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All Swimmers Need…

  • To feel comfortable in the water.
  • To know stroke counts (per lap) for all strokes.
  • To understand timing of all strokes.
  • To have excellent walls and turns.
  • To practice with proper stroke mechanics.

A swimmer also needs experience racing and that takes, a long time and hundreds of races for mechanics and strategies of each race to sink in, not to mention the pain factor. When in pain, how well do you think about what you should really be doing? Most swimmers worry about breathing and finishing the race first, especially as they are learning.

Let’s use the 50 freestyle to continue our “all swimmers need”

  • A quick start with proper form remembering to use legs more than the upper body to get off the block.
  • To enter the water in a streamlined position and maintaining this position during the breakout.
  • To maintain a streamlined position off of the dive while enabling either a proper fly kick or free kick through the first two strokes of the race (breakout). Being able to know where you are in the water so not to stop the momentum from your dive and underwater kick into your breakout.
  • To maintain a sprint kick even while breathing.
  • Knowing when to breathe (timing) while at the same time preparing for the turn, after judging the wall correctly in warm-ups.
  • To complete a proper turn.
  • A proper streamlined position off the wall of the turn with a proper breakout, while getting past the flags.
  • To finish the race without losing momentum. Proper judging of the wall is where it is won or lost provided, that is, the swimmer has not succumbed to the pain. You must judge the wall in warm-ups.
  • Not to breath at the end of a swim, while maintaining a sprint kick, while holding together proper stroke mechanics, not to mention sprinting the entire race since it is only a 50…

There are tons to know, swimming takes brains, retention, and motivation. Just try to handle it one thought at a time. Try to remember this as a coach and especially a parent. When you say something to your swimmer like, “how did you miss that turn?” Try to remember all that goes into racing.

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Seasonal Considerations for Each Week and Workout

There are focus points and workout goals to consider listed before each week’s outline in the Faster Swimming seasonal plan. Fly kicking, breathing expectations, racing and race pace, total yardage with the % of kicking, and racing are all included, along with paddle sets, underwater kicking, turn considerations, and much, much more.  The taper part of the season totals 7 weeks. Please remember that tapering is not simply resting, but resting is a part of tapering. Tapering is a detailed process and your swimmers must be in great aerobic conditioning before starting. All workouts and sets can be adjusted for any swimmer based on their abilities mentally and physically in any part of the seasonal plan. When adjusting workouts and sets remember to complete the specific training outlined for each day and add/subtract/modify yardage and total set volume to reach your goals.

The following are some of the considerations that go into the Faster Swimming seasonal plan for each week and each workout:

Basic Workout

Yardage is a guideline that should be adjusted based on the abilities of your training groups. We will split the practices into groups later in the program by distance, mid-distance and sprint. Variable speed swimming distances, Variable speed effort, Strokes up (Tarzan) and down (easy), Tarzan, Tarzan to easy, over speed and race pace are sets that are essential to your training routine and will be detailed in future articles. Recovery sets and recovery workouts feel like useless swimming to many coaches but are essential to strength and speed. Starts, turns, relay starts, reaction drills and finishes are all outlined into the workouts to ensure that you remember to include and spend more time on these important aspects.

Legs 

Kicking is detailed and an essential part of speed. The hardest part is coaching the swimmers to take kicking seriously. Yardage, maximum distances, variable speed distances, variable speed effort, broken sprint kicks, all-out sprint kicks and yardage of easy kicking are all spelled out.

Basic Format

As described above the workouts are designed alternating upper and lower body work either by set or within each set.

Weight Lifting, Dryland, heart rate sets, test sets, sprint sets and race pace distances are all fully detailed and will also be explained further in upcoming articles.

Training at Race Pace/Goal Speed

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. And just as with swimming, this quality of training should be planned for and carried out over the course of your season(s) to support faster swimming.

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A Variety of Video Explanations

From time to time we get questions about a variety of swim related topics. The following videos were created to pair with our Monthly Workout subscription, which you can find here. If you have any questions, post it below!

WALL CORDS VARIATIONS

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/184/

TURNS WITH CORDS

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/185/

IM FREE WARM UP EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/172/

IM FREE WARM UP SWIM SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/173/

KICK SET EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/174/

KICK SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/176/

SPRINT FREE FLY SET EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/177/

SPRINT FEE FLY SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/178/

TOP STROKE SPRINT SET EXPLANATION

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/180/

TOP STROKE SPRINT SET

http://www.viddler.com/explore/FasterSwim/videos/181/

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How much time should be placed on kicking?

A LOT!

Kicking drives speed, controls body position and is essential in the timing of all strokes. Legs are the most understood part of the body especially for swimmers and their coaches. The understanding of how long it takes to get your athlete’s legs in shape, taper and rest your swimmers’ legs is a detailed and essential part of training.

You need to detail the following aspects of kicking throughout your season:

1. When you begin your season, kicking needs to be 50% of your total practice. You will drop the total % of kicking slightly until week 16. Once your 7 week taper begins you will need to set detail yardage amounts for each practice. Weeks 1-3 will include 1,500 yards of kicking per day, week 4 at 1,200, week 5 at 1,000 – 500 as the week progresses, week 6 at 750 and week 7 depending on how your championships are scheduled will go up slightly on the first day of practice to 1,500 that week and taper down drastically to 500 yards. The exact kicking practices are detailed in the 23 week seasonal book.

2. Please adhere to strict maximum distances throughout the season. Please keep in mind that as your swimmers get into better kicking shape you are creating race pace kicking needed for championships. The exact maximum distances during sets will be greater at the beginning of the season and shorter during taper. This detail becomes more important during taper.

3. Instead of kicking one speed during each set you will need to set parameters for your variable speed distances as well as the percentage change of effort of the desired distances. Your variable speed distances will also taper with the season as well as the variable speed effort desired, again this detail becomes more apparent during taper. For example, the first few weeks a kick set will have 4 x 200’s free kick with variable speed by 100. The first 100 will be kicked at 65% effort followed by the second 100 at 85%. A similar set during taper would change to, 4 x 100’s free kick variable speed by 50, 75% for the first 50 followed by the second 50 at 90%. Please explain to your swimmers that they really need to judge percentage efforts and do the sets as written.

4. Sprint kicking and easy kicking are essential parts of each set. Spiking heart rate and recovery worked into each set throughout the season and yes of course planned exactly during your detailed taper.

5. Remember that the goal of the kicking plan throughout the 23 week season is to prepare the swimmer for race pace kicking. Kick test sets are needed to determine how fast each swimmer must be in each stroke when they achieve their goal times in meets. I would do a few kick test sets immediately after champs to help you determine race pace kicking speed for the swimmers next season and adjust future kick sets accordingly. During taper you will have your swimmers perform broken kick sprints. For example, 2 x 100’s top stroke kick with #1 broken(rest) at the 50 for :10 seconds and #2 broken at each 25 for :05 seconds. This should give you an idea how fast each swimmer will need to kick a 100 stroke to achieve the actual 100 swim in meets. For example Joe Smith swam a :48, 100 free at champs and his previous kick set before champs he timed out at 1:10, so he will need to train his kicking 100 race pace work at1:10 during sets.

There is a lot of planning needed to help each swimmer with kicking. Plan on helping your swimmers with the speed needed during practice kicking to perform during champs. Kicking is boring and does lower the daily yardage but is too important to neglect. This article didn’t cover underwater kicking but we all know how important that is. The 23 week season details how much fly kick to do each week off every single wall during practice. Teach good streamlines and fly kicking and tell your swimmers why the 15 meter lane line markers exist. Why? you ask, well because kicking done correctly underwater is the fastest part of swimming. Yes, kicking!