Age-group coaches here some assumptions while developing RACE STRATEGIES and breathing tips for your swimmers.
Remember to incorporate all of this into daily practices so it becomes second nature to your swimmers then you can really focus on their racing!
1. Each swimmer will vary on how to swim each event and this should be established between the swimmer and coach.
2. Training level. How in shape are you at the time of your swim?
3. What time of the season are you swimming the event? Beginning of the season, heaviest training time or tapered.
4. Physical/mental capabilities and you know your mental pitfalls better than anyone else.
5. Remember that this is a training tool for the coach to test and teach the swimmer. While learning it isn’t all about the final time but how that specific time was achieved.
6. Some swimmers have the ability to swim events differently in a prelim/final meet just to qualify top 8 or 16 at night.
7. Each swimmer has judged all walls for turns and finishes in warm-up at race pace. The swimmer needs to do a couple of starts to get used to the blocks and this includes a backstroke start.
400 Individual Medley along with breathing tips.
Except for the fly because of the start, each stroke should be negative split by 50. For example, fly :28, :30, back :33, :32, breast :35, :34 and free :29, :28. Splits will vary based on the swimmer’s strengths and weaknesses. Help the swimmer work on splits based on the goal time and work on race pace in practice.
You need to establish the number of fly kicks you are going to maintain thru-out your swim off each wall (breast obviously one). You need to establish this at practice and repeat, repeat, repeat. The more fly kick you are able to do eventually within your physical demands the faster you will swim.
Every time you switch strokes the timing of the stroke changes and your body needs to adapt to the new breathing pattern. “Breathing is your friend”. You need to catch your breath and adapt to the new stroke within the first couple breaths of each stroke.
When doing an open turn (fly, breast and some back to breast transition turns) you need to exhale before you touch the wall so all you are doing when you head is out of the water is inhaling. Most swimmers make the mistake of exhaling and inhaling on the wall. This makes the turn slower and gives you less oxygen to work with to help your distance and momentum off of the wall.
When doing the backstroke turn you need to exhale before rotating on your stomach so you only inhale on the rotation, before your turn. Most swimmers don’t even think about this and the turn takes lots of oxygen. This also plays into the freestyle that obviously is the same turn. When breathing in freestyle remember to exhale while the head is in the water so you only inhale during the breath. If you are trying to exhale and inhale at the same time when your mouth is out of the water then you will develop timing problems and slow your strokes and ruin your mechanics.
Remember that breathing is your friend and the most common mistake swimmers make is not taking enough breaths the first 25 of all races, except the 50 free. You need to start breathing to enable your body to break down lactic acid build-up that will ensue. Lactic acid (lactate) is produced by muscle use and your body breaks it down it thru the breathing process as it tries to supply the muscles with more oxygen to optimize its workload. Without oxygen, there is anaerobic glycolysis which is the break down of carbohydrates which leads to lactic acid to build up in the muscle cells. The process of lactic acid removal takes approximately one hour, but this can be accelerated by undertaking an appropriate warm down which ensures a rapid and continuous supply of oxygen to the muscles. Lactic acid eventually gets converted to mainly carbon dioxide and water while it also gets converted to glycogen, protein, and glucose.
The 50 can be completed with 2, 1 or zero breaths as it is a race that is usually completed within 30 seconds for most year-round swimmers. Remember that this must be practiced regularly prior to racing. When deciding how to plan your breaths you need to keep in mind that if you wait until you need a breath it is probably too late and that particular breath mechanically will slow you down.
Your muscles can continue to work with maximum output up to 30 seconds before they totally tighten-up and stop working due to lactic acid build-up. Swimmers usually wonder why they died in a particular race and a lot can be answered by understanding oxygen deprivation and what it does to your body. Oxygen deprivation leads to a quicker build-up of lactate which makes it harder for the body to use oxygen (lack of) to break down lactate as described above.