CHANGING SWIM TEMPO
Is it possible to change ‘gear’ in the water to help me better deal with race-day scenarios? Jessica Williams A
In short, yes. And the more you practise these skills, the more speed you’ll have and the better you’ll be able to recover from these surges. Here are three strategies to try out in the pool:
To be able to change speeds, you need to have some speed. The first step in learning to switch gears is to practise swimming fast. Short sprints of 15-20secs fit the bill here. Make sure you’re getting enough rest between each sprint, something like 45-60secs. It doesn’t take much volume here, as 3-4 efforts performed 1-2 times per week is sufficient.
In a racing environment, you generally want to build your speed rather than simply going full tilt right away to make or match a move. It’s a lot more draining to make a sudden move as opposed to a more gradual one. To learn how, you can perform reps where you build your speed within each rep. You can either perform short builds of 25-50m, or you can perform longer builds of 100-200m. In both cases, you’ll start with a conservative effort and slowly increase your speed until you’re really moving. In the shorter reps, you’ll increase your speed much quicker, and you’ll do so more gradually over the longer reps. This way, you learn to increase your speed in a manner that saves you energy.
Like building efforts, you’ll increase your speed during descending efforts. The difference is that the speed changes from repetition to repetition rather than within a repetition. For instance, you can perform 4 x 50m with each repetition getting faster. With shorter distances, you’ll increase the speed faster and with longer repetitions, you’ll increase the speed more gradually. You can really push the pace on the final repetition. Descending efforts can be good for those that like consistent feedback as getting your times will let you know how much you’ve increased your speed by. Andrew Sheaff