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Real Tapering Survival

Why do swimmers and coaches feel there is a big mystery about tapering and hope that it works? This is crazy!  If your seasonal plan includes progression of race pace work and the proper recovery throughout the season then you have the experience to know that your taper will work. Tapering is the progression towards your race pace goals from the beginning of the season. It is not a resting process to recover your body from over yardage during the season. If your taper has been that simple then you have underachieved your true potential.

Just remember the confidence you have gained all season and understand the process involved. You have created muscle memory for performance and energy demands needed to swim your goal time. Your intentsity of training never decreases during taper. You do add more recovery to your swimming but your actual training work needed has to be the highest. If you have been lifting all year you will need to taper your weight program to be at your strongest before your big meets. Meets as in plural as you will be able to swim faster for many weeks in a row.

The process for tapering isn’t guess work but calculated and planned out. The biggest variable is understanding your recovery needs which includes eating, sleeping and training.

Weekly workout with emphasis on recovery:

1. Alternating upper and lower body during sets is the easiest way to include recovery as written throughout this workout.

2. You can write workouts that alternate swim sets and kick sets within the workout as active recovery.

3. Including variable speed by stroke or kick counts adds short bursts of recovery during a set.

10 slow strokes/ 10 fast or kicks. Variable speed work by 25 during a 75 swim/kick, 25 build to 80%, 25 @ 65% followed by a 25 @ 100%.

4. Be creative to help write sets that swimmers will enjoy!

 

 

Warm up:  200 choice

6 x 150 alternating 25 kick/50 swim choice

6 x 50 25 kick/25 build swim

6 x 25 descend to sprint,  1-3 and 4-6

all above :10 rest

Set #1 (:15 rest thru set)

8 x 75 kick variable speed by 25 100%, 70%, 100%

4 x 25 recovery swim

8 x 50 kick descend 1-4, sprint 5-8

4 x 25 recovery swim

2 x 100 timed all out.

200 recovery swim

Set #2

Repeat this set 3 times each time adding more rest as your body needs to recover.

Start with :20 rest first time thru.

3(100 swim build to last 25 @ 100 race pace followed by 2 x 25 tarzan sprint)

50 recovery swim

3 x 50 kick descend 1-3

2 x 25 hands together head out of the water free kick.

100 recovery swim

repeat so there are 9 – 100’s in this set.

Finish working on starts and/pr turns.

For complete seasonal workouts, see the 23 Week Training Program.

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Starts & Stops Continued

 

This is a continuation of the starts newsletter. We will continue to expand and detail every aspect of the start. There is a swim workout and the end of this article with outline explanations of how it was written.

Full season outlines are also in the 23 week, 14 week and Faster Swimming books.

Center of Gravity

When considering body position on the block we need to look at the athlete’s center of gravity.  We look at the center of gravity not in a side to side (lateral) aspect, but in a front to back (anterior/posterior) aspect.  The farther forward athletes are able to shift their center of gravity in relation to the point of force production (feet), the more efficient their first movement will be.  If the center of gravity is behind the point of force production athletes must first pull their body forward before pushing it forward.  If we all had hands at the ends of our legs we would be able to grab the block and pull, but our feet have a limited ability to grab the block leaving our legs useful only for a pushing motion.  This results in the beginning pull to be done entirely with the arms which have a limited ability to produce much forward motion and lead more to wasted time and inefficiency on the block. The brief amount of time that it takes to go through a start for any athlete (even those with a slow start) only increases the need to be as efficient as possible to gain an advantage.

Many athletes understand the concept of a forward center of gravity but go about it the wrong way by attempting to lean out as far as they can.  The problem with this is that their center of gravity will usually end up being farther back due to the athletes inability to maintain balance. The best way to allow for a forward center of gravity is to keep the hips high and forward while dropping the head and shoulders into a relaxed position as close to the thighs as possible.  The closer the shoulders and head are to the hips from the anterior/posterior view the farther forward the hips will be able to shift without throwing off balance and stability.

If the center of gravity is placed behind the point of force production, weight must first be shifted forward before being able to apply force in a rear direction propelling the body forward.  Most athletes and coaches have seen swimmers on the block who lean as far back as possible under the premise that they will produce a more powerful start.  When this technique is used athletes spend half of their motion using arms for their force production before their center of gravity shifts far enough forward for their legs to explode.  While it is helpful to use the arms in a limited manner to shift the center of gravity to a favorable position, the arms shouldn’t be used as a major force producing piece of the start.

With the two different styles of starts, track and two feet forward, the center of gravity in relation to the point of force production is the major difference between them.  The two feet forward start makes it far more difficult to bring the center of gravity up to the point of force production.  However, if a start is well trained and athletes are able to have enough flexibility, stability, and balance, there is much greater power potential in this type of start.  With the track start it is very easy to place the point of force production behind the center of gravity.  The rear foot is very easily placed behind the hips and allows the athlete to produce a very efficient first motion.  This efficient first motion and easy body positioning have caused this start to be used almost exclusively without any consideration being given to the start that allows for more power to be produced.  Don’t get me wrong though, changing every athlete’s start to a two feet forward style may not be appropriate as not every athlete has the flexibility, stability, and balance necessary to make this start viable.

Here is the first workout of 115+ from the 23 week workout. This is a very simple beginning into workouts that are written with complex details thru the season. Each week has an outline which you can follow and write your own workout or sets. The outline includes percentage of kicking in each workout, speed work, recovery, time allotted for starts and turns, variable speed intensities, race pace work, heart rate and test sets to help you adjust workouts for your athletes.  The last 7 weeks is the taper written in great detail to fine tune speed, build confidence, increase and maintain aerobic capacity, train energy systems for the demands of championship meets and get your athlete ready for many weeks of fast swimming. All you have to do is administer the workout!

Here is to Faster Swimming.

Brad

Day # 1

Maintain one fly kick minimum off each wall!

Warm-up:

3 x 200 freestyle all from a start on 3:30 / 3:00 / 2:45 descending send off

Do another start into a 25 with 3/4 fl y kick underwater to the other end

Set #1

9 x 50 free kick @ 80% :05 rest between

6 x 75 25 back kick @ 80%. 50 breast drill 2 kick-1 stroke :10 rest between

( long spikes )

4 x 100 50 kick fl y/ 50 back swim 100 @ 80% effort :15 rest

200 IM kick no board variable speed by 25 @ 70%-90% effort

50 ez swim

Set # 2 – Timed turns during set

3 x 300 IM 25 kick / 50 1 arm drill swim each stroke @ 80% effort :10 rest between

50 ez

4 x 100 IM swim descend on 2:00

50 ez

12 x 25 racing kick partners free coaches send off

100 ez

Set # 3

5 x 100 freestyle

#’s 1-3 50 kick – 50 swim variable speed by 25 @ 70%-90% effort :10 rest between

1:00 rest

#’s 4-5 swim sub 1:00 – 1:05 based on ability 1:00 rest between

100ez

Total yardage = 4,525

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Hi / Lo Intensity Training for Big Meets

The following explains a little of the peaking phase of training that we structure into the end of the season,along with some general ideas and considerations.

Generally

We most often use a Hi/Lo system of training sessions as we near our biggest meets.  “Hi” being high intensity, race pace work that includes more and more rest as we move toward each swimmer’s probable top meet.  “Lo” being lower intensity mainly aerobic work, with very short distance skills work(starts, turns, underwaters, etc) mixed in.

Training intensity is directly proportional to competitive results.

Training intensity (speed) is directly proportional to competitive results, and so we maintain a fairly high level of intensity (fast tempo, goal race pace training) throughout the Hi/Lo template above.  This can vary from swimmer to swimmer and from meet to meet.  We want each swimmer to know, understand, and “feel” race speed and race plans from both a physical and mental perspective.

We drop volume far more than intensity as we near the swimmer’s biggest meets in order to reduce fatigue and allow for their ultimate expression of speed.  This drop in volume most often allows for a higher energy level for each swimmer as we move through the peaking phase, and is often accompanied by lower RHR’s, stable or slightly increasing body weight, and (hopefully) more consistent sleep habits – all of which should be noted in their training journals.

We shift dryland and lifting to more reactive training(faster lifting with moderate weights, med ball work, some fast-paced dryland)and continue to include a solid base of lower intensity core, dryland and mobility work.  We continue to lift and do dryland as we move through our peaking phase as we want ALL of our physical qualities at their peak as they step up on the blocks for their biggest races.

Specifically

Swim practice is still our main focus throughout the peaking phase.  All aspects outside of swimming(nutrition, rest, strength, etc) are of secondary importance to fast(er)swimming.

Coaches “listen” by watching the swimmers practice as much as listening to what the swimmers are actually saying.  Big meets and high level performance can cause some jitters, and actions most often speak louder than words – perhaps especially at the end of the season.

We adjust training as necessary by practice, by swimmer, in order to have each athlete swimming their fastest at their biggest meet(s).  This can mean more work for some and less work for others – and only in order to have each swimmer peak at the appropriate time.

Our season-long focus on quality swimming over quantity swimming – combined with our advanced dryland and lifting training – most often allow for an extended peak period for our swimmers.  It is not unusual for our NAAC swimmers to hold their peak for 3+ weeks.

– Written by Coach John Coffman, Head Coach of New Albany Aquatics Club

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Questions re: Distance. Some Advice for Practices

Q
I am a new subscriber and received my first set of workouts this morning. I have read through them carefully and looking forward to getting started. I love the instruction on improving the dives, streamlining with dolphin kick etc. Plus the turns practice. However, how do I compensate for the distance as it is a bit far for me. I’m only used to swimming @ 3000 to 3500m in practice.

A
Once you develop more strength in dryland and can handle the mechanics of swimming fly with the fly kick your goal of breaking 4 min. should be easy. Try kicking with fins when swimming fly to help with your leg strength and speed but don’t get into a habit of using fins. Work on some short fly swimming (with fly kick) without breathing while maintaining proper body position as described in Faster Swimming. Stay as streamlined as possible and take a few strokes to begin working on timing with the fly kick then slowing work in the breathing. Timing and breathing of the stroke is described for you also. Let me know how you progress.

Determine your stroke counts for training as it’ll definitely be a part of practices. In the course of a week you’ll train all strokes with a lot more kicking than you are use to. Work in the kicking as you are able and feel free to use fins for part of it until you can handle all the additional kicking. As the season progresses kicking will be a smaller part (percentage) of the workout.

You don’t have to increase your yardage drastically and whatever you don’t finish on a specific day, just continue it the next practice. Try to plan your swimming workouts as to never have three days between practices as you’ll lose the feel for the water.

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Questions from Across the Pond

This note and the following questions are received from a coach just North-west of London, England.

“I coach on a voluntary basis and have a passion to ensure I give the very best to my swimmers and ensuring that they arrive at the championships in March in the best form they can. All help and guidance is gratefully received.”

Question #1. Variable Speed swimming Distances/ Efforts- Does that mean to use all energy systems ? And would any of the sets be at or near race pace? I have perviously planned my season using Counsilman and Maglishco reference books and am therefore familiar with EN1, En2, En3 and so on.

Answer #1. Variable speed focuses on the ability to change speeds at will, to never over train either the fast twitch or slow twitch muscles. Throughout the season you will see Race Pace added into sets, especially the months during taper. Changing the effort during sets increases work load and the aerobic capacity quicker than grinding out yardage. The mechanics of strokes have changed a lot as well as training methods. This as is evident by the amount of speed at the USA High School Level. Swimming is finally following the lead by track coaches to train athletes for a specific event. Training yards or short course meters is key to training speed and puts more emphasis on starts, turns and momentum. Take what you need from Counsilman and Maglishco as they have obviously helped swimming more than I can give them credit for in this newsletter. We all learn from the past just don’t get stuck in it.

Question #2. Legs – Yardage at 50%, does that mean, if say for example I had a total distance of 3000m for the session 1500m should be legs only? Also does the phrase mix it up, shown on Monday of week 1 apply to everyday with legs at 50%?

Answer #2. Do the best you can to have 50% of kicking a day during the first part of the season. It is hard to write in and motivate the swimmers to do this but they will taper better and have more speed for all events. As you know the legs muscles are big and require more training than coaches think. I’ll take less yardage and more kicking any day. Do the best you can to be creative and do lots of variable speed to increase the aerobic gains from kicking.

Question #3. Basic Format – Alternating upper body and lower body by Set. Would that mean one set pull, one set of legs?

Answer #3. Yes, or just a swim set alternating with a kick set. Swimmers don’t kick as much as they should and will focus on upper body work during a swim set, so I use a swim set for upper body and pulling is great also. Work in what is best for the talent you are training.