Coaches are devious creatures, engaging all sorts of tricks to get you to try a little harder, swim a little faster or further. This will be of interest whether you swim or coach and will offer an insight into the coaching mentality and the pressure created by swimming in a group. When the two of these combine and work well, you will swim fast...
Many years ago, Coach would offer us a get out swim. We would swim Mon-Fri, 5:30 am to 7:30 am with the club before school. As a reward, we might be offered the chance to nominate one of the swimmers to step up, accept a swim challenge and possibly get out 15 minutes early if said challenge was met or time beaten.
Many of our club records were set during these get out swims. The elation and joy of possibly leaving just 15mins early led us to discover depths of energy and strength previously not discovered enabling superhuman speeds. Often best times would be set that we struggled to beat in major competitions. With the others in the lanes watching and relying on you, the pressure built. With the chance to let everyone out early and shower longer, walk slower to school or eat more at breakfast it was a deadly serious business. Olympic trials qualifying times were made during these swims! it was a chance to perform and no matter how many 000s of meters just swum it did not matter. Fatigue was not an issue.
Along similar lines, I challenged out fitness swimmers with the following mainset knowing I would change the end option and see how they reacted. I am convinced that allowing swimmers to shape their own sessions encourages them to work harder. Or work appropriately to how they are feeling and yet find a way to dig deeper.
1×100 FC strong effort, 2×50 FC Stretch out recovery
Repeat 2×100, 2×50, 3×100, 2×50, 4×100, 2×50.
The last block of work was going to be 5×100 also on 2mins
All were expecting it as I am quite predictable knowing how much I like a nice pattern! You can even see swimmers holding back on the 4×100 knowing what else is coming, you can see their pacing drop back a couple of seconds. Instead, I offered a choice of the following after the 2×50 recovery.
6x 100 on 2:10, 5×100 on 2mins or 4x100m on 1:50. At this point the guys were pretty tired from the big block of work and I did not think the 1:50 option was likely. If it had been 3 some of them might have tried. Given the fatigue levels the 2:10 was my bet but once again I underestimated the power of group to get together, rally around and fight it out and not take the easiest option.
Often a mystery swim pops up to keep people guessing but this was a new challenge to let swimmers choose more distance with an easier interval, the predicted and expected set or a harder but shorter swim.
From a coaching perspective always mix things up, offer alternates, allow the swimmers some input into their set. Chances are they will work harder and you will all benefit. This block of work is named the creeper as it starts easy and the exhaustion creeps in. You could also make it harder by reducing the rest interval as the 100s go up.
1×100 interval 2mins
2×100 interval 1:55
3×100 interval 1:50
4×100 interval 1:45
5×100 interval 1:40
You could also go back up and make the set 3.4km which is a big block of work and ideal for Ironman. 1×100, 2×100,3×100, 4×100, 5×100, 4×100, 3×100, 2×100, 1×100 with the 2×50 stretch out between 100m blocks.
A group fitness session that is coached invariably gets you more excited to swim, to swim harder and faster. That is what we strive for within our sessions. The group cohesion comes together trying not let anyone get left behind. The camaraderie between the swimmers helps the group march forward into whatever I can throw at them. If you have not yet tried a fitness session with us come along and try it. Be prepared for devious methods to get you to try more and some enthusiastic peer pressure.
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