I had the good fortune to work with Susie Rogers last week. She often drops into the occasional London Disability Swim Club session that Michelle and I host. Post Gold in Rio Susie has announced her retirement but is still keeping fit and we have discussed wetsuits for maybe some OW swimming.
It was interesting as she swam and asked about the session, quizzed me about her swimming, asked for input and details on progress. She was checking times, counting strokes, remembering to drink. Working on pacing, checking heart rate and keeping an eye on many relevant stats. He attention to detail was a level above the other guys in the lane. I am sure people have made it to the Olympics with less attention to detail but it was interesting what else she did to help get the most from her training session. All the small things were done, exactly, helping her extract more from it. Maybe this was her approach but I have met a few Elite Sportspeople now and there are some common traits to be seen.
I recall offering a chance of a 100m easy swim at our Mile End session ahead of the mainset <or a quick toilet break.> Most hung around chatting but one Kona qualifier went to the deep end to do some extra Tricep extensions ahead of the mainset. There are those who talk about Kona and wish for it and there are those who make it happen.
It is quite easy to get 3km or more swum in a Long distance focused training session. 120 lengths. 60 shallow ends to glide into and miss the last 2m. 3 swims per week for 50weeks and that could be 18km of missed swimming. Or if you had not glided in that is 6 sessions you could have missed and rested!
As a coach one thing that I despair of is a swimmer not having a full selection of swim toys to get the most from a session. I know it is not the easiest of things to lug around but they will really help you get the most from a session. You do sweat when swimming, gross I know but fact. Bring a drink, it might help reduce some cramping. Start a dryland warm up ahead of getting in. If you are waiting for a class to end and have a few mins put them to good use. Shoulder prehab work? 4mins of simple arm movements, 12mins per week that is 10hrs of extra training a year. You can talk and swing arms if you do want to chat and catch up! It might just save £200 in physio bills as well!
In accuracies in your stroke? not being able to breathe to both sides? all take a toll on your performance and demand a price that needs paying. Whether it is more air, slowing you as the head moves more than is necessary, a higher heart rate or fatigue being introduced sooner rather than keeping it at bay. No matter what level swimmer we all fight against fatigue and a shortening of the stroke as we tire. In simple terms drills help lengthen things back out, reintroduce streamline and keep the window for breathing open longer.
So have a think about your training this week. Are you getting the most from it? is your time out of the water and then in it being maximised? Could you do more? I hope the answer is no.