. Know what works for you before your major competitions and then practice these things.

Practice being ready to race!

– Coach John Coffman, Faster Swimming & NAAC

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Preparing for Championships through Taper

Now is the time of year when everything counts. Hopefully, your swimmers have trained well and if they haven’t well then last call.

Taper time is a well thought out process of preparing your swimmers for championships.  Taper means QUALITY work and QUALITY recovery just to begin.   Race Pace, Variable Speed swimming and kicking, Understanding the process of resting legs, etc are huge components of this 7-week preparation. This is the time of the year to emphasize exact race pace speed needed for the big swim.

I have included a few videos to help you through the process. Heart rate is a great tool to establish what your swimmer needs. Tarzan is used to spark the nervous system and work the fast twitch muscles of the whole body as well as Overspeed work.

This process and all information is spelled out on the weekly outlines included in the Faster Swimming 23 and 14-week books. The 23 and 14-week book include the exact swim and dryland workouts throughout the taper process.

I would be glad to help just let me know, thanks!

Brad

 

Please copy/paste the links below into your browser.

Heart Rate Set Explanation:

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/146/

Heart Rate Set Swimming:

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/147/

Tarzan

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/78/

Overspeed with cords

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/111/

Pulling Cords

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/112/

Overspeed Drag and Pull

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/237/

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Weight Lifting During Taper

Coaches – please remember when the core of your training is aerobic you don’t need to lift with an aerobic agenda. Your swimmers are raising their heart rate a lot more than you think while lifting so just lift for speed and strength. Make sure that your swimmers maintain flexibility after lifting. Stretching after any lifting will increase blood flow which aids in recovery. Your swimmers must remain flexible in swimming and maintain your full range of motion.

Always lift your larger muscle groups first when organizing your work-out routine. Basic Guideline: Day 1 Back with biceps and one leg exercise and 15 minutes of ab work. Day 2 Chest with triceps, finish with legs. Take one or two days off or do Legs and Abs on the third day and not with day 1 or 2. Remember that you don’t have to be sore to increase your power and that definitely hinders speed.

Example of how to work thru set (chest exercise):

Let’s say you begin doing flat bench warm-up with 135 lbs. Begin with 2-3 sets warm-up with this weight doing +/- 8 reps, now let’s begin. As you increase your weight you must maintain the speed of each lift, for example, if you increase your weight to 155 lbs and did 5 reps total and 4 of them maintained speed and you struggled with the 5th rep you should have stopped at 4 reps. Now increase the weight and try for 2-3 reps maintaining your speed. Remember that we are training you for power and speed, working your fast twitch muscles. If you are more of a distance swimmer this will only help your training.

Lifting is cross training and is essential for full body strength, power, and speed. It is old school to lift aerobically if you train 2-6 hours a day aerobically in the pool. You eventually reach an aerobic threshold and then the rest of your training is useless. An example of aerobic lifting would be 3-5 sets with 10-15 reps or circuit training where you spend 30 seconds or more at stations, sound familiar? That type of training has a purpose but not when you are getting your aerobic training from swimming, maybe pre-season for starts.

Make sure your athletes aren’t starting preseason training for another sport when you are trying to taper them for Championships. The only time to really worry about cross training will be when you are resting for a meet or in the taper phase or your season for the season end championships. Example, don’t start running during a taper especially if you are in conditioning phase of another sport or throwing if you are in softball or baseball. Things to consider as they will impact your swimming performance greatly. Start other sports after championships.

Understanding how to rest legs through weight training and kicking is key to performance!

Distance swimmers gain from lifting for speed and power. When training for the mile your coach is preparing you in the pool. Lifting as prescribed is a great form of cross-training that will not only help power and speed but help in recovery from all the slow twitch muscle work.

There is a local team that over-trains swimmers and forces bad weightlifting mechanics upon its swimmers. I was asking them about their weight lifting program and he told me that they push multiple reps to ultimate failure. Does any coach even old school, train that way? HOPE NOT! Do coaches ever give hard swim sets where swimmers don’t finish to the wall and complete the set? Do your swimmers ever pass out or sink to the bottom? Then why would you train that way in the weight room?

Each person has a certain muscle make-up that helps pre-determine success for particular events and if a coach doesn’t try to recognize individual differences then true success or full potential will never be known. In short, there are fast twitch and slow twitch muscles in everyone and each person has a different percentage of each. The hard part on coaching is trying to recognize the tendencies. Long distance training or over yardage will reinforce the slow twitch muscles and slow down the fast twitch fibers of that swimmer and the swimmer that is predisposed slow twitch will reach his or her full potential. Weight training correctly will help maintain the fast twitch fibers thru-out this type of program. Remember there is no need to lift aerobically as you are getting all you need and more in practice. There is an aerobic threshold for each swimmer and program that each coach needs to recognize for each training group. What is that yardage number is yet to be determined and hasn’t been studied enough yet? Once this yardage figure is reached the remainder of practice aerobically is useless. I would place the figure to be around 7,500 +/- yards per work-out. Once a swimmer is in aerobic shape and this can be determined by max heart rate sets based on time after the set is complete for a full recovery. The faster the recovery to resting heart rate the better shape the swimmer is in aerobically. The heart rate set must be completed using a set that is a slow build in speed that utilizes slow twitch fibers as they recover faster due to their size and energy demands on the body. Now if a swimmer is predisposed to fast twitch you may begin his or her training. I have developed a 9-week weightlifting program that would start during the finish phase of getting swimmers in shape aerobically and continue thru the sprint phase of training or as some prefer to say the beginning of taper and finish with a 4-week speed work taper that all finishes with the championship meet. You must have some sort of speed work in every practice even if it for 10 minutes at the end of each practice or trailing warm-up. You can’t let the fast twitch of any swimmer to be detrained at any phase of your season.

Coaches please remember the key ingredient to this whole program is based on training swimmers for the exact event. Most coaches still believe that training swimmers for the mile will prepare you for the 500. I believe that training swimmers for the mile will prepare them for the mile and hurt the speed needed for the 500. I said speed for the 500 and speed and power are part of each event. Training for the 50, 100 and 200’s take more speed and power but it one of the important components of training after a swimmer is in shape aerobically. Please remember that while you are in the aerobic phase of training that speed work must always be worked in the work-out and the basis for your lifting program.

The Faster Swimming Strength program and support videos will help you taper lifting with your swimming for Championships!

 

Good Luck at Champs!

Brad

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The 10 Principles of Athletic Success

There are many, maybe even countless, methods to achieve athletic success. However, the principles of athletic success are few. Said another way, by someone much smarter than I – “Methods are many, principles are few; methods always change, principles never do.” Follow the principles listed below throughout your athletic career and find success. I suppose you could argue that the base messages apply to your entire life… go figure.

1. Have a Purpose.

This can encompass a lot – a purpose for your set, your workout, your training week, your sport, even a purpose for your life! In sport it really boils down to being both physically and mentally present at training (completing your training with purpose), and to having goals (your purpose for being there!). Have a purpose, both in your training and for your training.

2. Follow a Plan.

You should have a plan for your season, your month, your week, your next competition. Having a purpose with no plan is just beating your head against a wall. If you are on a team, planning is mostly the coach’s job, if you are on your own – this is your job. The concept of Progressive Overload should be included in your plan, as regular progress should be a result of your training. You should have a plan in place to address Strength and Conditioning for pre-, post-, in- and off-season, as well.

3. Work Hard.

If you need me to define effort for you, you are in trouble! Full efforts are the key to successful training.  Along with hard work, you must include smart work: or working on what matters. This all circles back to having a purpose and having a plan. Hard work does not mean all-out effort all of the time either, but working as hard as a rep, set, workout, or season requires. Racing is ALWAYS 100% effort. Always.

4. Be Consistent.

You should be at training. You should have a plan that you follow 90% + of the time, and you should work hard with your purpose in mind. You should eat well 90% + of the time, and you should get 8 hours or more of sleep per night 90% + of the time. Persevere. Motivation follows action, so be consistent in your actions. If you follow the 1st 3 principals consistently you will be ahead of 99% of your competition.

5. Display Adaptability.

Stated simply – find an answer, not an excuse. Make it work – no matter what the circumstance, no matter what the obstacle, you can usually find a way around it. If something comes up that you can’t figure out for yourself, ask for help. A good coach is indispensable in this type of situation.

6. Be Prepared.

Just like the Boy Scout’s motto – solid preparation will lead to an increased chance of you achieving your goals. Superior preparation wins most often. Plan and prepare for things in advance so that you will have what you need when you need it. This goes for training, food, and sleep (the big 3). Make a list and check items off if you are uneasy or unsure about what you need. This goes double for competitions – use a list to pack and prepare well ahead of time.

7. Competitive Cooperation

Do something EACH DAY that you have never done before. Challenge your teammates to do the same – challenge each other regularly.  This is the type of teamwork that makes good teams great!  Work harder, prepare better, beat last week’s time/sets/reps/weights, etc. Do this for your self each day (attitude) and it will carry over to your training partners, team, and environment (atmosphere).

8. Control Your Attitude and Atmosphere.

Strive to have a positive and realistic outlook. Do not tolerate complacency or apathy in yourself or in your teammates. Pay attention and be respectful. Do not use the words “can’t” or “too”… they foster mental weakness. Your attitude is under your control – so control it to your advantage. Training atmosphere plays a HUGE role in your success – your team should be there to support you, and you to support them. If you are training solo or have a poor training atmosphere – change! Join a team, join a better team, or create a better team if need be.

9. Be a Leader and a Follower.

There will be times when you need to assert yourself and there will be times when you need to take a step back and let someone else take the reigns. Learn to foster both mindsets so that you can take control when needed, and so that you can follow and support others when needed. This applies directly to controlling your attitude and atmosphere from above.

10. No Limits.

World Records are broken regularly – only because someone thinks they can do so and then acts on this belief. Bruce Lee spoke of limits much better than I can, so here’s his quote:

If you always put limits on yourself and the things you can do, physical or anything, you might as well be dead. It will spread into your work, your morality, your entire being. There are no limits, only plateaus. But then you must not stay there. You must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you.

So there you have it – The 10 Principals of Athletic Success. Post this list in an obvious place – your gym bag, your training facility, or even the wall of your room – to remind yourself of the principals of athletic success.

Follow these principals and you will find success!