Over the festive season you may have a little time to think about and plan your swim training for the next few months. Be careful though, you could well be about to make a fundamental and incredibly common mistake - that of 'heading to the extremes'. For instance you could plan to:
- Only do technique work and no fitness training (or vice versa)
- Swim only with a pull buoy and/or paddles
- Focus purely on short sprints to develop your speed
- Aim to make your stroke as long as you possibly can
- Increase your stroke rate as high as you possibly can
- Only swim in the open water (one for our Southern Hemisphere athletes)
- Stop working on your water skills completely
We understand the temptation to take a 'one track only' approach to develop your swimming - all the coaches at Swim Smooth have been, or are currently, competitive swimmers or triathletes and have made these mistakes ourselves in the past. Unfortunately heading to the extremes like this very very rarely works out for the better. The people that become very fast efficient swimmers devote a portion of their training to areas of weakness but keep all the balls in the air with a well balanced all-round program.
If we were designing your swim program for the New Year it would include:
- The right technique work focused on your individual needs (e.g. see our Swim Type system)
- Some hard training, some longer aerobic sets and some lighter recovery sessions where you'll adapt to the hard work you're putting in.
- The use of fins during drills to gradually develop your hip flexor and ankle flexibility without having to do dedicated kick sets. Fins also help develop your kicking technique - in fact we do very few kick sets with a board here in Perth.
- If you plan to race in open water next year then we'd include drafting, sighting, pacing and mass start simulations in your pool sessions. Yes, we would keep practising this even in the off season because these skills are hard to perfect and can easily take minutes off your race times all by themselves. They're also a lot of fun and provide variety in your training.
- A focus on pacing skills - another critical aspect of your swimming technique as a distance swimmer.
- Combine these aspects into single sessions to make things more time efficient - for instance a session combining open water skills with fitness and pacing work.
- Keep it fun but be as consistent as you can with your training.
From everyone on the Swim Smooth team we'd like to thank you for all your feedback and messages of support in 2010, it's been a pleasure working with you. We've got a lot of exciting things in the pipeline for 2011 which we know you're going to love. Here's wishing you a fantastic Christmas break and a very Smooth New Year!