Monthly Archives

May 2017

some more swim articles

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We have been in the press a lot recently! did you catch all of these?

Training Peaks
Article of the month –the other strokes…
Openwater Swim
Featured training plan – Training Plan
Coaching Mag – SWOLF 
Featured Coach <lead coach> SpeedoOn training system – In progress, testing
Steve and I’s book sold more in Yr2 then Yr1

Swim Serp Announced as official training partners for the mass participation event in HydePark Sept

the other strokes

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The Others….


There are many reasons for learning and developing your ability to swim the 3 other competitive strokes within your swim training. If you are well versed with the FC technique and looking for new ways to spice up your training this might help. Just like the Flip Turn article from last month, this does not suit all and many will not need it as FC tech continues to develop. I am sure many people will baulk at the idea while still struggling with FC, so this is not for all. A little time spent in the ‘off season’ working on the other strokes (Backstroke, Breaststroke and Butterfly) will help your training, your enjoyment of training and its usefulness immensely. With the other strokes at your disposal, training sets will become infinitely more variable and interesting. These are of use during a post main set swim down to help relax the shoulders through a different range of motion after a big FC block. Obviously this is not for all. For some who have needed to ease the FC burden of tired shoulders or struggled to get HR up during regular FC swim training, it offers some other movements to aid your swimming.


Contemplate how the following version of our old friend the 400m swim is broken up with some added variety. Incorporating the other strokes really helps pass the time compared to swimming straight 400m swims, as it keeps you concentrating as to when you insert the other stroke at the right time. It will also elevate your HR as you switch between muscle groups and focus on maintaining forwards propulsion through different pathways of the hands. Finding propulsion through other similar hand pathways can heighten your overall feel for the water during FC swimming.


(25m pool).

1L FLY or TRIFLY (FC arms with FLY legs see below for how to), 3L FC



1L fast FC into 3L FC to finish

(400m).  Rest between 100m blocks if necessary but ideally swim it straight.


Your overall feel for the water will improve as you work on new pathways of the hands when attempting the other strokes. The risk of overuse injuries will also reduce as new movements from the other strokes redistribute the workload of the arms and shoulders. Adding Backstroke at the very least would be a great addition to your stroke repertoire. Backstroke is a natural stroke to use to help unwind the shoulders from the vast amounts of FC we swim as triathletes.  It also helps build lots of aerobic fitness, very useful if you are still getting the timing and breathing patterns in place on your FC. Swimming alternate 25m lengths within a 200 as FC and Backstroke will generate a natural Fartlek swim as you are able to relax a little more on the FC but naturally work a little harder performing backstroke (the kick and core work a little harder as they tend to drag more due to the position of the head and lungs compared to FC.)


For a few years now we have been using the other ‘stroke variations’ to our TRI fitness swim sessions for those at the right stage of their swimming. These Medley Alternates are promoted as a kind of X-training which has helped our swimmers come on very quickly. The following are derived from the other strokes but you will not have to completely learn the other strokes to take advantage of how they can help your FC swimming. They are listed easiest too hardest.


Medley Alternate Swims:


1          Breaststroke Arms with FC legs is a nice variation for practicing a continuous leg kick. The first part of a Breaststroke Pull is also not too dissimilar to the way we scull the hand into the FC catch. Optional fins.

2          Double Arm backstroke with a pull buoy. A great way to stretch the shoulders and chest muscles through a different range of motion after a lot of FC.

3          FC arms with FLY legs, (at SWIMFORTRI call it TRIFLY) a tough one to perfect that takes a lot of concentration due to the way it affects your timing and co-ordination.



The other strokes when combined into the Olympic race sequence is known as The Individual Medley. This Ironman event of the pool made famous by the duals between Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte starts with Butterfly, transfers into Backstroke, before turning onto Breaststroke and then finishing with FC. The 400IM is perhaps the hardest pool event due to the positioning of the lung busting underwater Breaststroke pullouts on the 3rd 100. We can introduce this to your workouts a little easier as follows:


Sprint Distance Competitors:

Odd 100m swims

1L FLY (or TRIFLY) 1L Backstroke, 1L Breaststroke, 1L FC. Rest 40sec

Even 100m swims

100m FC PULL, rest 20s

Repeat for 8x100m. 800m main set



Mid Distance Competitors:

25m FLY (or TRIFLY)   50m FC, 15s rest

50m FLY (or TRIFLY)   75m FC, 30s rest

75m FLY (or TRIFLY)   100m FC.  40s rest


Swim 4 sets of this 375m set. The first is Fly as above then add back, breast and FC for 1500m.



Ironman competitors:

8 x 250m swum as follows:

ODD 250m are 25m TRIFLY, 50m BACK, 75m BR, 100m FC

EVEN 250m FC. Rest 30s in between each 250m

Total distance =2000m


If you don’t have time to commit to learning how to do the other strokes, then you can use the Medley Alternates as some further options and alternatives to FC. To be able to add Medley Sets to your sessions will suddenly add great variety and interest to otherwise fairly mundane swim sessions. I promise you your time in the water will pass a whole lot more quickly as you need to start counting more accurately for the ‘changeover’ and to keep in mind the new techniques needed. For a guaranteed HR elevator as you mix different muscle groups and affect the timing as to when you can breathe, I guarantee you will feel hard work like you have never experienced on FC alone. The added benefit of reducing the amount of FC stress to your shoulders should also be factored in and considered well worth the effort of adding these new strokes as we lower the risk of injury.







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I was at the London Marathon Medical Seminar ahead of the big race and it was quite fascinating. A big revelation for me but it kind of makes sense if you think about it…..there was  research on how people while training improved performance if they smiled & frowned less. The lecturer even felt botox might become the next big performance enhancer.
Even just being flashed subliminal smiling faces in biking videos while they turbo’d was enough to improve results. Enhanced mood meant better results this was clear from some big samples.  At a certain session there is one particular swimmer who never seems happy. I have witnessed this for some time and wondered about mood etc I awarded him a swim hat for some vague reason a few weeks back and he smiled and then went on to have a great session.
In terms of recovery from sessions the sports scientists offered quite a bit….
Cherry Juice, Massage, Ice baths, compression etc are all being peer reviewed and investigated further. This has been of interest the past few years that more studies are now available and can be collated. Overall views are now being taken from the sum of the studies .
All were of use and showed on the whole small gains but there are so many variables ie ice bath, at what temp? how long? more effect if lying down or standing in a wheelie bin! Is it significantly better than warmer water?There is so much to investigate. Compression it was felt was not compressing enough to be of much use so buy a size down !
Massage was quite revealing, a rugby team were massaged by familiar males masseurs after a hard week and then tested on 40m sprints the day after. A control group were not massaged.
Those massaged did improve more then those not.
Another group were massaged by non familiar masseurs. The improvements in 40m times were better but not so much as the first group.
A third group were massaged by unfamiliar unqualified pretty young ladies and 40m times were almost as good as the first group ! So in all of this there is a lot of placebo and belief as to whether or not things work. Sports scientists seemed concerned as they want to know why and how things work, at odds with coaches as they just want to know if it works!