The training plans and swimming goals are all set at the start of the swim season, and both coaches and swimmers are ready to go. But while you are well on board, the train of hard work, do you ever stop to check and evaluate your plan and goals in swimming?
Evaluating the training plan should start with setting process and performance goals because everything you do during practice correlates with your performance in meets. Goal setting will enable both the swimmer and coach to gauge the swimmer’s progress. While a mid-season check review will help highlight the path to better training.
Are you on track to achieve your goals in swimming?
Achieving your swimming goals will take a lot of commitment, both inside and outside the pool. You can’t just mindlessly cruise up and down the pool and then expect a massive drop in time at the end of the season. You have to add focus and purpose to everything you do. If you train well, you will swim faster.
So how do you ensure you train well every day? Quality training requires changing from working harder to working smarter and focusing on things that drive performance.
Where to start:
- Set benchmarks for your data
- Track and measure the progress
- Evaluate your training
Back in the 2000’s training and coaching were highly intuitive; everything was about feeling the water. Nowadays, with the power of data in sports rising, you ought to utilize technology and shift from ‘’feeling the water’’ to knowing exactly how you move through it. And although a change like this may feel scary, like with anything else, practice makes better.
Data will help you understand what your skills look like right now, how they are improving over time and provide you with more focus and direction for your training. The habits you form will be the same habits you fall back on during a race. If, for example, you only do three dolphin kicks off every wall in practice you can’t expect to hammer six propulsive kicks off the last wall of a race.
Knowing this, you need to pay attention to every detail of your practices and form habits that align with your goals. Practice the skills you want to use at the end of the season; remember, you’re training to race.
So if, for example, your outcome goal is to win states/provincials for 100 FR, you can look at each part of your race and establish your performance goals. Here is an example of how to use data for swimming faster:
Swim time= (Underwater Time+ Transition Time) + (Stroke Count x Stroke Rate)
From this swimming equation, you can immediately see the three phases swimming can be divided into the underwater, transition, and overwater phases. You can then set benchmarks to target each phase during your workout and improve your overall swim time.
Some good benchmarks may include:
- Increasing Stroke Rate in Freestyle from 1.7 s/cyc to 1.9 s/cyc by your championship meet
- Maintaining times, as well as Stroke Count and Distance Per Stroke throughout test sets
- Decreasing Turn Time from 1.30 seconds to 1.15 seconds
- Increasing dolphin kick from 3 to 4 and spending 5 seconds more underwater off every wall
Of course, actual benchmarks will differ from one swimmer to another. To identify yours you can check the ‘’Myself Score’’ and record the value for each of your skills. Then check the ‘’Like Me Score’’ and figure out which skills are on track with your competition and which will yield the biggest improvements for you.
Track and Measure Progress
Monitoring how these skills progress will allow you to track your improvements and show you everything you need to know about your stroke and training. This is where tools like the Focus Progress Graph offer the best insights. It shows you how you are doing for each data point and whether or not you are on track to meet your goals.
Look and determine how training sets influenced these skills. Were you happy with the results? Moving forward, what can you do differently or better? Your stroke rate, speed off the wall, percent underwater, and turn speeds are all crucial performance drivers that can help you swim faster.
To evaluate performance in training, coaches would hand out training evaluation sheets back in the day. Although these sheets were a good first step to measuring performance, they were still very much rudimentary.
Now with Scores like Readiness, Focus, and Intensity, you have all the information you need to manage training load, perfect skills and optimize effort to swim faster. More importantly, you have a more accurate picture of what you are actually doing in the water, not what was simply prescribed.
To recap, look back at the previous cycle, determine how technique, training, and performance evolved over the season. Most importantly figure out what worked and what didn’t. Did you focus on the right skills, put in all the work and hit all workouts? Ask yourself these questions to identify the gaps in your training and use them as a starting point for training iterations.