Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Walking into a swim club, Masters or triathlon club swim session for the first time can be an intimidating and confusing experience. Fear rises in you as you stroll across the deck, working your way through the gear and fit bodies to a crowd standing around a dry erase board.
As you peer through the crowd, you realize you have no idea what the fellow dressed in the Speedo polo shirt with a whistle and stopwatch is saying. You are even more confused when you glance at the board and see nothing but brackets with numbers and letters. What is going on here?
Ideally, when a newbie inquires about joining a swim club, the coach provides a quick personal orientation session, and thus spares him or her much of the potential stress of that first workout. But it doesn't always work out that way, so here is a different sort of orientation to help you decode the swim workout.
The Language of Swimming
The language of the swim workout is fairly simple and basically made up of abbreviations, numbers and a few terms. While most of what is written on the board will be fairly consistent among all coaches, there will always be variations, and it will still take a week or two to get to know your coach's swim set language.
Here is a list of the most common terms and abbreviations:
FR = Freestyle stroke
EZ = Easy
Fly = Fly
RI = Rest interval
w/ = With
BK = Backstroke
Dr = Drill
w-up = Warm-up
CH = Choice
c-d = Cool-down
PP = Pull + paddles
Here are some less common terms and abbreviations:
IM = Individual medley (all four strokes swum in the order of Fly/ BK/ BR /FR)
Lung busters entail purposely restricting the number of breaths you take while swimming. For example, "breathe 5 or 7" would mean "breathe once every 5 strokes or 7 strokes."
SG = Swim golf, a fun drill in which you add your stroke count for a given interval (say, 50 yards/meters) to your time for the same interval to generate a composite score
Band = Band only, a strength drill where one wears a band around his or her ankles to limit the kick
DPS = Distance per stroke, a drill where the swimmer tries to get as much distance as possible out of each stroke, usually measured by counting strokes for 50m
(NS) = Negative split, where the second half of the distance is swum faster than the first (e.g. (-) 100m)
"Descending" and "ascending" refer to swimming increasingly fast through a set (descending) or starting fast and then getting slower through a set (ascending).
There are quite a few swim drills, as well, including sculling (Sc), fist, head up (h-up), drag finger tips (dft) and one arm. These drills work mainly on "feel" for the catch and pull phases of the stroke.
Deciphering the Workout
After you've learned the basics, the next step is learning to read a swim set. Swim set descriptions are usually fairly clear. Sometimes, however, as in the world of academics, where it often seems the professor is either trying to confuse his or her students more or just impress them with his grasp of the English language, the swim coach can get carried away as well.
The bottom line is that we are just describing a workout. Sure, it can be creative, but it should make sense and be simple enough for people to remember.
2x (4x50m FR 1-4 on :45 / :55 / 50 choice ez :15 RI )
2x 4x50FR 1-4 on :45 / :55
50 ez :15 RI
These two sets are identical and show that there are a few ways to write the same thing. This set reads as two sets of 4x50m with 50m swim choice in between. There will always be a few monster sets with brackets within brackets, and then you will have to rely on your old college math and physics classes to help you make sense of them.
I also threw in a send-off time. That's the part that reads "on :45 and :55", which means that if the 50m took you 38 seconds, you then have seven seconds of rest left before you have to go again in the case of the 45-second send-off and 17 seconds of rest if you go on the 55-second send-off. For 100m sets you will have send-offs of 1:15, 1:20, 1:30, and so on.
The entire swim workout is comprised of sets. Usually the coach will start everyone off with a warm-up, and then maybe a little drill set followed by perhaps another little pre-set with some descending 50's to get the swimmers ready for the main set. After the main set, it is pretty common to go right into the cool-down, but you never know what kind of mood your coach will be in. You may find yourself having a kick set thrown your way before it is all over.
I hope this little lesson helped you make some sense of what is on the dry erase board and ultimately avoid any possible personal embarrassment.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
4 x 100 25 = 1-2-3 drill fins 1:30-1:40 or 1:50
8 x 25 One eye drill fins :30
8 x 25 catch up quick drill NO fins :40
12 x 25 :30
fist, fork, spoon - 4 of each
6 x 50 until drill 1:00 - 1:10
Units = number of strokes + your time it took to swim the 50.
4 x 50 = UNDER/ OVERS!!! (we skipped these to get to the pull set)
3 x 500 pull 7:30 or 8:00
Total- 2900 yards
Sunday, December 13, 2009
20 Minute Warm Up
14-20 x 50 with fins on 1:00-1:20
odds- fly kick
even- swim your choice of stroke
400-300-200-100 swim free working on stroke count.
Count strokes 1st 50 and last 50. count should be the same.
6-10 x 100 pull 1:45-2:20
breathing pattern 3-5 100's
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
20 Minute Warm Up
14 x 100 or 12 x 100
1. Fr 1:40, 2:00
2. kick fly/br 2:00, 2:30
4. back drill
6. BR kick
18 x 50 pull on :50- 1:10
3-5-7 breathing pattern by 50's
50 swim dps
100 swim dps
125 drill/swim by 25's
175 fast/easy by 25's
Monday, December 7, 2009
20 Minute Warm Up
12 x 75 fins- 1:30- 1:45
free- fly- free
free- bk- free
free- ch- free
fly free fly
back free back
breast free breast
choice free choice
free- fly- free
free- bk- free
free- ch- free
30 Rest after each set of 4
1 x 300 FR 4:30-6:00
4 x 150 pull 2:00-2:30
1 x 300 FR
4 x 100 kick 2:00, 2:30
1 x 300 FR
4 x 50 Fast/East 1:00
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
8x50 @ :50-1:15 (descend stroke count 1-4)
4x50 @ :50- 1:10 descend times 1-4
4x100 swim @ 1:30- 2:15
400 pull smooth
4x100 swim @ 2:30
400 pull smooth
4x50 @ 1:30 - 2:00 (kick/drill by 25)
200 cool down
By Lee Zohlman
Lap after lap, day after day, season after season you swim at the pool with hope that in your next race it will just click. You wish for a smooth, powerful Phelpsesque stroke that will leave you feeling fresh and ready to bike and run your way to glory or in the very least the finish line. Perhaps you've been fortunate to work with a coach or two and those swim books are still on your desk waiting to be cracked open at your lunch break and the words and pictures absorbed into your tri head. You understand in theory what you want your body to do in the water and you can visualize the perfect stroke in your head but for some reason an element is missing, a piece of the aqua puzzle. You begin checking off the components of the swim stroke you comprehend, your body position is much better and you have fixed where the hand should enter the water, the reach after entry is there as well. Now what?
While you address the fundamentals of the swim-stroke-like balance and rotation you can begin to integrate where the power of the swim stroke comes from. This part of the stroke can be called the catch and pull phase and this is one of the most crucial areas to work on. Having a good catch and pull phase will help you move more distance with fewer strokes and this is good stuff. You will be able to have better economy of movement in the water and after training this component you will be setting PRs.
Let's get down to the nitty gritty. U.S. Masters Swim Coach of the Year Emmet Hines says, "If you are using the fullest extent of your wing span in each stroke (i.e., stretching your stroke out in front and finishing your stroke completely in the rear) you should be able to move approximately the length of your wing span with each freestyle stroke. (In real life we find that some of the best swimmers move even farther than their wing span with each stroke." This can be accomplished by catching and pulling the water correctly. After your hand enters the water and you extend your arm to reach you will want to grab a handful of water by flexing your hand downward but keeping the arm relatively straight. This step takes place in less than a second so it is a very quick movement.
The beginning of this step is seen here:
To work on this in the pool you can use the various drills:
- One arm drill - this will allow you to focus on one arm at a time.
- Sculling in the front - simply extend your arms out straight in front of you, head is looking down and you are flutter kicking. At the same time you are pushing and pulling water with your hands. Your arms remain straight and you are just working on grabbing a handful of water.
Now that you have this big handful of water, what are you going to do with it? Now you begin to pull the water straight down. You do not want to pull out to the side. The KEY aspect to pulling the water is keeping your elbow up and NOT going into a straight arm pull. By keeping your elbow up you will be able to engage larger and more powerful muscles in your back. You do not want to cross over your mid line either or reach your hand towards your neck in this phase. An example of a bent arm pull is in Step 3 in the photo below.
Some drills you can use to develop this are:
- On dry land with elastic exercise tubing to practice the steps of the stroke and to develop the neuromuscular patterning you will need in the water.
- One-arm drill or catch up drill to isolate one arm at a time in a slow and focused stroke. You will be able to see where your arm/hand is going and fix it without having to worry about the other arm. With catch up drill you have one arm in front of you all the time so one hand doesn't start stroking until the other hand catches up to it.
- Paddles and pull buoy work will help you develop more swim specific strength and power and assist you in a better feel of the water.
- Once you are starting to be proficient at swimming and with a good foundation you can tie your legs together with a rubber tube or elastic band. This will force you to focus on body position and pulling hard through the water. Warning: this is a toughie.
Make sure you finish each stroke by pushing your hand all the way down so your thumb brushes your thigh before you begin to pull your elbow up on the recovery phase.
You can make very large gains in your swim by incorporating this information to your current routine. But in the end you will still have to be there lap after lap, day after day and season after season.