Monday, January 27, 2014

Blessed Are the Flexible For They Shall Not Be Bent Out Of Shape

Just when we were wondering which topic to address today we found our pool time double booked. We had about 30 Masters ready to swim and then in came the Aqua Exercise class, to swim as well. 

Our local Community College semester begins today. Our pool isn’t big enough for both groups. We yielded to the other group. After we smiled, went to our cars, muttered under our breath, unhinged our jaw and stuck our tongue out (thanks Jim Fannin), we realized in the grand scheme of things this wasn’t the big deal it seemed at first sight.

And rarely is it so. We take this swimming business pretty seriously.  Like a lot of you it is important to us. So when things don’t go as anticipated there is a certain level of inherent frustration. It can be any number of things; a set goes awry, a swimmer gets sick or messes up in school, a meet doesn’t go well, it rains and the meet is outdoors, there is thunder and lightning and the meet is put on hold, a parent steps out of line – for all the right reasons…bottom line is that stuff happens.

How we deal with it is the critical part of the equation. It’s only Monday and look! We have learned another life lesson…sweet.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Back on the Blocks - How Quickly They Forget

There is nothing like a couple of races to get everyone’s attention. We have had an awesome (overused word but not here) 23 days of training. On the 26th of December we shifted gears from maintenance mode during finals and leading up to Christmas itself to full on “training camp” mode.

Our workouts have centered around the theme of everyone being in the Top 5 of the hardest working trainers on the team. On many days we have had as many as 28-30 in our Senior 1 training group of 34 in that Top 5. The level of intention has been fabulous. The sets have been challenging of course but what has made them particularly valuable has been the effort delivered.

Now of course is the important question: how is this translating into racing? We are, at this level on our club after all is said and done, a competitive swim team.

The only way to determine this is by going racing. This seems so obvious but to many the subtlety is lost. Training hard has its value but how it translates in the racing pool is of particular interest to us as coaches…so we went racing this weekend.

It has been 6 weeks since we raced. And it showed a little bit…but comfortingly so, just a little bit. The team raced well keeping to the mantra of staying in the Top 5. We saw many races where they stayed “in the swim” much better than they have in the past. We witnessed some really aggressive “no holds barred” style…they were “going after it.”

But getting up on the blocks is so different from having the flow of practice and a set carry the day. Every swimmer has experienced the training phenomena of doing 10 or 15 repeats, getting the first couple under their belt and then having the combination of the team around them and the rhythm of the set carry the day…often where the last several repeats are faster than even they imagined was possible.

When you race, you only have the one repeat…and that is where the challenge lies. So when you are tired from training well can you “stay in the swim?” If you can then you are making progress. If you cannot, then you still have work to do in this area.

You gain so much confidence (the most important muscle in the human body – in and out of sports) from racing well even when you are tired from training fatigue. The numbers on the stopwatch mean very little at this point. How well you split a race and how well you stay “in a race” are critical.

We had lots of encouraging signs this weekend…nice!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Paul Arden

Isabelle recommended a new book, which we just got and it has a lot to offer all of us. The book is by Paul Arden and is titledIt’s not how good you are; it’s how good you want to be.

As a teaser we’d offer the following excerpts in no particular order:

“Your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have.”

“Without having a goal it’s difficult to score.”

“Talent helps, but it won’t take you as far as ambition. Everybody wants to be good, but not many are prepared to make the sacrifices it takes to be great.”

“You can achieve the unachievable. Firstly you need to aim beyond what you are capable of. You must develop a complete disregard for where your abilities end. Try to do the things that you’re incapable of.”

“Energy; It’s 75% of the job. If you haven’t got it, be nice.”

“Do not seek praise. Seek criticism.”

“Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.”

“The person who doesn’t make mistakes is unlikely to make anything.”

“Fail, fail again. Fail better.”

“If you get stuck, draw with a different pen. Change your tools; it may free your thinking.”

And finally, for today…

“Don’t be afraid to work with the best. The best people can be difficult. They are single minded, they have tunnel vision. That’s what makes them good. They are reluctant to compromise. They can be intimidating, especially to the young, but if you approach them with an attitude that you want to do something well, they will respond positively; because they want to do something well too.”

Thanks for the BIG TIP Isabelle! See you on the other side of 50.00…

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Training Camp Sets

We are almost done with our winter version of “training camp.” This is when we can plunge headlong into swim training without the school issues that always compete for everyone’s time and attention.

Our goal this “camp” was to keep the skill building while getting in some intensity in the sets. 

Everything we did was a combination of skill development or high metabolic rate work…of course we asked for and sometimes received both. We keep working on this part of the equation; skill plus fast swimming leads to…duh, faster racing…that’s our theory anyway!

We did a fair amount of kicking daily always reminding our gang that kicking is 90% will power…so quit looking for the easier way and just bear down. We did a lot of kicking with fins on tight intervals. An example would be a set of 100’s on 1:20 blowing the whistle at the 1:05 mark. We got a lot of kids under 60 seconds for several rounds. We shall see how this translates when we go racing at our first development meet in two weeks. We think they will have increased levels of confidence in their kicking power.

The following are four sets we used with some notes. As always, you can change the intervals to suit your needs/group ability and what you are after. We kept looking for more intensity as a rule so when the interval was generous we asked for fast swims while when the interval was skimpy, we asked everyone to make it, push into new territory.

#1 –
10x300/4 fins and paddles; #1-3 last 3 laps fast, #4-6 last 5 laps fast, #7-9 last 7 laps fast; #10 all laps fast; question, how many went faster on any of the first 9 than #10…if so why do you think that happened?

# 2 –
1x300/ tight interval – we went on 3:30, then 1x100/2 fast as possible
1x300/3:30 – 2x100/2 fast as possible
1x300/3:30 – 3x100/2 fast as possible…all the way to a round of 6x100/2 fast as you can

#3 –
4x25/.30 smooth and relaxed – flawless swimming
2x50/1 @ 80%
1x100/2 @ 90 %
4x25/.30 fast as you can
2x50/1 smooth and flawless
1x100/2 80%
4x25/.30 90%
2x50/1 fast as you can

Simply keep going through the rotation. When you have done 8 rounds of 4x25, 2x50 and 1x100 you will have done everything twice.

#4 –
10x25/.30 at 80%
10x50/1 at 80%
10x25/.30 at 90%
10x50/1 at 90%
10x25/.30 fast as you can
10x50/1 fast as you can

On this set the idea is to hold time average on the 50’s and each time through go 1 second faster on the time average for those 50’s.

The one common thread on all these sets is that very soon into the set no one was talking between swims…lots of “gathering” your resources and getting ready for the next repeat. Lots of focus and a fair amount of satisfaction afterwards…those that leaned into it knew they had moved forward.