Long Plods Or Short Swims To Get Better #SwimTechTues

Long Plods Or Short Swims To Get Better #SwimTechTues

Many people seem to get in the pool and plough up and down for length after length. Here’s a little secret of the swimming world: you do not have to swim 400m repeats or a 3k straight to get better or faster.

In fact, if you are a beginner swimmer, shorter repeats like 25 to 100m can actually make you faster and more efficient than doing longer distance efforts.

Since swimming smoother and stronger is largely dependent upon much your body position and pull technique, if either or both of these two are lacking then you are going to be expending a good deal more energy for very little gain; sometimes you might actually swim slower.

By swimming shorter, having shorter and more regular breaks, and focusing on your form each and every time, you can build your muscle memory with good habits and not have to worry about fatigue breaking down your technique. You’ll probably find that you swim slightly quicker as a result too, so you can look to maintain this as you swim longer.

Try a session like this – or a variation of. It will build your swim stroke up through drills and then will take that technical work and translate that into speed:


4×25 side kick drill (go half on your left side and half on your right)
4×25 6/3/6 drill on 10-15s rest
4×25 catch up drill on 10-15s rest

Main set:

20×25 following this rotation Focus on your balance in the water
Focus on good rotation
Focus on focus on good hand placement
Focus on high elbow catch
Put it all together

8×50 Smooth and strong on 30s rest

Cooldown: 2×100 choice of stroke

This sort of thing will always work best when you understand your stroke and what the breaking points are, what things you need to work on and improve; whether that is from a swim lesson or a friend has watched you swim.

As your season and your form progresses, this sort of session can become more of an easy recovery swim rather than a normal session.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, Facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.


See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

Be A Lazy Swimmer – Swim Smart #SwimTechTues

Be A Lazy Swimmer – Swim Smart #SwimTechTues

Very few athletes that I see or coach are lazy. Quite the opposite! But, many swimmers work extremely hard and that excessively hard work does not pay off in expected gains. Instead of working harder to make small gains, why not think about working smarter. By training smart, and swimming lazily you should see more improvements. Many times, young and old swimmers get burned out with excessive training sessions. With smarter swimming, you will be more likely to enjoy your training and get more out of it. We all want to go as far and as fast as we can for each and every stroke, for minimal energy. That’s the ethos of swimming lazy

Swim Smarter with Mindfulness

The first, and best way to swim smarter is to swim mindfully. Think about what you are doing. Too many people will swim fast, but not pay attention to the quality of their strokes. If you are not using your body the right way, you will not better your strokes, your strength, and your flexibility. You might get a good aerobic workout, but you might not actually get much faster. It is better to swim slower, smoother and calmer while paying close attention to the technique of your strokes. Are your hips at the surface? Are you swimming from your core? Are you dragging yourself along? Are you connecting with the water with power? Are you kicking with more than just your calf muscles? Make smart adjustments to use less effort, and get the most out of your swimming. Swim lazy!

Swim lazy

Swim Smarter with Drills During Your Workouts

No matter how often you swim and no matter how long you swim, it is a good idea to add some swimming drills. These can be sets of laps that should be completed in a certain amount of time, or it can be something as simple as using pull buoys or paddles. It is always a good idea to try to do something intentional while you spend time in the pool. Drills can help you focus on strength, speed, stroke, or breathing. Make your workout smarter by actually swimming with a purpose.

Occasionally, Take it Easy

Finally, give yourself some time to recover. Pushing hard all the time is like driving a car and constantly bashing against the rev limiter. To change gear, there has to be a drop in the revolutions of the engine. Use the easier swimming and recovery time to be aware of your stroke and take control. Then when your body is feeling a bit more refreshed, you can attack a few more sessions or sets again.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by emailfacebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!




Many athletes often expect to improve more quickly than is really feasible, especially when they are strong runners and cyclists. This inevitably leads to frustration, particularly when you cannot swim the number of lengths you would like to or develop the kind of swim speed you were hoping for. This is extremely common with newcomers to any sport and can often lead to people giving up trying altogether.

All this is connected with our emotions, but it also about setting realistic goals in relation to our own ability and motor skills.


Why can’t I swim that well?

This is the question lots of us ask ourselves just after starting to swim. We inevitably compare ourselves to better swimmers, which can often be extremely frustrating. This can also depend on the methods our swim instructor employs to teach us the proper technique.

Good instructors realise that beginners have not had time to learn the right motor skills to swim properly, whatever stroke they are focusing on. In this respect, we know that verbal instructions need to be backed up by visual aids: observing and attempting to implicitly memorise is the most effective strategy for achieving the aspired standard of swim technique. The idea is to make all the movements constituting our swim stroke automatic. Learning to make these movements automatic takes time and lots of practice, as well as expert help.

One major reason for not swimming as well is not putting yourself and your body in the correct position. Because swimming is counter-intuitive, this means doing things that the survival part of your brain isn’t necessarily comfortable with doing, and this can take some time and mental resilience.


Why can’t I swim as many lengths as I would like to?

Quantity is something even less experienced swimmers use to assess their swim skills. Nevertheless, it is also a yardstick that can easily lead to frustration. To avoid this, it is extremely important to set realistic goals for your own ability, as well as being willing to train hard.

How far you swim is not the only measure of how well you are doing. Quality and quantity are both equally important in testing your swimming ability. If you can do the same distance in a session but feel better, not as tired, and swim smoother or quicker, then that is just as much – if not more of an improvement than swimming further. 

Some of your distance issues may be related to pacing. The further you want to swim, the easier your effort will have to be, this is a learned skill that takes time and practise, just as in running and cycling.


Take away

Learning to swim takes time. Improving your swimming and technique takes longer. It’s not just a case of turning up and putting in the physical effort – it’s a concentration effort more importantly. Take your time and enjoy the process!


If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!

#SwimTechTues – How To Work On Pacing

#SwimTechTues – How To Work On Pacing

#SwimTechTues – How To Work On Pacing

One of the things that can make or break your swim is your pacing. Whether you’re a new swimmer or an experienced athlete, the pace you train or race at can affect your chances of success and also your enjoyment.

When athletes start swimming for the first time, many feel like they have issues with their breathing. They could be incredibly fit and strong but put them in the water, and they are blowing like a train after one length! The issue here is that at this stage, they only have one pace – things are either on or off, go or stop. Go is 100% effort. If you imagine when you went for your first ever run; the first 2 minutes, you felt amazing, running strong. Next thing you know, you’re gasping for air and needing a pause. This is how you are feeling when you start swimming. As you get experienced with your running, you learn to regulate your effort, and therefore your pace. In the water, you have to learn the same skill. In the same way that you would run a 10k slower than a 5k, or a half marathon slower than a 10k, your swim efforts should reflect the distance that you are aiming to swim.

If you’re a more experienced athlete pacing in your training sessions can help you get the most out of your swims. Swimming is different from biking or running in that it’s easier to go hard every day without tearing up your ligaments and joints. Since you don’t feel the same type of soreness as when you run and bike, swimming leads many triathletes to think that maybe they didn’t swim hard enough. Beware: Swimming hard every day eventually will wear you down and something will give. It could be your shoulder, your back…or your motivation.

Learning to pace is a skill. It will improve your race pace, keep you injury free and maintain your motivation.

So how do you manage your intensity when it feels good to work hard so much of the time?


Swim with a plan: Each time you get in the water the workout should have a specific purpose. And every swim set within that workout should have a distinct purpose.



For example:

Drill/Skill Sets: The purpose of a drill session is to practice technique and improve your efficiency. It’s NOT to see how fast you can swim 100 metres while doing fingertip drag or catch up.

Speed Sets: These sets are designed to teach you how to become efficient at going fast and to raise your top end speed. These sets are NOT designed to see you swim 35 seconds for 50 metres and then swim 45 seconds for the rest. Pick a speed you can handle for the duration of the set. Typically, when I have a set of 10×50 metres, I start out at 30 seconds and aim to maintain that speed. You don’t want to fall apart. Your times shouldn’t vary too much. Learn to swim fast when you are tired – feel what might be falling apart.

Endurance Sets: These sets are designed to create a nice big aerobic engine that will let you swim at race pace for as long as you need to. These sets include 200 metre and up repeats. You may have to swim a set of 3×500 metres. Just like when you swim the speed sets, maintain your pace throughout or get quicker. If you start out at 8:00 for your first 500, and then swim 8:30, and then 9:00 you just blew your whole workout. Remember you want to maintain your pace throughout the reps, and for each rep.

The goal of any swim set, be it 50-metre efforts or 800-metre repeats, is to swim with consistency and at an appropriate effort level. The more you start incorporating this into your practices, the faster you will become.

Pacing Skills


There are different ways of swimming sets, that can improve your feel of effort and the pace that you are putting in. Negative splits, build and descending sets will all challenge your ability to change pace and control how you swim.

Negative splits – A common set across various sports; doing the second half of a rep at a faster speed than the first half.

Build – A steady acceleration across the length of a repetition.

Descend – Maintaining a steady speed across each repetition, but swimming each repetition quicker than the last.

The main point is to learn the importance of pacing in the pool. Take it out easy during the first few sets and repeats when you swim. As you warm up, increase your pace. If you find that you’re swimming is getting ragged, or the pace starts to fall away, take a pause at your recovery and workout what needs attention to help you swim stronger and faster.

Practice the way you are going to race and it will become second nature. You want to be the athlete doing the passing at the end of the race, not the one being passed.

Start slow and finish strong.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages.

See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!


Getting Ready For Open Water #SwimTechTues

Getting Ready For Open Water #SwimTechTues

Getting Ready For Open Water #SwimTechTues

With the UK race season officially underway, I have been seeing a lot of posts from triathletes about getting in the lake, river or sea for the first time this year – or possibly ever! Getting in the cold water can hold fear or confusion for many athletes, or others just simply don’t enjoy it. Whatever happens, it’s good to be prepared; here are my recommendations for preparing for the open water! First off, let’s identify where people struggle the most when switching to open water: Going off course. Panicking. Running into people. Letting their form collapse. Maybe you’re not being used to a wetsuit. Possibly you’re not being used to swimming in the open water. Open water conditions like currents and surf/chop. The number one remedy to the majority if not all of the above is (drumroll please!) Practice outside as much as you can (but not too much)! I know, I know: It is hard to get to open water because of schedules, weather conditions, and other commitments. So continue to swim your regular sessions every week. But as the race approaches take one or two of those swims and do it in open water. Make it as high a priority as possible. Swimming in the pool is not completely different from swimming in the open water – but it does have its own vagaries. So to get faster at the latter, you need to do it more. And not just on race day. Use these swims to test your wetsuit, practice sighting, get used to not seeing the bottom, and practice with others. Also, work on longer intervals at race pace. Some people will benefit from maintaining a more constant rhythm – others will need to readjust from having a rest and a push off at the end of every length!

What Can You Do In The Pool To Prepare?

Swimming in the pool still has its place. Even though you race in the open water, you should still keep up your regular weekly pool sessions, especially if your form is still weak. Of course, you can work on technique in the lake, but it becomes more challenging. Pool swims are important to develop speed and improve technique without the distractions that open water provides. Use the pool to focus on your form and drill work as well as a few race pace speed sets for time so that you can monitor your splits. If open water is simply out of the question, simulate the chop, surf, and congestion by trying to swim in a lane with three to four other people at the same time. It is tough but it will mimic that race start well. Also, close your eyes while swimming to mimic losing your ability to guide yourself with the black line (obviously only do this if you have an empty lane!). Turning before the wall is also a great way to simulate the stop-go of open water swimming, and not resting between lengths. Swimming in open water – at least with a wetsuit – should be quicker than swimming in the pool. So make sure that you are prepared for swimming in open water. Practise putting your wetsuit on so that it fits properly over your shoulders. Get yourself comfortable entering the water so that your HR doesn’t take such a shock to the system come race day! If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to get in touch; either by email, facebook or leave a comment on here! Remember, you can always get your swimming reviewed in the endless pool with our video swim analysis packages. See what’s up next week for our #SwimTechTues tip!
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