Training Session: "The Shaper"

Over to Swim Smooth Head Coach Paul Newsome for this week's training session feature:

The next time you're feeling a bit flat and not holding the water as well as you would hope, try this great little session, which will have you feeling like a super-fish in no time!

I designed it when I was training with the elite triathlon performance squad at the University of Bath in the UK. Every week we would hit the water hard on Monday morning with a long endurance swim. If you weren't 'feeling the water' in this session it would be a real struggle. So every Sunday afternoon I would sneak off by myself and do a little preparation set that I affectionately called the Sunday 'Shaper'.

It is a very simple short session of drills combined with short efforts at about 1500m or triathlon race pace. It's about trying to maintain your technique and form when swimming at a relatively fast pace. If you're new to swimming don't be put off - anyone who can swim 1500m can do this session, and you can enjoy it with friends who are much faster or slower than yourself.

Make sure you take time to really feel these drills without rushing them!

"The Shaper"


200m freestyle nice and easy

100m backstroke nice and easy (breaststroke is an alternative)

Main Set:

20x 50m split up as 2x (10x 50m), the first set with fins, the second set without. Perform all 50s as drill on the odd numbers; a portion of the 50m 'fast' with good form on the even numbers:

1. Set 1: 10x 50m as drill on odd numbers, 50m freestyle on even numbers, take 20 seconds rest between each 50m.

As you are using fins, choose drills which aid your efficiency in the water - e.g. body roll and recovery drills. Suitable choices from our DVD Boxset are: 6/1/6, 6/3/6, Popov, Unco, Corkscrew Kick. On the 50m freestyles, swim just above race pace whilst maintaining good form, feeling really fluid in the water.

2. Set 2: 10x 50m as 25m drill into 25m freestyle on odd numbers, 25m fast into 25m easy on even numbers. Again 20 seconds rest between each. As you are not using fins this time, concentrate on drills which will aid your propulsion through the water - e.g. catch and pull through drills. So you might choose Scull #1, #2 or #3, doggy paddle or fists drill. When you go from 25m drill into 25m freestyle, really feel the water and try to sense being very strong in the water. Swim the next 25m at just above race pace then into 25m easy, again maintaining good form, feeling really strong in the water.


100m freestyle nice and easy

100m back or breaststroke

And there you have it - 1500m of pure feel-good swimming vibes. Don't be tempted to do anymore than this, simply walk away from the pool feeling good, ready for your next big swim session!




Anonymous said...

Great post. I am certain the vast majority of your colleague in Bath would have felt the same, so this begs the question why would the coach give work when it is highly likely no one is technically proficient? Could you give a suggestion to what he should have given in the warm up of the monday morning set in order to get better value out of the the later half of the monday morning session?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your posting. I don't specifically think anything was missing in the Monday session per se, simply that I personally wanted to feel like I was feeling the water well going into that particular session. The warm-up did contain some good drills and technique focus, for me though the Sunday session allowed me to do a very easy session without any pressure or time constraints etc. Hope this helps answer your question!

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