Coaches Corner

GEORGIA LMSC COACHES CORNER




By, Elaine Krugman
 

ELAINE’S TIP THE MONTH
Gear Maintenance
February 2024

Last month’s Flex Set was designed to use the new pool toys you received as gifts (or your
well-worn favorites). To make those toys and all your swim gear last, the following are recommendations on how to care for them.


Going from the top down, let’s start with your swim cap. A guaranteed way to make it (or any of your swim gear) not last is to take it off after your swim and throw it straight into your bag. Instead, rinse your cap off with cold water, dry it off, and sprinkle talcum powder (baby powder) inside to keep it from sticking together. If your cap came in a plastic pouch, sprinkle powder on the exterior of the cap as well, fold it loosely, and place it back in the pouch. Otherwise, slip it into a quart size zip-top bag. Note: Silicone caps last much longer than latex caps!

Rinsing your goggles is just the first step in making them last. Next, dry them off with a clean, soft cloth; microfiber cloths are excellent. To prevent your goggles from fogging next time you use them, spray each lens with anti-fog spray.  Save yourself some money by using an empty (and clean) travel-size hairspray bottle filled with homemade anti-fog spray.  The recipe:  1 oz. of water, 1 oz. of rubbing alcohol, and a drop or two of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo.  (Several swimmers I know swear by Johnson’s brand and say knock offs don’t work as well.) The rubbing alcohol and baby shampoo combined will cost less than commercial anti-fog spray, and it will last much longer! After giving each goggle lens one spray, let the goggles air dry before storing. To protect your goggles from getting scratched or broken, place them in a hard case. I have been using this Speedo case for years, and it works great.

If you need to adjust the strap on your goggles, be gentle, because those plastic strap keepers on each side are not very durable, and replacements are not available for purchase. Don’t yank the strap out of the keeper. Instead, turn the strap so it can slip through the opening. The less stress on the plastic, the longer it will keep the strap in place without breaking.

Next up for care is your suit. Always rinse it out thoroughly in cold water without detergent, squeeze the excess water out gently (or roll in a towel), and then hang it over a shower rod or lay flat on a drying rack.  Never wash your suit in a washing machine or throw it in a dryer, if you want your suit to last!

For all your other gear, rinse in cold water and dry before storing it in your gear bag. If you are headed to work after your swim and you don’t have time to dry it all off, take it out of your gear bag when you get to your car, spread it out, and let it finish drying. Don’t park your car in the sun if you can avoid it, though, because direct sun will damage and age your gear.

Care for your swim gear, and it will last you through more of your Go the Distance miles in the pool!

ELAINE’S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Broken 100's
February 2024


Concentrate on holding good stroke technique throughout this set:

4 x 25 Choice @ RI:15 – Sprint
200 Choice @ RI:30 – Easy
2 x 50 Choice @ RI:15 – Sprint
200 Choice @ RI:30 – Easy
75 Choice @ RI:15 – Sprint
25 choice @ RI:15 – Sprint
200 Choice @ RI:30 – Easy
100 Choice – Sprint

Total yardage = 1,000

Explanation of set: Throughout this set, you will choose which stroke(s) you would like to swim. Your rest interval (“RI”) will be 15 seconds after each sprint and 30 seconds following each easy 200. The flexible options are already built in, because of your choice of stroke. You could choose your strokes based on what you will be racing in an upcoming meet, swim a different stroke for each sprint section; or, if you race the Individual Medley (IM), try swimming the sprints in IM order, changing strokes after each 25. This is an excellent way to work on your IM transitions. Watch this video for the fly to back transition, and this video for mastering your back to breaststroke transition. For a demonstration of the complete 100 IM from an underwater view, check out this video.

For an excellent database of workouts, go to the USMS Swim Workout Library.




Happy 2024, Georgia Masters! Now that you are back from your holiday break and your swim bag is full of new pool toy gifts (or well-worn favorites), it’s time to hit the ground running—or, in the case of us swimmers, hit the pool and make a splash!
 
This is the perfect time to set some goals for the year, beginning with
Go the Distance. How many miles do you think you will swim in 2024? Wait just a second. Before you answer that question and click on the link above to enter, think about this first: Use the SMART method of setting your goal. Your goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. The big one here is “Realistic,” so don’t forget to look at the calendar and factor in travel and other times you may not be able to swim. Another factor to take into consideration is the average amount of yards (or meters) you swim in a day or week. Do the math, and you have your goal.
 
Next, take a look at the Grand Prix events listed in this newsletter for 2024. Which ones would you like to enter (once the dates are finalized)? They aren’t all swim meets; many are
fitness events, so there is no reason not to participate!
 
Now, it’s time to set your personal swimming goals that you aim to accomplish while participating in these events. Are there personal records you would like to break? Would you like to race a new stroke or event? The following are a few of the excellent articles at
USMS.org that will help you with your goal setting and planning for the new year:
 

Beat Roadblocks to Success , by Katherine Irwin
Try This Method for Achieving Your Goals , by Scott Bay
How to Achieve What You Really Want This Year, by Marty Munson
 
To start the new year off right, set your goals, and then put your pool toys to good use with Elaine’s Flex Set of the Month, in this newsletter.




It’s toy time, boys and girls! Throw all those pool toys you received for holiday gifts in your gear bag and head to the pool! I highly recommend watching the videos that accompany the set first, though. At the pool, you can either do your usual warm-up first or use this set as your warm up, as long as you start slow and easy!

Watch this video first.
4 x 50 Freestyle pull with pull buoy. RI:15
Watch this video first.
4 x 50 Freestyle kick with snorkel (with or without fins), descend 1-4. RI:15
4 x 50 Freestyle, descend 1-4. RI:15
Watch this video first.
4 x 50 Backstroke pull with pull buoy. RI:15
Watch this video first.
4 x 50 Backstroke kick, concentrating on core rotation. RI:15
4 x 50 Backstroke, descend 1-4. RI:15

Total yardage = 1,200

Explanation of set: It is always important to concentrate on proper stroke technique to avoid injuries, especially when using a pull buoy or paddles. The video links below demonstrate proper technique.

Start out slow and easy, concentrating on your catch and pulling the water back. “RI:15” means you will be resting for an interval of 15 seconds after each 50. If you don’t have a snorkel for the freestyle kick set, still swim the 4 x 50 pull as demonstrated in the snorkel portion of the video; however, turn your head to breathe when necessary.  To “descend 1-4,” you will need to kick faster on each 50, so you descend your time for each one. If you have any other swim gear you would like to substitute on the pull and kick sets, such as paddles or bands, go for it!

Flexible Options (click on each one for video):


For an excellent database of workouts, go to the USMS Swim Workout Library



 

ELAINE’S TIP OF THE MONTH
7 Reminders & Tips to Remember When You Are Not Motivated to Practice
December 2023


You haven’t been over-training and you are sleeping ok; but, you wake up in the morning feeling lazy and would rather just stay in bed.

Or

You have just had a stressful day at work, and you would rather skip the pool workout, go home, kick your feet up, and crack open a beer.

Pick a scenario or any similar scenario; it has probably happened to you at one time or another, whether you train with a team or swim on your own.

Now, think back on all the times you weren’t motivated to go swim, but you went anyway.  What happened once you hit the water?  Did you find that once you started swimming, your motivation kicked in, and you wanted to keep going?

The following are seven reminders and tips to remember next time you are lacking motivation to get to the pool:

  1.  You will feel so much better after you swim, both physically and mentally!
  2. Commit to just going and doing a warm-up, so you don’t feel overwhelmed thinking about swimming an entire workout. After your warm-up, see #1. It didn’t happen? Tomorrow is another day… You may find, however, that your warmup sparked your motivation to continue with your workout.
  3. You are a Masters swimmer, so can choose what you swim when you get to the pool; and, you can choose to cut your workout short if you are having a tough time. Not up for the coach’s workout? Sit out intervals or an entire set; or, swim a different stroke. Just give your coach the heads-up, and switch lanes if necessary, so you don’t disrupt the other swimmers in your lane. Do you swim on your own? Your planned workout for the day doesn’t have to be written in stone either. See #2.
  4. If you don’t go to the pool, you will miss out on the social interactions with others. Being around other people will lift your spirits, which may just spark your motivation!
  5. Remember your goals! (If you don’t have goals for your swimming, it’s time to set some!) How are you going to achieve your swimming goals if you don’t get to the pool and swim?  At least go to the pool, do some drills, and work on your stroke technique.  That counts!
  6. You will feel better about yourself. (No guilt trip; no beating yourself up for missing a workout.)
  7. Most of all, remember why you swim in the first place; you enjoy it! Go have fun!


For a fun workout to get your “mojo” back (motivation + joy of swimming), read Elaine’s Flex Set of the Month.

ELAINE’S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Get Your *MO-JO* Back!
December 2023


If you haven’t read Elaine’s Tip of the Month yet, it explains the purpose of this workout: Get your MO-JO (motivation + joy of swimming) back!

In my previous flex sets, I have recommended the following: Before you swim this set, make sure to swim your usual warm-up as well as a cool-down at the end of your swim session. Forget that for this set, because this set is your warm-up! The goal of this set is to see if after having some fun in the pool, your motivation and joy of swimming has returned. This is the day to bring your toys to the pool, so go ahead and grab your fins, pull buoy, kickboard, or whatever you like! (Leave your watch in your swim bag, though, and don’t pay attention to any pace clocks at the pool. The rest interval for this set is your choice!  Rest as long as you want.

8 x 25 Freestyle*
8 x 50 Mix-and-match your favorite fun drills (See Flexible Options below for suggestions)
8 x 50 Mix-and-match kicking (See Flexible Options below for suggestions). Grab your kickboard and/or fins (or not); your choice!

Total yardage: 1,000 yards or meters

Explanation:
*By “Freestyle,” I literally mean, you are free to swim whatever you want. Swim underwater like you did as a kid when you were picking up rings at the bottom of the pool, swim sidestroke, or double arm backstroke with breaststroke kick. Heck, dog paddle if you want! Just have FUN, and don’t worry about how long you rest between repeats. See somebody you know at the pool? Say “hi” and have a chat!

Fun flexible options for the 50’s (see video links):





For an excellent database of workouts, go to the USMS Swim Workout Library.

ELAINE'S TIP OF THE MONTH
Warm Up In Your Race Lane

November 2023


Do you race backstroke or individual medley? If so, this one’s for you!

On meet day, especially if the meet is indoors, make it your goal to warm up in the lane in which you will be racing your backstroke and individual medley events. Will there be several different lane assignments due to racing multiple events? When you are ready to swim backstroke during the pre-meet warm-up session, try to get into each lane you will be racing in, so you can get used to what you will be visually tracking off of to swim straight. 

If you are fortunate to have a properly working inner “compass” and can still swim backstroke straight with your eyes closed, this won’t be necessary. Otherwise, it helps to identify a pipe, wood beam, or something else on the ceiling to follow as you swim. Every indoor pool is different; however, every pool with have something on (or hanging from) the ceiling to track off of when you swim. But – and this is the key – not all lanes will necessarily be the same. At the Steve Lundquist Aquatic Center, in Jonesboro, for example, the ceiling beams go over the center of the lane on some lanes, and over the lane lines on others—and, that is if the lanes are running from the end of the pool to the bulkhead. For meets running the width of the pool, the ceiling structures above each lane are different.

At an outdoor meet, hope there are beautiful, white puffy clouds in the sky! They are great to focus on if you get disoriented staring at plain blue sky. If it is sunny, though, I strongly suggest using tinted goggles to avoid being blinded by the sun. When there is nothing to track off of, use your peripheral vision to see where you are in relation to the lane lines, and try to keep in the center of the lane. Do your best to keep your head perfectly still for the best stroke technique. Make sure to practice some turns, too, so you can get the feel for the wall. The Kedron pool, in Peachtree City, for example, has a metal piece going across the top edge that is slick, so you may have to reach deeper with your hand plant on an old-school backstroke turn.

 

ELAINE'S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Racing 25's from the center of the pool

November 2023

Whether you are a sprinter or a distance swimmer, this set will get your turns and breakouts ready for race day! The goal of this set is to make your turns as snappy and efficient as possible. Check out this excellent video on open turns and this video on flip turns.

Before you swim this set, make sure to swim your usual warm-up as well as a cool-down at the end of your swim session.

Begin at the halfway point of the pool (short course yards or meters) for each 25.  Rest :30 after each one.

4 x 25 butterfly
50 EZ freestyle
4 x 25 butterfly / backstroke
50 EZ freestyle
4 x 25 backstroke
50 EZ freestyle
4 x 25 backstroke / breaststroke
50 EZ freestyle
4 x 25 breaststroke
50 EZ freestyle
4 x 25 breaststroke / freestyle
50 EZ freestyle
4 x 25 free
50 EZ freestyle and then back to the wall

Total yardage: 1,050

Explanation: Start building speed from the center of the pool as you swim towards the flags, and then sprint from the flags to the wall, into the turn, and then back out to the flags. After passing the flags, swim slow back to the center of the pool. Tread water, float, (or stand if shallow) for :30 before the next 25. See the video links for excellent turn advice.  Following each set of four 25’s, swim an easy 50 freestyle from the middle of the pool and back to the center in preparation for your next set.

Flexible options:

  • Make stroke substitutions for strokes you can’t or don’t swim
  • If you never swim or race the individual medley, do 25’s of the same stroke for the strokes you do swim.
  • Substitute open turns for flip turns on freestyle. Watch this video for open turn advice.
  • Substitute an old-school turn for the flip turn on backstroke. Watch this video for turn advice.


For an excellent database of workouts, go to the USMS Swim Workout Library

 

ELAINE'S TIP OF THE MONTH
DON'T BEAT YOURSELF UP!

October 2023

Have you ever noticed at a swim workout or meet how critical swimmers are of ourselves? We criticize our race times, pick apart our stroke flaws, and dwell on the negative. I will admit that I was (is?) one of the worst! I am a stroke technique fanatic, and when I watch the videos my husband shoots of my races, I immediately see what I did wrong, instead of giving myself credit for what I have improved.

Self-criticism has its purpose—as long as you don’t dwell on the negative. Being aware of your flaws (stroke or otherwise) is the first step to improving upon them. Just don’t beat yourself up! When you reflect on your swimming, think about what you did right, too. Video feedback is excellent for this! Have a friend shoot a video of you at practice or a meet, and then analyze it or consult a coach for feedback.

For example, check out my (very slow) recent 200 butterfly. I’m wearing a blue cap. I immediately want to beat myself up for my wide left arm pull (a never-ending battle), my feet coming out of the water too much (I thought I had fixed that!), and having to stop at the walls (medical issues; long story, but out of my control). None of this is new; I work on it daily. But, I am also working on focusing on the positive: I’m getting my arms around quicker causing less forward splash. Yay! It was my fastest time in two years! Woohoo!! I can swim the 200 butterfly at 61. How many women can (or will) do that? I’m grateful!

Practice gratitude. Be aware of what you are doing well and be grateful you at least get to swim! Oh, and be grateful for the volunteers who make that possible, such as your coaches, swim meet and event directors, officials, and timers. Your “Thanks!” will be appreciated!

ELAINE'S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Increasing Speed, First to Fifth
October 2023

The purpose of this set is twofold: Work on your stroke technique with the goal of keeping good form as you increase speed and turnover rate; and, preparing yourself for racing sprints.

Before you swim this set, make sure to swim your usual warm-up as well as a cool-down at the end of your swim session.

5 x 50 of 25 butterfly, 25 butterfly kick on your back R:15
5 x 50 of 25 breaststroke, 25 breaststroke kick RI:15
5 x 50 of 25 backstroke, 25 backstroke kick RI:15
5 x 50 of 25 freestyle, 25 freestyle kick (face down, arms straight out in front; no kickboard) RI:15

Total yardage: 1,000

Explanation: For each 5 x 50 segment of this set, increase your speed on the first 25, so your fifth one is at your maximum effort. The second 25 of each 50 should be active recovery; just an easy, relaxed kick.  RI:15 is rest interval, 15 seconds.

Flexible options:


For an excellent database of workouts, go to the USMS Swim Workout Library
 

ELAINE'S TIP OF THE MONTH
5 WAYS VOLUNTERRING FOR GEORGIA MASTERS BENEFITS YOU

September 2023

During the several years that I have served on the Georgia Masters Board of Directors and written Swimmer Profile features and other articles for the newsletter, I have found it to be so rewarding. Read on for just five of the ways volunteering for Georgia Masters can benefit you.
First of all, whether it is serving on the board of directors or volunteering at swim meets, you will be with others who share your passion for swimming. It is a great opportunity to make friends with people you would have never met otherwise. 
As just one example, I had this experience in September when I represented Georgia Masters as a delegate at the U.S. Masters Swimming (USMS) National Meeting, in Houston. When the delegates met for a reception and dinner the first evening, I looked around the room and saw people from all around the country of different ages, professions, ethnicities, religions, and socioeconomic backgrounds. We were all so different; however, there was one thing every single one of us had in common: We had a passion for swimming! There was never a shortage of conversation; the room was buzzing! I made some new friends and fun memories. 
Another way volunteering will benefit you is that it’s a great way to gain experience using your strengths and abilities; and, you can learn new skills, too! Perhaps you are a college student majoring in communications or business, for example. Serving on the board would provide many opportunities to utilize the skills you already have and learn new ones that will help you in your future career. If you are retired, there are many opportunities to share your knowledge and experience in a fun environment without any pressure. In my case, I always enjoyed writing and meeting people who shared my passion, so I started interviewing teammates and submitting Swimmer Profile articles to the newsletter, in 2014. I have made some wonderful friendships through those interviews!
Volunteering for Georgia Masters is also a win-win. You benefit by feeling appreciated for your contributions, and the members of Georgia Masters benefit from you. I appreciate the compliments I receive on my profiles and articles, for example. It really feels great knowing people read and enjoy them! As a swimmer, I always thank the timers and especially appreciate when they encourage and cheer for me (especially when I swim the 200 Butterfly!). If you volunteer to time races at a meet, I am sure you will feel appreciated as well – especially by the meet director! There are vacancies on the board of directors that need to be filled by reliable members. Believe me, if you step up to volunteer, you will be appreciated by the other board members! Remember, Georgia Masters can’t exist without volunteers!
The fourth benefit of volunteering for Georgia Masters is one you may not have considered: flexibility. That’s a big one if you are a college student, still working, raising a family, or retired and traveling a lot (like I do). I wanted to volunteer for Meals on Wheels, but they wouldn’t accept me, because I couldn’t commit to a specific, regular schedule. I wanted do my volunteering around my travel schedule, not the other way around. Writing for the newsletter and serving on the board of directors allows plenty of the flexibility I need.
Finally, if you are still building your career, serving on the board of Georgia Masters would look great on your resume! 

Questions? Ready to volunteer? Contact Britta O’Leary, Georgia Masters Chair, at lmscgeorgia@gmail.com .
 

ELAINE'S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Short and/or Long Axis Strokes
September 2023

According to Olympian Gary Hall, Sr., “A short-axis stroke is defined as a stroke where there is desirable rotation of the body along the short axis through the middle of the hip, as opposed to the long axis, along the length of the body. Breaststroke is a short-axis stroke because the swimmer should extend the lower lumbar spine (arch the back) and elevate the shoulders as much as possible to augment the force of the kick. Breaststroke does not rotate the body on the short axis, but it does bend the body on the short axis. It can do that because the body’s speed in breaststroke, before the kick, goes to nearly zero. Freestyle and backstroke are both long-axis strokes as there is clearly body rotation around the axis in the line of motion down the pool with each stroke…” Hall goes on to explain why butterfly is not really a short-axis stroke; however, this drill demonstrates why training butterfly and breaststroke together is beneficial.
Rest Interval (RI) = :10 between each 50 and before the 200 IM.

4 x 50’S: Alternate 1 stroke butterfly, 1 stroke breaststroke as demonstrated in this drill. Continue to alternate concentrating on form rather than speed
2 x 50’s: butterfly build
2 x 50’s: breaststroke build

4 x 50’s: Alternate swimming backstroke and freestyle as demonstrated in this drill.
2 x 50’s:  backstroke build
2x 50’s:  freestyle build

200 IM fast

Total yardage: 1,000 yards

Explanation of set:
Alternating the two short axis strokes (butterfly and breaststroke) will help improve your timing in both strokes. Alternating the two long axis strokes (backstroke and freestyle) will help improve your timing and coordination. It will also be good for practicing rotation into the backstroke turn.

After swimming four 50’s of each drill, the next two 50’s you swim of each stroke will give you the opportunity to apply and practice what you learned from each drill. By building (increasing speed) these 50’s, you can start out slow and concentrate on technique.  Once you have your rhythm, increase your speed and see if your stroke technique holds up.

Flexible options:
  • Swim just the short axis 50’s or just the long axis 50’s, either doubling up on the repetitions or repeating the short axis half of the set as written.
  • Increase the quantity of each stroke you swim before alternating, and then reduce the number for each 50 with your last 50 of drill being one stroke of each.
  • Swim the non-drill 50’s at race pace of your competition events.

For an excellent database of workouts, go to the USMS Swim Workout Library
 

ELAINE'S TIP OF THE MONTH
SWIMMING IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES


Is foreign travel in your plans? If so, don’t forget to pack your swim gear and caps! “Caps?” you ask? Wouldn’t I only need to bring one? Well, yes, but I’m not referring to the cap you will be wearing. I’m talking about all those swim caps you have accumulated from swim meets, fitness events, and charity swims. How many of those caps will you actually use?
I had tried to give mine away to coaches to give their age group swimmers, but nobody wanted them. They had plenty of their own to give away. Pleas on the USMS Community (Discussion Forums) and on the Georgia Masters Facebook page were dead-ends. This time, I had 21caps, so I took them with me to Iceland.
Iceland? There are public swimming pools in Iceland? Yes! There are 121(!) public swimming pools in a country roughly the size of Kentucky with less than 10% of Kentucky’s population. Even the smallest towns have a public pool with spas, which serves as the daily meeting place for the community—especially in the geothermal-heated spas where spirited conversations take place. Pools are a vital part of the typical Icelandic small-town community, and children are required to learn how to swim in early childhood.
That brings me to my first tip about swimming in foreign countries. (We’ll get back to those caps later.) First, check out http://swimmersguide.com to locate pools anywhere in the world.
Next (and this is an important one), research the swimming culture in your designated country, so as not to offend the locals.  In Iceland, shoes are not permitted to be worn in the locker rooms for sanitary reasons. There are shoe racks located in the lobby outside of the locker rooms where you leave your shoes before entering. (Two of the pools I swam at had shoe trays, so you could place your shoes in your locker.) Secure lockers were also provided for free, so there was no need to bring a lock with me.

The shoe rack at the pool in Selfoss, Iceland.

They even supplied long shoe horns to make putting your shoes back on a little easier!

The children’s pool and spas had water temperatures posted.  The pool in Selfoss had several spas, each kept at a different temperature.  They even had a cold-water dunk tank.  I passed on that one!  After taking this photo, I learned that cameras and cell phones are strictly prohibited in the locker rooms and pool area.
Most importantly, it is required to shower WITHOUT your suit before you swim in Iceland, and the showers are not private. Naked women and children showered in the shower room without a care, donned their suits, and off they went, leaving their towels behind in the designated towel cubes rather than taking them out to the pool.
I was able to get in four late-afternoon swim workouts in three Icelandic towns during our two-week small group tour, in July.  Although I left my towel in the locker room each time, I did bring my caps out with me to give away.  It was a great conversation starter and a fun way to meet the locals—one of the most enjoyable aspects of international travel for me.  I approached every swimmer I saw wearing a cap and asked if they would like to have a free cap from the U.S.A.  A few were skeptical, but once they understood there wasn’t a catch, they were excited. Many of the swimmers took their own caps off and put on their new one. 
As it turned out, one of the swimmers I met in Akureyri, Gudrun, was elected to the board of the Icelandic Swimming Association—the very organization I contacted about Masters Swimming in Iceland! We exchanged e-mails and are keeping in touch. (By the way, they are looking for coaches, so if you would like to coach in Iceland, let me know!)

Since cameras and cell phones are prohibited inside the pool area, I shot this photo in Akureyri from behind the glass at the street. And, yes, I tried out both water slides. Terrifying!

The pool in Stykkisholmur, photographed from outside the fence after the pool had closed.  This slide wasn’t quite as terrifying.
Swimming in Iceland—and giving away my 21 caps—made my trip to Iceland so much more enjoyable than if I had left my swim gear at home. Give it a try next time you travel internationally and create some memories of your own!

ELAINE'S TIP & FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
STOP SPINNING YOUR WHEELS
JUNE 2023

 

It happened just this morning. I went to the pool for my sixth swim workout of the week thinking I would put in another strong swim before my day off. (I know better. If I don’t take a day in the middle of my week to back off my intensity, I am going to feel it by Saturday.) So, I began my warm-up with good intentions; however, I felt sluggish, my muscles were tired, and my freestyle stroke technique was inconsistent.  I love to swim, though, and I always feel better afterward, so I didn’t want to leave the pool. Time to switch it up!

Sound familiar?  Are you tired at the end of your workout week from training hard or putting in a lot of yardage, and your stroke is falling apart?  Or, just the opposite; you just returned from a summer vacation in the mountains, where there wasn’t a lake or pool to be found anywhere?  You have been out of the water, you feel like you’re swimming through mud, and your stroke technique is off?  In both cases, you may not need to leave the pool just yet, but you do need to stop spinning your wheels.

This is the time to put your watch away (or turn your back to the clock) and change up your workout. Forget swimming on intervals. Instead, this is the perfect time to work on your stroke technique slowly with drills, followed by full swim strokes to see if the drill stuck. If your stroke falls apart again, go back to the drill.

Choose a drill that will target your stroke flaw for whichever stroke you choose to work on. For example, by the end of the week, my back is tired from swimming a lot of butterfly. My worst stroke flaw in butterfly is the wonky pull pattern of my left arm going too wide; so, the drill I like to do is the “chin surf” drill in this video (2:45 mark).  Although this drill is meant to work on breathing technique, it allows me to work on the pull without the fatigue of executing an over-water recovery.

 Do your chosen drills as 25’s (or 50’s in a long course pool) slowly with no pre-determined rest interval. Stop to rest after each one, and use your rest time to think about how the drill felt. What went well? What needs to be improved? Rest as long as you need to so you can swim the next 25 correctly. If you are so fatigued that you are unable to execute the drill, it really is time to call it quits, go home, and kick your feet up! If, however, you are doing the drill correctly and feel like you are making progress, test yourself by doing some full-stroke 25’s—slowly.  Again, rest after each one and evaluate.  Did your stroke fall apart again? Go back to doing the drill. Did the drill stick, and you swam with good technique? Great! Continue 25’s with plenty of rest to reinforce the progress you made. When you feel you’re are ready to try something new, do another technique for the same stroke or move on to another stroke. Listen to your body, and don’t overdo it! You may need to quit at less than your usual daily yardage; or, you may get a second wind and want to do keep going.

As it turned out today, it took me twice as long to do my usual 2,500-yard workout, because of the slow swimming speed and long rest periods. I had intended on doing less yardage today, but the drills and slow swims felt so good, I actually felt better and stronger at the end of my workout than I had at the beginning! 

Since the amount of yardage you swim should depend entirely on how you feel, I will not include a flex set this time. Instead, check out these drill ideas for each stroke, and stay flexible on how many repeats you do of drills and full swim strokes.  More can be found on the U.S. Masters Swimming YouTube page.


Butterfly:

3 Drills for Better Butterfly Hip Position
https://youtu.be/1awZ6OmQuCQ

4 Butterfly Drills to Fix the Mistakes You Are Probably Making
https://youtu.be/I7Y9iB-WiCA

Backstroke:

Drill to Eliminate Mistakes in Your Backstroke
https://youtu.be/vF1AwA2wI90

Want to Reduce Drag? Try the Shoulder Cheek Swimming Drills!
*This video covers all four strokes
https://youtu.be/_ZuYXA3Nxb4

Breaststroke:

2 Drill for Better Breaststroke
https://youtu.be/2JedsH6F2T8

Struggling with Breaststroke? Improve Your Technique with These 3 Drills
https://youtu.be/WiMMuE7P7P4

Freestyle:

Freestyle Swimming—Improve Your Stroke with 3 Key Drills
https://youtu.be/QwuzI2IWkTg

4 Freestyle Drills to Improve Your Technique
https://youtu.be/TfU3kx-HN08


 

ELAINE'S TIP OF THE MONTH
ULTRA SHORT RACE PACE TRAINING
May 2023



Are you an intermediate or advanced competitive swimmer interested in improving your race times? Try Ultra Short Race Pace Training (USRPT).  Although this high-intensity method of training has been used by Olympians, such as Michael Andrews, several All-American Masters swimmers have had a lot of success with USRPT. Since it is so demanding, some of the older Masters swimmers designate just one day a week to USRPT and utilize other training methods on other days in the pool.

USRPT was developed by Dr. Brent Rushall, Professor Emeritus of my alma mater, San Diego State University. Although he started writing about it back in the 1970’s, it started getting a lot of publicity beginning in 2011.

When training USRPT, you will be swimming no slower than your goal race pace. It is the opposite of what I have written about in some of my previous tips and flex sets, because you won’t be doing any drill or kick sets, or technique-focused work. You will only practice your race pace.

Warning: This style of training is not for everybody! If you are recovering from injuries, have chronic physical issues, or are unable to swim at your maximum effort for any reason, USRPT may not be for you.

The premise for USRPT is that race-specific high intensity swimming will yield the optimal performance results and fastest times in competition. Do you want to swim fast in your race? You need to swim fast in practice!

For a brief look at the science behind USRPT, check out this bulletin. Dr. Rushall proved that this method of training results in greater speed endurance.

The goal of USRPT is to achieve race pace performance and a 1:1 work to rest ratio. For example, if your goal is to race a 100-yard freestyle in 1:00, you will need to average 15 seconds per 25. That is your goal time. For a USRPT set, your interval would be :30 for 25’s: Swim 15 seconds, and then rest 15 seconds, to achieve a 1:1 work to rest ratio. You will repeat these intervals for a predetermined amount (16-30, for example) as long as you can make your target time of 15 seconds. If you fail, sit out the next 25 and begin again on the next interval. If you fail a second time, the set is over. If you don’t fail to complete the predetermined set of 25’s, the set was too easy. Next time, decrease your target and rest times. If you do fail to complete the set, but were able to do several repeats, keep setting the same target time each time you swim this set until you can complete it. Beginners can start with a set of 16 x 25’s; topping out at 20 is recommended for Masters swimmers.

USRPT can also be done as 50’s, which is the recommended way to train USRPT for middle and long-distance races. Rather than a 1:1 work to rest ratio, however, you would set your interval as your 200 pace 50 (your 200 race goal time divided by four) time plus 20 seconds of rest. If you don’t make your goal time, sit out one 50 and try again. The set is over when you fail a second time.

Try training USRPT for butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke as well; but, to avoid injury, don’t forget to listen to your body for signs of repetitive stress.
To get started with USRPT, check out my Flex Set of the Month.

ELAINE’S FLE

ELAINE’S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
USRPT: ULTRA SHORT RACE PACE TRAINING
May 2023

If this is your first time doing Ultra Short Race Pace Training (USRPT), please make sure to read my Elaine’s Tip of the Month in this newsletter.

Before you swim this set, do your usual competition warm-up, since you will be swimming race pace. Swimming a cool-down at the end of this set is also important to flush out the lactic acid from your muscles.

16 x 25 freestyle RI: Equal to your goal swim time for each 25.
Total yardage: Varies; see below

Explanation of set: What is your goal race time for the 50 freestyle? In order for this set to be effective, you must set a realistic and achievable goal! Let’s say, for example, your race goal is :30. Your goal time for each 25 would be :15. For a 1:1 work to rest ratio, your rest interval (RI) would also be :15, for an interval time of :30.  As long as you are swimming the 25’s at :15, you will continue repeating 25’s until you have reached a total of 16. If you don’t make your goal time, sit out one 25 and try again. The set is over when you fail a second time. If you succeeded at completing the set by swimming every 25 at :15, followed by :15 of rest, set a faster goal time the next time you do this set. If you failed very early in the set, and it was too difficult to do repeats, adjust your goal to a slower time with an equally slower rest interval.

Flexible options:
  • Increase the number of repeats to a set of 20 x 25’s.
  • To train for 100’s, divide your race goal time by four for your 25’s goal time.
  • Swim the set as all butterfly, backstroke, or breaststroke, adjusting your goal times appropriately for each stroke.
  • Swim the set as 50’s to train for middle and long-distance races of any stroke, adjusting your rest interval to 20 seconds of rest (rather than a 1:1 work to rest ratio). To train for a 200 race, divide your 200 race goal time by four, for your 50 time plus an rest interval of 20 seconds. If you don’t make your goal time, sit out one 50 and try again. The set is over when you fail a second time.

For an excellent database of workouts, go to the USMS Swim Workout Library