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Old 04-07-2011
terry terry is offline
Head Coach
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,305
terry has disabled reputation
Default A Pace-Honing Medley Practice

One key to improving your speed is to devote at least one -- and better two -- sets or practices per week to swimming at or very close to your current 'Speed Limit.' To do that properly, nearly everything else you do throughout the week needs to be pretty easy.

However, it's rare for Masters or fitness swimmers, and triathletes to train this way. Most swim sorta-hard, sorta-fast all the time. Not fast enough to improve on their current Speed Limit. And never easy enough to avoid a static-stale state.

This kind of training is important because Swimming Faster is Hard. Hard physically and hard neurally.

It's hard physically because drag increases exponentially with speed: To swim a little faster, your muscles and lungs must work a LOT harder.

It's hard neurally because - mathematically - the only way to swim faster is to improve the combination of Stroke Length and Rate. And keeping a long stroke at a high rate (when heart and respiration rate are also high) is devilishly difficult.

It takes a serious commitment to recovery/restoration between fast practices or sets to be able to swim the quality stuff at a level that actually produces improvement. But the easier practices that produce recovery should still be designed to hone abilities that help you swim faster. Today's Medley-Pacing practice is a good example. I did a high-intensity, neurally-demanding set of 8x200 on Monday and hope to be ready to swim fast again tomorrow. So I needed to devote today to 'serious ease.'

I did three low-intensity, yet neurally-exacting sets that will be just as valuable as any high-intensity set in helping me race fast in the 400 I.M. races I'll swim Apr 17 at Zones and Apr 29 at Masters Nationals.

Set #1 (Warmup/Tuneup)
All swims at 15-16 SPL
4 x 50 BK (53-52 sec)
2 x 100 BK (1:49-1:46)
1 x 200 BK (3:35)

Set #2
All swims at 8-9SPL Fly, 16SPL BK, 8-9SPL BR, 15 SPL FR)
4 x 100 IM (1:42-1:43)
2 x 200 IM (#1 straight 3:17, #2 as 2x100 IM nonstop 3:19)
1 x 400 IM - as 4 x 100 IM nonstop (6:36)

Set #3
All swims at 16SPL BK and 8SPL BR
4 x 50 25BK+25BR (53-52 sec)
2 x 100 50BK+50BR (1:45 on both)
1 x 200 100BK+100BR (3:29)

In each set I swam the same distance 3x, first as 4 pieces, then as 2 pieces, then as 1 piece. My goal was to keep both SPL and pace consistent as repeat distance doubled, then doubled again. My sense of pace was keenest on Set #3 where the straight 200 was faster than the 2 x 100 and 4 x 50.

The key to success in this set is the ability to control effort over the shorter swims. When controlling, not maximizing, effort is your goal, you're assured of getting good recovery.

At the same time, honing an impeccable sense of pace is just as valuable as fast repeat swimming to the ability to race your best.
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 04-07-2011 at 12:30 AM.
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