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Swimming Speed Work

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The concept of sprint training is simple. You will only increase your top speed by swimming at your top speed on a regular basis. Itís all about training the nervous system and the muscles to perform and repeat an action more quickly.

In order to swim reps at your top speed you need plenty of rest in between them otherwise youíll just end up doing a cardiovascular or a lactic acid tolerance work out.

9 x 25m      As fast as you possibly can with a minimum of 2Ĺ minutes rest in between each. During the rests, get your breath back, swim a length gently, compose yourself and think about what youíre going to do differently on the next sprint to go faster.

Hereís some suggestions as to what to concentrate on:

Reps 1-3. Think about your head only. For most strokes it should be perfectly still Ė is it? How high should you hold it Ė does looking at the very bottom of the pool suit you or should you hold your head quite high. You have to move your head to breath and this takes time Ė did you breath at all? If so how many times and did you return it to the same position? Can you reduce the number of breaths? Ė does it make you go faster or slower?

Reps 4-6. The speed of the arm recovery is critical in sprint swimming. While the arm is recovering itís not propelling you forwards so you need to get it back into a pull asap and keep the arm turnover rate (or cadence) high. Concentrate on driving the arms back in front of you. Donít just let them wonder back passively.

Reps 7-9. Try altering the tempo ratios of the arms and legs. About half way down the length, when you are at full throttle, try reducing the effort in your leg kick fractionally (from 100 % effort to 95% effort). In doing so your arms may well become more effective if you concentrate all your effort on them. This is quite difficult and does take some practice.

Always time yourself when doing swimming speed sessions. Donít use the pool clock itís not accurate enough.

Use the stopwatch function on a waterproof sports watch. With a bit of practice youíll develop a consistency in starting and stopping it that will be good enough for you to judge the effects of any technical changes you make.

Itís better to do speed sessions in 25m pool; you wonít tire too much over a single length.

Always experiment in these sessions too. Swimming is a thinking manís sport. Tiny technical changes can have big effects on times and itís far better to learn in training than in races. Try the following basic session:

Warm up      8-10 minutes of continuous moderate effort swimming.

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