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Part 1: Performance is directly related to the ability of the body to use its energy systems.

Have you thought about in-performance recovery while planning your workout? This is extremely important to incorporate by emphasizing race pace work, proper rest intervals and mechanics especially the recovery phase of each stroke. Recovery occurs very rapidly within the time frame of the recovery part of a freestyle stroke or with a :05-:10 second rest interval during a set. The training must be high quality simulating the intensity needed in a race. You must train your body mentally and physically to adapt to the demands you intend to ask. Training an old-fashioned lactate set of 6 x 100 from the block all out will not help your swimmer prepare for the quality of work (demands on energy systems) needed for a 100 sprint in a meet. “Maximal lactate capacities are not taxed in swimming races and so need not to be trained with many lactate sets for maximal lactate tolerance capabilities. The stimulation of the alactacid energy system with more appropriate and beneficial race pace training is likely to be more than enough and would not demand overload training”. How does this affect yardage?  How much yardage is enough?  How long is a good practice?  I think we might need to really rethink these questions.

I encourage all, as I am doing, to really research and understand energy systems and apply it to your daily training. “The within stroke recovery phenomenon is another contributing factor that facilitates continuous high level efforts in a localized body area throughout a swimming race”.  Understanding the recovery phase of each stroke is extremely important to teach. Each swimmer must understand this concept. A lot of swimmers work the recovery phase of the stroke too hard which will not help in-performance recovery.  Teaching proper mechanics of underwater efficiency and workload are essential.

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Your training program must include a lot of high quality work with shorter rest intervals of recovery. The higher quality and shorter interval format mimics races thus preparing your body to handle the demand required on the energy systems. The energy requirements of a single race are vastly different than the requirements of an extended practice session.  The alactacid system is the main source of energy needed for individual races. Maximal work and recovery are quick and understanding how this works will help each of us plan practices better.

If you expect swimmers to swim certain distances underwater in races then this must be trained at the same intensity needed in a meet. All underwater and surface requirements must be incorporated into all practices. Your athlete’s bodies must train all race specific requirements so that all energy delivery differences become fully trained and suitable for races. If you haven’t trained mentally and physically then you can’t expect it when needed.

Resting is not the largest part of tapering but creating the demand needed from the energy systems to recover during performances.  Race demand qualities during practices and especially during taper have to be maintained. I hope this article has spurred your desire to do your own research and rethink the planning of your practices. Race Pace and recovery are integral parts of the Faster Swimming 23 and 14 week programs. The taper process is a 7 week program creating the demand needed on your body’s energy systems to create the desired results during champs!


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

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