Saturday, September 19, 2009

Secret Filming Of Swimmers' Pacing Skills

Hi, Paul Newsome here.

On the blog today I wanted to share a little demonstration with you -- something I think that every swimmer could learn something from watching. It’s a short video clip secretly filmed by a Swim Smooth coach at one of our squad sessions here in Perth, Australia.

The swimmers in the video are normal age group triathletes and swimmers in a normal training session. There’s nothing unusual about them, in fact they’re probably a lot like you and swim a lot like you, too. There’s a whole range of abilities there - some are new to swimming and some are very experienced and yet by starting too fast they’re all pacing their swimming in a way that’s really harming their performance. Do you do the same? Chances are you do.

Check out the video:


In our experience 99% of swimmers swim this way in training and races – starting too fast and then fading. Pacing is a critical skill if you want to maximise your race speed. By starting too fast you’ll fade dramatically in the second half of the race and lose much more time than you ever gained early on.

The problem with poor pacing in training is that it reduces the fitness gains you achieve. If you want to improve faster, or get off a speed plateau, you need to pace your swim sets carefully. When you pace things right it feels easier too and you’ll avoid that horrible feeling of ‘my stroke is falling apart’.

Here are the swimming speeds from the guys in the video over the course of that first 150m swim. Notice the large drop off in pace (we’ve added a 25m split in too):

If you swim with a masters group or squad you probably feel under significant peer pressure to keep up or stay in front as everyone else starts too fast around you. If you’re in this situation why not try some carefully paced sets swimming by yourself, experience the benefits and then suggest to your group to try swimming that way?

In forthcoming blog posts and articles we’ll be giving you some more advice and tips on how best to work on your pacing. If you want to experiment straight away, get a friend to take your splits (preferably every 25m) through a simple set like this:

5 to 8x 200m swum at your fastest sustainable pace with 30 seconds rest between each.

After each 200m get feedback on how you did and try and improve on the next one. I’m sure you’ll be very surprised how easy you have to take the first 25-100m to pace the set perfectly! Let us know how you go on this thread on our forum:

Remember, good pacing is a form of swimming technique, just like good stroke mechanics. Learning good pacing skills is just as important if you want to achieve your potential in the water.


Swim Smooth!

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