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Focussing training for one-off sprint swim event

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  1. #1
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    Focussing training for one-off sprint swim event

    Hi All,

    I'm looking for advice on how to focus my training (weight and cardio) for an upcoming swim event that I've agreed to help out with.

    Background (skip if not interested): I'm a 24yo male, and from the age of 6 to 21 I was a pretty decent competitive swimmer. However I've not done any swim training in over 18 months, and that was just a 3 month stint after another 18 month away from training. (Suffice to say my fitness level is probably ~20% of what it used to be.) I'm still in contact with my old swim coach as my local gym is at the swimming pool and I've been working out regularly 3 times a week for most of the 18 months since I stopped swimming. The club basically has a competition in about a month and they're short of older male swimmers for the relay events, so he's asked me to help out by taking part in what will be either one or two 50metre frontcrawl relay events. (50 frontcrawl was always my best event). He knows I've not trained but is confident that I could still swim fast enough to make it preferable to use me instead of a younger (like 12yr old) instead. Due to the weight training I'm a lot stronger than I used to be, but also about 12kgs heavier.

    Advice needed: what I would like to do, within the 3 times a week that I have available (limited I know), is get as much explosive power as I can. 50 metre swims only last 25 - 30 seconds so stamina isn't much of an issue, though some cardio conditioning probably beneficial.

    I know I'm gonna need to get back in the pool, but for this type of sprint swim event I believe about 70% of the training can be land based, with the rest being speed/technique work in the pool. My technique is solid(ish), so it's just speed and some stamina that I need.

    Specific questions:
    1) What exercises to focus on? I believe tricep and shoulders are the main upper areas to focus on (the power phase of frontcrawl is taking the arm from a raised position down to fully lowered, bending the elbow and extending it again - liken it to pulling yourself up onto a ledge). Also leg muscles need work. Mainly the movement is from the hips, but with some movement at the knee too - most of the drive here is downwards when swimming, so we're talking extension rather than flexion I believe.

    2) How to do those exercises. What rep ranges, rest periods. Should I aim to do each rep fast, or keep it slow?

    3) What cardio work? Yesterday I did some high intensity interval running (5 sets of 200 metre runs at 20+km/h with 30 second rest, on a treadmill. These runs last longer than the 25-30 seconds I'll be swimming for, so should prove beneficial, no? Can I do better?

    Any other advice, tips welcomed. I'm also cutting down my diet in order to try and lose a bit of weight, whilst keeping muscle (high protein diet).

    I know this might seem a bit dedicated as I'm just helping them out, but I've always been proud of my sprint swimming capabilities, and I guess I want to prove to myself that I've still "got it"

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Patrick
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    3 weeks time....good luck.

    you are better off just going in the water and trying to practice on swiming again. No adaptation is going to set in in 3 weeks time.
    Optimum Sports Performance

    "In the beginners mind there are many possibilities, in the experts there are few."
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  3. #3
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    if you have 3 weeks, and are doing 70% of your training on land, that leaves only 3 times total to actually swim before your even. I think you'd be much better off actually swimming the 3 times per week.

    If I were you, I'd swim at least 2 out of the 3 times per week, and practice sprinting your event (50 freestyle). Get out of the pool and practice dives too. Don't forget to warm up first though .

    Three weeks is really not enough time for weight training to be beneficial, just get in the pool.

  4. #4
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    Hi All,

    Thanks for the replies. I suppose I should've mentioned that it isn't in fact a one-off event. It turns out to be a series of 3 events, one month apart. So the last event doesn't take place until 5th December.

    Obviously I hear what you're saying that I'm not likely to see much improvement for the first event in 3 weeks, but lets say I'd like the 2nd and 3rd events to get better and better. What then would you recommend? To make it easier, forget there is a first and second event and just suppose I want to do well in the 3rd one. That gives around 9 weeks of prep time (27 sessions) which hopefully is enough to do *some* good.

    Squanto, I hear what you're saying about doing more swimming, and I will try and get at least 5 sessions in before the first event. However, bear in mind that my technique is still pretty good, and that most sprint swimmers do a significant proportion of their training on land.

    Thanks again.

  5. #5
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    I'd echo what the others have said and tell you if you want to improve swimming sprint times, running isn't going to do a lot for you at all. For your direct land training I would focus on balance movements for better balance in the water, training your shoulders, lats and triceps for better arm pull through the water and major flexibility work through the shoulder girdle and hip regions for improved length and strength while kicking and using your arms.

    For example, lie over a Swiss Ball with your feet against the wall fully extended balanced on your hips and practice your freestyle stroke in a prone extended position while rotating on the ball. Focusing on the proper elbow lift and reach/extension of the arms close to the head while rotating the body at the same time.

    And really you have to swim swim swim. I'd be working on mileage sets after a proper warmup, working within your specific time frame at least 3-4 times per week if you really want to see those times improve - it doesn't matter how experienced you are in the past, if you want to get faster it's totally necessary. Plus working to simple things like balance in the water and making yourself as "fishlike" as possible.
    Today I can do what others will not so that tomorrow I will do what others cannot.

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