Reaching your potential in swimming means working on your distance per stroke… but increasing your cadence is also extremely important. If you have beautiful long strokes but no turnover, you’re just going to look pretty… when you lose.
Sure, that may sound a bit harsh, but I figured it’d be a good way to get people to actually click in and read on. While we see many swimmers with long, smooth strokes, if you really look at their ‘rate’, and how long they hold that rate, and then try to experience that rate for yourself, you’ll begin to respect the work these athletes put in. You’ll also begin to understand that the REAL goal of athletes should be to develop a great, long stroke, and then… take a BUNCH OF THEM… quickly. While it’s understood that taking strokes for the sake of taking strokes isn’t the goal, we DO understand that if you maintain the integrity of the stroke, and take more strokes, more speed will result. Sounds easy, but unfortunately, THIS is where all the hard work begins, and the pretty drilling ends.
Why Do It:
Learning WHAT your rate goal is, or what is humanly possible, starts to teach athletes just how far they either have to go, or what it is that they’re working towards. Call it a "wake up call."
How To Do It:
1. Design a set in which you can continue to allow the athletes to increase their rate. A good set would be 4 X 50 on the :45. This is a fairly easy set, which gives the swimmers a bit of rest, and allows them to focus on their stroke, and the rate. We usually do 10 of these sets, calculating the starting rate based on the GOAL rate. For the swimmers shown here, we based the GOAL rate on the rates on a card available from Finis, which shows the stroke rates of the Olympic Champions from the 1996 Olympics. In other words… FAST! This set, obviously, was based on freestyle, but any stroke could work. So, if our ‘goal rate’ is .45 per stroke (as set on the Tempo Trainer), we back that off .05 per set to the first set. This means, that for the first set of 4 X 50, if we plan on doing 10 sets, we’ll set our Tempo Trainers at .90. From there, after each set of 4, we’ll reduce the Tempo Trainer by .05 for each set.
2. Once the TT is set, all the swimmers have to do is make the interval, and match the turnover of their arms to the beeps on the Tempo Trainer.
3. Don’t worry so much about the swimmers’ times. The focus should be on their CADENCE, and it’s a good idea to have an extra TT handy so you can check if they’re keeping the designated rate.
4. As you’ll notice with our video, even with just two swimmers, you’ll probably end up with different rates. The male’s turnover isn’t so fast as the female’s in this case. The TT is ideal for this, as the starting rate can be very individualized, and then ALL swimmers reduce the count in between each set.
5. By the end of the set you’ll be cranking it out and your only goal is to MEET THE BEEP. Stay with the rate. Sure, for most athletes, the technique is going to go away, but this gives them the idea of where they want to BE with that great stroke they work with the rest of the time.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
This set leads to highly intense activity. Make sure you’re setting up for the final few rounds to be WILD! This is almost like pure FLAILING. It’s a great fitness-building activity, and very difficult when done correctly. In other words… it’s really cool and fun to watch… not so much fun to do.
Ahhhhhh…. it’s great to be a COACH!