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.
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.
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