Author Archives: Glen Gore

Training Schedule to Improve your Open Water Swim Times

With the summer weather now firmly entrenched into our daily lives, its time to start thinking about upping your triathlon training with specific emphasis on the swim discipline. The bigger events we have been targeting are looming not too far ahead.

Swim Training Cycle
We are going to divide the swim training up into 3 period cycles over the next few weeks. Period 1 will be dedicated to going really long (but slow), Period 2 will be short and sharp, and Period 3 will be a combination of both with some rest days thrown in between. We need to complete around four of these cycles to give ourselves a shot at completing a 1.5-2km open water race.

Strength Work
To get the best performance out of your swimming, we will also dedicate 3 x 30 minute gym sessions per week to be included in our build-up to peaking for the targeted event. A combo of some specific weight training and swimming during your peak training periods, will no doubt help you swim faster and better.

Adapting the Program
The programs outlined below are geared towards a more intermediate/strong age group type swimmer who has a suitable amount of training under the belt. The program can be easily adapted to both novice and the more elite swimmers by simply decreasing or increasing total distance from by 15-20%. You can also lower and increase recovery time between sets to make the program truly work for you.

Good Swim performances come from consistency. If you can consistently put together a string of 3 to 4 of these period cycles, you will definitely start to feel the benefits and ultimately, swim faster. Good Luck!

Glen Gore (guest blogger)

 

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Swimsense™: Using Paddles to Make Even More Sense of It

Round #2: Pacing

Right! Last time we interacted, I had done 30 x 100m swim repeats on 1:30 as a warm-up a few days prior to a 70.3 event. The idea was to show you guys and girls the importance of pacing, especially when you’re training for an open water triathlon swim. To improve your times and be successful during the swim leg, your pacing needs to be exact and the only way you get that right is by spending time in the pool. This is where the Swimsense™ comes into play as an invaluable tool when looking at pace per interval/per repeat.

I did a little experimenting with the Freestyler paddles the other day. I did the same workout on the same time schedule but decided to use the Freestylers instead of normal swimming, just to see what differences would arise. Results were pretty impressive and surely show how the Freestyler paddles lengthen ones stroke technique. I have compared 4 screenshots below.

Graph A

Graph B

Graph A depicts my average pace per 100m repeats using the same type of workout but while also using the Freestyler paddles. The graph line is almost 100% straight except for only 4 repeats where my concentration levels obviously waivered. You match that up to Graph B (the results from my last posting on pacing) and the evidence clearly shows that the longer my stroke reach (using Freestylers) the better my pace will be.

Graph C

Graph D

Graph C depicts my average stroke rate per 100m repeat. If we compare it to Graph D, the evidence again clearly shows that the Freestyler paddles do indeed lengthen one’s stroke. My stroke rate has dropped from an average of 10 (Graph D) down to an average of 8 (Graph C). This shows that my swim efficiency is a whole whack better when I swim with the Freestyler paddles as opposed to swimming without.

Final Analysis

Okay, I have compared 4 graphs using two different methods for the same swim repeat program. It (the Swimsense) tells me that the longer my stroke reach (training with the Freestylers first and then keeping that stroke reach without) the better my average pace will be and the more efficient I will swim. So, the Swimsense has performed an invaluable task by actually showing the huge difference between a longer stroke reach as opposed to a shorter less efficient one.

Bottom line. Swimsense is a magical tool and if used as part of any triathlete’s arsenal of weapons, you are definitely going to notice improvements in your swim performances.

Now I am off to try something else with my Swimsense. I will keep you posted.

- Glen


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Swimsense – A Triathletes New Best Friend

Hey Triathletes, I got one word for you: SWIMSENSE™. You gotta go and get this new toy and add it to the arsenal. Why? Give me 5 minutes.

As a coach and Pro Triathlete, pacing is crucial in any open water swim. Most newcomers to the sport and those that battle with the swim, have major problems when it comes to pacing over a long swim distance. Out in the open water there are no coaches to whistle you along, no lane ropes and turn walls to rest on, and no clocks that tell you the splits. You have to learn to do it yourself. Pool swimmers learn over the years on how to measure their performance in a pool that is of standard size. What happens when you need to swim 1.9km or 3.8km with no yardsticks to work off? You buy yourself a Swimsense and train with it, that’s what.

I have taken a few screen shots and used myself as a guinea pig. I did this morning’s workout as a pre Ironman South Africa 70.3 warm-up (which takes place Sunday the 23rd). 30 x 100m repeats on 1:30. Normally I would swim more repeats on a 1:20 interval, but I’m getting ready for my race.

Take a look at the “stroke count” charts for starters, both the pie chart and the bar chart of the 30 x 100 repeats. My stroke count remained consistent at 20 strokes per length (10 stroke cycles) for almost all the repeats. That is a pretty solid tempo.

Then we take a look at my pace chart. All the 100 meter repeats hover between 74 and 76 seconds with only 1 straying out o

f those parameters. You will also notice that my concentration levels seemed to slip a little from #21 to #27 before I regained my composure and focus.

This is the type of pacing you will need to swim a solid ironman swim or any open water swim distance for that matter. Swimsense is an incredible triathlon tool when it comes to honing one’s swim pace skills and is definitely a MUST for any triathlete looking to swim better and more efficiently.

I have cut and pasted only 6 of the hundred meter repeats to show you the pacing measured over each 25m. You will notice that the 1st and 3rd 25m are always fastest per each hundred meter repeat, The reason? Simple. The pool I use has a strong current flowing in one direction and this is evident with my pacing (although stroke count still remains consistent).

Anyway, a lot of jargon and times/splits etc. The bottom line with this workout is to show you what the Swimsense can do for you in your search for the perfect triathlon swim. An absolute winner in my books.

- Glen


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Making Sense of the Data — Swimsense Review by Glen Gore

The FINIS Swimsense™ has been with me during my workouts for the last couple of weeks. With the recent Festive Season, training time has certainly not been what it should be. Nonetheless, I made sure I used the Swimsense for all my pool training.

The initial take on this technical swim gadget was ease of use and 100% accuracy. Lap counts, distance swum, different strokes completed…this watch did it all to perfection. The trick now comes as to “how do I incorporate this Swimsense into my daily swim workouts so that I can gauge my performance level increases?” Triathletes are very much on the forefront with technical products that are manufactured to improve one’s performance. So the Swimsense is a fantastic tool that will be well suited to all triathletes, from the novice level right up to elite.

I still need to play a lot with the Swimsense and find an angle to adapt my training sets to ensure that the Swimsense is put to good use. The downloaded data can be a little confusing and takes a while to grasp. I see the graphs but how will those graphs help me with my swim performance? As a coach, I can definitely see potential. An example would be to take an athlete and give them a set standard of repeats on a given time, making sure they are recording this data. You will then store the workout for later analysis. The goal of the coach would be then to work on the swimmers technique and fitness over a few workouts. Then come back and repeat the same “test” set on the same given time and compare the 2 sets of data. One would easily be able to track improvement in the swim efficiency and relate that to the times for each repeat. Sounds sophisticated but is really quite simple.

Bottom-line, the Swimsense is a great tool for a triathlete, but it does need to be used over a period of time in order to get the full benefits from the data it gives you.

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When the Real Novice Gets Wet

My wife, who has never swam a day in her life besides a few doggie-paddle lengths, has decided to take on the challenge of a 3.8km ocean swim and do an Ironman

How does she get started swimming from ground zero? Well she certainly needs to be ready for a lot of patience and plenty of persistence. We start talking fitness first, technique second. It takes time to be swimming-fit, so she started off with short 500m swim workouts. She has slowly progressed to 1000m albeit not comfortably as yet. She has a strong running and biking background and therefore good lung capacity to ensure success, but somehow she cannot manage to transfer that fitness into the pool. I am sure some of you have had similar experiences or know of someone that has?

So, what do I suggest?

  • Training Groups: You need to get into a squad type set up where swimmers of similar abilities are in the pool together thrashing out a session. The confidence boost of training and facing similar challenges together is what you need to truly make the jump up from your current abilities.

  • Learn to Kick Properly: All swimmers that struggle in the pool simply cannot kick. Why? I’m sure it differs for each athlete, but they all seem to suffer from the same symptom of kicking hard and going nowhere. Solution = Zoomers training fins. For a novice, kicking without Zoomers is a complete waste of time. By using the fins, the leg and foot are put into the ideal kicking position for creating forward propulsion. Zoomers can also be use while swimming until the athlete is comfortable with their own kick and swim stroke.

  • Pull Buoys: This is a definite must in aiding the legs to stay afloat until they become strong enough to carry their own weight. Weak swimmers will drag their bodies through the water rather than swim on top of it. We need the standard Pull Buoys or Rangs to keep those hips up nice and high.
  • Fit First: Don’t concentrate too much on technique to start off with. Get fit and then we can start honing the stroke technique to improve one’s proficiency

As mentioned earlier, there are no quick fixes when it comes to getting swimming fit especially if you’re a novice. You need at least 3 sessions per week for a period of 3-4 months before you start to turn that corner. For now, I am stuck with the wife who will slowly but surely get there. She might drive me dilly until then, but she has the persistence and the drive so the battle is already half won.

- Glen Gore (guest blogger)


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Pace Yourself in Open-Water

The start of any open-water or triathlon swim is a frantic affair with a blaze of swimmers churning up the water as they scramble for the first turn buoy. Far too often, swimmers tend to “over-cook” it by going out at a pace they cannot maintain throughout the race. The result is a painful, tiresome, and ultimately slow finish. Pacing correctly over any open-water distance swim is a key factor to your overall success. Start too fast and you are spent. Start to slow and you get stuck behind everyone.

To help you find the ideal pace, FINIS has a very clever tool called the Tempo Trainer. This device is essentially a metronome that beeps to designate when your arm should pull through the water. You can set it to the speed you want to swim at, and it will keep your stroke rhythm. It’s important to remember that out in the open-water you do not have access to precise distances (25yard or 50m pool lengths) or a pace clock/watch to work off. So the Tempo Trainer takes care of the pacing for you. Just “obey the beep” during your open-water training sessions or events in order to create a more consistent swim.

Fartlek or “Speed Play” is also an important component of swim training and correct pacing for the open-water. Simply put, Fartlek is varying the speed during an interval or swim. For example, do repetitions of 400m each and vary the speed throughout the 400; swim hard for 75m then slow down for 50m then hard again for 25m and slow for 100m and so on. Learning to turn UP the pace (for the start and when you need to pass some slower swimmers) as well as learning to turn DOWN the pace (mid-way through a 3.8km swim) is an important facet of any open-water or triathlon swim training.

Two simple solutions as explained above and you’re going to be better prepared next time you’re on the start line and ready to rock.

- Glen Gore (guest blogger)


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Open-Water Navigation

Open-Water Navigation

Have you ever done an open-water swim before? If yes then you know what I am talking about when I say that those big turn buoys you easily see from the shore, are not so easy to see when you’re swimming at water level. Hopefully you have great eyesight and anti-fog goggles; otherwise you could be in for a tough time. However there is hope! You can practice some drills in the pool and in the open-water in order to improve the “navigation” during your race.

Remember when you compete in the open water, you don’t have lane ropes or that solid black line on the bottom of the pool to follow. And you certainly cannot rely on the swimmer in front of you either, as they may be plotting an inaccurate course themselves. The best solution is to lift your head while swimming, and navigate for yourself.

    Water Polo Swimming Drill:
    Keep the head out of the water while still swimming in a forward direction (just like a water polo player). Add in a few repeats of this drill during each swim session to allow you to develop this style of swimming. Don’t do more than 400m of this drill per session.

Lifting the head out the water requires extra effort in the neck, arms, back, and legs. The arms and elbows tend to drop while in this position, so you will need to continually practice this drill to gain strength. Weaker swimmers and those with a bad sense of direction tend to stop during their race, lookup to find their direction, and then continue on. This process is slow as it breaks your rhythm, stops any forward momentum, and ultimately keeps you from progressing to the next performance level.

Do the Water Polo swimming drill three times per week for the next month, and I guarantee you that you will swim straighter lines out in the open water and your swims will improve.

- Glen Gore (guest blogger)


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