Friday, July 04, 2014

Mind The Gap!

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Previously on the Swim Smooth blog we've talked about using a Tempo Trainer Pro to control your swimming pace in training, both in CSS Sessions and also in (the slightly scary) Red Mist Sessions. One of the great things about using beepers in this way is how accurately you can control your pace (to 0.01 second per 25m/yd!) and how you can easily make very small increases in your swimming speed week on week which add up to big gains over time. #is there a link to the 10w plan paul, i can't find it for the mo.#

BUT - and it is a big but - what if you swim in a squad session? How can you control your pace so accurately with swimmers behind and in front, all at slightly different levels of fitness to yourself? Unfortunately there's no getting around the fact that you can't be as individually accurate with your own training speeds in a squad environment but there are other advantages of squad training which more than make up for this.

The upside of swimming in a squad (and it is a big upside!) is that you gain massive motivation to complete hard training sessions and measure yourself against your friends:

The 9:30 squad are all smiles after a Wednesday morning CSS session!
When swimming CSS and Red Mist sessions in the Swim Smooth squads we only give the lead swimmer in each lane the beeper. Then all the other swimmers stay behind that swimmer and match their swimming pace - the beeper being set for the best overall pace for the lane. The lanes are quite well balanced in terms of swimming ability but if some of the swimmers towards the rear of the group get dropped slightly that's not a problem, they just rejoin on the next rest interval.

The absolute key to success when swimming these sessions in a group is to maintain the gap to the person in front and not try to catch them up. We call this: Mind The Gap!

If you swam hard at the start of each swim you might well be able to catch the leader for the 5 seconds so you can sit on their feet. Don't do this! If everyone tries the same thing, the person behind you has to swim 10 seconds faster and the one behind them 15 seconds etc. Before you know everyone is swimming much too hard at the start of the swim before slowing down dramatically when they get onto the toes and into the draft of the swimmer in front.

This is exactly what we are trying to avoid with CSS and Red Mist sessions - the name of the game is consistent pacing to develop your aerobic engine, which is what you need for distance swimming and triathlon. By repeatedly closing the gap through a set you sprint-recover-sprint-recover which might be good training for sprinting but not so good for distance swimming where you need to hold a consistent pace for a long period of time.

And what if the leader fades or is having a bad session? We simply swap the leader and they pass the beeper to another swimmer. Or we might design the set to swap leaders regularly - teamwork!

Keep your discipline and leave a 5 to 10 second
gap to the swimmer in front before setting off.
So when swimming training sets in your squad keep your discipline and Mind The Gap - closing up to the swimmer in front will only harm your own swimming, and disrupt the session for everyone else.

Swim Smooth!

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