Here's some ideas:
- Making the shift from single-sided to bilateral breathing. Straightening out your stroke and improving your catch technique are two great knock-on benefits of this change; more benefits here: www.feelforthewater.com/2019/05/and-now-case-for-bilateral-breathing.html
Expect this change to take about 6 weeks of focus before the strangeness of breathing to both sides starts to feel right!
- Keep super-consistent with your swim fitness training. By being fitter you'll be able to go further and faster but fitness takes a long time to develop over many months or effort. The mistake many swimmers and triathletes make is to smash out big training over a few weeks but then mentally and physically break down as the effort catches up with them. Far better to train at 80-90% over many months than 110% over just a few sessions. Make consistency your goal in 2020!
Worth reading our classic blog post in relation, Is Your Fitness In A Permanent State Of Snakes And Ladders? : www.feelforthewater.com/2013/09/is-your-swim-fitness-in-permanent-state.html
- Transform your pacing skills. "Pacing" isn't a sexy word in sport but it is absolutely key to achieving your best performances in your key events. And good pacing in training improves the quality of your sessions so you get more gains from them.
Check out our recent (and much copied) blog post on how Eliud Kipchoge used lasers to run with perfect pacing and smash the 2 hour barrier for the marathon: www.feelforthewater.com/2019/10/lasers-vs-tempo-trainers-what-can-we.html
- Find the right stroke length for you. For far too long swim coaches have been telling swimmers to make their stroke as long as they can. This is terrible advice for most age-group swimmers! The key to great swimming is to find the right balance between the length of your stroke and the cadence (stroke rate). If you've been following Swim Smooth for a while you will know that we use Tempo Trainer Pros to help you fine tune your stroke rate and develop that optimum rate for you.
Find out more here: swimsmooth.com/improve/intermediate/rhythm-timing-and-stroke-rate-in-swimming and consider a ramp test to find the magic number for you: swimsmooth.com/improve/intermediate/the-swim-smooth-stroke-rate-ramp-test
- Switch to CSS and Red Mist training. Most masters swimmers aim at short events such a 50, 100 and 200m. That's great but it means that masters squads tend to focus on sprint training aimed at developing pure speed in the water. If you are training for longer events (e.g. 800m or longer), perhaps for triathlon or open water swims then this sort of training is completely the opposite of what you need. Rather than sprinting short intervals with long recoveries you need to focus on long intervals with shorter recovery periods (such as our classic CSS and Red Mist sessions).
This will train the capacity of your aerobic system so that you can sustain a strong speed for longer periods. We call this Becoming A Diesel Engine. More here: www.feelforthewater.com/2013/01/becoming-diesel-engine.html
- Focus on your stroke rhythm in open water. One of the key differences between swimming in a swimming pool and in rivers, lakes or the ocean is the condition of the water. In open water it's far more likely to be disturbed by chop and waves, either from the prevailing conditions or inevitably from other swimmers in the event (see here). The key to swimming efficiently through disturbed water is to shorten your stroke slightly and increase your stroke rhythm to give you a more continuous propulsion. Try and maintain an overly-long stroke and you stand to be stalled dead in the gap between your strokes when chop or a wave hits. This is why many strong pool swimmers struggle to transfer their speed to open water.
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