Tag: USAT

Swimming Faster… Tips from the Swim Fairy

If it were as simple as swinging a magic wand, I would wish the magical dust upon everyone. However, like many things, swimming faster requires work. Here are some tips to ensuring you swim faster, consider it magic dust!

  1. Frequency in swimming is key. Collegiate and National level swimmers train the most “time” of any other sport around (or darn near close to it). Why is this? Humans are land animals and to really get efficient in the water, you need to be in the water. For triathletes here is a rule of thumb for swimming frequency (times you get in the water each week).

    1-2 times per week: Swim maintenance. This is the minimum amount of time to be able to maintain your current fitness in the pool.
    3-4 times per week: This is where an athlete will see the biggest gains occur exponentially in their swim speed and technique.
    5+ times: The athlete will continue to see more gains in the pool but at a lesser rate exponentially. For the athlete REALLY aiming to improve then 5+ days a week is the way to go.

    *Remember frequency trumps duration!

  2. Consistency on a daily/weekly basis. Swimming is about consistency. If you swim 3 times a week one week and none the next you have lost the ever-so-talked-about “feel for the water”. It takes a whole other week of 3+ times in the water to get this natural “feel” back. The feel for the water is a term used to describe feeling a strong catch and feeling your body move strongly through the water. When you lose this feel you have a feeling of “weakness” in your stroke.

    *Swim regularly week, after week, after week!

  3. Swim with a purpose. Arrive at the pool with a workout, goal paces, goal times, and a plan. A typical workout should look similar to this:
    • Warm up
    • Drills
    • Main Set (with focus on strength, pacing, speed, recovery, or endurance)
    • Cool Down

    *Identify what your goal is for each session!

  4. Document. Document your training in your plan. Record paces, rest periods, and specific workout details. Swimming blindly (or training blindly) gives you no concrete evidence to see improvements. Throughout the years you may reference previous workouts, where you are at in your training plan, in order to ensure you are making progress in the right direction.

    *Record your data!

  5. Seek consistent swim lessons. Doing one swim lesson will help. But consistent guidance is important for success. Often swimmers will “over correct” their new form. By having a lesson set up 2-3 weeks apart then the correction can be made by the instructor before the new stroke become a bad habit. Filming (above and below) water is also super beneficial in making your stroke improvements.

    *Seek advice of an experienced swim instructor for swim and video analysis!

  6. Swim with a group. Masters swim classes, or swimming with teammates is not only more fun it helps you pace your swims better when swimming alongside those of equal ability and inch out that extra bit of speed once in a while that can be difficult to find on your own.

    *Swim with friends!

Post these reminders in a place you see often and make sure you are practicing all your magical tips!

Tempo Trainers…What are they and why do I need to know how to use one?

If you are a swimmer you have realized there are many…MANY aspects to our sport. Understanding the ability to combine stroke rate (tempo) and distance per stroke in order to increase speed and power output in swimming is very important. Being able to utilize this knowledge with understanding the biomechanics, physiology and training zones is also instrumental in being a successful swimmer.

Those are a lot of big words and we haven’t even gotten in the pool to start stroke mechanics yet! That’s why you hopefully have a coach or an instructor to help you in your swimming. From the beginner, to novice, to elite swimmer… we ALL need instruction in this great sport!

A few years back a scientist from New Zealand developed a little device that has made swimming more fun, more exact and more about the science of the sport and physiology. The Tempo Trainer (TT).

The TT is a little blue device that hooks onto your goggle strap or in your swim cap and basically is a mini metronome. It “beeps” at whatever setting you choose and basically….it sets your “cadence” or “tempo” in swimming. By understanding your combination of TEMPO and STROKE COUNT in swimming, you will be able to increase power and speed in your swimming.

For example: I want as much “distance per stroke” as I can for each lap I swim. So, it is better to take 15 strokes than it is 18. I ALSO want my tempo to be as efficient and fast as I can. By combining the two: tempo and stroke count… I am able to pull more water faster… which makes me a more powerful swimmer.

There is a lot of science in swimming and an even greater amount when discussing biomechanics AND training zones. But, the best thing you can do is learn to use the TT and how to make it applicable in your swimming goals.

USAT Level II Triathlon Coach Teresa Nelson and Outdoor Recreation Coach Brandyn Roark will be doing a Tempo Trainer clinic in November so this will be a perfect place for you to start! Email Teresa at tnelson@sacdt.com or Brandyn at broark@sacdt.com for more details or to ask more about the tempo trainer.

Hans Swim Paddles for the Triathlete and Master Swimmer

Hans Paddles:
The Han’s paddles (the small black ones) are smaller and are a great place to start when first using paddles. Because the Han’s paddle does not have a wrist strap it gives you immediate feedback as to whether you are swimming efficiently. If at any time the paddle is sliding on your hand it is telling you that you are not keeping adequate water resistance on your hand and are not propelling your bodyforward.

These can be worn in three different ways but the most popular is with the boxy end at the top of your fingers and the more curved end at the bottom (as illustrated).

This position teaches the hand, wrist, and elbow order of entry and encourages the downward sweep of the hand and high-elbows positioning in order to continually reach for “new” and “more” water with each stroke.

Strokemaker Paddles:
The Strokemaker paddle (which comes in various sizes and colors) is the bigger paddle that we offer. It increases distance per stroke by preventing you from allowing an early recovery (exiting arm from water). The size allows for strengthening of your swimming-specific muscles and aids in water propulsion. It is imperative that you do not take out the wrist tube in order to ensure proper use and to make sure you finish your stroke. You can use paddles in any stroke but be aware that the larger the paddle the more stress is put on your shoulder joint.

Make sure, if you start using paddles, to start out slowly. Only use them for 200-300 yards for the first few sessions and then build upon that. If you have any shoulder pain, stop. Start with the smaller paddles (ie: the black Han’s paddle or the green Strokemaker paddle) and build up. Most recreational swimmers should not go beyond the yellow Strokemaker paddle as the red (the largest we carry) is designed for elite swimmers or those that have been swimming with paddles for some time.