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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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Even More on Mechanics


There are five categories and I am going to elaborate on #4 Momentum as it could be the most important to understand. The others are talked about in the Coaches Guide.

  1. Back of the hand mechanics with “arm and hand” as one-paddle.
  2. The catch and finish of each stroke.
  3. Body position and reducing drag
  4. Momentum
  5. Timing and rhythm during the breathing and stroke.



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.

Streamlined position:

The hands should be crossed hand over hand, some people teach a crossover grab. The biceps should be pressed upon the ears with the shoulders and chest stretched out as much as possible. The head will not be tucked chin to chest but in the same position it would be in as if you were walking. The midsection and hips will be in line with the thighs and feet following directly behind. The legs must be in the same plane as the hips thus reducing drag. This is the basic streamline (spike). Hands, Head, Hips and Heels in line. Once this has been achieved you may begin your breakout by starting your first stroke. Judging the depth of the water is essential for a good breakout by maintaining momentum.

Breaststroke underwater pull:

Upon entry to the water or after achieving a spike off of the wall, the body must be in a streamlined position. The key to the underwater pull will be to keep the head in the spike position. The body will go the direction that the head is tilted thus creating or eliminating drag and distance to be traveled. The hands will separate slightly, no wider than the shoulders. This is where the pull begins. The catch of the pull is very important for efficiency and power. The pull begins and ends along the line of the body, keeping the back of the hand facing forward and the “arm and hand” as one-paddle. When finishing the underwater pull by pointing the fingers to the toes the hands are recovered under the body as tight and close as possible thus decreasing drag.

As of fall 2005 you are now allowed one fly kick down with the recovery of the fly kick (up), starting the recovery phase of the breast kick. You may begin your one fly kick down at the start of the underwater pull and should complete it with the finish of the arms of the underwater pull. Doing the fly kick before or after the arm phase of the pullout will not help maintain and utilize momentum and needs to be completed during the arm phase. During the recovery stage of the pull the kick is initiated and controlled behind the hips in a streamlined position. Don’t bring the knees up under the stomach or out wider than the hips. The arms are straightened out into a tight spike while the kick is being completed. The swimmer must take a breath during the onset of the second pull and begin swimming. Each stage of the underwater pullout is initiated before the loss of momentum. If a swimmer slows down in the water before starting the next phase of the pullout then they have waited too long.



A swimmer can blow a race by not breathing enough or too much at the beginning of a race. This is a fact that the spectator or parent would never know and the finger is usually directed at training when a swimmer doesn’t succeed because of this very simple but an often made mistake. 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?


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.


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.


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 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.

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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.


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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3 Items to Include in Daily Workouts

Today we would like to discuss three very important items that all coaches should include in their daily if not at least weekly workouts

Let’s 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 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.

YouTube videos are here; or Facebook can be found here.

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]

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Breaststroke Continues to Change!

I think as long as we keep thinking about the best ways to reduce drag with regards to each swimmers body type this stroke will continue to morph.  As you all know there is a lot of motion in the breaststroke that creates drag and this reduction in drag will advance your swimmers the quickest in the short term.

We also need to consider how to create and maintain momentum with the recovery of the stroke and kick. Body position is extremely important and streamlined swimming is essential to achieve as much as possible.

Here are a few comments from other coaches and athletes in the sport taken from the web to help you think about how to teach and advance this stroke.  Please feel free to comment on certain thoughts or provide new ones.

Questions and Comments from the web:

How wide should your hands go on the outsweep of the stroke? The outsweep is a function of strength and speed and a rough idea is about the same as your fly pull.

Lift propulsion is,for practical purposes,sculling. You use your hands like propellers. It’s called lift as the force is similar to what lifts an airplane wing. There is a heated debate as to which is more important in swimming. I suspect you are generating more force with your new pull than you think. Try just doing the pull and see. If you are doing the heart shaped pull remember to accelerate through the pull so that the insweep is the strongest part.

Regarding lift, Bernoulles Principle is that as a fluid flows faster it’s pressure decreases. An airplane wing is curved on top so the air has to travel further in the same time on top relative to underneath. Since it is moving faster the pressure is lower so the wing rises. Moving a hand through the water at an angle can cause the water on the back of the hand to move faster than over the palm so the hand will lift. The actual situation for a swimmer is much more complicated.

I consider the entire pulling phase of the stroke as triphasic, i.e. outsweep, insweep and recovery. I would characterize the outsweep as a setup for the more propulsive insweep phase, emphasizing a more constant velocity through the outsweep. Consider the swimmer moving through sheets of parallel planes of water: During the outsweep, the arms remain straight and confined to a plane near the surface of the water (six to 10 inches). At the widest part of the stroke (which depends on individual strength) the insweep begins to take form, characterized by increased velocity through to the recovery phase.

The insweep takes form as the inside edge of the arms (which I refer to as the blade-thumb-side) begins to take the lead. The edge extends from the fingertips to the elbow. Consider the edge to cut through the series of parallel planes with the elbows maintaining their position within the original plane. The blade therefore cuts through these planes much like a propeller, creating resistance and propulsion on the inside of the arm. Through the completion of the insweep, the swimmer finds the hands coming toward each other with the elbows trailing and ending closely together. The position of the hands at this point should be above the level of the elbows as the swimmer begins the recovery phase. Through the insweep phase the shoulders and back lift while driving forward (this is stressed so as not to create too much upward motion-thereby sacrificing forward movement). Also during this phase, the elbows remain fairly close to their original planar position.

Reduction of drag should characterize the recovery to the extent that the hands are held close together with the elbows also being close together through the forward extension. Whether or not this phase needs to occur above the surface or below the surface is not as important as emphasizing that the hands should not be lifted out of the water into the recovery phase. More important is that at the beginning of the recovery phase, the hands are at a position slightly higher than the elbows, and that recovery occurs straight forward as opposed to downward. As the arms recover, the head is maintained in a position in line with the back and settles between the arms ending the stroke cycle in a streamlined position.

Among the factors that are important to the breaststroke kick is a concentrated effort on heel speed, especially during the recovery phase. The biggest mistake breaststroke swimmers make in kicking is the manner in which they train. Very little effort is placed on the recovery phase of the kick-specifically the acceleration of the heels during recovery. The heels should be drawn up toward the hips with maximum speed and the toes are turned outward to initiate the propulsive phase. The heels should continue to be the leaders and with the heels in a position outside of the knees, propulsion begins. The heels take an elliptical path as the legs are extended-pressure maintained on the bottom of the feet. At full extension the heels come together and the completion of the kick occurs as the toes are extended to maximize the streamlined position.

In my mind, there are certain components of the stroke where timing can be evaluated and corrected. In the pull, I look to the velocity characteristics of the outsweep and insweep. I look to see that there is a relative constant velocity through the outsweep with an increase in velocity through the insweep into the recovery. During the kick and the initiation of the heel recovery, I suggest that the swimmer feel the recovery begin through the outsweep so that as the recovery phase begins, the propulsive phase of the kick occurs nearly simultaneously. In all, there should be a sense that during the propulsive phase of the arm stroke the recovery (and hence the drag phase) of the heels is occurring and vice versa.

Lastly, I look for the lift of shoulders and back to occur through the insweep phase of the stroke with the head staying in-line with the back.

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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!











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Practicing Simple and Basic Concepts

I have been teaching a lot of adult lessons lately and it has reminded me of some very simple concepts that we as coaches most likely overlook and assume that our swimmers understand. Take some time during warm ups to review even with your best swimmers.  I review all of these concepts with my team this week and will need to continue to stress these concepts repeatedly.

1. The ability to rotate the whole body.

Most  swimmers can’t rotate properly.  Start the swimmer on their stomach having them rotate to the side, then on the back, back to the side and completing the whole circle to the stomach. If swimmers can’t rotate with proper form maintaining proper body position then how can they rotate their shoulders and core properly in the freestyle stroke, all the while working on the timing of the breath?

2. Timing of the breath including when to initiate and when to fully exhale and inhale.  This is the biggest mistake by many swimmers including some of the most accomplished swimmers. This is the hardest to teach to adults and younger swimmers. Here is one example of breathing with freestyle.

FREESTYLE: Timing of the breath and proper breathing is the most important concept toinstill. The first thing a swimmer must be able to do is learn how to exhale all air while the mouth is in the water. This will enable you to concentrate on inhaling while the mouth is out of the water. A lot of swimmers take too much time to exhale and inhale during the breath, when the mouth is out of the water. This creates a slow breathing process, throws off timing and body position by turning the head to a non-streamlined 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 you see your arm during the breath then you are breathing late. 

Timing of the breath is the most important beginning to freestyle. If you learn 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 lack of head control. Make sure the swimmer is finishing the stroke in the proper place as to maintain the rotation of the arms. Why is this so important for freestyle? It is the only stroke you breath to the side.

3. The ability to relax and float. Teach your swimmers how to float vertically. While teaching adult lessons this is the first thing I teach.  You can’t progress a swimmer unless they are able to relax.

4. Teaching swimmers how to kick with the whole leg while keeping the ankle relaxed.  Teach how to kick starting from the core, there is a slight bend in the knees during the kick but the legs are led by the foot.

5. Ankle flexibility or pointing the toes without flexing and using the ankle are key. You can always locate a swimmer with tight ankles and see it in their kicking. Usually they do a lot of scissor kicking or straight foot swimming. Teach swimmers how to stretch the ankle and relax the foot during the kick.

6. Teaching momentum

Momentum:  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. 

7. Teaching body position the 4 H’s, Hands, head, hips and heels. Teach your swimmers to do this perfect from the beginning!

Streamlined position: The hands should be crossed hand over hand, some people teach a crossover grab. The biceps should be pressed upon the ears with the shoulders and chest stretched out as much as possible. The head will not be tucked chin to chest but in the same position it would be in as if you were walking. The midsection and hips will be in line with the thighs and feet following directly behind. The legs must be in the same plane as the hips thus reducing drag. This is the basic streamline (spike). Hands, Head, Hips and Heels in line. Once this has been achieved you may begin your breakout by starting your first stroke. Judging the depth of the water is essential for a good breakout by maintaining momentum.

You will be surprised what your swimmers don’t know.

Good Luck


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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 39Produced, 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.


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


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 39Produced, 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