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  #1  
Old 07-23-2012
tritri tritri is offline
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tritri
Default French Olympic Team training observations

Hi, new member here, started learning TI Swimming in June to try my first triathlon in August.

I had the opportunity to watch a training session of the French Olympic team this weekend. There were like 20 of them, including Laure Manaudou and Alain Bernard. What struck me most is that they trained exactly as Terry describes it in his books. They spent a lot of time working on technique: balance, stroke, etc. From time to time, they used pool toys, kickboards, pull buoys, hand paddles, but never for countless hours. I may be wrong, but I think they used it primarily to focus on specific technical areas, not to build strength or endurance as they only did one or two lengths at a time with the toys, never long series of laps. Instead, they obviously use weightlifting to build core strength (we could see some machines and gym mats in the back room). From time to time, they did a lap at full speed, or rather, half a lap. That's right, they never seemed to do 50m at full speed, but only 25m and stopped or slowed down in the middle of the pool, I was very surprised by that. I only saw 1 session, so full length laps at full speed may have been on the agenda for other sessions, I don't know.

All swimmers use a high elbow recovery and catch, a patient leading hand, and core body rotation, exactly like TI. Some of them use a 2 beat kick, others a 6 BK. I could not judge the pull technique accurately as I was standing above the water. Something else I noticed, and never thought of before, is that some of the swimmers seem (I'm not 100% sure) to only open half their mouth to inhale, keeping the submerged part shut.

Anyway, I thought these observations might be useful for the community, and only reinforced my commitment to learn and train the TI way. By the way, Alain Bernard could do 50m @24SPL, I still have a very very very long way to go ;)
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  #2  
Old 07-23-2012
swimust swimust is offline
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looks like Alain is past his pick and lost his chance for gold medal in 100 free. blew it when he was the best in the world now its too late. his mental strength very questionable. should I say "loser"? thats not nice by me. but who knows the future?...
they did the distance swimming whole year, now they just do minor adjustments, i guess, i dont stalk them.
the french always under achieved in the pool in my opinion.
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Last edited by swimust : 07-23-2012 at 05:16 PM.
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  #3  
Old 07-24-2012
ian mac ian mac is offline
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Default Swim a mile in their fins before calling them loser

Oh swimust, ignorance really is bliss. Before posting this reply to your inane reference to Alain Bernard perhaps being a "loser" I reviewed his world record swim of 46.94 on You Tube. Given that Bernard is both an Olympic champion and world record holder, there are very few people in the world who have earned the right to call him loser. And you, dear swimust are not one of them.

In fact, one who could do so, Jason Lezak, qualified sixth to barely make this 2012 USA Olympic 4 x 100 relay team, and only because Ryan Lochte scratched from the final. Jason's 2008 Olympic 100 relay split of 46.06 is still the fastest 100 metres ever swum. By your "standard" does he too qualify as a loser?

More to the point, do you ever think before posting? Tritri makes some very salient points about how so many Olympic athletes swim the way Terry teaches swimming through Total Immersion. He seems to appreciate their dedication to technique. I am glad that he is inspired by them (as am I of EVERY Olympic swimmer) and that they have helped reinforce his desire to learn the TI method.

Another Frenchman Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics states, "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well," and also that,"If he is knocked out of the competition, he encourages his brothers with his words and presence."

I am sure that Bernard and Lezak, great champions both, will make their respective teams greater through their leadership and example.

Back to tritri's observations: at this time just prior to any major swim meet, swimmers are involved in a most important part of their pre-race preparation, the taper. A taper is the need to recover following prolonged periods of high-volume/high-intensity training.
An important ingredient of the taper is the work that has gone into swimming before the taper even starts. Terry refers to this as mindful neural practice.Tapering allows the swimmer to adapt to perform as the result of regular season training.

According to an article in the American Swim Coaches Association:
"During a taper the work volume can be reduced along with the intensity of work. The frequency of practices and focus during a practice should remain at the same level as the regular season. The reduction in volume of work will not result in a decreased performance ability. All performance factors are maintained at this important period of time. The amount of work volume dropped during the taper may/will vary from coach to coach - swimmer to swimmer. This only plays a small part in heightening performance capacity. The length of a taper will vary too. As studies by ICAR (International Center For Aquatic Research) have shown, peak performance can be accomplished at a 60 percent reduction of work volume. This can be done over a long period of time or a relatively short period. Studies also show the same taper can be effective for the high volume and lower volume groups."

So that is what you were watching - the finishing touches to bring great athletes to the pinnacle of their abilities after years of dedicated hard work and mental preparation.

As a swim geek who has PVR'd both the Canadian and American Olympic swimming trials, I too am inspired daily by these great swimmers and am looking forward to this brilliant 8 days of competition.
Happy laps,
ian mac

Last edited by ian mac : 07-24-2012 at 06:46 AM. Reason: redundancy
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  #4  
Old 07-24-2012
swimust swimust is offline
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@ ian mac,
:) nice reply. I dont remember Alain winning the Chinese Olympics at 100 free. He had the world record for about a month then an Aussie took it if I am not wrong. How many GOLD medals has he won in relation to the number of competitions?
I clearly remember him choking in China and other last major events. The Brazilian guy that cries all the time won all last major events in 100 free. You have forgotten him for some reason.
But its a good post over all if I am allowed to say.

P.S. - Tritri gave the impression that long distance swimming is not done by the French swimmers, so I talked about that.
Personally I think that the French swimmers need a bit more fire and focus in their swim but thats just my personal opinion. They are very technical, maybe they need to focus more on winning mentality, thats the thing that gave Phelps the win in that butterfly swim by one thousand of a second. just my opinion.
Dont get me wrong, I like the French and appreciate them but some things need to be addressed.
They have a rough week anyway with london and not paris having the games and that tour de france... it happens and there is always another day. In football (soccer) they won more than Engalnd (a world cup and a european cup).
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Last edited by swimust : 07-24-2012 at 04:40 AM.
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  #5  
Old 07-24-2012
ian mac ian mac is offline
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ian mac
Default Pearls before...

Swimust,
Thank you for the compliment, but as usual in your posts, you seem to have missed the point entirely. Just because you don't remember Bernard winning the Olympic Gold Medal doesn't take away from the fact that he did. Since you have a computer you could actually check your facts - opinions are so much worthwhile when based in reality: in the 2008 Olympics, in the 3 events that he competed in he won a gold,silver and bronze.

This will probably come as a complete surprise to you, but before any swimming event at the Olympic level, all the competitors in the final have the physical ability and the mental desire to win. That's why they have the races in the first place. The US 4 x 100 freestyle team had great motivation to want to win, Phelp's possible 8 gold notwithstanding - the French had trash talked them prior to the race. I would rather spin it that Lezak swam the greatest 100 metres of all time and with exceptional technique and in TI fashion, TOOK SUBSTANTIALLY FEWER STROKES than Bernard. In a TI forum, that seems to be more relevant.

You also seem to miss entirely the point of tritri's observations. His two most salient points were "What struck me most is that they trained exactly as Terry describes it in his books. They spent a lot of time working on technique: balance, stroke, etc. From time to time, they used pool toys, kickboards, pull buoys, hand paddles, but never for countless hours. I may be wrong, but I think they used it primarily to focus on specific technical areas, not to build strength or endurance as they only did one or two lengths at a time with the toys, never long series of laps," and secondly,"All swimmers use a high elbow recovery and catch, a patient leading hand, and core body rotation, exactly like TI."

Another point you missed completely (surprise) is the context of the practice. One workout just before the Olympics is not an encapsulation of everything that swimmers do in an entire year. Also there is something at the Olympic level called specificity. Freestyle sprinters practice much differently than middle distance and distance freestylers. Sprinters will do huge amounts of technique oriented work interspersed with bouts of blazing speed for short distances while trying to maintain that technique. Distance swimmers also focus on technique, but tend to practice more on race pace simulations and broken swims. The relevant point is that great swim form makes you as fast as possible.

No one can take away the fact that Michael Phelps has as finely honed a sense of winning as anyone who ever put on a bathing suit. He is the greatest swimming champion ever. I love discussing the mental aspects of competition- but it has nothing to do with the original post.

I took exception to your post for the same reason others on these forums do. Just about everything you write is nonsense. Your comments had no relevance to the wonderful thread posted by tritri, so I wanted to get back on point:TI is relevant at the Olympic level and new swimmers can see that and be inspired.

My father used to rebuke us occasionally to "Engage your brain before disengaging your mouth." Just once, it would be nice if you would do similarly in a post. Read and at least try to understand their point before spouting off your post and try to remain relevant. In my opinion ;-/
ian mac

PS- sorry to the rest of my TI brethren for being so didactic.

Last edited by ian mac : 07-24-2012 at 06:51 AM. Reason: spelling
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  #6  
Old 07-24-2012
tritri tritri is offline
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Dear Swimust,

No offense, you're allowed to have your opinion on Alain Bernard, but I learned that when you show respect to others, others will respect you more. I personally don't see him as a loser, he's shown a dedication in pursuing his objectives and attaining excellence that I can only dream of.

Ian Mac,

Thanks for reminding me it's the taper phase, somehow I completely forgot about that (let's hope I don't forget about it before my own comp ;). They probably did more fast and hard interval training earlier, but just days before the competition they want to allow full recovery of their body, not break it down a little.
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Old 07-24-2012
swimust swimust is offline
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Dear ian mac :)
Thats why he was labeled as a loser in my head. thanks for refreshing my memory. see the quote :)
Quote:
Before the relay, Bernard taunted the American swim team. He and the rest of his French team ended up in second place behind the American team by .08 seconds. Bernard, who was given a lead going into the anchor leg of slightly less than a body length, was caught in the final strokes by Jason Lezak, whose anchor leg of 46.06 seconds was the fastest relay leg in history.
After 2008 he won no gold in the world championships and there were two if i am not wrong (Italy and China). so.. he won 1 gold out of 3, no, make it 1 out of 4 because he wont be at London. 1 out of 4 he could have won with his potential. not just a loser but now also out of shape...

Quote:
Bernard failed to qualify for the 50 m freestyle and 100 m freestyle events of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London by finishing only fifth in both events during the French swimming championships in March 2012
taken from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alain_Bernard
apologies if he is a close family member of yours. at least he held a world record and got one first place out of few tries.

as for TI and world class level relations, its apples and oranges.. same family but not the same.

last but not least embarrassing for a country like France is this:
Quote:
Bernard became only the second Frenchman to win a gold medal in swimming, after Jean Boiteux, who won the 400 m freestyle at the 1952 Helsinki Games
Are you kidding me? only 2 gold medals in France history! A country like France? I now believe in my opinion even more than before. Thanks for making me see how correct I was.
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Last edited by swimust : 07-24-2012 at 08:12 AM.
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  #8  
Old 07-24-2012
tritri tritri is offline
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Swimust, I am not related to Alain Bernard in any way, I'm trying hard to figure out why you believe so. And I'm not French, I'm Belgian. In Belgium, we make excellent medals in chocolate to compensate for the fact that we never win gold during the Olympics.

Oh, by the way, you're right, Alain Bernard is only the second FrenchMAN to win gold in swimming. However, believe it or not, we have women in France. Yes, women, how crazy is that? One of them is Laure Manaudou, and you might want to add her gold medals to France's total.

Some people go bungee jumping for unique experiences. I have to say, replying to your posts beats that, and by a fair margin.
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  #9  
Old 07-24-2012
swimust swimust is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tritri View Post
Swimust, I am not related to Alain Bernard in any way, I'm trying hard to figure out why you believe so. And I'm not French, I'm Belgian. In Belgium, we make excellent medals in chocolate to compensate for the fact that we never win gold during the Olympics.

Oh, by the way, you're right, Alain Bernard is only the second FrenchMAN to win gold in swimming. However, believe it or not, we have women in France. Yes, women, how crazy is that? One of them is Laure Manaudou, and you might want to add her gold medals to France's total.

Some people go bungee jumping for unique experiences. I have to say, replying to your posts beats that, and by a fair margin.
Hi, I meant to ian mac, not you. you are ok and not as "loud" as him... :) please read the top line, its for ian mac.
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  #10  
Old 07-24-2012
swimust swimust is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tritri View Post
Swimust, I am not related to Alain Bernard in any way, I'm trying hard to figure out why you believe so. And I'm not French, I'm Belgian. In Belgium, we make excellent medals in chocolate to compensate for the fact that we never win gold during the Olympics.

Oh, by the way, you're right, Alain Bernard is only the second FrenchMAN to win gold in swimming. However, believe it or not, we have women in France. Yes, women, how crazy is that? One of them is Laure Manaudou, and you might want to add her gold medals to France's total.

Some people go bungee jumping for unique experiences. I have to say, replying to your posts beats that, and by a fair margin.
haha great post tritri, nice :)
I will say two words about Belgian gold medals: 1) Justine 2) Kim
both worth gold and real winners :)
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Last edited by swimust : 07-24-2012 at 09:35 AM.
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