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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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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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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. 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 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 3: Race Pace

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

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.

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