Thanks to Head Coach Des for providing this terrific insight into the Club training sessions. With Spring in the air; hopefully, we will see more members at training.
The club trains at MARC on Tuesdays and Thursdays, either in the indoor 25m pool or the outdoor 50m pool. For the winter of 2019 we have moved indoors on Thursday nights only, with the outdoor pool being used at other times. The water temperature in both is much the same all year – about 27 degrees. Start times are 6:00pm for the outdoor pool and 6:15pm for the indoor pool. Each training session lasts about 90 minutes.
Each training session follows a similar structure. First a warm-up, then some drills to correct or refine strokes, then the main set, aimed at putting the drills into practice and building stamina. A couple of hundred metres recovery wraps up the evening’s session. Depending on the time of year and the type of event that is coming up, a training session may have a sprint or an endurance focus. Either way, most sessions contain both elements.
In all cases, especially if you are returning to swimming after an absence or are carrying an injury, if there is a stroke you are unable or unwilling to do, don’t to it. The default in this situation is to swim the set distance in freestyle with using fists and not the open hand. Similarly, if you are out of breath, simply rest until you are ready to continue.
Why training: Training keeps the fitness levels up and helps develop an improved technique. By swimming different strokes can help improve your preferred stroke through the engagement of different muscle groups. Also, training with a group, no matter how small, is by definition more social.
Training programs will cover all strokes during the pool meet season with more emphasis on speed. As the summer open water season comes closer there will be a shift to more endurance swimming. You will notice that various pieces of equipment are sometimes used during each training session. While the club has some equipment, you should bring your own fins as they are a more individual fit. The following equipment should be considered.
Goggles: Probably the first thing, after bathers, that one considers when thinking of swimming, goggles were not permitted in competition until after the 1972 Olympic Games: now everyone wears them, and for obvious reasons. There are many brands, shapes and colours of goggles available so it should be easy to find a pair to suit your eye socket shape. As a general rule, when buying, press the googles to your face without the strap around your head, and let go. If the goggles fall off they will leak. If they don’t fall off they won’t.
If you swim mainly in the daylight hours you should consider buying tinted lenses with UV protection. Clear lenses are best for training nights in the pool or on overcast days due to poorer lighting. If needed, consider having optical lenses incorporated into the goggles lens, particularly if you swim open water, – you may need the lenses to see turn buoys when out in the briny.
Fins: These are used to improve kick, speed, and ankle flexibility. Using fins at training will greatly improve the kick in a race, be the race open water in the pool. Fins are especially good for removing a cross-over kick and improving leg strength but be careful when buying a pair. Short fins will give you a kick closer to a normal kick, but a faster kick will be required due to the smaller surface area of the fin. Long fins require a slower kick.
Pull Buoy: These come in many shapes and colours but all achieve the same result – elevating your hips and legs, and eliminating the kick. Placed between the upper thigh pull buoys will provide the chance to focus on the upper body, especially the stroke and breathing. The club has some pull buoys available for use.
Hand Paddles: These also come in many shapes and sizes. Their purpose is two-fold: building arm strength and improving your stroke. The first thing to notice with a hand paddle is that it has a larger surface area than your hand, which means with each pull you are pushing more water. Also, if properly fitted, the paddle should interrupt your stroke if the hand entry is poor, and come off if your follow-through is poorly executed. The club has some hand paddles available for use, but, again, it’s a case of different paddles for different people.
Kickboard: These are used to give focus to the kick. Though not much used by the club, kickboards can assist in addressing a cross-over kick, and using the whole leg in the kick and not just bending the knee. A kickboard can be used to improve the kick in all stokes. The club has some kickboards available for use.
Snorkel: This is another option that can be used for freestyle training and comes with many benefits. As you will be looking down throughout the swim cycle you will be better able to track your total stroke, from the moment your hand enters the water until it leaves. It allows a focus on head position, body balance and stroke technique. Don’t forget that you can’t use a snorkel in competition.
Nose Clip: This add-on is helpful should you have a problem with water getting into your nose. Often worn for backstroke, a nose clip can be worn in all strokes in competition.
In conclusion, the equipment outlined above can improve your swimming if correctly used, but don’t become over reliant on them. Ultimately, you will be swimming with nothing more than your bathers, cap and goggles (plus an approved wetsuit if swimming open water). The more training you with just these items, the more comfortable you’ll be in the water and the better you will swim.