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Where : Moss Side Leisure Centre
When : Saturday 4th January 10:30 am (approx 3 hours)
Focus : analysis of MTC member swim videos and general discussion on how to improve swimmers, suitable drill ideas
More details to follow -
Recently I attended the 'embracing chaos' workshop organised by Greater Sport. There were a number of interesting presentations including one by my old boss at British Cycling, John Mills, that encouraged everyone to think of developing cyclists like 'Snickers' chocolate bars (I'll explain that one another time). Another presented a view on Governing body coach education programmes that they currently focus on athlete competency (physical, tactical, technical) and should maybe consider recent work on youth development programmes by Lerner (2000) and include 6 C's (Lerner talks about 5 C's but the presenter add a few of his own bits!). In a general youth development programme sense the C's refers to:
Here's a link to a much more reading about the 5 C's for those that are interested:
Even without doing any further reading, for anyone working with our juniors it is worth thinking whether anything we do in our current practice meets any C other than competence?
As we are currently in the first week of the new triathlon season it's time to start doing some session planning. The seniors sections annual training plan is available to view via this site:
This article will have a quick look at planning swimming sessions. The worked example below is a step by step guide to how I used the Swim ATP to put together the first 4 weeks of the Thursday PM Swim Session at Manchester Aquatics Centre, 20.30-21.30. It should help you do the same for sessions you coach:
Look on the swim streams chart to find out whether your session falls into Core #1, Core #2, Core#3, Core#4, Squad #1 or Squad #2:
Next look on the annual plan to locate the weeks you wish to plan:
Identify the training phase, Meso Cycle and Micro Cycle:
Read the guidance information from the objectives section of the annual plan
Open the relevant Meso Cycle planner and find the relevant section:
Now plan the series of sessions:
At the moment I'm in Dubai running a UCI road and track coaching course for the Asian Cycling Federation. The course is being attended by male and female coaches from all over Asia including United Arab Emirates, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Delivering the course is improving my geography, but also testing my ability to explain and demonstrate some relatively complex material to the attendees who either speak English as a second language or require translation to Arabic through an interpretor.
I thought this might be a good time to remind all Man Tri coaches about good practice for giving explanations and demonstrations. The number one rule has to be keep things clear and simple but the following is all good advice:
For cycle coaching providing off-the-bike explanations and demonstrations is a great tool. Whether it's for showing the correct line through a corner, how to perform changes, attacks or other group riding skills it can often be safer, clearer and easier to see mistakes. Once on the bike the speed and large areas covered can make clear observation and communication difficult.
Whilst swim coaching, new coaches, particularly those not from a swimming background, often work hard on learning coaching points and drills to develop front crawl technique but focus on how to explain them. Whilst this is great for those that learn through listening, visual learners find demonstrations more useful. I've seen many coaches describing good technique but then giving demonstrations that don't match what they are saying or giving no demonstration at all. It sounds stupid but I'd recommend practising in front of the mirror or videoing yourself! Are your words and action matching? Is it clearer for the swimmer if you lean forward to make my upper body parallel to the ground or swim 'straight up' as if heading for the ceiling when doing the demo. Do you need to provide a demo straight on or just from the side? If for any reason you find it difficult to provide a technically correct demo it may be best to ask another coach or a swimmer to do it for you (but check they have good technique first). Sometime getting the other swimmers in the lane out of the pool and watching someone perform the technique from the deck can work well. I'm also managing to build up a good collection of technique videos on the Man Tri website that you can point members towards.
Luckily for coaches that find demo's difficult there are a third category of learner who mainly learn through practise so they won't take a blind bit of notice of what you've explain or demonstrated.
So the final bit of advice is to watch swimmers and see if they are doing what you've asked.
At club track sessions all members are given a series of running paces to control training intensity. These paces are based on a recent running performance. Usually this is one of the clubs 5k time trials done each 6-8 weeks, otherwise a flat 3k, 5k or 10k will do. Based on the result you can take the VDOT table and read down to find the corresponding' VDOT value. You can then switch to the training paces chart and read of the E, M, T, I and R Paces that can be used for club training sets:
E-Pace - Easy (59-74% VO2 Max, 65-79% Max HR)
M-Pace - Marathon (74-84% VO2 Max, 80-90% Max HR)
T-Pace - Threshold (88-88% VO2 Max, 88-92% Max HR)
I-Pace - Intervals (95-100% VO2 Max, 98-100% Max HR)
R-Pace - Reps (~1500m race pace)
The VDOT and Paces chart are attached at the bottom of this article. Below is an extract from the VDOT chart:
Background: VDOT was created by Daniels to signify the combined VO2 Max and running economy required to achieve that performance. What this means is that someone with a very high VO2 Max but poor running economy would be able to achieve the same performance as someone with a moderate VO2 Max and excellent running economy. Whilst this method doesn't try to predict what the VO2 Max or Economy figure is, the pseudo VO2 Max (VDOT) does produce accurate training paces that will target the desire components of fitness.
For more information see the book: Daniel's Running Formula (2nd Edition) - Jack Daniel's PhD
Based on: P434-438: Swimming Fastest, Ernest Maglischo
Developed by Dick Bower of New Orleans, Louisiana, Cruise intervals allow coaches to individualise training speeds and send-off times for a large number of swimmers with a wide range of abilities who are all training in a limited number of lanes. This is a good description of the situation within Manchester Triathlon Club. The testing procedure used for calculating cruise intervals also allows swimmers to track their progress over time, helping with motivation. A number of coaches within the club have been trailing the Cruise Intervals method at sessions for the past 12 months. From October 2010 this will become standard across all sessions.
The first step in using this procedure is for swimmers to complete a test set of 10x100m to determine their ideal training speeds and send-off times. Swimmers should maintain their fastest possible pace while taking exactly 10 seconds rest between each repeat. Experienced swimmers can manage this themselves using the pace clock, novices may need the rest to be timed. Encourage swimmers to use even pacing, if they set off too hard and slow considerably during the test the result may not be valid.
To run a cruise interval test set for a group of swimmers follow the steps below:
To help you do this I’ve produced a chart that shows the swimmers finish time on the left (with any stagger taken off) and the relevant cruise interval split times for vary distances across from that. A section of which is shown below. You can download the full file at the bottom of the page:
The repeat interval does not have to be 100m for the cruise interval test set. It can be any repeat distance that will take swimmers 1:00-1:45 to complete. Remember that if a shorter repeat is used such as 75m, this will mean the resultant cruise interval send-off time will be for 75m repeats and will have to be adjusted based on the table above for other distances. It is possible to use this same procedure to find cruise interval send-off times for backstroke, breast stroke and Individual Medley, kicking and pulling, but not butterfly. At the present time we don’t use the test for this purpose.
Dates for running CI test sets are noted on the annual training plan. Could all results be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org so they can be shared with the relevant members of the coaching team.
Swimmers with the same cruise interval can then be grouped in one lane. As our club has a wide range of abilities we currently have to group two cruise intervals within one lane at 25m sessions (e.g. swimmers with a CI of 1:30 & 1:35/100m) and 3 at 50m session (e.g. swimmers with a CI of 1:30, 1:35 & 1:40/100m) except for Squad sessions. If this is the case then faster swimmers should be asked to wear drag shorts or towels for some sets; female swimmers should be encouraged to swim with a pull buoy. Slower swimmers can be permitted to draft during some sets or use fins. We are now beginning to ‘stream’ sessions so that we can make best use of our pool time. The tables below show how people with different Cruise Intervals should be grouped at each session (The Lane Distribution is subject to change so always check for the latest version):
If a new swimmers attends a session then guestimate the most appropriate lane for them based on any time trial info they know. Their average time per 100m for 750m will provide a reasonable indication that you can work with. Encourage them to complete the test set at the earliest opportunity.
One of the great things about using cruise intervals is that it makes it easy to design endurance training sets without having to give specific target times for each swimmer. The information below supports our Categories of Training document.
For basic endurance set, instruct swimmers to swim at the slowest possible pace that enables them to make the designated cruise-interval turnaround time (E.g. 1.35). For example:
Basic endurance sets can begin from 15 minutes of swimming time and progress to 30+ minutes.
Cruise PLUS can also be used for basic endurance training. By adding 5-10 seconds to the cruise-interval turnaround time you will have more time to complete the designated repeat meaning you can swim slower. This is useful when swimming long basic endurance sets, on recovery days, or when a swimmer is returning from illness. Adding 5 seconds would enable all swimmers to swim comfortably at their E2a pace, whilst adding 10 seconds would be useful for E1 / Recovery swimming.
For threshold endurance sets, swim at the fastest maintainable repeat time going off on your designated cruise interval turnaround time. Threshold sets will usually include 20 to 30 minutes of swimming time. For example:
For overload endurance sets, swim at the fastest maintainable repeat time going off on your designated cruise interval turnaround time. Overload endurance sets will usually include 20 minutes or less of swimming time. For example:
Cruise MINUS can be used for Overload Endurance training. By subtracting 5 seconds from the cruise-interval turnaround time you will have less time to complete the designated repeat encouraging you to swim faster in order to make the send-off time. Overload Endurance sets using Cruise MINUS will be no longer than 15 minutes of swimming. For example:
Cruise PLUS can be used for Overload Endurance training. By adding 5-15 seconds to the cruise-interval turnaround time you can swim the repeats faster and have more time for recovery. For example:
You may see the abbreviation (LOFO) used in cruise interval sets. It indicates that that the last repeat of a cruise interval set should be swum faster than the others. The purpose if this will depend upon the set but can include:
Calculating send-off times for different distance reps: The send-off time doubles as the distance doubles. So for a swimmer with a Cruise Interval Send-Off time of 1:35, the send-off times for different distances are listed below:
An easy way to calculate this is to carry around a copy of the swim split calculator available in the file library. Simply find the cruise interval send-off time in the 100m column and read across for the send-off time for other distances.