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The first training workshop is this Thursday at 3 pm EST! It will be recorded and reposted on Substack and the discord channel. Some things I will be going over:
A brief overview of the 4 pillars of MyoFit swimming and USRPT
Technical Excellence at Specific Speed
Race Psychology and Instinct
Conditioning and Energy Delivery Architecture
How to build a workout
An overview of the USRPT manual
Future workshop topics and schedule
Hop on the discord channel for any questions, invite friends, and help build the community!
I’m glad to introduce a new learning-focused community for swimming.
What is a “learning-focused” community?
Almost all other communities in the swimming world (and other sports) are unstructured groups spitting out pieces of sometimes useful information. Ask a training question, and get a bunch of anonymous folks throwing in a tip or two. This is not an efficient way to learn a new skill, especially a complex skill like swimming. Those groups are better at simplistic instant information like “where’s a good pizza joint in Durham?”.
A learning-focused community uses formal, and non-formal learning structures to develop a deeper level of skill in a particular subject. In this community structure, qualified coaches will be designated and will answer questions with insightful answers usually including additional learning materials like research studies or videos. The community will also provide opportunities for your own learning through lessons, posted training material, and workshops. Essentially, if you present a lot of material in a logical order with skill progression, you will learn a difficult topic faster.
What will you see in the community?
There will be different free and paid tiers in the community. Initially, everyone will be in the free community channels and premium services like personalized training plans, video analysis by qualified instructors, and coaching certifications will be added. Every tier will see monthly video workshops that will teach a skill, discuss a coaching concept, or improve knowledge about swimming.
The first free workshop will be on Thursday, November 17th at 3 pm EST. The workshop will be via Zoom and coordinated in the Discord service. The first topic will be: “Explaining the pillars of Race Pace Training and how to build a basic workout”. The workshop will be recorded and posted in the community channel as well.
Future free workshops will include basic swimming technique overviews, how-to train different skill levels and scale the intensity of workouts, and basic dryland training with the proper use of equipment.
Hope to see you there and the first rule of the community is to invite a friend!
New info is coming to the newsletter and community:
Coaching a team means improving the biomechanical, mental, and psychological capabilities of athletes in a sport/race/competition. Improvement is prioritized – Work output is coincidental.
Managing a team is simply showing up and giving athletes things to do to fill the assigned time period. Work output is prioritized – Improvement is coincidental.
Sounds like the team has a bunch of managers. This is reinforced by swimming websites that post workouts from “top coaches” that are just sets and distances without any explanation of what was being instructed or improved. “World Champ coach says 10×100 k/d/s/blue zone is his favorite [random time of year] set for improving [any stroke].”
Oh, I don’t have time to find this but there was also something about in order to maintain depth while moving forward you need to angle your body down 3-4 degrees anyway. I think this was to counteract buoyancy. If this is the case it means you would be applying some energy in the vertical component just to maintain depth.
I know the one study that looked at this. It showed the reduction of drag at certain levels of water depth and the 3-4 feet had the least drag coefficient, that’s great, unrealistic but great. Because if you are 3-4 feet down, then you have to come back up 3-4 feet.
I’m sure we are thinking of the same study. I think Rushall commented on it. I would say 3-4 feet isn’t that deep if you look at the center/bottom of your torso to the surface – your upper body thickness is probably 6-8 inches deep.
I see it as an energy conversion and conservation problem. I have the most energy pushing off the wall and I can hold a streamline to conserve that speed. This is the best time to get a little deeper and into a lower drag area without expending more energy. I have noticed when the underwater kick is strong, that I feel like I’m accelerating to the surface maybe with help from buoyancy.
Caveats: If at any point you feel slower underwater than on the surface somethings not working for you and you’re better off just getting to the top after a turn. Also, I don’t think this is going to get studied anytime soon so I would use whatever is fastest for each athlete. I think a higher level athlete can get away with adding a little “arc” to extend their underwater distance but most will benefit from fundamentally simple underwater streamlines with kicks to the surface.
For fun debate, Dressel underwater: https://youtu.be/wy6HzIwKL9A?t=58
Rushall’s technique macrocycle advocates a narrow fast kick with a still upper body. This flies in the face of conventional wisdom (which doesn’t bother me at all), but also what the best swimmers in the world are doing and what seems to be more effective in my swimmers (a wider kick trying to generate more propulsion and slightly more upper body movement).
He was more than likely advocating for minimizing movements during the era when everyone was doing full-body super-undulation. That style has faded away. Kick from the hip and keep the upper body “quiet” and streamline if not still. Sprinters can get away with moving the upper body more if the tradeoff is generating more force from the kick than the frontal drag from the upper body’s drag shadow.
As for the feet distance, Rushall didn’t do a ton of writing on turbulence. He was mostly focused on drag reduction and combating the lift force theory (which he was 100% correct on, we aren’t a wind-powered hydrofoil). From my own testing, the feet should be about hips distance apart. This is backed by research in a number of other areas: 1) injury reduction and efficiency in cycle pedaling where pedals contain spacers to align with the hips, 2) separating the fingers by 5-6 mm during the swim pull to increase the compression surface of the hand (increasing the turbulent area around the hand) and 3) the law of least resistance – when an object travels through a medium it will find either the shape or path of least resistance.
What all this means is that when the feet are together they are probably pressing against mostly the same water and it is flowing around a smaller object. When the feet are separated enough there are 2 turbulent pockets that compete for flow around the feet. Widening the feet outside of the hips creates a muscular or biomechanical inefficiency and increases the leg drag shadow.
What I notice in my own training is that when my kick gets tired the feet start to get closer together to use the same pocket of pressure which allows them to travel through the water easier. This is just like the wrist bending back or the elbow “dropping” during the pull when you start to fatigue. A vertical forearm with a stiff wrist is harder to maintain but also generates more force and thus more power.
As for underwater swimming, there has been a lot of research on this. Push off the wall at 12-18 inches, streamline glide at a 10 degree down angle for 4-6m to about 3-4 feet underwater (depending on pushing power), start kicking when you feel your speed drop to your kicking speed, then rotate to a 5-10 degree up angle with smallish-fast kicks. You should feel like the kicking and buoyancy are accelerating you to the surface.
It really comes down to overtraining at that point. If you schedule some USRPT sessions for him and he slowly improves in the USRPT sessions it’s fine. If not, or he becomes more fatigued then he’s overtraining and something needs to be cut out (in this case some of the traditional days).
There’s no research on traditional to USRPT transitions so everything is individual. Plus he’s in a growth phase of life which creates different stresses (mental, emotional, physical).
With all that said, If the coach is “against USRPT” then that really means they aren’t good technical trainers since the first pillar of USRPT is technical development. If he’s not learning better racing techniques then the traditional training practices are borderline worthless (except for general fitness/hanging out with friends).
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.
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
It’s good that you started with the 200 but you need to keep plugging in 200 sets twice a week. I would plug them in on your Mon/Wed sprint days. This is also your opportunity to work on turns 100% VO2max Development Concepts
Everything else is correctly structured based on the 50m manual. If you aren’t going from the blocks then try to do that 1-2 times a week. I would plug in 6 x 25 @100 pace on a :40-:45 before starting the sprints. This acts as a bit of a primer to activate your muscle and raise your heart rate. If you want to get more sprint yardage in you can also do 20m sprints, 5m glide to the wall. You can probably do these on a 1:00-1:20.
Don’t bother with surface kick sets, just focus on short and fast without overkicking. No noodle legs. For underwater double-leg kick, warm up with 6-8 x 25’s trying to kick underwater to half as fast as possible, tight streamline, then moderate surface swim to the wall. This can replace some of your 400m warmup.
Always integrate a technique item from the manual into the set. This is a core lesson of USRPT. I haven’t done a “drill” set in 5 years. I don’t recommend dryland only because I don’t know what your level of training and explaining a proper dryland program is too complex for this forum. Stretch after your warmup and before your main pace sets.
Since you seem to be in pretty good shape and your times are in the experienced catergory I’ll give you one more option. The “Go” swim. After your 50’s @200 or 25’s @100 set take 2 minutes of rest. Then try to hold that same pace for as long as possible; for 200 pace this might be 100-125m, for 100 pace this might be 50-75m. Take 2 mintutes of rest and go again. Only hold the target pace, when you slow down/get tired then stop.