FINA Coaches Golden Clinic recap: insights into training for Le Clos, Van der Burgh, Jones, Heemskerk, Belmonte

In the lead-up to the Short Course World Championships this week, FINA hosted its annual Swimming Coaches Golden Clinic, in which various high-level coaches gave presentations about how they train their elite athletes.

We’ve got links to the full FINA write-ups below, but we’ve also compressed down the information into some shorter points about the more notable swimmers.

Chad le Clos, South Africa

Le Clos’ coach Graham Hill shared some big glimpses into the star butterflyer’s grueling practice schedule.

Particularly interesting: Hill says Le Clos would train around 10,000 meters a day, even while competing at various World Cup stops. Le Clos would apparently train between prelims and finals of the World Cup, hitting 10,000 meters not counting his race yardage.

Hill talked a bit about the upcoming year for South African swimming in general, pointing to the Mare Nostrum series and the Hungarian Open as two major competitions for the South Africans. He also said his swimmers would spend some time training in Pescara, Italy and Doha, Qatar during the year.

Hill also emphasized his support for the World Cup series, saying “We need to show the world that we are serious about our sport and we need to bring the World Cup up to the same level as the golf and tennis circuits.”

Cameron van der Burgh, South Africa

Van der Burgh’s coach Dirk Lange also spoke on day 1, bringing up an interesting training cycle that the breaststroker abides by. Van der Burgh generally hits the pool training hardest on three days of the week, and focuses more on weight training on the other three. The world record-holding breaststroker takes Sundays off to complete the cycle.

Lange tallied van der Burgh’s total training distances and times, which came to 1739 kilometers (1,739,000 meters) and 164 hours of weight training.

Leisel Jones, Australia

Jones’ coach Rohan Taylor especially emphasized technology, and talked about how he and Jones had analyzed her stroke with underwater footage to perfect her technique.

Femke Heemskerk, Netherlands

Heemskerk’s coach Marcel Wouda got philosophical in his presentation, outlining a few of the general ideas that shape his coaching. A few of his major points, per the FINA recap:

  • “Progress is all about science, technology and innovation and the application of that in a day-to-day practice.”
  • It’s important to bring experts onto the pool deck
  • We should strive for quality in everything in our lives, even the simple things
  • Every day we learn
  • Human limitations stay the same, but we must work to become smarter and to get more out of athletes

Mireia Belmonte, Spain

Spanish coach Fred Vergnoux laid out some training plans for his IM and distance swimmers, including the versatile Belmonte.

He said that one third of an athletes training typically came out of the water. Some of the out-of-the-water activities he mentions seem obvious (running, cycling), but others are more suprising (rowing and even snow skiing).

Vergnoux emphasized the importance of monitoring strength training very closely, saying that many of his athletes have their exercises directly hooked up to computers to gain instant feedback on where the athlete is compared to the ideal exercise intensity.

Vergnoux also brought up the FINA World Cup series, where Belmonte has done very well the past few months. He noted the high cost for athletes to follow the tour, which stretches over multiple continents and many different countries. He was also a bit critical of the television coverage of the World Cup meets, which excludes the 1500 and 800 frees.

There were several other presenters, and their presentations are summed up on the FINA website, which you can find below:

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Having Le Clos swim 10000m in practice sessions between heats and finals at World Cups is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever heard. I hope it’s not true.

lane 0

the proof of the training is in the results


Its not stupid…..its called making $350k whilst you’re in heavy training. It makes his performances look even more impressive. Those people who criticize him (and Katinka) for swimming the world cup events have not appreciated this. They think that he is ruining his chances for the Rio by missing out on all of those heavy sessions. He just isn’t. The other nugget that Graham Hill let out was that Chad has only ever shaved down 3 times in his whole career. Rio is looking good….very good.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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