Long course season separates the girls from the women and the boys from the men. In a 50-meter pool you can’t rely as heavily on turns, underwaters, or breakouts to help you pick up easy speed along the race. Instead, you’ve got to deal with about 15% more swimming and half the walls to push off of. How then, should you adjust your training to maximize your endurance and finish races strong? We’ve got a few tips up our sleeve to help you be more efficient in practice and faster at the end of your races this summer.
1. Kicking is King
If your legs aren’t in amazing shape, the rest of your body can’t be at peak performance. No matter what stroke or distance that swimmers compete in, everyone needs to hone their kicking strength. The muscles in your legs are the largest muscle groups in the body, requiring the most oxygen to move. The better in shape they are, the more efficient you will be at utilizing your oxygen and processing your lactate as it builds up in the muscle. This means you should incorporate a sizeable kick set into every week of early and mid-season training. The best coaches include a workout each week that is devoted to a kicking focus. Given this training regimen, sprinters and mid-distance athletes will improve their underwaters and still be able to close hard without their legs giving out, while distance athletes will be able to hold a steadier kick pace and close sooner on the final segment of their races. Kicking without a board will also hone core strength as athletes work to maintain their body position in a streamline.
2. Pushing the Dryland
In addition to kick sets, use your dryland to build leg strength and overall endurance. A cardio-based circuit can take care of your conditioning needs in less than 40 minutes. For example, rotating stations between a spin bike, burpees or squat jumps, and jump roping, would be an efficient use of your dryland session. A leg-driven circuit can spike your heart rate and keep it up for the duration of the dryland session, helping the athlete develop endurance in a short period of time. Once you’ve built up your endurance through dryland circuits, you can incorporate power exercises into your workout to add explosiveness and speed.
3. Race Pace Quality Practices
While much of long course training involves high-volume aerobic or threshold workouts, the occasional quality practice is important for athletes to replicate the race pace feel of their events. Throughout the season, swimmers should have regular quality practices with a high-intensity, long-rest pattern to the sets. As their endurance improves, swimmers will be able to finish harder on each round of a quality set. This is the workout that will check one’s endurance capacity and reveal how well each athlete translates his or her training into solid racing. With fewer meets in the long course season than short course one, quality days give athletes the chance to rehearse critical components of their races before they hit championship season.
If you want to finish stronger in your races this summer, 1) kick a lot, 2) work your dryland hard, and 3) actually rehearse that strong finish in your quality practices.
BridgeAthletic works with elite professional, collegiate, and club swimming programs to provide a turnkey solution for dryland training. Led by Nick Folker, the top swimming strength and conditioning coach in the world, our team builds stroke-specific, custom-optimized dryland programs for each of our clients. The individualized workouts are delivered directly to athletes via our state of the art technology platform and mobile applications. Check Nick and BridgeAthletic out as recently featured in SwimSwam.
Nick Folker is the Co-Founder and Director of Elite Performance at BridgeAthletic. Nick’s roster of athletes includes 35 Olympians winning 22 Olympic Medals, 7 team NCAA Championships and over 170 individual and relay NCAA championships. Megan Fischer-Colbrie works as the Sports Science Editor at BridgeAthletic. Megan was a four-year varsity swimmer at Stanford, where she recently graduated with a degree in Human Biology.
The Championship Series by BridgeAthletic is designed to empower athletes with tips from the pros that will help them reach peak performance come race day. We will be covering competition-focused topics such as nutrition, recovery, stretching, and mental preparation.