Training Strategy Simplified

I swam 3750m at Akdeniz Univ pool. It was 30.5 C. I started at 10:00.

10x 50m gentle check-in warm-up

3x this set: with open-turns

  • 100m fist
  • 150m   hold per 25- 15, 16, 17, 17, 16, 15 SPL
  • 250m   hold per 50- 15, 16, 17, 16, 15 SPL
  • 500m  hold per 100- 15, 16, 17, 16, 15 SPL

5x 50m kicking w/ zoomers in skate and sweet spot position

100m ez cool-down


I was hoping the water would be cool enough again to do some TT work, but no. So I went through my check-in and waiting for inspiration to come about how I can use this warm water time keep making progress.

I was able to achieve my SPL targets for the whole 3000m, switching SL ‘gears’ on cue. Even as I felt the nice tiredness approach after 2000m I only failed to hit my target on some length when I let my mind wander on some philosophical trail. So I am gaining confidence in my Endurance-Of-Focus.  I noticed how my ability to sense if I was on or getting off SPL target mid-length has strengthened.

My focus points were keeping every catch full, elbows up, and spearing right to longest skate position on each return- from foot-flick to hip-thrust to spear. I felt for the slightest changes in drag along my leading arm as it held it’s track and made adjustments as needed. My thighs had a slight tiredness to them at the end that told me they were doing their job initiating that thrust.

For both distance and sprint development my simplified over-all strategy is this:

  1. Develop Stroke Length (SL) as first priority
  2. Develop Stroke Rate (SR), dependent upon holding SL
  3. Increase distance holding this SL x SR combo (or prescribed combinations of certain SL x SR)
  4. Increase relaxation for this combo

Of course, there are a dozens of supporting details (flip-turns, breathing, 2-beat kick, etc) and many creative ways to mix and match these steps to achieve different goals. But for my own sake and for helping others I am working on breaking it down to the simplest prioritized form.

#1 In the simplest form of my TI training I have worked simply on SL, and learned to first measure my improvement accordingly. Patient, slow, careful SL work forces me to deal with balance and streamline problems. I literally spent years just on this.

#2 In the next advanced step of my TI training I brought in SR work. This increased complexity because increasing SR immediately increased drag and challenged my form and relaxation. So I am compelled to continue working on balance and streamline and improve my  our ability to hold best form at higher tempos.

#3 And the goal of most swimmers is to swim further and swim faster. So I then work on taking our SL x SR combo and swimming further with it, in various creative sets- playing with the variables of distance, pace and rest intervals, etc.

#4 Then as I develop SR on top of SL, my focus is not “how powerful can I get?” but, “how relaxed can I get?”  This is where I diverge from the conventional swimming mindset- the key to my success and enjoyment of a long, fast swim is not in my ability to endure discomfort for longer stretches- pumping bigger muscles and processing more lactic acid than others, taking pride in enduring more pain, more grueling workouts- no, my key is to focus more intently on how I am making every move so that I don’t need as much power to swim just as fast, and therefore produce far LESS lactic acid than my conventional counterparts. My mind is fully engaged in monitoring my body for best form and full relaxation and sensing any point of excess drag, having deeply imprinted what peak-sleak motion feels like, in order to keep it at top efficiency the entire swim.

They say the key to those world-record Olympic races (with the exception of the 50m) is not who swam the fastest, but who slowed down the least- because everyone was slowing down on the last length. And however they measure it I don’t know, but they calculate that the champions are using significantly less energy to swim faster than their un-successful opponents. One important conclusion, among many, to make from this analysis of elite racing is that a swimmer’s ability to hold best form longer is higher priority than how powerful they are- in the unique environment of water that is a neuro-muscular skill more than it is a metabolic skill.

So there should be some order and methodology to our training. I am encouraged to have a strategy that is based on a respect for the physics of water and an improving understanding of how the human body best learns a complex skill like swimming.


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