Slower Faster

Jan 26, 2006
Slower Faster

I don't like to say, "I told you so -  but...I told you so. Way back in September, I wrote an article called PANIC! In it I talked about how, before you know it, you'll be running out of time for THIS season. Guess what? Time's up.

For those of you who have put in the work, focused, practiced your turns, race strategy, and led a balanced life from back then to's time to FINE TUNE.

This is the time of year to start putting it all together -- time to zero in on WHAT you do, HOW you do it, WHY you do it, and whether or not you need to CHANGE what you do. To DO that, you're going to have to focus even MORE than you already DO!

The title of this article 'Slower Faster' means, that at NO point will you stop thinking, and you'll focus SO much on things, that when you're NOT being demanded to swim fast, you'll actually swim SLOWER than you usually do. This means you're going to take your time, think about how your hands enter, extend, rotate, grab, and pull back. You'll think about how your body rotates, how the water feels moving over your hips, how it travels down your legs, and when you initiate your kick, pull, and recovery. When you close your eyes, when you open them, when you exhale, how deeply you inhale, how you plant your feet on the wall for your turn, how you point your toes when you leave. How your hands overlap and squeeze during the streamline, how the tightness holds your head perfectly still. How you initiate your first dolphin kick, or your first armstroke. How you approach the surface for your breakout, and initiate that first recovery.

While that seems like a lot, it barely scratches the surface of everything you need to be thinking about. The point is, there is SO much that you need to be aware of to reach your potential. For most of the season, you may not have had the opportunity to spend time thinking about all of this. You spent the last many months WORKING hard, training, and going countless laps on harder and harder intervals. Now it's time to take advantage of opportunities your coach may give to focus and think about these things and more.


When you're given an interval that's not tough, make sure you ask your coach what the goal of the set is. If it's just to get through the set, then begin thinking about what you're doing. If it's a descend set, then start slower than you normally would. Example: 12 X 50 on 1:00, descend 1-4. Instead of descending like we've talked about before -- something like :40...:38...:36...:34 -- start out slower (:45), but with MUCH more focus on all those fine points. Take your time, and take advantage of the slower intervals to understand what it is that you're trying to accomplish.

This may sound TOTALLY backward. Am I crazy or what -- telling you to focus on going SLOWER at the end of the season? Well, this is where the OTHER word comes in. FASTER! During the season, you were probably too tired to reach MAXIMUM speed. During the heavy training, most swimmers are just too beat up to allow their muscles to REALLY perform. It's now time to learn just HOW your limbs are going to perform.

To do that, when it's time to sprint, don't just go fast...GO CRAZY! You almost have to reach into the depths of your soul to sprint the way you're supposed to at this point of the year. It's not enough just to try have to give these sprints EVERYTHING you have. The goal is to let go, and react to what you've taught yourself. It's not time to look pretty, or worry about how many strokes you're taking.  It's time to react and RACE.


In the above set of 50s, if we continued with the SLOWER FASTER philosophy, that set, which descended during the season at :40...:38...:36...:34, would progress NOW at :45...:40...:35...:30. Finish the final 50 MUCH faster than you would during the season. Heck, to get to the :30, I'd allow the swimmer to go :55 on the first one. The first one doesn't matter NEARLY so much as that last one.

Those ultra-fast, MEGA sprints teach so much more than how to swim fast. They help you begin to understand just HOW fast you're going to be approaching the walls when you finally reach the final, championship meet. Think about it. Every time you go a best time, you're probably approaching the walls at just a bit higher rate of speed than you EVER have before. This is of course GREAT...but carries with it the chance of missing your turns, jamming your push offs. You have to get used to this new speed before you get to the championship meets, 'cause you simply don't want to leave anything to chance.

Remember, as you fine tune everything, when you have a chance to go slow, go slower than you usually would...just THINK more. When it's time to go fast, don't just go fast...go FASTER than you thought you could, and don't save ANYTHING for the next one. Sell out EVERYTHING, EVERY TIME your coach asks you to sprint. Learn what's it's going to be like, and take control over your destiny. :)

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