This time of year can be particularly tough for swimmers as they ramp up for the fall season. Meets are coming up, but not quite soon enough, and the daily grind of training can be taxing. What better way to stay motivated than by setting smaller goals for you to focus on? Let’s take a look at the 5 goals every swimmer can put their mind to this season, and how they’ll put you on the fast track to great summer performances.
1. Complete ____ Consecutive Pull-ups
Pull-ups are a great strength builder and an excellent test of your strength to bodyweight ratio. Anyone can learn how to do a pull-up. With proper technique and steady progression from assisted pull-ups to regular ones, swimmers can build upper body and core strength that translates well to every stroke. Set whatever goal number of pull-ups you want to complete now, and include pull-ups in your strength training a couple times a week to reach your goal by the end of summer.
2. Add 1 Hour of Sleep
Whether it’s in the form of a nap, two naps, or more nighttime shut-eye, an extra hour of rest can make a huge difference in your energy levels. No matter your sleep habits, all swimmers need to make up the sleep debt they accrue from early morning practices. Start small with an extra 30-minutes somewhere in your day or night, and steadily incorporate more rest into your training regimen. Your perceived exertion will decrease while your alertness, speed, and power reach new highs in practices and meets!
3. Pick an Area to Become More Flexible In
All too often, athletes are told to work on their flexibility and take ownership of their stretching. With busy training schedules, this total body bending lasts for a week or two before athletes invariably drop off their stretching routines. Instead, pick one target area you’d like to become more flexible in and focus on improving it every day. It’s easier to take one part of the flexibility challenge at a time. If you’re particularly tight somewhere, such as the hamstrings, hip flexors, or glutes, use this season to improve range of motion in that space. Focus your stretching on that body area and establish a baseline so you can compare your stretches from week to week. With greater range of motion come greater athleticism and a reduced risk of injury.
4. Add a New Vegetable to Your Diet
Along the same vein as the flexibility issue, athletes already have heard how balanced their nutrition needs to be. If you already eat lots of fruits and veggies, here’s to you. If you struggle with good nutrition mid-season, try adding a new vegetable to your diet that you normally don’t eat. Chances are you’ll have a lot of new vegetables to choose from, but by focusing on adding just one (or two), you can increase your veggie intake in a habit-forming way. Nutrient and fiber-rich veggies can help fill you up in place of less healthy options, and let’s be honest—it’s easier to add a healthy habit than take a bad one away, so hopefully those extra veggies really will make you too full for your sweet tooth to take hold. A progressive increase in your veggie intake from now until August can alter large factors in your performance such as your mood, energy levels (perceived and real), metabolism, strength to bodyweight ratio, and more.
5. Log Your Training
Swimmers are goal-oriented and disciplined, and they put in the training hours to prove it. In fact, they put in so many hours of practice that it’s easy to forget the details of their progress. Log your training in a small book so you can keep track of the performance gains you make in practice. You can include anything you like, but a great place to start is by writing down any best times on repeated sets or in-practice races. Include new standards accomplished such as making a faster interval, perfecting a new technique on a dive, or adding an extra kick underwater. These moments contribute to your total training effort this season, and they help you stay detail-oriented in the midst of tough practices.
Use these smaller tasks in your training this season to stay on point with your larger goals. More importantly, have fun with the challenges you set for yourself and you will be on your way to a very successful summer of racing.
For more training and performance tips, check out recent posts on our blog at BridgeAthletic!
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.
ABOUT NICK FOLKER
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.
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I don’t know that I totally agree with #2. I’ve yet to find that the amount of sleep matters as much as how restorative that rest is. if your mind is racing, you’re tossing and turning and you’re basically not getting a good night of sleep, the amount of perceived sleep doesn’t matter. You still won’t perform well at anything and something will have to give; performance usually being first on the list. On the flip side, if you have a sleep that is a good, deep, restorative rest, you’ll be able to take on the world with a much better mindset.
I believe that many swimmers tend to get less time for sleep, due to their time commitment needed. I mean, many swimmers wake up at 4AM to head to morning practice, go to school, go straight to afternoon practice, and some may not get home until after 8PM. The swimmer then must complete homework and usually needs some kind of down time. The point trying to be conveyed is that many swimmers lack sleep due to the neccesary time commitment and may need the hour of extra sleep.
Not arguing the point that a swimmer may need more sleep due to scheduling issues. Get it. Been there, done it and still have a bad habit of saying I’ll sleep when I’m dead. But we have a habit of choosing quantity over quality. I stand by my thoughts that I’d rather see my kids have a more restful, restorative sleep than add an hour of non-productive sleep.
I agree with a lot of the points all of you are making, however, I feel its how they manage their time. I find a lot of athletes (not just swimmers) don’t manage their time effectively due to outside influences (friends, technology, social media). How many minutes do they waist checking their phones, texting, or spending their time on social media sites, when they should be doing their homework or other things? I bet the minutes add up and is more surprising then you think. In addition, how much time attempting to sleep is wasted starring at a screen or some form of technology?
If a student athlete has balance and learns how to manage their time commitment effectively, issues… Read more »
Curious as to your more detailed thoughts on #3 (stretching/ flexibility). There is so much contradicting research out there on when, how, and IF one should stretch. Particularly interested on the performance impact in swimming and how it interacts with a strength program as well as volume in the pool.
From your experience, what works?