Short on time… and space!!!!!

A recent email I received from a Masters swimmer – whom I have worked with for a number of years – and is now looking to get training done in a new environment due to relocation, was:

“How should/can I adapt my training when swimming in public sessions and the lanes are pretty stacked – so ultimately my turnaround times go out the window?”
For an athlete on a remote coaching programme, this can be a real issue – particularly when work commitments, family etc all have to be factored in and it’s not quite so easy as to ‘go train at a different time!!’

Fortunately, as with the entire philosophy of VB Race Club, we are set to make the difficult manageable…
There are little more frustrating elements of the serious swimmers life than limitations caused by public swimming (any public swimmers reading this will probably agree the opposite – I’ll pencil a blog in for ‘how to make the most of head up breaststroke swimming in a crowded lane whilst Mr Phelps is ploughing full speed ahead’ at a later date!)

Generally I would say that frustrations are borne out of the fact that as athletes we will set our session goals – or have a programme already written up – and believe that success for that session is based upon completion of the written word. Well at VBRC we are all about maximising volumes of stroke cycles – not laps! And whilst we may put up a set range i.e. 20×12.5m were not necessarily concerned with hitting all 20 – only the volume that our brain allows before neural fatigue become all encompassing (I’ll post more about neural fatigue soon)…

Ultra short work does work really well with short rest – but if this is not regular then the main thing is to not worry – just remember that the main goal of every workout should be an increased volume of stroke cycles at race pace or faster…

Here’s a scenario…

Lap 1 – lane is clear: 12.5m completed fast

Lap 2 – breaststroker at 5m flags in front: don’t push off – lay on the surface of the water and perform the same amount of strokes that you would on a 12.5 – this will probably take you to 7m and the breaststroker will now be at 8m (hopefully!!)

Lap 3 – decision time!! Stay in the lane cycle and go easy to the end and re-evaluate opportunity…


…walk back to the end you just started at and go again…


turn around to face the other way (if there is a bit of space) and lay out at 7m and dead start yourself back in towards the wall!

Single strokes can and will make a difference if you do enough of them – so if it is really busy set your goals on stroke cycles not metres. Count how many you do in a session, then when you get to the pool next time you won’t need to worry about hitting more 12.5s/25s (although you can if the space is there) – just make sure you complete more stroke cycles – even 1 at a time with 3-5 seconds rest whilst you let the slow guy in front get a bit ahead again!!!!!

Then get yourself into the gym to work your fitness and capacity to compliment your specific pool work – look out for a post on this next….


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