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The Keys To Turbocharging Technical Change Part VI

In part V, I introduce the concept of training your skills, rather than simply training your physical fitness. I then laid out the first half of a plan to make that happen.

First you need to do it right- you need to execute the desired skills correctly as quickly as possible.

Then you need to learn how to execute those skills fast over short distance, and slowly over longer distances.

If you can accomplish this second step, you’ll have taken a huge step forward in terms of improving your skills.

However, it’s still not enough. You need to learn how to execute your skills while racing.

Step 3

Do it fast and tired. Once you can execute skills fast, and hold those skills for extended durations while fatigued, it’s time to do it fast AND tired. You’re almost there! We’re talking about racing efforts in practice.

This is the realm of pace work, backend speed, quality sets, broken swims, lactate sets, etc. Whatever it’s called, if it’s fast and sustained, this is the next and last step for sustaining your skills in competition.

What’s important is that you are swimming at race relevant speeds, and you’re sustaining those speeds over race relevant distances. What that looks like specifically is up to the you, provided there is a consistent increase in the challenge over time.

You can use a combination of challenging volume, intensity, repetition distance, and recovery intervals to stress the skills. If you’re not sure what to do, think ‘race pace’ sets or ‘broken swims’.

Here are a couple simple examples. If you can hit the desired speed, make it more difficult by performing more rounds or shortening the rest periods.


2-3x through

4-8x25@15-30 seconds rest; try to hit ¼ of your 100m time, or faster

100 easy between rounds

2-3x through

50 @30-60 seconds rest

25 @15-30 seconds rest

25 @15-30 seconds rest

Add up the time and try to hit your 100m time

100 easy between rounds


2-3x through

4x50 @30-45 seconds rest; try to hit ¼ of your 200m time, or faster

2-3x through

75 @30-60 seconds rest

75 @30-60 seconds rest

50 @15-30 seconds rest

Add up the time and try to hit your 200m time

100 easy between rounds

1.9km Open Water

5x400m @30 seconds rest; each 400 is faster

By hardening your skills under racing fatigue, you’re ensuring that those skills are able to withstand the pressures of racing, while simultaneously developing the physical capacities to do so.

It’s important that skilled execution is driving the progression process. If you can’t consistently execute your skills to a reasonable standard, it’s likely that the challenge is too great, and it’s time to take a step back.

How do you know if it’s time to move on? If you can consistently execute the technical change in racing sets, you’ve got that skill locked in for the training environment. It’s time to move on to step 4.

Step 4

Do it fast, tired, and in a competition. Once you can consistently execute you skills in racing conditions during training, it’s reasonable to expect those skills to being to show up in competition. While this isn’t necessarily part of the ‘training’ progression, it is part of the progression in terms of realizing skill changes that enhance performance.

There needs to be patience associated with allowing change to occur. Further, these changes need to be addressed EARLY if you expect them to show up in competition. It takes TIME, and you have to account for that time. Further, it often takes multiple races and experiences for changes to show up. There must be enough competitions to allow for this to happen.

Once you can consistently execute your skills to a high standard in competition, you’ve made a change that matters, and you’ve made that change stick. That’s an accomplishment that VERY few individuals can claim!

That accomplish is the result of creating a plan to make change happen, using the most effective methods available.

In part VII, we’ll recap what you’ve learned to help you get started on creating real change that will help you achieve your goals in the water.

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