Q I don’t seem to be getting any faster in my swim. Help! Peter Yates A At a basic level, the solution to this is simple – breaking out of a rut requires you to practise swimming faster than you normally do. Here are some strategies that effectively accomplish that goal.
The number one key to improving your speed is to practise swimming fast. That’s it! When you’re trying to improve speed, all that matters is swimming fast. Optimise your practise sessions for speed and set up your sets so you can swim fast. Keep the repetition number low, keep the distances short, and keep the rest periods high. This will allow you to swim fast. Then, just practise swimming, fast! You don’t have to apply this framework to all of your swimming, just on a couple short sets per week. It will make a difference!
Getting out of a rut also requires you to change speed. A simple way to do this is to consistently change speeds during sets. One option is to practise descending your speeds within a set. For instance, if you have six reps for a set, you could start at a very easy pace and get faster each rep, finishing at a very challenging pace.
Another option is to alternate speeds within a set. You could perform the odd reps at a very strong effort and perform the even reps at a very easy effort.
A third option is to alternate strong and steady efforts within a rep. Let’s say you’re doing some 200s. For each 200, the odd laps would be strong and the even laps would be steady. In every case, you’re forcing yourself to swim fast.
Rather than swimming similar distances over similar speeds every time you swim, have a specific ‘theme’ each day you’re in the water. For instance, let’s say you swim three times per week. On one day, you can swim short distances at a much higher speed than normal. On another day, you could swim your normal medium distances and steady speeds. On a third day you could swim longer distances and slower speeds.
Long/medium/short and slow/steady/ fast can have any meaning you choose, provided that they’re significantly different from each other. The fast swimming should be a lot faster than the slow and the long reps should be a lot longer than the short.
By setting up your practise schedule this way, you’ll be forced to change speeds and swim faster than you otherwise would.