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Simple Steps to Train Your Skills

Three weeks ago, I laid out a simple plan for improving your swimming.


Improving in the water really comes down to this-


1. Establish COMFORT in the water

2. Learn the key SKILLS of freestyle swimming

3. Develop the FITNESS to sustain these skills


First, I went into depth about how to tackle step #1, getting comfortable in the water.


Then, I went into detail about the key, fundamental skills that you should focus to take your freestyle swimming.


Of course, if you have wonderful skills over short distances, at slow speed, with lots of rest, that’s VERY different than being able to successfully navigate any triathlon race.


To do that, you need to TRAIN.


It’s not just about improving your physical conditioning.


What you really want is to train is your ability to sustain your skills.


While that still takes work, it requires a slightly different perspective to get the results you want.


Here’s how to make it happen


Skill Combinations


Training your skills is simple.


#1 Identify the skill you want to improve

#2 Identify HOW you want to train your skills- faster, longer, or harder (more below)

#3 Make the set!


Once you’ve figured out what you want to work on, the structure of the set is straightforward.


You’ll have two components- your technical exercise and freestyle swimming.


This combination is what allows you to train your skills.


You’ll perform the technical exercise as a ‘reminder’ of what good swimming should feel like.


Then, you’ll take that reminder into your freestyle swimming, aiming to maintain the same feeling you get during the exercise throughout the set.


You’ll alternate between the exercise and freestyle, using the exercise as a reminder and freestyle to challenge yourself.


What should that challenge look like?


As mentioned above, to ensure you’re fully prepared for racing, there are three different ways you want to train your skills-

  • Swim Faster

  • Swim Longer

  • Swim Harder

Let’s take a look at each in a little more detail.


Swim Faster


The goal is to improve how fast you can swim with great skills.


The key idea is to slowly push the pace that you’re comfortable swimming, all while executing the desired skills really well.


You want to practice your skills at faster and faster speeds.

To best train speed, here are the characteristics of a good set-

  • Short distances

  • Low volume

  • High speed

  • Long recoveries

As with all types of training, you’ll want to incorporate exercises to ensure you constantly reminded of HOW you want to swim.


When in doubt, practice going FAST with a focus on 1 key skill.


Swim Longer


The goal here is endurance.


You want to swim well with good skills for longer periods of time.


Consistency is key, in terms of effort, skill, and speed.


It’s not about going hard; it’s about swimming well for extended periods of time.


Speed is not a concern, duration is.


You’re trying to extend the amount of good swimming you can sustain.


To best train endurance, here are the characteristics of a good set-

  • Medium to long distances

  • Medium to high volume

  • Low speed

  • Short recoveries

As with all types of training, you’ll want to incorporate exercises to ensure you constantly reminded of HOW you want to swim.


When in doubt, practice going LONG with a focus on 1 key skill.


Swim Harder


The goal is to improve how long you can maintain race pace, all while swimming well.


Get up to speed first, increase the challenge second.


At first, this might be really short distances with reasonable rest periods.


As you improve, you’ll want to increase the repetition distance and decrease the rest period.


As you increase the challenge, the KEY is to continue to focus on executing great skills.


Of course, you don’t have to perform exact race pace type training to get the same benefits.


ANY type of set that pushes you will do the job, provided you remain focus on your skills.


As with all types of training, you’ll want to incorporate exercises to ensure you constantly reminded of HOW you want to swim.


When in doubt, practice going HARD with a focus on 1 key skill.


Do This Next Time You’re In The Water


Training your skills isn’t super complicated.


You don’t need intricate sets.


You just need to practice your skills in more difficult situations.


With work, focus, and consistency, your ability to SUSTAIN your skills WILL improve.


Check out the sample sets below to see an example of what a speed set, an endurance set, and a race preparation set might look like, all in the context of training your skills.


Just adjusts the sets to meet your specific needs, staying true to the CONCEPTS presented here.



Whenever you're ready, there are 2 ways I can help you take your swimming to the next level:


1. If you’re looking for do-it-yourself solutions to improve your swimming, check out my resources Freestyle Made Simple and Addressing Adult-Onset Swimming.

2. If you want a more personalized learning experience, we can work together to analyze your stroke or develop a technical training plan.


Exit the water...


Andrew

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