Coaches Corner

GEORGIA LMSC COACHES CORNER



Coaches Education Information and Reimbursement Form

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By, Elaine Krugman

 

ELAINE’S TIP THE MONTH
Free Swimming Websites
June 2024

Are you interested in learning more about stroke technique, getting some fresh ideas for swimming workouts, or just getting up to date on the latest swimming news? The following are some free resources available after you have exhausted all the great information USMS has to offer!

YouTube
Search “freestyle stroke technique,” and you will find an abundance of excellent videos posted by Speedo International, Go Swim, Effortless Swimming, and more, including USMS. When you find one you like, subscribe to their YouTube channel, so you can view all their content. There are so many excellent videos available on everything from stroke technique to swimming drills and starts to turns. The quality of videography of the top-viewed videos, shot from both topside and underwater, is superior. In many cases, these are the same videos that you would need a paid membership to view if you went directly to their websites.

USA Swimming
On USA Swimming’s site, drop down the Swimmers & Parents tab, and under “Swimmers,” you will find Athlete Videos, Training & Technique, Open Water, and Swim Camps. No, you’re not a kid anymore, but there is some great information applicable to all swimmers, such as this article about reaching your goals.

Swim Swam
Check out the “Training” section on this site for workout sets, drills, articles, and more. There is also a “Video” section, and the “News” section will help you keep up with the latest on Team U.S.A. in Paris this summer. Don’t forget to search the “More” section (no hyperlink available) because there is a lot more information there, too!

Swimming World Magazine
In the resources section, Swimming World has a library of free workouts available here. Select your ability level, workout type, workout duration, and/or keyword, and then click search. There is also a time conversion tool that will be useful when you register for a long course or short course meters meet and need to convert your short course times for an accurate seed time.

If you are looking for swim blogs to follow, this list will direct you to the most popular ones.

ELAINE’S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Maintain Good Stroke Technique 
June 2024

Does your stroke technique fall apart when you increase your speed? This set will help you focus on specific aspects of your stroke, one at a time. Although the set is written for butterfly, breaststroke, and backstroke, freestyle can be substituted for any (or all) of the strokes.  Check out the flexible options for suggestions.

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.

3 x 400 @ R:20 as follows:
#1- 25 butterfly/ 25 easy backstroke kick; repeat for 400 yards
Focus on 1st 25: Take a low breath with chin on the water and get your head back down fast after each breath.
Focus on 2nd 25: Keep your arms low on recovery.
Focus on 3rd 25: Proper hip position
Focus on 4th 25: Put it all together remembering the above focus points.

#2- 25 backstroke/ 25 easy backstroke kick; repeat for 400 yards
Focus on 1st 25: Use proper hand entry on the pull, making sure your hands don’t enter the water past the centerline of your head. (Think of the face of a clock with your head being at 12:00. Your hands should enter at either 11:00 and 1:00 or 10:00 and 2:00. Neither hand should cross over past 12:00.)
Focus on 2nd 25: Keep your head still
Focus on 3rd 25: Pull with a bent elbow and proper hand position
Focus on 4th 25: Put it all together remembering the above focus points.

#3- 25 breaststroke/ 25 easy backstroke kick; repeat for 400 yards
Focus on 1st 25: Keep your head in line with your spine.
Focus on 2nd 25: Pull with proper hand position.
Focus on 3rd 25: Kick with feet turned out.
Focus on 4th 25: Put it all together remembering the above focus points.

 

Total yardage: 1,200

Explanation: The first time (or several times) you do this set, slow down your stroke so you can effectively focus on your technique. As your technique improves, increase your speed, so you can focus on maintaining good stroke technique as you increase your speed. The goal is to build muscle memory doing each stroke correctly, so when you race, good technique will be ingrained, and you can focus on swimming fast.

For each 400, there will be a different stroke technique focus for each 25. During the easy 25 yards of backstroke kick, think about how you can improve the technique you had just focused on during your 25-yard swim. These are the things to remember when you swim that last 25 and put it all together.

Flexible options:

  • Substitute freestyle for any (or all) of the other strokes. Focus on the following:
#1st 25: Concentrate on the timing of your breath.
#2nd 25: Concentrate on proper body position.
#3rd 25: Kick from your hips and keep your kick narrow
4th 25: Put it all together remembering the above focus points.
 
  • Substitute stroke technique focus point on any of the 25’s. Check out U.S. Master Swimming’s You Tube Channel for ideas.
  • Focus on the same stroke technique for all 25’s to correct a stroke flaw and build muscle memory for the correct technique.
 

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

ELAINE’S TIP THE MONTH
The Older We Get the Faster We Were
May 2024

Sad, but true—at least for most of us Masters swimmers over the age of 40. Have you done all you can to improve your stroke technique? (It’s a never-ending process; we can always improve, so keep working on it!) Are you training as hard as your body (and your schedule) will allow? Are you training consistently? If you can honestly answer “Yes!” to all the above questions, and you can’t understand why your race times are slower than they used to be, well, the fact is, the older we get, the faster we were. It will eventually happen to all of us at one time or another, no matter if we are Michael Phelps and Katie Ladecky or you and me.

Some Masters swimmers can’t accept getting slower, so they get frustrated and quit competing. I have a better (and happier!) idea: Instead of unrealistically thinking you will always continue to improve your race times, try setting goals based on this 2024 Motivational Times Chart by Jeremy Steeroff. (The link will take you to a USMS Community post, and the chart is in the included .pdf. Jeremy explains more about it in his post.)

Look over the chart and see how the times (in most cases) get slower in each category for your events as you age up. For example, I swam the 50 Yard Breaststroke in 47.88 at Auburn this year at the age of 62, which ranks me between AAA and AAAA on this chart. A time of 46.37 would be AAAA. When I age up to 65, a time of 48.36 would be AAAA.

Another option is to search the USMS Event Results Database to see how you rank in your events against others in your age group. Consider setting goals based on your rankings.

If nothing else, reviewing the 2024 Motivational Times Chart and USMS Event Results Database will help you gain perspective and improve your mindset about your slowing race times!
 
ELAINE’S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Build 125's, 1-4, 5-8 
May 2024

Did you hear the great news? A long course (50-meter pool) meet was added to the 2024 Georgia swim meet schedule and will take place in Augusta, on August 2-3. If you don’t have access to a 50-meter pool to train for this meet, the following set will help prepare you for 100-meter events.

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.

8 x 125 Freestyle @ R:15, build 1-4, 5-8

Total yardage: 1,000

Explanation: Swimming 125’s (“over distance”) will help improve your race endurance for the 100-distance events. One of the goals of this set is to swim each 125 faster than the last and for your 4th to be an all-out, 100% effort. Rest 15 seconds between each 125. Repeat this for your 5th thru 8th 125 with your 8th being the fastest. The other goal will be to maintain your best stroke technique throughout the set.

Flexible options:
  • Swim the set as freestyle for the first four, and backstroke for the second four. (This will work the two long-axis strokes.)
  • Swim the set as butterfly for the first four, and breaststroke for the second four. (This will work your two short-axis strokes, but it will be a killer set, not for the faint of heart! Be forewarned; you will probably need more than 15 seconds of rest!)
  • Swim them all as individual medley (IM) with 50 yards of freestyle.

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

 
ELAINE’S TIP THE MONTH
4 Considerations When Choosing Your Meet Events
April 2024

In the March newsletter, I stated my case for why you should participate in Georgia Masters swim meets. Hopefully, I was convincing, and you have checked over the meet schedule on the Georgia Masters website and added them to your calendar!

The next step is to choose which events you are going to sign up for when registration opens for your first swim meet. First, read the meet information and print out the event schedule, so you can cross out the races you won’t be entering. This process of elimination will leave you with less choices and make your decision easier. 

The following are 4 considerations that will help you choose between the remaining events:

1. What strokes can you swim? If you don’t swim butterfly, for example, that immediately eliminates the 50, 100, and 200 Butterfly as well as the 100, 200, and 400 Individual Medley (IM); so, you can cross those off.

2. How often do you train and how much yardage do you swim in your training sessions? If you are a newer swimmer, swim less than four days per week, and you are swimming less than 2,000 yards per session, you may want to rethink the idea of racing the “mile” (1650 yards or 1500 meters) unless you have practiced that race and/or don’t want to race any other events that day.

3. Have you been training any of the other strokes besides freestyle? Breaststroke, for example, is the most technical stroke with a lot of rules attached. Unless you are familiar with those rules, there is a good chance you will get disqualified during your race. Either learn the rules (and practice!) before the meet or wait until your next meet to race breaststroke. Go ahead and cross the 50, 100, and 200 breaststroke off! For backstroke, anything goes as long as you stay on your back throughout the race except for the turn. To avoid getting disqualified, pass on doing a flip turn, and do an open turn.

4. Do you have any injuries or physical issues that would be impacted by swimming a particular stroke or event? Be honest with yourself about your physical limitations and how much rest you may need in between events.

After taking these four considerations into account, you should be left with an easier decision regarding which events to race in your first swim meet. For some excellent advice on how to prepare for your first meet, click here.
 

ELAINE’S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Individual Medley Endurance
April 2024

This was a set I put together a few days after I returned from traveling for three weeks and being out of the pool the entire time. The first two days back, it felt like I was swimming through mud! My warm-up felt good by the third day, so I decided to work on building my endurance back up for all four strokes, concentrating on stroke technique rather than speed.  I didn’t keep track of my times except for my rest intervals. I suggest you do the same after you have been out of the water for that long if you don’t want to get frustrated!

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.

8 x 100, reverse 400 IM order x 2 (100 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, repeat) @ R:15

4 x 100 choice: 25 drill, 25 swim @ 200 pace, 25 kick, 25 swim @ 50 pace @ R:15 (choose your weakest stroke for #1 and #3, and your second weakest stroke for #2 and #4.

Total yardage: 1,200

Explanation: To ease back into swimming all four strokes, I recommend swimming this in reverse IM order. By the time you swim butterfly, you will be fully warmed up. For each stroke, concentrate on stroke technique, focusing on your worst stroke flaw for each stroke. The 15 second rest period after each 100 will give you time to reflect on your previous 100 and determine how you can improve the second time around. It should also give you enough rest but still present enough challenge to build your endurance back up.

The 4 x 100’s are an opportunity to focus further on your weakest two strokes, swimming them at different race paces after the drill and kick 25’s. Choose a drill that will focus on your worst stroke flaw.

Flexible options:

  • Substitute breaststroke for butterfly if you can’t swim butterfly. If you don’t swim either stroke, alternate freestyle and backstroke. The idea is to swim all the strokes you can with good technique and build back your endurance in the process.
  • Not quite ready to sprint yet? Try to swim your second 25 faster than the first at the fastest pace you can.
  • Swim a different drill each time or repeat the same drill
  • Kick face down for the first two choice 100’s and face up on your back for the second two.
  • For drill ideas, click here for playlists of USMS drill videos. Make sure to view the entire playlists under each drill video heading.



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

ELAINE’S TIP THE MONTH
4 Reasons Why You Should Participate in Georgia Masters Swim Meets
March 2024

1. Gives purpose to your training
Sure, for most of us, our purpose for swimming is to stay fit and healthy; however, training for competition would provide an additional purpose that would open new opportunities to improve your skills, increase your self-confidence, and take your fitness to a new level.

Registering to compete in a swim meet requires you to choose your race events, so those will now be the events to train for during swim workouts, rather than just swimming arbitrary laps. A coach can help you develop a training plan and set goals, or you can access the USMS Workout Library for specific workouts for your stroke and events. Asking for help on the USMS Community Discussion Forums would also be a helpful way to get advice from other swimmers. As your skills improve and you conquer your first swim meet, it will give your confidence a huge boost. Your body will also thank you for the improved fitness gained from kicking your training up a notch.

2. Provides feedback for how you train
Kudos for setting your mileage goal for the year and signing up for Go the Distance (You have signed up, right?)! That’s a great way to stay motivated to keep swimming those laps. If you really want to understand how your training has paid off (or not), though, racing at a meet is the way to do it. The adrenaline you feel right before your race, and the other swimmers racing beside you, will fire you up to swim faster than you ever thought you could. It is difficult during training to duplicate that intensity, especially if you train on your own. There is nothing like seeing the swimmer in the next lane just ahead of you, knowing if you just push a little harder, you can beat them! Not only is the clock great feedback, but you will learn your strengths and weaknesses and discover whether your training prepared you properly to race.

3. It’s a great opportunity to watch and learn from the best!
At a typical swim meet, all but the longest distance events are seeded slowest to fastest (regardless of age and sex), meaning the slowest swimmers will swim in the first heat, and the fastest swim in the last heat. Looking over the heat sheet, you can learn who the fastest swimmers are and watch their races during your down time. Shoot videos of their races, so you can watch and study their strokes later. Better yet, ask somebody to shoot a video of your race, and then compare videos on a large computer monitor to observe the differences. What are they doing that you aren’t? This is an excellent way to determine ways to improve your stroke.

4. The camaraderie at meets is fun!
Swimming may be an individual, solitary sport (especially if you train on your own), but swim meets are very social! While hanging out in between your events, it’s a great time to get to know the other swimmers and ask for advice. Volunteer to swim relays and cheer your teammates on, and you will see just how much fun Masters swimmers have together!

So, go ahead and check out the Georgia Masters swim meet schedule here and sign up for your first swim meet. In my thirteen years as a Georgia Masters competitive swimmer, I have never met a swimmer who regretted it. I have met many, many swimmers, however, that are happy they did! I sure am!
 

ELAINE’S FLEX SET OF THE MONTH
Turn, Turn, Turn
March 2024

No, I’m not talking about that 1959 song by Pete Seeger, made popular by the Byrds in 1965. Now that you have decided to enter a meet, it’s time to work on your race turns! Last November, the flex set featured 25’s of all strokes with turns. Since most swimmers choose freestyle and/or backstroke races for their first meet, this set focuses on turns for those two strokes at various race distances. To get more turns in, each interval will begin at the halfway point of the pool.

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.

200 Freestyle F.I.T.F., first 100 @ 200 race pace, second 100 EZ with F.I.T.F. turns, R:15

200 Backstroke F.I.T.F., first 100 @ 200 race pace, second 100 EZ with F.I.T.F. turns, R:15

100 Freestyle F.I.T.F., first 50 @ 100 race pace, second 50 EZ with F.I.T.F. turns, R:20

100 Backstroke F.I.T.F., first 50 @ 100 race pace, second 50 EZ with F.I.T.F. turns, R:20

4x50 Freestyle, first 25 @ 50 race pace, second 25 with F.I.T.F. turn, R:30

4x50 Backstroke, first 25 @ 50 race pace, second 25 with F.I.T.F. turn

Total yardage: 1,000

Explanation: The first half of each interval is at the pace you plan on racing for that event.  When you get to the flags (F.I.T.F. = Fast Inside the Flags), swim fast to the wall, make a snappy turn, and then swim fast to the flags before returning to your race pace. During your RI (rest interval), tread water, float, (or stand if shallow) before the next interval. See the video links for excellent turn advice.  The second half of each interval is to be swum slowly, but fast inside the flags with a fast turn.

Watch this flip turn video for freestyle.
Watch this flip turn video for backstroke.

Flexible options:

  • Make stroke substitutions for strokes you can’t or don’t swim.
  • Make distance substitutions to focus more on distances you will be racing. Are the 200’s too long for you? Substitute 100’s or 50’s instead.
  • 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 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



 

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