winner

Gennadi Touretski– coach of legendary Russian speedster Alex Popov once said, “speed is the most precious thing in swimming – in the end it is what we are all about – it is what we are all trying to achieve”.

There are no gold medals or world records for the person who can swim the slowest or swim with the best technique or with the strongest kick or who has the best heart rate. There are no gold medals for the swimmer who wears the most expensive swim suit (at least not any more!).

There are no gold medals for the person who can lift the most weights or who has the best hairdo – winning is all about speed.

Speed’s seven golden rules: (to be read to swimmers at every speed development workout!!!!)

  1. Train fast to go fast – train the way you want to race and include speed development training every week – and in all cycles of training;
  2. The faster you want to go – the more relaxed you have to be! The only difference between swimming slow and swimming fast is the speed. Speed has nothing to do with gritting your teeth or tensing your muscles or pulling / pushing harder in the water – the faster you want to go, the more relaxed you have to be;
  3. Only fast is fast. 90% of your best is not fast. 95% of your best is not fast. Only 100% is fast. You don’t get faster by doing your speed workouts at near to best speed. You get faster by training faster than you ever have before;
  4. Think fast to go fast. Get yourself mentally ready for speed training by thinking about speed – focus on words that give speed meaning to you like “explode”, “drive”, “power”, etc;
  5. Wall to wall speed. The fastest swimmers in the world usually get to top speed before their opposition. In other words their acceleration is critically important. They also have great finishing speed and often will swim over their opposition in the final few metres. If you are practicing speed, work on it wall to wall – maximum speed starts – maximum speed finishes;
  6. Quality not quantity. The aim of speed development workouts is to develop speed. Increasing the number of repeats to achieve an increase in workout volume at the expense of the quality (speed) of the workouts will only develop the ability to swim slowly more often;
  7. Maintain skills / technique and legality at speed going faster does not mean a compromise on skills, technique and legality (i.e. Legal dives, starts, turns and finishes).

Here are five speed development workout sets to help your swimmers burn up the lane!!!!!!!!!!!

 

Number One: Killer kick set- Parts one and two.

Fast swimmers are invariably strong kickers. The ultimate aim of this set is to help a swimmer bring their 50 kick time as close as possible to their 50 swim time.

Killer kick set part 1 – finding your speed limit.

Start with the swimmer’s pb swim time for a 50 and add 15 seconds.

They then aim to kick a 50 in better than that time.

Now take off 1 second.

The aim is to kick a 50 in better than that time.

Now take off 1 second.

The aim is to kick a 50 in better than that time.

Keep going until the swimmer is at the point where they can just make the wall in the target time.

This is their kicking speed limit.

Killer kick set part two – practicing at your speed limit

8 x 50 kick on 2:00 minutes holding the individual kicking speed limit.

Variations:

  • No kick board;
  • Combine with a swim at target race pace, ie 50 kick, leave the kick board at the end of the pool, then sprint 25 / 30 metres at target race pace.

 

Number Two: Over / under set

Over / under sets are those which target speeds over a best previous speed at distances under a target race distance.

For example, if the swimmer is targeting 100 metres in one minute. An over under set might be:

  • Warm up;
  • Stretch;
  • Three to five minutes break;
  • 2 x 25 metres at 15 seconds;
  • 2 x 30 metres at  18 seconds;
  • 100 easy swim and stretch;
  • 2 x 40 metres at 24 seconds;
  • 2 x 50 metres (feet on the wall) at 30 seconds;
  • 200 easy swim and stretch;
  • 2 x 55 metres (tumble plus five metres) at 33 seconds;
  • 2 x 60 metres (tumble plus ten metres) at 36 seconds;
  • 300 easy swim and stretch;
  • 1-2 x 70 metres (tumble plus 20 metres) at 42 seconds;
  • 1-2 x 80 metres (tumble plus 30 metres) at 48 seconds;
  • Swim down;
  • Stretch.

The key to the set is the flexible rest interval. Unlike most sets where the aim is to hold a cycle, e.g. 10 x 100 on a cycle time of 2 minutes, in speed development sets, the swimmer takes as much rest as they need to achieve the target time. Repeating mediocrity only achieves mediocrity!

Variations:

  • Shorter distances – more repeats;
  • Longer distances – fewer repeats;
  • Decrease rests between repeats only if quality can be maintained;
  • Start mid way down the pool so that the distances / times include a turn at target speed;
  • Add stroke count targets.

 

Number Three: 8-10-12-14-16

You can use any numbers you like – the principle is what matters. For example:

  • Warm up;
  • Stretch;
  • Break for three – five minutes;
  • 8 strokes at maximum speed (no breathing on free or fly);
  • Easy swim to the end of the pool / one minute rest;
  • 10 strokes at maximum speed;
  • Easy swim to the end of the pool / one minute rest;
  • 12 strokes at maximum speed;
  • Easy swim to the end of the pool / one minute rest;
  • 14 strokes at maximum speed;
  • Easy swim to the end of the pool / one minute rest;
  • 16 strokes at maximum speed;
  • Easy swim to the end of the pool / 200 easy swim;
  • Repeat the above 2-4 times;
  • Swim down;
  • Stretch.

Variations:

  • Add a dive;
  • Use paddles (take care with young / inexperienced swimmers);
  • Control breathing patterns;
  • With young swimmers, these numbers will work fine. With senior swimmers their additional distance per stroke and distance off the wall underwater will mean using numbers like 6-7-8-9-10;
  • Start at various points in the pool to include more turns at target race speed.

 

Number Four: Dive cones

This is a fun speed workout for all swimmers.

Organize swimmers into pairs with similar swimming speeds.

Ask one swimmer in each pair to swim as fast as they can for ten seconds. The other swimmer walks along the side of the pool and places a cone (one of those brightly colored plastic cones used by gym teachers and other coaches to mark out training activities) to mark the distance their partner has achieved.

The set could be:

  • 5 x 10 seconds at maximum speed – aiming to go a little further each repeat;
  • 4 x 15 seconds at maximum speed – aiming to go a little further each repeat;
  • 3 x 20 seconds at maximum speed – aiming to go a little further each repeat;
  • 2 x 25 seconds at maximum speed – aiming to go a little further each repeat;
  • 1 x 30 seconds at maximum speed.

Why does this work?

  • It taps into the competitive nature of swimmers;
  • It provides immediate, clear, visual feedback after each repeat;
  • It gives each swimmer a clear, immediate, tangible, measurable goal;
  • It provides an opportunity to develop stronger team bonds with each swimmer encouraging and urging their partner to achieve improved results over the set.

Variations:

  • Control breathing;
  • Set stroke count goals;
  • Have “world championships” where the winning swimmer is the one who improves their distance swum the most over the set.

 

Number Five: Super sixties

Sixty metres sprints are a great distance to train over. They are long enough to teach a swimmer how to sustain maximum speed but short enough to train at developing real speed qualities.

For example:

  • Warm up
  • Stretch
  • 3- 5 minute break
  • 6 x 60 metres at target race speed with an easy swim and stretch between each. Cycle time is dependent on the swimmer’s ability to maintain the quality of the set.
  • Warm down
  • Stretch

Variations:

Move the start / finish after each repeat. For example:

  • 1st repeat – dive, swim 50, tumble and swim ten metres;
  • 2nd repeat – start at ten metres, swim 40, tumble and swim 20 metres;
  • 3rd repeat – start at 20 metres, swim 30, tumble and swim 30 metres;
  • 4th repeat – start at 30 metres, swim 20, tumble and swim 40 metres;
  • 5th repeat – start at 40 metres, swim 10, tumble and swim 50 metres (with a race finish);
  • 6th repeat – dive start, swim 50, tumble and swim ten metres.

So if it is speed you need, these sets will develop speed indeed!!!

Wayne Goldsmith