I'm not saying it's a waste of time to jump in the pool and get your 40 laps done for the day, but you can get a lot more out of your time in the pool by focusing on making every lap count. And in a world where we're all looking for a quick solution and the magic bullet, let me help you to get better and quicker results in the same time.
Read below my top tips to make every lap and swim session count.
1. Have a clear intention
Before you jump in the pool make sure you have a clear intention of what you would like to get out of your swim session. Some sessions you might want to focus on technique, others on endurance or maybe you feel like smashing out some sprints. By having a clear intention you know where the focus should be in your session and when to relax.
2. Plan your session ahead
Never jump in the pool without a plan and just planning to swim 20 laps does not count as a plan. A well planned session includes the following:
Technique drills / pre-set
I like to write the session on a little white board that I can put on the side the pool, this way I don't have to memorise the whole set. You could set up your training on your watch and it will take you through your whole set. I just find that looking at your watch the whole time takes away from your focus on technique and effort levels. But whatever works for you to keep you on track!
3. Mix it up
Swimming the same set every time is not only boring, it also gets your body used to the training and you won't get as much out of your training as you could by mixing it up. The fun thing about swimming is that you can do so many different training sessions. See below a few different main set ideas:
4 x 800 Freestyle (descend 1 - 4)
100, 200, 400, 800, 400, 200, 100 Freestyle
2 x 500 Build, 1km Strong
16 x 50 Free (every 4th fast), 12 x 50 Free (every 3rd fast), 8 x 50 Free (every 2nd fast), 4 x 50 Free (all fast)
8 x 50 (Odds: 25 easy/25 fast, Evens: 25 fast/25 easy)
20 x 50 Free fast, 2 min rest in between 50's
IM Sessions (Individual Medley)
4 x 50 IM, 4 x 100 (50 stroke/50 Free), 4 x 200 IM
6 x [25 Butterfly/50 Free, 25 Backstroke/50 Free, 25 Breaststroke/50 Free, 25 Free fast/50 Free]
8 x 100 (IM Order: 25 Kick/25 Drill/50 Stroke)
4. Focus on your training
Swim training is not the time to think about everything else going on in your life and the world. Instead take the time underwater to focus 100% on what you're doing, swimming. Mindful swimming is a form of meditation that can really help you clear your mind and learn to focus on one thing for a long time. You might find this pretty hard at the start, but if you notice you mind drifting just kindly remind yourself on staying in the moment. You'll notice you will get better at mindful swimming if you keep practising.
5. Use the pace clock to stay on track
Instead of just swimming 8 x 100 Freestyle, challenge yourself to leave on the 1:50. You can easily keep track of this without a fancy watch by using the pace clock at the end of the pool. If you leave on the 60 for your first 100, this means that you will leave on the 50 for your second 100, on the 40 for your third 100 and so on. The faster your swim, the more rest you get. This is a great way to keep track of your performance and there is no room for sneaky extra rest. Training with the pace clock requires better focus and leaves less time for your mind the wonder off.
6. Swim with a training buddy
There is nothing that pushes you harder than a person in the next lane to race. You will always find that extra 10% effort to touch the wall just before they do. In a perfect world your training buddy would swim at a similar pace as you, but if this is not the case you could do a handicapped start which means the slower swimmer would start first and the faster swimmer will try to catch up.
Swimming with someone makes it also a lot more fun! One of you might be struggling with a set and you'll be able to get each other through it and of course the post-swim coffee is better when shared!
Hopefully this blog has given you some new inspiration to spice up your swim training. If you would like help with creating challenging, fun and productive swim sessions check out the Online Swimfit Squad. Become a member and receive new swim sessions each week!
Or if you are training for an ocean swim, triathlon or Ironman, check out the Swim Your Way Programs to help you reach your goal.