Swimming is almost dull in that to swim faster you need to repeat with great accuracy the same movements repeatedly. The pathways, the same degrees, the same movements at the joints. Timing, breathing patterns, the number of leg kicks. If anything ‘fades’ in terms of no longer holding the same distance traveled with each movement then we slow down. You don’t need to be strong to swim fast but you need the strength to repeat similar movements repeatedly so that you swim a decent speed for longer. A good example of this is when a client comes for a swim analysis and they ask if I think they might be able to swim 1500m in under 25mins. If I watch them swim 25m in 25secs then I offer that at the moment they can swim at the necessary pace required which amazes them but then comes the hard bit. Repeating that pace for 100m, then 200m,400m, etc. Due to water being so much denser than air you cannot battle water with strength and fitness alone. You need technique and a kind of endurance that allows repeated movements over and over without creating too much drag or needing too much energy (i.e. when the wrong muscles are employed to drive the stroke.
The following are 3 of my favourite endurance-focused sessions to be performed in a 25m pool. Try one a week for 3 weeks at the Novice distances, then a repeated 3week cycle at the Intermediate level and finally the advanced for 3 weeks. In conjunction with some pure technical work across 2-3 additional swims each week these will really help you handle swimming strong speeds for longer distances.
Perform a 15-20min warm-up ahead of these sessions and spend 5-10mins cooling down after you have completed these sets. Try some Arms folded Kick or Glute Kick off each wall to wake up the legs in the warm up.
BP refers to breathing patterns. BP2 means every 2nd stroke to a single side. BP3 means an alternating every 3rd to both sides.
Endurance 1 of 3
TEACHING POINT: Use the easier swims for a technique review. Check length of stroke, count strokes – maintain an even count as the pace increases.
NOVICE 1x the following:
500m FC alternating 1L at 50%, 1L at 70%, rest 30secs (optional pull buoy)
300m FC increase effort by 100m, at 50%, 60%, 70%
INTERMEDIATE 2x the following- 500m FC alternating 1L at 50%, 1L at 70%, rest 30secs, (FINS, paddles and snorkel)
300m FC increase effort by 100m, at 40%, 60%, 80% rest 60 between the 800m blocks
ADVANCED 4x the following – 500m FC alternating 1L at 50%, 1L at 70%, rest 30secs
(fins, paddles & snorkel on the odd 500m swims, pull on the even 500m swims)
300m FC increase effort by 100m, at 40%, 60%, 80% – rest 45secs between the 800m blocks
Endurance 2 of 3
TEACHING POINT: BP3.2 means take a breath after a 3rd stroke then a 2nd stroke. This keeps the breathing to both sides but is not quite so taxing as pure bilateral breathing.
NOVICE 8×100m, rest 15, swum as 1L BP every 2 to the left, 1L BP every 2 to the right and 2L BP3.2, start each length with a great push-off
INTERMEDIATE (5-8) x 200m, rest 20 swum as -2L BP every 2 to the left, 2L BP every 2 to the right and 4L BP3.2
ADVANCED start with the INTER set and then continue into: 3×400m, BP 3 then 5 within each length for 2lengths into BP2 for a length to the right then to the left for a length. Repeat the pattern for 400m
Endurance 3 of 3
TEACHING POINT: A firmer catch and pull, coupled with a better leg kick creates economical speed, not more inefficient strokes.
NOVICE (8-12) x 100m increase effort in blocks of 4, rest 30 between each 100m, rest 60 between blocks of 4. Attempt to drop 5secs per 100 ending up at 80% on No. 4,8,12
INTERMEDIATE (6-9) x 200m increase effort in blocks of 3, rest 30 between 200s, rest 60 between blocks of 3. Drop 5 secs per 200, ending up at 80% on No. 3,6,9
ADVANCED 7×400m increase effort in blocks, 1-3 then 1-4, rest 35 between 400s, rest 60 between blocks. Aim to Drop 10 secs per 400, ending up at 80% on No.3 & 7
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