How to start swimming again
After six – yes, six – months of government restrictions due to COVID-19 many pools have reopened again. Fiona’s athletes have been relentlessly freestyling and flying, stretching and strengthening on Zoom, using online training from the comfort of their own homes, patio spaces and gardens, making the most of this bizarre situation. But what steps should you take to ensure an effective return to the water and transition back to pool training using newly honed technique?
USE AN ADAPTIVE SESSION
Think back to blissful pre-COVID January: most athletes had a break or less intense swim programme over Christmas and were returning to the pool with work to do. Head coach Fiona Ford constructed those first sessions back to focus on regaining feel for the water by reviewing catch and pull mechanics. Without fail, within two weeks everyone was back where they were before their break.
We can tap into this mindset now, using the session at the bottom of this article, which can be adapted according to your CSS and as you gradually get faster. All you need for this starter session is a pull buoy and 45 minutes, and you should repeat it once a week for two-to-four weeks before increasing your swim loading towards an hour (if pool lane time permits you to extend your session duration!).
FOCUS ON YOUR TECHNIQUE
Many of us have spent the last six months sweating it out on Zoom during Fiona’s land-based swim sessions. In doing, so, we have accumulated virtual miles which will have helped maintain swim fitness. The overall objective of land based training has been to improve movement patterning and improve understanding and application of optimal swim technique, based on your individuality in physique, wingspan and the preferred distances you were/ would be training for (think diesel vs petrol).
But these sessions have given us something else that in normal life often gets missed: time to work on our mobility, flexibility and control. The potential now to tweak your technique and become the best swimmer that you can be is now greater than ever. You might find you have increased range and are able to really hit that catch angle – now is the time to reinforce those benefits in real water. Channel your mind to think about those muscles and that mobility with every single stroke you take.
Plus, Apple watch wearers will soon be able to book in with Fiona for in-depth stroke analysis from a distance using Swim Smooth’s new software app (currently in Beta testing) – more information coming soon.
DON’T STOP LAND-BASED SWIMMING
Control and mobility can make a huge difference to our swim abilities. Triathlon Europe athletes are already noticing they are faster than pre-lockdown: case in point, Tamara in Brisbane, Australia, has gone from 1:45 to 1:35 pace CSS in the four weeks she’s been back in the pool.
But mobility can only be maintained with practise, so it’s key to continue to either attend the land-based swim sessions on Zoom or find time to do similar work as often as you can. The stretch-cord warm up exercises are equally something that can be replicated on poolside before starting your session – consider carrying a set in your swim bag so you have them to hand.
Fiona’s You Tube channel has a free session you can sample or repeat as often as you like, or join her weekly program of live sessions with built-in progression week to week.
200 freestyle, easy effort using different breathing patterns
4-8x50m pull (alternating 25m of scull one, 25m and freestyle, scull two and freestyle, scull three and freestyle, doggy paddle and freestyle) +10 sec
8x50m freestyle as swim and rest on a set time based on your previous Jan/Feb CSS values (see below). Aim for consistency across this set.
~ 2:00-2:05 per 100m CSS – swim and recover on 1:15
~ 1:50-1:55 CSS – S&R on 1:10
~ 1:40-1:45 CSS – S&R on 1:05
~ 1:30-1:35 CSS S&R on 1:00
~ 1:25-1:30 CSS S&R on 0:55
~ 1:20-1:25 CSS S&R on 0:50
200 steady aerobic PULL focusing on great technique, streamlining off all wall turns +30 sec
Repeat through once more (1,200m)
200-400 easy, choice of strokes
Let us know how you get on!