Terms & Definitions
Each of these terms has a slightly different meaning during our sets.
Strong: You should focus on your catch underwater and finishing your stroke all the way through so that you feel strong in the water. This is not a slow speed, but it is not at the top of your speed either.
ALL-OUT/Race: This should be the top of your speed during a set - race pace.
Fast: This should be a fast pace, above your strong pace, but below your all-out pace. It's a tough balance to strike, but you should be working harder than average when given a "fast" set.
Active Recovery (AR):
After a hard set, or a timed swim, it is critical to get the lactic acid out of your muscles. Active recovery will typically be given as a 50 or 100 easy (your choice of stroke or kick) in order to give you time to reset and get ready for the next set/swim.
Reverse Circle Swim:
Circle swimming in America is similar to how we drive on the road...stay to the right side of the lane. Reverse Circle Swimming is going in the other direction...staying to the LEFT side of the lane. Use this as a fun way to warm up as long as EVERYONE in the lane is aware of what is going on...please, no head-on-collisions!
Descend Stroke Count:
These instructions will also contain a set of numbers, for example: 1-4/5-8. These numbers tell you how long to descend your stroke count before starting over. If the set is 50s, count your strokes on the first 50. On the second 50, try to take less strokes. Continue descending the number until you have completed the first 4x50. On the 5th 50, start over with regular/natural stroke count and descend that number on the 6th, 7th, and 8th 50.
Distance Per Stroke:
When focusing on distance per stroke, you are focusing on extending your reach as far forward and as far backward as possible. The best way to do this is to focus on your rotation. On each stroke, you want to extend your forward motion as far in front as possible by rotating your shoulders and your hips the same direction. At the same time, this will help to extend your other arm back to your thigh as you push your hips out. Repeat for each stroke.
IM (which stands for Individually Medley). This refers to the 4 swim strokes in order: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle. If you are comfortable with other strokes, I encourage you to do some IM training. If you prefer jut freestyle, just change the interval to make the set challenging.
"Reverse IM order" refers to a change in the order: Freestyle, Breaststroke, Backstroke, Butterfly.
"IM Switch" is usually in context with a set of 50s. The first 50 will be 25 Fly/25 Back, the second 50 will be 25 Breast/25 Free. Repeat until you have completed the given number of repetitions.
Instead of asking my intermediate athletes to swim another stroke, I give the option of anything that is NOT freestyle. A drill or kicking will suffice...or any of the other three strokes.
Unless a specific drill is mentioned in the workout, you may choose the freestyle drill that you like or prefer. A "drill" refers to anything that emphasizes one aspect of the freestyle stroke to help the swimmer improve. Examples are: catch-up drill, fingertip-drag, single-arm drill, etc.
This term refers to a steady increase in effort during the given distance. For example, 4x50 build...start each 50 very easy, build your effort to medium near the middle, increase to fast as you approach the end of the 50.
This refers to adding any type of equipment that emphasizes the pull and minimizes the leg/kicking action. Pull buoys are the basic addition for a "pull" set. Paddles are OPTIONAL and should be used only with a correct swim stroke and when the athlete has built sufficient strength.
Hold your kick board upright in the water (like a tombstone) and push it forward. This should NOT be easy...the more of the board you hold under the water, the harder this drill is!
Take a deep breath and push off the wall underwater in streamline position. Hand on top of hand, straight arms, biceps squeezing against your ears, like an arrow through the water. Kick butterfly/dolphin kick or freestyle/flutter kick as far as you can under the water. When you have to breathe, come up to the surface and swim the rest of the way across the pool.
Push off the wall and swim to the flags near the opposite side of the pool. When you swim under the flags, dive underwater and kick into the wall. Stay under the water as you perform a flip turn or open-turn. Push off and streamline kick until you are past the flags. Pop up and continue swimming back to the wall you started at. This is a very challenging breath-control set and helps swimmers get comfortable with being underwater and holding their breath.
Snake Warm Up:
Snake warm up is a creative way to get swim practice started.
Start in the far left lane of your pool (or of the space that is available to swim in). Swim ONE length of the pool in the first lane. When you reach the far side of the pool, move one lane to the right. Swim ONE length of the pool in the second lane. When you reach the other side of the pool, move to the next lane and continue swimming ONE length in each lane. When you reach the other side of the pool (or the other side of the available area), get out of the pool, walk to the first lane, and repeat the SNAKE!
Hypoxic Breathing Patterns:
Build lung capacity and become more comfortable in the water by challenging your regular breathing pattern with hypoxic sets. Breathing every third stroke is the most common form of bilateral breathing (aka: breathing to both sides of the body).
"300 swim with 3/5/7 breathing pattern by 25" is a common instruction in my workouts. This means swim a straight 300 freestyle. On the first 25, breathe every 3rd stroke. On the second 25, every 5th stroke. And on the third 25, every 7th. Repeat this pattern until the 300 is completed.
Turn @ the "T" (aka: No Walls):
Triathletes and open water swimmers know very well that there is no wall in the middle of the lake. Unfortunately, we can't always train in open water or mile long pools. No matter how fast your turn is, every time you push off the wall, you get a little break from swimming.
During long swims, try to replicate open water swimming by turning at the "T" or about 4 feet before you reach the wall. This removes the moment of rest and makes a long swim seem uninterrupted. It also helps you to focus on your core when coming out of the turn to gain momentum again.
This swim set is best performed with a group of athletes similar in speeds. 3-4 people works the best. The set will designate a distance and # of repetitions, ex: 4x150 swim. During each 150 yards, the front person should change every 50 yards. During a longer set, 400s, the front person should change every 100 yards.
Lets say Swimmer A starts in the front, with Swimmers B & C in line behind him. (Remember to stay close and swim right on the feet in front.) After 50 yards, Swimmer A will stop on the wall (in the corner of the lane) while Swimmers B & C turn and continue swimming. Swimmer A is now swimming behind Swimmer C. After another 50 yards, Swimmer B will move to the back while Swimmer C leads the final 50.
Frog on a Lily-Pad (aka: Frog):
Frog is a fun drill to try. Sit on a kick-board between your legs, and use your arms to move forward. Use a breaststroke pulling motion. This is a great social activity because you can chat with your lane mates as you move down the pool. You will feel the muscles in your forearms and upper back getting a good workout!
This means to do the second half of the swim FASTER than the first half. For example, when it says 4x200 (negative split), you will swim the first 100 smooth and then the second 100 faster than the first. Try to maintain the same pace during each half. The goal is to work on "finishing speed" instead of fading or bonking at the end of the swim.
Rotating Fast 25 (or any other distance):
Example set: 4x100 (rotating fast 25)
On the first 100, swim the first 25 FAST, the remaining 75 easy. On the second 100, swim the second 25 FAST and all the other laps easy. On the third 100, swim the third 25 fast and all the remaining laps easy. Continue the pattern until the set is completed.
Face the wall and place both hands on the top of the edge of the pool. Push up and out of the water until your arms are fully extended and then drop back down into the water. This will be harder or easier depending on how much you use the bottom of the pool.
Based on the depth of your pool, dolphin dives can be a fun way to practice for open water swimming. Dive down to the bottom of the pool, push off with your feet back toward the surface, take a stroke and get a big breath of air, and then dive down to the bottom again. Try to get to the bottom of the pool at least 3 times per lap!
A band is a piece of stretchy tubing (most often 1/3 of a punctured bike tube tied in a knot) that you place around your ankles to hold them together and prevent any kicking movement.
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