Thursday, April 23, 2009

Swim Workout: How to Add Speed Without Adding Churn

Many times when I'm working with inexperienced swimmers I will perform the following metric. I have them swim 100 at their slow or long distance pace, then with adequate rest a 100 at their medium or middle distance pace, then rest again then 100 sprint. Often the result will be that their slow, medium, and fast 100's are only separated by a second or two, or are exactly the same speed. Sometimes the "fastest" one is actually slower than their "slow" despite the fact that they are way more winded after swimming "fast".

The reason for these strange results is that for many swimmers when they try to swim faster they drastically increase their churn. This leads to increased drag and despite the fact that they are working much harder, they are actually not swimming any faster at all.

If you have never tried this metric, try it sometime after a good warmup. Ideally your slow, medium, and fast speeds should be separated by 10 seconds or more.

The following workout is meant to help with these issues. The main set is comprised of "descending" (meaning: getting faster) sets. For instance, the three 50s, 100s, etc. are to be swum at a distance pace (pace you would swim 1500 at), middle distance pace (pace for 300 - 500) and sprint (pace for a 100).

On the first one (distance pace) I have my swimmers focus on swimming smooth. I use the mantra "slow is smooth, smooth is fast, therefore slow is fast", repeating that over in my head when I swim a distance set. This keeps your focus on a smooth, low-drag stroke. Use a 2-beat or relaxed 6-beat kick.

On the second (middle-distance pace), I have the swimmers use the exact same smooth stroke, but add power. By this I mean as soon as you instigate the catch in your stroke, you pull back on the water with more power. Everything else stays the same.

For the third (fast pace), use the same smooth stroke with power but add in a strong kick. This should be your sprinting stroke - a hard kick with a smooth and powerful stroke, but relaxed and smooth recovery.

Keeping all this in mind, here's the workout:

200 Swim, 100 Kick, 4 x 50 Pull DPS (Distance per Stroke)
8 x 75 Kick/Drill/Swim IM Order
4 x (25 - 50 - 25) 5 sec rest, 10 sec rest, 5 sec rest - Start to add some speed here on the 50s

Main Set:
Descending - 1: Smooth, 2: Smooth with Power, 3: Smooth with Power and kick
3 x 50
3 x 100
3 x 150
3 x 200

Cool Down:
100 Choice

Total 3100 yards

1 comment:

kodiacbear said...

Hi Robin, been lurking around a bit and wanted to say this makes total sense--I just finished telling my coach that my "faster" swim is slower or the same as my slow swim and she told me the exact same thing--now I just need to put it into practice :)peace,angie