Swimming Set of the Week – April 24, 2009

Last week, we had the following post in the Go Swim forum:  "When racing freestyle i increase my arm turnover but notice i don’t go that much faster… someone said i was spinning… any drills or thoughts on how i can prevent this from happening?… thanks."

The responses were great, and one of them mentioned a type of set where you count your strokes and add that count to your time in seconds, then try to reduce your score.   This kind of set is often called "Swimming Golf."  There are several ways to play, and it really is a good way to make your strokes more efficient and to learn how not to "spin" when you pick up the pace.

In these sample Swim Golf sets, we’ve used the example of 3 X 50.  This is kind of a classic set for Swimming Golf because, for freestyle and backstroke, it yields a score that’s similar to a golf score for 18 holes (well, maybe Glenn’s score; not mine).   It’s a good place to start.  Once you get the hang of the game, you could extend it to 4 X 50, or maybe string two rounds of 3 X 50 together (like an 18-hole playoff).  Doing 100s of Swimming Golf is a little tough because the score gets high, but you could try it.   It’s not a bad idea to have a piece of paper and pencil at the end of the pool.  It’s funny how simple math can seem like calculus when fatigue sets in 🙂

Breaststrokers and butterfliers can play Swimming Golf, too, but the scores will be lower.

Swim Golf Classic Version
3 X 50
On the first 50, count your total strokes (let’s say it’s 30).  Add that to your time in seconds (let’s say it’s 40) to get your total score (70).  On the next 50, do SOMETHING to reduce your score.  You can either take fewer strokes… or you can swim faster… or you can do both.  On the 3rd 50, reduce your score again.     The surprise lesson of this set is that sometimes it’s not productive to take more strokes.  If you take more strokes and you swim slower, then you know you’re spinning rather than swimming efficiently.   Sometimes it’s better to do the counterintuitive thing of slowing down the stroke rate and getting more out of each stroke.  

Swim Golf Version #2
3 X 50
Hold your total stroke count the same on each 50, and descend time 1-3.

Swim Golf Version #3
3 X 50
Hold your time the same on each 50, and reduce your total stroke count on each 50