If you are stuck in a swim plateau then you need to gain some momentum to break out. Feeling better about something is a sure way to get you to try it a little more often. Even good swimmers can benefit from a little more time in the water. Christine Lutsch a 2011 World Aquathlon Champion dropped her 400m PB from 5:49 to 5:30 at the end of one of our Training Camps in Italy after 7 straight days in the water.
Full details of the success of this plan, originally condensed into 7 days on a training camp but now spread over 14days for 'normal life application!'
With no other concerns such as work and family, creating commitment and habit is a lot easier at a training camp I appreciate. Making regular swimming a pattern and a habit is far more likely if all you need to do is walk downstairs to the pool from your hotel room knowing breakfast will be served once finished in the pool. Even if time only allows for 1 session every other day
Think about committing to a schedule for your 14 days of swimming, drop back from the bike and run to make it possible. The added 'swimfitness' will be of great use and more then make up for less bike and run if you need extra time to squeeze it all in. There is no point just turning up to the pool and swimming aimlessly each day. We need to focus on areas that are going to help; we need a check of current ability to gauge progress, work on streamline, improved propulsion and building the swim engine. I would recommend the 400m FC Time Trial at the start of the plan, and a follow up about 3 weeks after the plan to gauge progress. Anything less then a 400m and you are relying on improvements to pure swim speed, which is a much longer-term goal. Minimising drag through better technique delivers a far more instantly rewarded improvement to longer swims. Swimming fast for shorter distance can be achieved through improvements to power and strength but rarely do they carry over into your longer swims. Reducing drag should be a key aim during the plan and some of the swim skills covered will help. Fitness work is key though but we cannot neglect technique. I often refer to this mix of Fitness and Technique work as 'Technical Endurance' as it allows fitness to build but with good technique pointers punctuating the otherwise continuous nature of a long steady swim where technique often escapes us as the mind drifts.
If you want to make the most improvements and are really looking for that breakthrough in your swim technique and speed then I would recommend committing to this plan and completing as many of the following sessions as possible;
400m performed with 5m of legs only < arms by your side no breathing or the Torpedo Drill> off each wall. Finish the remainder of the length full stroke FC.
4 x 50m getting quicker 1-4 with 10SECS REST between each swim
4 x 100m with 20secs rest with fins swum as:-
• 50m hands clenched for 5 strokes then normal 'open' for 5 strokes
• 50m half length with the right hand clenched, left normal then switch
100m with 15secs rest, 200m with 25sec rest, 300m with 35s rest, 400m with 45s rest
SWIM THE 4OOm STRONG AND RECORD YOUR TIME. < This is your Time Trial and should be repeated in 3-4 weeks time>
100m - 10secs rest, 200m - 20s rest, 300m - 30s rest < pull and paddles>
100m - 10s rest, 200m - 20s rest < all with fins>
50m with FINs, PADDLES and a SNORKEL
50m with FINS and SNORKEL
50m with only the SNORKEL
50m no swim aids. The idea is that we bolster the stroke after the mainset with the use of the swim accessories. The paddles help anchor the hand, the fins drive the body past the anchored hand and we get a feel for the body moving forwards. The snorkel will eliminate the head turning for air allowing better accuracy with the hand pathways under the body.
WarmUp 400m swum with Fists Clenched for 10m off each wall then switch to normal FC for the remainder of the length.
4 x 50m swum 10 strokes fast 10 strokes easy with 20secs rest
4 x 50m Build each swim with 15 secs rest < ie 35M getting quicker into 15M hard>
4 x 100m with 20secs rest as:-
• Legs only (hands by your side or the Torpedo Drill) off each wall for 5-10m or until you need air! Resume full stroke FC for the rest of the length. Feel the big toes lightly brushing, small movement of the leg out of the hip not the knee.
• Odd swims with fins, Even without
4x 200m FC, rest 30secs. Steady effort, nothing hard here if you can practice breathing to both sides that will help. PULL AND PADDLES on swims 1,3 Fins on 2 and 4.
• 4x100m best average, rest 10 inbetween each 100. A strong effort but not exhaustive as lots more to come!
• 4x100m best average, rest 15 inbetween each 100
• 4x100m best average, rest 20 inbetween each 100 Aiming to maintain a good time throughout. The extra rest will offset the fatigue building.
Swim down - rebuild the fatigued stroke
50m with FINs, PADDLES and a SNORKEL
50m with FINS and SNORKEL
50m with only the SNORKEL
50m no swim aids.
500 FC, BP 5 < taking a breath every 5th stroke> rest 20
400 FC, BP 4 rest 20 < with a pull buoy> alternate lengths, switch breathing sides
300 FC, BP 3 rest 20 < with fins>
200 with a Snorkel rest 20, as much air as you like!
100m FC & a fraction faster with a BP of '3.2' ie breathing every 3rd then take a second breath to the same side, should provide a little more air compared to every 3rd only but not be quite so aggressive.
400 BP 4, rest 20, Pull and paddles
300 FC rest 20 < with fins and a snorkel>
200 BP 2, rest 20 Pull and paddles < breathe to the one side for a length then switch sides>
100m Faster with a BP 3.2
600 FC, your choice of fins/paddles or pull buoy. Aiming for less then 6 breaths per length. You choose when you take them. Change your mindset, if we sensibly & safely limit your air, it usually helps tidy up your technique as we become less wasteful ! DRAG=more AIR&ENERGY
200 BP 2, rest 20 FINS and Paddles
Please perform a good DRYLAND Warmup initially as the Swim Warmup is not easy. Email me for my preferred dryland routines
4 x 75m getting quicker 1-4 with 30secs rest in between each 75
4 x 50m getting quicker with 20secs rest in between each 50
4 x 25m getting quicker with 10secs rest in between each 25
8x50s FC off an interval of 90 holding a best possible time with the lowest possible stroke count. < Add the time taken to a stroke count and that equals a golf score which should be kept in mind and improved upon> Work on a new technique area with each 50 in blocks of 2 ie breathing low, small kick, hand pathways, early catch, streamline.
Main set VARIED PACE 3x 500 FC swum as -
50m aim race target pace rest 10
100m aim race target pace rest 20
150m aim race target pace rest30,
200m aim race target pace.
ie 30min 1500 is 1/2/3min pacing, 28:30min for 1900 needs 45/1:30/2:25 pace, 90min Ironman needs 2:22/4:44/6:06 pacing
Rest an additional 60 secs between each 500m
200 swum alternating lengths FC with a pull buoy then try double arm backstroke with the same PB between the thighs. A great stretch for the shoulders.
WarmUp 100 FC, 75 Pull, 50 FC, 25 Pull
100 FC, 75 Drill or Kick , 50 FC, 25 Drill or Kick
< add fins and consider Extension Drill a good legs only exercise - see below>
Drill suggestion would be 3 advanced single arms off each wall if you cannot use fins in your local pool.
Timed swim with an aim of swimming hard, 'as far as you can in x mins.' Could be a T10, 20, 30 or 40 depending on how far you are racing. Make it easier with a pull buoy < for that artificial wetsuit sensation as long as you compare like for like in the future> or don't touch the walls at either end. Basic premise is to swim as far as possible in the time allowed.
T40 – Ironman competitors
T30 70.3 competitors
T20 Standard distance competitors
T10 Sprint distance. Record distance swum. REPEAT IN 6 WEEKS
200 FC, snorkel, paddles & fins all swum on top of the black line
200 FC, snorkel & fins all swum on top of the black line
200 FC, snorkel- all swum on top of the black line
400m FC, 300m Pull , 200m FC BP 5 < focus on symmetry of stroke, similar hand pathways made more accurate < see drill explanation below> with a switching breathing pattern- could be 3 if you are struggling>
100m PULL but close the fists for 4 strokes then open them for 4
400 Paddles and PB, no touching any walls, ideally on the black line if lane space permits . Look down and check the hands are pulling between the black line and your back bone. A balanced stroke will keep you straight in openwater.
Ironmen start here-
Swim as many 150m swims, rest 30
< no touching any wall> in 24mins
All other distance swimmers start here -
Swim as many 75m swims, rest 15
< no touching any wall> in 12mins
(treadwater in the middle if in a 50m pool>
Swim as many 50m swims, rest 10
< no touching any wall> in 8mins
Swim as many 25m swims, rest 5
< no touching any wall> in 4mins
Aim to hold similar amounts throughout ie if you manage 8 x150s swims aim for 8 x 75/50 etc
100 Non FC if possible, if not add a pull buoy and close one fist for half a length then switch mid way.
400m on the black line if possible, Align the hand pathways under the body on top of line. Thing about a BreathingPattern of 3.2, Take 2 breaths to one side then switch to the other side for 2 breaths. Retain the symmetry of bilateral breathing but not the lack of air.
4x 100m with 30secs rest swum as:-
• The Torpedo Drill (hands by sides, head still, upper body rotation practice, aim to drive the shoulder through to the chin) off each wall until you run out of air. Finish the length full stroke
• Odd 100m swims with fins, even without
12-1800m FC, safely climb out and exit the pool every 100m. Carefully returning to the water after you stand up.
Focus on reducing the HEARTRATE after the exit and getting back into your swim with great technique. The HR will elevate as the blood shifts from the shoulders&arms to the legs leaving you a little disorientated possibly.
3 x 100m FS recovery swim off 40secs rest. Start with fins/paddles and snorkel and remove an item with each swim.