Here’s a counter-intuitive solution that will help you train for long-course competition in a short-course pool.
The magic quality of Olympic year is already in the air. While only a few swimmers will actually participate in the Olympic Trials or the Beijing Olympics, there’s a certain SOMETHING that takes hold of every swimmer in an Olympic year. At pools all across the country you’ll notice a little more intensity…a little extra focus…and a slight shift in the attitude of swimmers and coaches.
Part of the process is that swimmers begin to look for ANY advantage they can get to be in top condition for Trials, which of course are swum in a long-course pool. If your only training venue is short-course yards or meters, you need to look for ways to train AS IF you were swimming long course. You need to simulate a meet situation where you’ll have half as many turns, and where you’ll have to maintain stroke rhythm for a longer stint than you’re used to. How? By skipping your turns and substituting extra strokes.
Why Do It:
As radical as it may sound to leave out your turns and pullouts, the added strokes will force you to maintain stroke rhythm for a longer period. And this may be a GOOD thing when you’re training for long course.
How To Do It:
1. Design a breaststroke set that requires you to go more than one length. Yes, a turn will be necessary.
2. As you approach the turning wall, do not reach for the wall but DUCK into a quick flip turn. There should be no two-handed turn; simply time the last stroke so that both hands extend, then curl under to initiate the quick flip of the body.
3. Push off, and FORGET the underwater pull with the dolphin kick. You should get up and be swimming again, preferably before the flags. The goal is to minimize the amount of time you’re NOT swimming breaststroke.
4. At the starting end of the pool, you should do a normal turn, with standard underwater pull with the dolphin. Since you are executing half as many turns (or the same amount that you would have in a long-course pool), the full turns need to be done SHARPLY and with great intensity.
5. For the entire set, imagine that the wall at the other end DOES NOT EXIST for turns. Think of the wall as an obstacle that must be gotten around as quickly as possible.
How To Do It Really Well (the Fine Points):
On the flip turns, get around quick, and come up quick. Your goal is to get back up and swimming again as quickly as possible.
Don’t be sloppy…EXECUTE. Off-beat and alternative training routines should be treated with as much respect and integrity as a standard descend set. In an Olympic year, EVERY length becomes important.
If you’re limited to swimming only short-course, then you’re going to need to figure out ways to make things just a bit tougher. You might need to swim a little farther each day, and you need to focus on ALL aspects of your training. Treating even the simplest drill with respect is a start… digging deeper each and every day is up to you.