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Sample workout during taper phase weeks before Champs !

Day #95

Warm up: start into 300 choice swim @ 70%

6 x 50 choice kick @ 75% :10 rest

spend 5 minutes on reaction drills

spend 5 -10 minutes on 1 or 2 step relay start with tarzan break outs
(or do start, turn, finish drill)

25 easy

Set #1 freestyle paddle swim if desired

4 x 125 on 1:55 VS by 25 100% – 75% (1-2 strokes higher on faster 25)
start each 125 with 25 @ 100%

4 x 125 on 1:40 open turn to get time @ 25
1st 25 @ 75% focus on longer stroke and breathing /
100 @ 500 RP with inc stk cnt each 25

50 easy

4 x 125 on 1:20 – 1:35 +/- based on ability
sub :05 faster than challenging send off chosen
1st 75 with moderate stroke count / last 50 2 strokes higher each 25

8 x 75 recovery on 1:15
25 6 stroke tarzan sprint break out then easy to wall
25 5 fast strokes / 4 slow strokes
25 easy

Set #2 top or 2nd stroke kick – complete this set twice :20 rest

2 x 200 #1 VS by 50 75% – 100%, #2 VS by 25 75% – 100%

150 75 5 fast kicks / 5 slow kicks into 2nd time thru


spend 5 minutes on turn


Set #3 swim set – add additional rest if needed or warm down

6 x 100 on 3:00 1-3 top stroke, 4-6 2nd stroke
#1, #4 broken @ 50 for :10 – :20 as needed @ 200 RP
#2, #5 broken @ 25’s for :05 – :15 as needed @ 100 RP
#3, #6 straight goal with +/- :05 from best time
if time allows from block and work on race strategy
100 easy

Total yardage = 4,575

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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.

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Tapering for Your Event

The athlete must be in aerobic shape and strong before you start fine-tuning or “taper”. Tapering needs more attention and understanding in our sport.

What is the most important part of the season to you? Aerobic phase, anaerobic training, weights, deck based dryland and kicking? The truth is, they all are essential and coaches/swimmers need a plan.

What does tapering mean to you?

Tapering is not just resting your body for the big event. It is fine-tuning it for optimal performance. Athletes must be able to practice at a high caliber to perform to expectations. Athletes must be their strongest, sharpest and most focused before taper meet(s). Athletes need to take responsibility for training,

“I missed my taper” or “coach didn’t taper me correctly” are just excuses…

To taper correctly your athletes must have goals and the goals must drive training. You must understand recovery and muscle development of athletes and have the flexibility to individualize for a specific athlete and his/her events.

Understanding how athletes respond to different types of training based on slow, medium and fast twitch muscle fibers helps individualize training. Training slowly doesn’t help the athlete who has fast twitch predisposition and resting doesn’t produce optimal performance.

Taper is an in-depth process that is a whole lot more than dropping yardage the last few weeks and adding sprints. Most coaches use weight training to cross train and prevent injury then stop weights 2-4 weeks out from championships. The athletes must continue to lift throughout taper in order to achieve strength gains, which coincide with speed and power necessary to perform at meets. If you cross train during the season you must taper the cross training to optimize performance.

Kicking is more important than ever. Since the legs are slow to recover and are the hardest to get in shape, make sure you always write sets and workouts that alternate upper body and lower body. This is a great way to include active recovery in every workout.

Preparing your athlete to compete at race pace (goal speed) must always be emphasized, “always”. You must create goal speed so your athletes are 100% prepared to achieve.

You can still decrease yardage and maintain/increase aerobic capacity during taper. When done correctly an athlete will be prepared for multiple championship meets. One way to increase aerobic capacity is to monitor heart rates. Heart rate is essential to monitor to adjust the athletes training and recovery needs.

Don’t forget about reaction time training which involves mental focus and increased muscular reaction. Incorporate appropriate drills for focus and quickness.

The athlete must believe in what they are doing so engage and educate them every step of the way. They must be able to give you feedback about how their bodies are feeling and how well they are recovering to adjust workouts. They must also be mature enough to handle proper feedback.

Optimal training = Optimal performance.

The taper outline details yardage demands for distance, mid-distance, and sprinters. It explains when to train tarzan with drills, overspeed, race pace, recovery, starts, and turns. It details when to use variable speed swimming and kicking while detailing intensity and exact distances to be trained. One of the most important aspects of training is alternating upper and lower body, which is built in active recovery, is built into the taper.

The whole 7 week taper outline can be found here.

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Grand Prix Meets

Coaches I feel we need to voice our opinions about a few issues at the Grand Prix meets.

I was recently at the Indy Grand Prix meet in March.  As some of you know they have capped the meets at 700 swimmers. One of the Grand Prix meets closed in hours.  The B flight was very small at Indy and could have been expanded by allowing more into the meet. Spring Juniors Nationals can run a quality meet with almost double the swimmers…

Capping the meet at 700 swimmers has had a ripple effect for the meet.

1. Coaches are signing swimmers up for the meet in advance and deciding whether to attend later.

2. There were over an hour of scratches each day and a lot of no shows in the meet.  This affects the posted meet timelines as well as hurting swimmers who get closed out of the meet.

I feel we need to address space in warm ups especially at National Level meets Sectionals, Grand Prix, Juniors, etc.

Swimmers and Coaches work all year preparing and tapering for a great meet just to attend these meets and compromise proper warm up space.

To provide proper warm up space do we have schedule meets differently or have scheduled breaks during the meet.  I am sure many of you have thoughts on how to handle space issues so please share your ideas.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

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The Number One Problem Facing Swimming

I feel the culture of quick gratification and instant success is the main thing coaches have to learn to coach around is the number one problem facing the sport.

We can outsmart the younger generation by creating daily, weekly and more creative test sets that helps the young athlete feel good about their efforts.

Demanding more quality in shorter practices, more dryland workouts while keeping in mind that we might have to coddle this generation a bit. If that is what it takes then do it. You can slowly teach that long-term hard work equals success.

Teach swimmers what to expect every step of the way because their understanding of physical and mental progressions can only help.

Explain the yearly, seasonal and daily outlines of training.  Explain the cycles of muscular breakdown, recovery and strength gains. As we know it is a lot more than a few days of hard work before a meet. Younger swimmers and High School swimmers actually believe that if they have a few good practices they should see results. Teach them athletics are not the same as academics, you can’t cram for a meet.

Train boys and girls differently. Basic generalizations:

Girls can practice longer and harder mentally and physically but are a lot harder to coach at meets.

Boys need to know the whole set and in advance. Let them know exactly what effort you expect for each part of the set or practice.

Boys are a lot easier to coach at meets.

I am currently going through all of this again as I am building a new program and developing a culture for swimming in this community.

We have to work with what we are given so do your best. Make every workout and set as different as possible. Faster Swimming workouts are developed with all of this in mind.

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Part 5: Repeating Race Pace Sets

This article is a basic summary of those posted past newsletters from this study. Please remember these basic concepts while incorporating the workouts provided in the most recent newsletter.

How often do you need to repeat specific race pace sets for optimal training?

This study recommends 8 weeks to 3 months based on the ability of the athlete. If you document all your sets you will know when to increase the distance of the race pace set or decrease the rest interval as outlined in the last newsletter. Try to repeat the specific race pace set at least 3 times with approximately 36 – 48 hours between before making any changes within a week or two cycle. The brain will establish successive refinements of the patterning with the technique and energy that will occur in a race. Each successive cycle of repeats will have increased demands on the swimmer establishing the aerobic adaptation needed in swimming.

The refinement of race pace technique must also be a major focus of training as well as the mental aspects of racing. This must be worked into the training cycles as well as recovery. Please research the macrocycles of training listed in this publication. Basically, cycles of increased fitness levels will tend to have less recovery alternated with a cycle which emphasizes technique and mental skills.

The science behind this type of training proves that swimmers can peak multiple times within a 6 month period with benefits not achieved by a 4-6 month period of traditional training with considerable demands before a taper. Tapering is so much more than a short rest but an extended period of time where all aspects of the past newsletters are incorporated. There isn’t one formula and coaches need to know their athletes for optimal training. “There is a distinct difference between a two-hour training period and a two-minute race.”

Maintaining race pace work creates the energy demands and energy systems working together as they would in a single race. I will expand on energy systems to the best of my ability in future newsletters.

Just remember that swimmers must understand how to swim each race you are training.

If a swimmer uses the anaerobic energy system first in a race by usually being to aggressive then the race will be performed at less than optimal performance. Remember that your race pace training must match exactly how you want your swimmers to swim the race in a meet. Be as specific as you can in practice. Obviously exact times for specific distances must be repeated as well as stroke rate, flip turn speed, kicking distances off each wall and start, etc..

“Whether or not coaches are willing to alter entrenched coaching behaviors to provide a program that will benefit racing-oriented swimmers remains to be seen. A commitment to follow directives provided here in a disciplined manner is almost a requirement to see changes in coaching effectiveness through to a final, rewarding culmination. The practice sessions that stimulate the techniques and energizing properties for various races will be very different to traditional swimming training.”

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of: Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39, Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University Swimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical Changes – Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 4: Race Pace Set Examples

Here are some workouts from the research I have been reading.  Please add this to your practice routines but make sure that all swimmers are performing at exact Race Pace. If a specific distance wasn’t at Race Pace then the swimmer needs to rest until able to perform and resume the set.

A. Race Pace sets

1. Please adjust the amount of time spent on each rest interval based on your swimmers progress.

2. Determine desired Race Pace, 100, 200 etc. please document and keep results.

3. Continue to lower the rest interval as suggested below and continue past :20 rest.

4. You will then increase the distance holding Race Pace and start over again with :30 rest.

Weeks 1 and 2

16 x 25 at Race Pace :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 3 and 4

16 x 25 at Race Pace :25 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 5 and 6

16 x 25 at Race Pace :20 rest, 1:30  additional rest after each set of 16.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 7 and beyond

8 x 50 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 8.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 8 and beyond

6 x 75 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest, 1:30 additional rest after each set of 8.

(This set should last about one hour)

Weeks 9 and beyond based on your swimmer

4 x 100 at Race Pace starting at :30 rest maybe breaking the 100 at the 75 for :15 rest at first then lowering the rest between 100’s and at the 75.

B. Short Anaerobic set

I think all of you know how to accomplish this.  Feel free to us the 23 week and 14 week programs for a plethora of workouts and your guide for the whole season. www.fasterswimming.com

C. Short Sprints Across Pool

1. This set should be your main set lasting about one hour.

2. Fly kick underwater on back/stomach simulating what you want on each lap in a meet.

3. All strokes working on breakouts as desired in a meet.

4. High-Quality swimming, Cords, power racks, etc.

5. 20 x short sprints stroke at Race Pace(you will need to figure this out per each set distance)

:20 – :25 rest interval

D. Short Sprints using a specific distance.

1. Similar to above but only lasting about 15 minutes.

2. Tarzan would be another option http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1199220097116&set=vb.44218826036&type=3&theater

Basic Layout:

Monday –  A and C

Tuesday – B and C

Wednesday – A and D

Thursday – B and C

Friday – A and D

Sample workout from study:

Warm up: 2 x 200 IM at 80% and 90% rest one minute.

Underwater kicking skill: 12 x 15(short) double leg kicking deep on :45.

Recovery: 300 backstroke at own pace.

Race Pace Set 1: 20 x 50 free at 200 Race Pace on 1:00

Recovery: 400 kicking. Choice of two strokes.

Race Pace Set 2: 30 x 25 fly or breast at 100 Race Pace (include underwater work) on :45.

Recovery: 200 back kicking

Race Pace Set 3: 30 x 25 back at 100 Race Pace (include underwater work) on :45

Recovery: as needed.

Be consistent with this program!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of: Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39, Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State University Swimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical Changes – Brent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 3: Race Pace

Below are a few concepts to consider while planning your workouts.

Swim Techniques at Race Pace

  1. Stroke efficiency is developed for the pace at which training is performed as discussed in previous newsletters.  To improve race performances, stroke efficiency must be improved and swum at race pace to achieve the best training effect.
  2. Stroke rates at practice must match stroke rates needed to achieve race pace times in a meet. “Hard extended swimming that accumulates lactate does not accommodate the learning of the skilled movement patterns associated with the effort’s velocity.”
  3. Race Pace training will have the greatest relevance for singular competitive swimming performances at all levels.  For example, slow kicking does not train anything related to racing but would be a great recovery activity. Training that is not race pace (irrelevant training) has one use, recovery activities between and after race pace sets

Ultrashort Training at Race Pace.

  1. Please plan short rest intervals as work intervals that are too long result in the accumulation of lactic acid.
  2. Consistent ultra-short training at race pace produces race pace performances that sustain fast twitch fiber use with greater amounts of oxygen thus increasing aerobic conditioning. This extends the ability to sustain a swimming velocity with good mechanical function as long as the athlete maintains desired speeds.
  3. The athlete will improve the most with race pace/ high-intensity speed which enables all necessary energy systems with the proper neuromuscular patterns.

Specific Race Pace Training

The best way to help a swimmer who is plateauing is to increase high intensity (race pace) training. Usually, a swimmer in this situation has years of swimming at slower speeds. They are in really great shape from all the unnecessary overtraining. You can’t swim a meet at race pace if you don’t train at race pace.  This applies to all athletes and their training as this improves both aerobic and anaerobic factors.

What to consider while planning sets:

  1. Make sure all swimmers understand the speed (race pace/goal time) you are asking them to swim.
  2. Keep your rest intervals: 10-:30 seconds. “One reason short intervals “work” is that when a high-intensity repetition is completed, the aerobic system continues to function fully paying back any accumulate oxygen debt developed in the repetition.  If the next repetition commences before the aerobic system begins to abate, the demand on the cardiorespiratory system is continuous although the exercise is intermittent. For the whole set, the aerobic system works maximally just as it would in a race. If the rest period is too long, the aerobic demand in the rest period decreases.”
  3. Race pace sets can last an hour.  Distances will increase as swimmers improve. For example,20 x 25’s on :40  alternating 2 x 25’s holding 100 race pace for the first 50, then 2 x 25’s holding race pace for the second 50.2:00 min rest20 x 25’s on :30 as aboveRepeat as needed, adjust send off’s as needed. Swimmers have to swim at race pace always
  4. The Faster Swimming  23 week and 14 week programs are designed to decrease the rest intervals for race pace while increasing the distances of race pace repeats over the course of the season.

We as coaches really need to incorporate race pace (high intensity) training and understanding of the concepts mentioned in this article. Please do your research and experiences to develop your swimmers!

All feedback is welcome.

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Part 2: Planning Your Practices

Here are basic concepts to keep in mind while planning your practices:

1. Any swimmer that is poorly conditioned with bad mechanics will see improvement with any activity associated with swimming.

2. Once your swimmer advances in conditioning and skill level basic practices no longer apply and actually retards further development.  Higher levels of practices are needed to mimic racing demands of the athlete mentally and physically.

3. Keep in mind that practices must mimic racing demands of the athlete. Coaches must understand the principle of specificity mentally and physically. This is the learning process involved in understanding neuromuscular patterning and its importance in regards to energy systems.

4. “It is erroneous to practice swimming if the skill amplitude and rate do not reflect the intended race-specific qualities”.

The purpose of this article is to elicit thought. I have many quotes as I feel this best explains my readings of all the studies I am sharing with you.  Our goal is to become better coaches!

We all know about aerobic conditioning but do we really understand it. Coaches always say “you need an aerobic base to taper”. Does this mean cranking out yardage or is this individual to the athlete? If you are set on yardage, yardage, yardage you are training the athlete to train and not creating the physical and mental demands on the body needed for one race. This is going to take a lot of research on our part as coaches to really understand and apply.  I have thought for years that swimming is way behind track and field, in regards to training the athlete for a specific event. All the scientific studies researched in the study I am referencing below arrive at the same conclusion. “In traditional training sessions little, if any, happens that will influence better race performances. Training largely improves training but not racing.” This applies to the first concept listed above while planning your practices.

“Skillful and efficient performance in a particular technique can be developed only by practice of that technique.” This means at race pace to mimic the demands on the neuromuscular mechanism needed to ensure that energy systems in a race have been put to memory. Muscle memory, at race pace only, involves the neuromuscular memory of the energy systems used.  “Movement patterns in the brain incorporate the energy sources for the movement(s). Technique and energy are inextricably linked in movement patterns no matter how complex they might be.” If you practice at a slower pace the movement pattern and energy system associated is different than what is needed for racing.

Body position is a key factor to consider. Even a slight change in a swimmers body position or stroke mechanics changes the movement pattern and energy system demands of the race. This happens all the time to our swimmers at the end of a race and practice sets. Practicing at race pace involves body position, mechanics and intensity. This loss of control can be viewed as detrimental fatigue. Try to recognize whether this fatigue is physical, neural, mental or a combination of all three.

We all currently train our athlete’s through fatigue so understanding how “in-performance” recovery applies is extremely important.

We as coaches really need to incorporate more individual training and understanding of the concepts mentioned in this article. Please do your research and experiences to develop your swimmers!

All feedback is welcome.

This article is created from the readings of:  Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State UniversitySwimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical ChangesBrent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy

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Part 1: Performance is directly related to the ability of the body to use its energy systems.

Have you thought about in-performance recovery while planning your workout? This is extremely important to incorporate by emphasizing race pace work, proper rest intervals and mechanics especially the recovery phase of each stroke. Recovery occurs very rapidly within the time frame of the recovery part of a freestyle stroke or with a :05-:10 second rest interval during a set. The training must be high quality simulating the intensity needed in a race. You must train your body mentally and physically to adapt to the demands you intend to ask. Training an old-fashioned lactate set of 6 x 100 from the block all out will not help your swimmer prepare for the quality of work (demands on energy systems) needed for a 100 sprint in a meet. “Maximal lactate capacities are not taxed in swimming races and so need not to be trained with many lactate sets for maximal lactate tolerance capabilities. The stimulation of the alactacid energy system with more appropriate and beneficial race pace training is likely to be more than enough and would not demand overload training”. How does this affect yardage?  How much yardage is enough?  How long is a good practice?  I think we might need to really rethink these questions.

I encourage all, as I am doing, to really research and understand energy systems and apply it to your daily training. “The within stroke recovery phenomenon is another contributing factor that facilitates continuous high level efforts in a localized body area throughout a swimming race”.  Understanding the recovery phase of each stroke is extremely important to teach. Each swimmer must understand this concept. A lot of swimmers work the recovery phase of the stroke too hard which will not help in-performance recovery.  Teaching proper mechanics of underwater efficiency and workload are essential.

Your training program must include a lot of high quality work with shorter rest intervals of recovery. The higher quality and shorter interval format mimics races thus preparing your body to handle the demand required on the energy systems. The energy requirements of a single race are vastly different than the requirements of an extended practice session.  The alactacid system is the main source of energy needed for individual races. Maximal work and recovery are quick and understanding how this works will help each of us plan practices better.

If you expect swimmers to swim certain distances underwater in races then this must be trained at the same intensity needed in a meet. All underwater and surface requirements must be incorporated into all practices. Your athlete’s bodies must train all race specific requirements so that all energy delivery differences become fully trained and suitable for races. If you haven’t trained mentally and physically then you can’t expect it when needed.

Resting is not the largest part of tapering but creating the demand needed from the energy systems to recover during performances.  Race demand qualities during practices and especially during taper have to be maintained. I hope this article has spurred your desire to do your own research and rethink the planning of your practices. Race Pace and recovery are integral parts of the Faster Swimming 23 and 14 week programs. The taper process is a 7 week program creating the demand needed on your body’s energy systems to create the desired results during champs!

 

This article is created from the readings of:  Swimming Science Bulletin Number 39Produced, edited and copyrighted by Professor Emeritus Brent S. Rushall, San Diego State UniversitySwimming Energy Training in the 21st Century: The Justification For Radical ChangesBrent S. Rushall, Ph.D.,R.Psy