The Secret to a 'Best Time' at Nationals
USMS coach Craig Keller outlines his approach to achieving "best times" at nationals:
MSO Coaches Clinic Invitation
Sign up for the first MSO Coaches Clinic!
March 25, at Nepean Sportsplex, Ottawa
Coaches, assistant coaches and anyone interested in masters coaching, MSO is sponsoring a coaching clinic to be held in conjunction with the MSO Provincial Championships in Ottawa. The program will take place at the Nepean Sportsplex, the same pool hosting the Provincials. The program will be led by Duane Jones, PhD, one of the best-know coaches in Canada with over 45 years of coaching experience. He has guided his team, Technosport, to three successive first-place finishes at the MSC Canadian Masters Championships.
The program will run from 10 am to 3 pm, starting with a classroom session and then moving to the pool. Topics covered are listed below. Entry fee is only $30, lunch included. The program is open to coaches from anywhere, not just Ontario. Limited to 15 participants.
Sign up today or obtain further information by emailing email@example.com
- Establishing and Managing a Masters Team,
- Retaining and Motivating Masters Swimmers
- Workout Design for Different Levels of Swimmers
- Cycles of Training Over the Season
- Working with Triathletes/Open Water swimmers
- Dryland Training and Injury Prevention
- Long and Short Axis Technique
- Using Video
- Meet Preparation and Racing Tips
Using the 1km Challenge to test aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold
A swimmer's anaerobic threshold is a useful tool for setting interval times for training swimmers, and the MSC 1km Challenge can be used to test aerobic capacity and determine a swimmer's anaerobic threshold. Repeating the 1km Challenge at a later date will help measure and track the improvement in aerobic capacity that a swimmer has made in the intervening training period.
Anaerobic threshold is the speed at which aerobic processes can no longer keep up with the recycling of the byproducts of anaerobic metabolism and acidosis begins. Anaerobic metabolism occurs below the anaerobic threshold but aerobic metabolism is able to recycle the byproducts as quickly as they are produced so they do not accumulate. Anaerobic threshold speed is therefore the maximum speed that a swimmer can sustain over long distances. If the swimmer exceeds their anaerobic threshold speed acidosis occurs, this is signaled by the sensation of the muscles "burning". As acidosis progresses it impairs muscle function, and actually damages the muscle tissues, forcing the swimmer to slow down.
Knowing a swimmer's anaerobic threshold pace is important in setting intervals because different systems will be stressed to different degrees depending on whether the pace is above or below anaerobic threshold pace. Basic Endurance Training should swum below the anaerobic threshold so that the aerobic system is stressed for longer periods as longer distances can be swum without acidosis. Threshold Endurance Training should be swum at anaerobic threshold speed and Overload Endurance Training should be swum at higher than anaerobic threshold speed. Without knowing a swimmer's anaerobic threshold speed you cannot assign intervals to ensure that the desired type of training occurs.
By conducting periodic 1km Challenge events you can monitor improvements in aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold speed, giving feedback on training progression and interval adjustments, and swimmers will see tangible improvements to help maintain motivation.
Recently, Matsunami and colleagues (1999a) compared the accuracy of a number of test distances from 3,000m down to 600m for estimating the anaerobic threshold. Their criterion measure was a lactate step test that estimated the speed at which blood lactate began to accumulate in a linear manner. They reported that a test distance of 1,000m provided the closest relationship to the anaerobic threshold speed as predicted from the criterion measure. Consequently, they proposed that a 1,000m time trial could be used in place of a 2,000 or 3,000m time trial to evaluate changes in aerobic capacity and prescribe training speeds.
From Swimming Fastest, Earnest W. Maglischo, 2003, p569
Matsunami, M., M. Taguchi, A. Taimura, M. Suyama, M. Suga, S. Taba. 1999a. Relationship among different performance tests to estimate maximal aerobic swimming speed. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 31 (Supplement 5): Abstract #376.
Maglischo goes on to express personal doubts about whether a T1000 would better predict anaerobic threshold than a T2000 or T3000, but states that in any case it is a good way to test improvement in aerobic capacity and anaerobic threshold.
To estimate aerobic threshold for training purposes just divide the 1km time by ten to get the anaerobic threshold pace per 100m.
Butterfly stroke timing
The following video shows two swimmers performing the butterfly stroke with different timings of the second kick. We will refer to the kick that occurs as the hands enter the water as the first kick, the kick that is generally timed as the hands exit the water as the second kick. You should be able to see that the swimmer in the bottom half of the screen performs the second kick earlier, the legs finish the downbeat of the second kick while his hands are still midway through the pull. Here's the view from above water:The timing can be observed more clearly in underwater video of the same swims:
Here is a still shot at the point where the bottom swimmer has completed the downbeat of the second kick:
Note that the arms are only midway through the pull.
For comparison, here is a shot where the top swimmer has finished the downbeat of his second kick:
Note that his hands are just leaving the water.
Finally, here is a shot of Michael Phelps at the same point in his stroke:
His hands can just be seen passing his swim suit on their way to leaving the water.
There are a few reasons to prefer the hand exit timing.
The top swimmer performs the upward part of the kick cycle with straight legs during the middle third of his pull, the downward part of the cycle starts with the knees descending, followed by the knees rising as his feet descend. This maintains a relatively flat and streamlined body position, minimizing drag resistance.
In contrast, the bottom swimmer's kick is mostly from the knee down, the upper legs are never recovered upward, and the downward kick occurs earlier and ends up deeper. The last third of his pull occurs with the legs are at maximum depth resulting in much more drag resistance. Compare the body positions in the first still image above.
For the top swimmer the second kick is providing extra propulsion just as he is launching forward into the recovery, helping maintain the speed generated by the pull and making it easier to cleanly recover the arms. The bottom swimmer gets the extra forward propulsion early in his pull which does increase his speed at that point but then he loses considerable speed during the recovery and has to expend extra energy in the finish of the pull and the recovery of the arms.
The downward force on the water generated by the downbeat of the top swimmer's second kick should also help maintain a flatter position during arm recovery.
The bottom swimmer would likely benefit from performing the upbeat of the kick with straight legs and then achieving the knee bend from a downward movement of the knee, as he does in his first kick, rather than an upward movement of the lower leg. This will shift the timing and likely reduce the amplitude of his vertical movements, both of which should result in reduced drag and effort.
Seven Steps to Avoiding Injury
As we get back into a new season after the Summer break we all want to start off at the fitness level we left, but it is important to curb the enthusiasm to prevent injury while getting back to full fitness. Here is an interesting article looking at just that:
have a great swim!
Back to Basics - sculling
So a new season is heading under way and it's time to get back to basics. I find sculling a great tool (and sometimes under-used) to help maintain body position and encourage an early, effective catch. Here are some tips on what to look for when practicing sculling:
I found the drills good especially when utilizing the pitch of the hand
like a propeller blade - trying to maintain 45 degrees down and 45
degrees out on the outsweep; then 45 degrees down and 45 degrees in on
the insweep. This helped keep the body high and provided propulsion
while always having the feeling of the 'weight of water' pushing
against the hand. I'll try to incorporate the insweep action into the
breastroke to provide a little extra lift and propulsion on the