SWIM BREAKTHROUGH

Training Load By Week
Training Load By Week

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!' http://www.tri247.com/article_12847_Swim+success+in+seven+days%3F.html?region_id=&category= 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 this improved familiarity with the unfamiliar watery environment will allow improvements to shape. The feel for the water is an unnaturally occurring phenomenon that will develop as frequency in the pool increases. Feeling and holding water is essential to improve the distance swum with every stroke. Making the water feel more solid is your ultimate aim here, it will not happen swimming once a week. The frequency we are looking for means less time between sessions, stopping bad habits creeping back. You waste a lot of time in the first 30mins of your swim session getting back up to speed from your last swim if you allow too much time between sessions. Skills and swim technique that you acquired in the previous will be present far quicker when you get back in the water if you try not to leave it too long. Hit the water with the familiar sensations of feeling good in the water from just 12-24hours previous and you will start the next session more positively. If the warm-up and subsets feel like you are swimming through treacle then by the time the main-set starts, psychologically you are going to be struggling.   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;

Sample Day 1
3200m
1 - TIME TRIAL SESSION AND STEADY ENDURANCE Workout

WarmUp                                                                         
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 

SubSet                                                                                  
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 

MainSet                                                                                
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>  
100 FAST 

Swimdown                                                                                
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.

Sample Day 3
3400m
2 FAST EFFORTS TO BUILD SPEED WITH TECHNIQUE

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>  

KickTechSet                                                                           
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  

SubSet                                                                                    
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. 

Main Set                                                                                 
• 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.

Sample Day 5
3300m
3 BREATHING PATTERNS <B.P.>

WarmUp                                                                                
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.  

SubSet                                                                               
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  
 
Main Set                                                                            
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 

Swimdown                                                                        
200  BP 2, rest 20 FINS and Paddles

Sample Day 7
2700m
4 PACING. RACE DAY PACING

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  

SubSet                                                                              
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  

Swimdown                                                                 
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.

Sample Day 8
3000m
5 THE LONG TIMED SWIM

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.

Main set  
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 
 


Swim down    
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

Sample Day 10
3400m
6 The ENDURANCE BLOCK

WarmUp                                                                              
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 

SubSet                                                                                   
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. 

Main Set                                                                                  
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 
  
Swimdown                                                                           
100 Non FC if possible, if not add a pull buoy and close one fist for half a length then switch mid way.

Sample Day 12
2600m
7 THE OPENWATER BRICK SESSION

WarmUp                                                                                   
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.

Sub/KickSet                                                                             
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  
  
MainSet                                                                          
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.  

SwimDown Set                                                                  
3 x 100m FS recovery swim off 40secs rest.   Start with fins/paddles and snorkel and remove an item with each swim.

Dan Bullock
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SWIM FOR TRI

Swim for Tri, based in London but now coaching across the UK, is a swim tech & coaching concept brought to you by the brother & sister team of Dan&Keeley Bullock. The team share over 30 years experience of competitive swimming, coaching, teaching swim lessons & a direct involvement with Triathlon & Openwater racing as competitors & Coaches.
In the last 14 plus years, the dedicated team at Swim For Tri & their teaching methods have helped thousands to faster & easier swim sections of their races