Swim training involves hard work, but it can’t be super intense all the time. There needs to be time set aside for swimmers to search, and figure out their strokes. But too much time spent relaxing isn’t good either.
A simple way to satisfy the need for think time and work time is active rest. Doing small exercises during the rest will keep the heart rate at a level that continues to maintain fitness, and also gives the coach time to talk to the swimmers about their technique.
Why Do It:
Active rest let’s you continue to train when most others are taking breaks. Think of it as a regular set with just a bit more dedication tossed in.
How To Do It:
1. Active rest can be any type of movement — easy kicking on your back, calisthenics, even treading water — that keeps the swimmers moving when they’re usually resting.
2. A good way to introduce active rest is with a set of 50s. Here’s a quick example: 20 X 50 on 1:00. The swimming can be any stroke, or you could alternate strokes and technique focus points. But when the swimmer is at the wall, the normal rest time is spent performing vertical kicking.
3. Active rest can also be sit-ups, push-ups, walk backs, drills… any number of things, just keep the swimmers moving.
The Fine Points (How To Do It Really Well):
BE CAREFUL… swimmers have a way of figuring things out, so set LIMITS.
Example: The first time we did this set of 50s on the 1:00, with the ‘rest’ time being used for vertical kicking, the swimmers proceeded to swim their 50s in about 52 seconds. By the time they started the kick, and then pushed off again, they were getting about 4 seconds of "active rest." OK, they GOT ME that time. The NEXT time, give the swimmers a goal time they HAVE to meet on the swim and THEN get to the active rest.
Get creative, have fun, and keep the swimmers moving.