Interesting outcome and hypothesis

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    Hi all, first time poster here so not sure if this is the right place to put the following post, so apologies if I’ve placed it wrong.

    I’ve been running a small (but growing) section of my program as pretty close to exactly the way Rushall’s work advocates. I’ve made small changes here and there when necessary, but wherever possible I’ve adhered very closely to the principles. I’ve used the technical macrocycle.

    While pouring over the results of the most recent championship meet, I noticed that two swimmers from within that training group were both getting good results, but getting there in very different ways.

    Comparing the event they both swam (100m fly) they both swam around the same time, however one (15F) had a near 6 second drop-off for the 2nd 50. The other (13M) had only a little over 2 seconds drop off.

    While the first swimmer is more sprint oriented and has a better start, they do have quite similar 50 times, within half a second or so.

    My first though was that it was a pacing issue, but looking over her results at previous meets it was a consistent issue regardless of her pace in the first 50, and also was an issue in non-fly events.

    So then I thought perhaps it was a physiological difference based on gender (as I have another girl in the program I have seen similar issues with in the past). But that seemed like a pointless road to go down, because frankly I’m not qualified to do so. and even if this was the case I’m not in any position to run a gender segregated program.

    So then I poured over the data I had collected (admittedly less than I would like to, but I have responsibilities that make taking more data very difficult, I mainly collect information swimmers self record). I allow swimmers within the program to monitor their makes/misses and decide more or less themselves (after quickly discussing with me) when they need to change their target time.

    The female swimmer was super agressive with lowering her target time, and over time her volume before first miss reduced significantly, but she was still making through most of the sets by getting only a small amount of makes between her misses, often getting into the high teens before 3rd miss. So for me, it was something I did overlook (this is what I feel silly for not noticing earlier).

    The male swimmer was the opposite, being very conservative with his target time, routinely making 14-18 repetitions before his first miss and often gets into the 20s. This is one I don’t feel responsible before, as the athlete and I have discussed the issue multiple times, and I’m quite confident he sandbags to avoiddropping his time. At the end of the day I can’t get in and swim the laps for him.

    It makes sense to me that swimmer a (who has been very agressive dropping target times forcing her volume to be quite low) has tremendous pace but struggles on the backend, and swimmer b (who has less agressive target times but has had higher volume as a result) is nowhere near as fast as he should be but has a very strong backend.

    I’ve already discussed with the female swimmer and we have dropped her target times right back, so we will see how it goes. I’m going to be monitoring it a bit closely from now on. I’m even considering only getting her to record first miss (to get her out of the habit of doing multiple small sets of repetitions close to equal).

    Sorry for the novel, but im just wondering what some of you might think? Does it seem like I’m on the right track? Any suggestions with how to approach it?



    You’re pretty much nailing every issue. I can see you’ve read most of the literature a few times.

    Running segregated practices at that age won’t get you great data due to the kids’ adolescent growth. Rushall talks about this a few times.

    The 5-7 times volume rule for 50-100-200 events should be adhered to when possible. Athlete A was definitely putting power ahead of pace volume and Athlete B will probably get more aggressive as he ages up.

    One thing you didn’t mention: The less efficient the technique is, the more it shows as the distance grows. Athlete A might be “powering” through sets without improving efficiency (distance per stroke). I would start monitoring stroke counts during pace sets. Probably check on repetition 6 and 12 (or as she nears failure) and analyze over time. If she’s simply improving speed by adding strokes then it will catch up to her in a race.

    Stress is induced (easiest to hardest): increase volume, decrease interval time, increase distance (25y to 25m if available), and then increase speed. You can simulate increased distance by wearing drag suits while maintaining the target pace. Don’t use drag suits every practice, use as a transition between high volume and increased speed.

    You’re on the right track.

    USRPT-Gold Coaching candidate
    Apparently the only person on this site


    Thanks Ryan, I actually have been monitoring stroke count with her for a while, because that was the first thing I identified as an avenue to improve the backend. It’s been something she has been working on for a while (about 6 months), but she has cut ~2 strokes per 25m, and is swimming fractionally slower times.

    She just gets frustrated with slower times, which I absolutely understand, but eventually I explained it as a limiting factor to your speed (ie. you can only increase your stroke rate so much) and she got it from that perspective, when she hadn’t really gotten it from an efficiency perspective.

    Interesting thought regarding drag suits, I used to train in one of the dolfin ones 100% of the time as a kid, but I’ve more or less stayed away from equipment entirely outside of using kkckboards with my 8 and under kids while teaching basic stroke mechanics. Based on what I have read as well as a desire to minimise costs for parents (lets face it, swimming is expensive enough already).

    Have you found the increased resistance effect technique in any way? I suppose it is probably a small enough difference that it doesn’t change technique/body position? And definitely the more basic one that is just the mesh outer liner as opposed to the type with the pockets?


    Ok good you’re on the right track. Some athletes need a different psychological approach/mindset.

    Looking at research from a lot of different sports and training methods it appears that if you keep changes under 5% you’ll minimize technical degradation. Loaded running and sled pushing shows that when resistance/drag increases more than 10% there are significant changes in how the athlete performs the motion.

    If you use a drag suit with an athlete making 20 reps and they hold the target pace for 10-15 with maybe 1 more stroke per 25 then you’re probably fine. Maybe even increase the interval time by :5 when you introduce the suit. I wouldn’t have them train the whole session in a suit either. Just use it for the event that is progressing to the added resistance. When you decrease the target time get rid of the suit for a microcycle.

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