Tri Swim Coach
I'm at http://www.TriSwimCoach.com- a resource for beginning through intermediate level triathletes looking for help with swimming. The site features a free email newsletter offering tips and articles on triathlon swimming. I have also written an electronic book titled “The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming” and created "The Essential Triathlon Swimming DVD", both available on www.triswimcoach.com.
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August 2008 Swim Training Chat with Coach Kevin Koskella
Discussion on getting faster than 1:35/100m, IM swim training, counting strokes and improving an Olympic distance swim.
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[rkreuser] I'm a 1:35/100 swimmer on no swimming at all. Like none. But if I do 10000m a week, or 15000, I get no faster....I'm still a 1:25/100 guy. My stroke is technically sound, I've had two Olympians look at it, how do I get faster?
[Tri Swim Coach] We can safely say that having you go up to 20,000/week is not the solution. It is likely an efficiency issue that you have. Seeing your stroke underwater would probably shed some fantastic light on what you could improve in your stroke. Not having that insight, I will suggest working on efficiency by just getting more out of your strokes. Start with counting strokes per length.
[rkreuser] Yeah, I'm at 15 or 16 per 25m now. My turnover isn't huge. I was thinking intervals might help. I don't do many.
[Tri Swim Coach] 1) lower stroke count, 2) practice free golf . Free golf is doing sets of 50's where you count your strokes and get your time. Add these numbers together to get your "score." Lower that score by lowering your stroke count, your time, or a combination of both. 3) would be doing more intervals.
[rkreuser] Yeah, I'm optimal at 17 or 18 per length. Done that.
[Tri Swim Coach] Good job! Yes it sounds like you want to just focus on more intervals, and pay attention to your efficiency/stroke count at the same time.
[rkreuser] Hey, did anyone see the hand position of the Olympians? Fingers were closed, no spaces, and working the S path.
[Tri Swim Coach] True, they were closed. but, not always the 'S' path- sometimes people focus too much on making an 'S' on their pull, when they should be more concerned with hip rotation, balance, and body position.
[rkreuser] Yeah, but they could pull the S-path AND maintain balance.
[Tri Swim Coach] I'm not a fan of teaching the 'S'- simply because it will happen more easily once ALL the other parts of the stroke are fluid.
[rkreuser] Yeah, I stumbled onto it by accident. It feels sorta natural.
[Tri Swim Coach] So, if you are focusing on the perfect pull but say your balance is off, or you are not rotating enough, it will make things more difficult.
[Tri Swim Coach] Watching these Olympians can be helpful, but sometimes these guys have perfected strokes that they've been working with for 20 years- and it may not be exactly what you should try to copy.
[TriAya] In base building phase for IM, how should I plan my swim training? IM plans are all over the map on this one...currently, my plan calls for 2 swims about 2500 each per week (which seems ludicrous to me, but I'm trying to trust), a few 300 or 400s in there, but mostly intervals from 25 to 100 yd.
[Tri Swim Coach] Only 5,000 yards per week? That doesn't seem like enough! BUT, if you have a strong swim background, you may not need to do a whole lot more than that if you are going to be focusing on your "weaker" legs
[TriAya] Yes and no ... this is a cookie cutter plan. I'm thinking of just outright adding 2 more swims to it, starting at 2000-2500yd, and a fair amount of LSD work but do some intervals and other strokes so I don't go out of my mind
[Tri Swim Coach] Good idea, you may need only 3 days of swimming if you are efficient. Just make sure one of those days includes open water practice or at least a long swim.
[TriAya] Okay, just wanted to know if I was ballpark and wasn't doing something stupid by "adding" stuff to the plan (it's Don Fink's Iron Fit 30-week)
[rkreuser] OK, Kevin, I'll throw you a softball. What's a good workout to improve OLY speed, for a swimmer that's 1:35/100m, and getting through 10000m/week?
[Tri Swim Coach] Lots of different ways to go. The key is to keep up with the stroke counting and make necessary adjustments if you are starting to get too high above your average. You may want to play with doing 1:40/100 for a while and just work on technique in order to pick up speed.
[rkreuser] Really? Which technique drills?
[Tri Swim Coach] Drills? Start with balance- kicking on your side, and the "shark fin" drill.
[rkreuser] Oh, I should mention, I don't kick. Ever.
[Tri Swim Coach] Yes, most/many triathletes just want to train faster to get faster, but it doesn't really work like that. You do need a kick, but it doesn't have to be powerful. Doing the vertical kicking can help. Basically, kick in place in a vertical position - don't use your hands to keep up. Make sure you are keeping yourself in a straight line. focus on using upper quad muscles and very little knee bend.
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