How to Be a Better Swimmer: How Elite Swimmers Design Their Swimming Workouts

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Last modified on Friday, 24 August 2012 20:53

 Just like any sport there is a design to the program. With swimming the preseason and off-season are probably the most important. When you're in the competition season you are obviously working and grinding, but the preseason a lot of times, you come back in, and some swimmers are out of shape so to speak but usually at that time you're putting in time. You're either conditioning, doing endurance training workouts, or you are lifting weights and making improvements there so that when you're in season you can really focus on swimming. There's nothing like being in swimming shape. I always tell my friends you can run a marathon but that doesn’t mean that you can swim a mile. Bucky Buchanan was a scholarship division one swimmer in college, where he graduated with a BSin health and human performance.  While in college, Buchanan led the Men’s Swim team to its first CCSA conference championship in 2008.




Swimming Video Transcription:  The preseason you are sort of up in your yards a little bit but at the same time you do it properly. Just like anything you train for specificity. So, I was a sprinter my main events were the 1500 and 200 so ott as much of my work was focused on endurance training workouts, a lot of my work went into detail, you know, the starts, and the finishes, turns, a lot of drills for technique the first three weeks of every season was focused on floating. We learned how to float properly. There are two directions in swimming. There's you balance a buoyancy up and then you swim forward so you have to get one before you get the other, and if you can do one without wasting energy or taking away from the other one then you're making improvements and you are becoming more efficient. So that is where a lot of my time went, which was there.


Then you do some maintenance yardage. You do some maintenance swimming and that's just tacking on a couple of extra laps to your workout, just to have it. But mainly the weight room you are developing a lot of strength and explosive power. Stamina happens, you get the benefits of that from just training in general, from just repetition. You know, when you are swimming 50 freestyle and that's hopefully between 19 to 22 seconds depending on who you are, and so you work on, by design, you work on a program that focuses on 19 and 22 seconds. You know, Hundred freestyle, is the exact same thing. You are working in a certain zone and you're pushing it and you get some recovery in and then you are back up in it getting it going. So it is mainly I think the biggest thing that you can hit on as far as the detail of swimming design is actually the details themselves, which is the starts turns and finishes.   When you are in the weight room you are mimicking those exact movements by working on power development to get off of the blocks and explode off of the walls and then you have to develop strength in the water, too and you can do that in swimming with cords swimming and parachutes just as you would, like a football player would when he runs with a parachute. 

We do a lot of band training. It is an overhead sport so you also have to think about injury prevention, you are doing prehab too, you are protecting your shoulders, you're getting treatment when you need treatment and you have to be honest with yourself sometimes, too. You have to know when enough is enough. I got to a point where I did over train a few times but you have to communicate with your coach and swimmers have to trust their coach because he knows what he is doing. A lot of swimmers think that they need to swim more, but that is not necessarily the case every time. More does not equal better swimming. Quality matters, so I always tell the swimmers I'm coaching that its not the number of laps you swim it is how you swim those laps that is important.


But, just like anything else you train for specificity if you are a hundred freestyler you train for the hundred freestyle, you don’t need to swim mile after mile. You don’t need to do too many long distance swims. That is not part of your training. You are training the wrong energy system and developing the wrong energy system and you don't want to do that, that's wasting your time, and it is wasting efficiency, and it takes away from your time in the pool, it takes away getting things done and making improvements.


I think that swimming is just an easy sport to over train with, especially with so many endurance training workouts. I think it is getting better but I mean my first year in college we swam a lot. A part of that was sort of catching up. I fell behind, I knew I was behind So I felt like I had to catch up. But, by my junior and senior year I knew exactly where I needed to be and when I needed to be there and with my coaches I communicated that with them and I worked with them on my program design, and you know …I took care of business.










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