The 50 Freestyle; Optimal Starts and Breathing

The 50 Freestyle is one of the most anticipated races in competition, it is the truest test of speed and puts a microscope on swimmers skills. A slight hesitation on a start, a poor turn or an extra breath can be the difference between gold and mediocrity. Although this is obvious it is unbelievable how many swimmers and coaches still believe a 50 is something you can’t really coach. I have heard coaches state, “It’s just a 50, go bash it out and try not to breathe too much”, and as a former sprinter this annoys me to no end. If you look at some of the truly great sprinters – yes they are over 6 foot, yes they are big and powerful but they are also technically very good swimmers. Anthony Ervin is a fantastic example of this, the Rio Olympic Champion was up against some huge powerful swimmers but stuck to his flawless technique and ultimately bested them when it mattered and at 36 years old no less.

How to calculate your start:

Training for a 50 freestyle exclusively is almost never the case, you will usually swim other events including 100 and 200’s of freestyle but within the training there should be some 50 specific work. Obviously starts are important for all races but for a 50 working in different length sprints and timing each of them can be a great advantage. Within a start there are many different options, how many underwater kicks is the main area I believe should be worked on. Timing splits to 10 and 15 yards with varying kick choices giving the athlete adequate rest between each can tell you how many kicks is optimal for each swimmer. A practice may look like this:
Sufficient warm up
3 x 10 yards with 4 under water kicks
3 x 10 yards with 3 under water kicks
3×15 yards with 4 under water kicks
3 x 15 yards with 3 under water kicks

This is a highly unique area as some swimmers will kick to 15 yards optimally and others it can be two kicks and up into their stroke for the best result, once you know the type of dive and number of kicks it should be practiced and practiced. It should be possible for the swimmer to complete the start, underwater phase, break-out and first few strokes with their eyes closed. Where swimmers fail is they change their start in every practice and then when they get to their races they are still unsure as to how to perform their optimal start. Throughout the season you can revisit this protocol and adapt their starts but until this is done it should remain the same.

Many swimmers through their season of training get reliant on breathing patterns. The most common is a swimmer breathing every stroke but any breathing pattern can become an issue in a 50 freestyle. For the best hand speed possible breathing should be limited yet rotation within the stroke should still be complete and this is where swimmers who rely on a breathing pattern to get that rotation struggle. Longer distance training for sprinters should include a lot of odd pattern breathing so their rotation stays even when breathing becomes limited. 200’s using a 3,5,7,3 or 3,5,7,9 by 50 breathing pattern is a way to include this. On top of this there should be a lot of sprinting preformed with limited breathing. Last season our team adopted 50’s with no breathing on lap 1 and 75’s with only 3 breathes per lap while sprinting and it worked excellently. Our sprinters firstly realized they did not need nearly as many breathes as they thought and also that the oxygen debt they incurred did not catch up to them during the race. This is where a 50 becomes so different, in a 100 free limiting breathing too much on the first half will dramatically affect the finish but a 50 can be completed by the right individual optimally with no breathing. Through my experience one to two breathes is usually optimal for most swimmers but these breathes should be pre planned. For example, one breathe at the flags on lap 1 and one breathe 4 strokes after the break out, after that second breathe the only thing in the swimmers mind should be holding prefect form and swimming through the wall. This can also be practiced even in lower level meets by the athlete, if they take one breathe and still feel gassed at the end they need to add in another somewhere. These are just two facets of the 50 but will help a swimmer feel more confident in what they are doing in this race, having a game-plan is key.

By Kevin Dickson

Are swim coaches allowed to be nice?

The feeling of my swimming bag, stuffed to bursting, hanging off my shoulders is one that still haunts me from time to time. I recallImage result for sad school child carrying backpacks swim walking from school to practice every Friday after I was finished at jazz choir rehearsals, often through a foot of snow, each step causing a feeling of dread to grow inside me. The burden of that bag and the equipment it contained wore on me a lot as a teenager. The sport took a lot from me but gave very little. No matter how hard I trained, I didn’t see results in competition. Our relationship was completely one-sided, and I had a hard time dealing with that. I missed out on having a normal social life, I had difficulty focusing on school work, and let’s face it – my hair will never be the same again.

I was the swimmer that all coaches have trouble with. Not only did I dread practices, I made it well known to my coaches and teammates. I was the type of swimmer that would just do whatever I wanted if I didn’t like the workout the coach had provided. Even worse, I often convinced teammates to join me. If I was feeling particularly disillusioned, I would sit out whole sets on the edge of the pool while my peers worked themselves to the bone. A combination of hindsight and over a decade of coaching have taught me a lot about how to handle this:

Don’t take it personally

A swimmer experiencing disillusionment in the sport will likely say things to coaches or teammates that are inappropriately negative. Keep in mind that these words are not personal, they’re a reflection of the athlete’s feelings about their swimming, not about you as a person.

Allow breaks

Image result for swim clock on wall at poolMost coaches hate this, but I allow my swimmers all the breaks they want. If they need six bathroom breaks just to get through a practice – go for it. I’d rather they take the five minute break to regroup and come back into the set refreshed than pound through every metre and hate every moment of it. Long-term athletes are happy athletes, so give them what they need to feel happy.

Find alternatives

I may have absolutely hated training from 2005-2008, but I have loved coaching from the moment I started in 2004. My coach clearly recognized a desire in me to lead and teach, so I was given the chance to work with our youngest development swimmers. That worked for me, and I‘ve seen other “future swimmers” find their happiness in leading stretching or activation, keeping club records, decorating the team bulletin board, or being responsible for the shared equipment. There is a way to increase engagement in athletes who have a foot out the door – get creative and find it!

Know when to call it

I sometimes reflect on my swimming career and wonder what more it would have taken to get kicked off the team. Part of me even wanted it, just so there was no possibility that I could go back. I quit three or four times in my high school years, but I always missed it, returned, and quit again. As a coach, your number one responsibility is to “Do No Harm.” When you have a swimmer on your team that is so unhappy they start behaving like I did, it’s important to have a conversation with them and their parents to discuss options. If swimming is decreasing an athlete’s quality of life, they need to stop swimming. As much as we all want to retain athletes, we can’t be selfish. Let them go, let them be happy.

I look back on those last few years in the sport with a great deal of regret and guilt. As a coach finishing up my 13th season on deck, I often see in swimmers the same qualities I had, and I feel terrible for having put my coaches through that turmoil. The thing is, I understand completely what they’re going through and I empathise. The coaches I had when I competed were all highly accomplished athletes and had little patience for anyone who didn’t share their passion wholeheartedly. Because I’ve felt the internal struggle that accompanies a decreased interest in swimming, I have been careful in recent years to be Image result for coach and swimmer talkingsupportive of athletes whom I notice are facing similar challenges I did. And for that reason, I advocate for a soft approach in coaching. We hear all the time that “tough love works,” but I know that for me, it didn’t. And so I implore you: BE SOFT.

From Sarah MacDonald

What awesome Life Lessons can you get from Swimming!

Participating in sports is one of the best ways to learn about yourself and life in general. In most sports, you get the chance to learn about teamwork, competition, success, and failure. But, swimming provides so many more lessons that can be used later in life. Unfortunately, these lessons will not help you get into your dream college or help you find that ideal job; but, you can use these lessons to succeed in whatever college you attend and whatever job you get. You can also use them in other areas of your life whether you are in the pool or not.


Patience pays off.

Anyone who is competitive knows that patience is difficult to manage. But, as with anything valuable, patience is important to value. If you want to be good at anything, you need to take time and work hard. The only way to do this is to be patient and move step-by-step through the process. Time can be frustrating, but there is nothing that can be done about it. Not every day will be perfect. Not every lap will be perfect. But, with patience, you can overlook those imperfections, because it is the long term success that matters.


Crawling before you can walk.

Babies do not walk before they roll over or crawl. The same goes for swimmers. You have to learn to maneuver in the pool before you can be a successful competitors. So, if you think you can win big races without taking the necessary steps to be a good swimmer first, you will not succeed. You have to practice paddling, kicking, breathing, turning, finishing, and so much more before you can even get into that first race. Otherwise, without the right practice steps, you cannot expect to do very well. If you are not willing to put in the effort, you will not get the rewards. So, if a baby does not want to learn to walk, he doesn’t have to practice.


Learn how it feels to lose.

This may not sound like a thing that anyone wants to do, but it can be liberating. Many people are afraid to lose and they do not know how to handle losses. But, if you learn how it feels to lose, you know what you never want to do again. There are some outstanding swimmers out there and they might practice more than you do, but once you feel the loss, you can make the decision about the rest of your practices and your effort. You can also learn how to stay calm in situations that hurt. It is so much better to be calm and thoughtful after a lose than to become violent and frustrated. In real life outside of the pool, you might not win everything, so learning to respond calmly to a loss will help you in many ways.


Perfection is impossible.

As humans, we might strive for perfection. But, as humans, we cannot achieve it. We have flaws and they will show up when we least want them – like during an important race. Remember than things will not always go perfectly and in the same way that you have to learn to lose, you have to learn to be imperfect. Because of this, you cannot base your reality on whether you are 100% awesomely perfect. Your self-esteem has to be based on your work ethic, rather than being perfect. Your self-esteem should be based on your goals, rather than the perfection of achieving them.


Being mentally tough is important.

Recovery from set backs, patience during hard work, and staying calm is mental toughness. Having this fortitude will help you succeed in the pool and out of the pool. While the physical fitness that comes with swimming is a fabulous reason to keep swimming, it is the mental toughness that really shows how much you have learned in those hundreds and thousands of hours and laps.


Do you know what the 5th stroke is?

Swimmers tend to think of their sport in simple terms: There are four different strokes, and each of those strokes is a combination of different kicks and pulls. We train the kicks, practice the pulls, and when we race we do them as fast as we can. There is, however, a common thread between the four strokes that is often overlooked: underwater fly kick.


Every push from the wall and every race start is followed by underwater fly kick. Even in breaststroke, swimmers get one underwater fly kick to help maintain speed through to their breakout. Why, then, is this crucial component of swimming left by the wayside? Why are we not spending the same amount of time on underwater fly kick that we are on the other four strokes, considering how often we use it?


Expectation vs. Reality

We fall into habits pretty easily. We snooze our alarms a particular number of times in the morning, we tie our shoes a certain way, and we swim the same way every practice. Habits can be great, but they can also be troublesome, especially if they’ come from a place of laziness. A lazy swimmer may do one or two underwater fly kicks off each wall, if any. They do them because they know they’re supposed to, but they don’t put much thought into it.


This is a problem because it separates expectation from reality. Coaches expect their athletes to perform a particular way in practice. At the beginning of each season, coaches try to get swimmers into good habits, like keeping their water bottle at the side of the pool and leaving their goggles on between sets. Coaches also expect athletes to be doing underwater fly kick off of each wall, but for some reason don’t spend much time teaching them how to do it well.


The reality is that swimmers don’t see underwater fly kick as an equally important part of their training compared to metres spent executing what’s written on the board. When coaches ask for freestyle, swimmers do freestyle. When coaches ask for 10 underwater fly kicks off each wall during a freestyle set, guess what happens? Coaches need to set clearer expectations for swimmers so that they can change the reality of their training.


Creating value for underwater fly kick

There’s no denying the science behind underwater fly kick. In streamline position with both legs kicking small and fast, it’s the quickest way to move through the water. We see this fact evidenced again and again when swimmers like Ryan Lochte and Ryan Hoffer use the skill to their advantage in major competitions like Speedo Junior Championships and the Olympics.


If that’s not enough evidence to get swimmers valuing underwater fly kick, consider that FINA allows 15 metres of underwater swimming in fly, back, and free. In a standard short course training pool, that means swimmers could potentially be underwater fly kicking more than “actually swimming.” If laziness is a component of habit development, this seems like a good way to incorporate it into training habits. Why swim more than you have to?


Finally, swimmers use it all the time! Swimming experts have been calling underwater fly kick “the fifth stroke” for years now because it’s such an important element of the sport. Consider the time and effort toddlers put into learning to walk; they fall, they cry, they get back up and keep going. After a while, walking becomes second nature to them, and they use that newfound skill for the rest of their lives. Underwater fly kick is like walking; swimmers use it to help get from point A to point B even if there’s something else used in the middle (much like walking to your car, driving to work, and walking to your destination from the parking lot).
In short, underwater fly kick is important. Swimmers need to understand its importance so that they appreciate how much it can help them in their training and racing, and coaches need to set clear expectations about how to use it. Athletes: be inspired to use this skill to your advantage, but know that you must train it just as you train your four strokes. Coaches: know that what you ask for is what you get, and ask your athletes to perform the way you want them to.

You need to Journal Your Way To Success

A question often posed to coaches is “what do I need to do to improve my swimming?” Although we could launch into bio mechanical analyses and break down all the components of the strokes until they’re reduced to minutiae, the main theme is mindfulness. Pay attention to what you’re doing, focus on doing it well, and you’ll see improvement. The body is controlled by the mind, so training your mind to be a better swimmer is a reasonable course of action.


Mental skills are actually really simple to train. Thinking about what you want to do has been proven to be as effective as actually doing it; Marc Jeannerod and Jean Decety’s 1995 article “Mental motor imagery: a window into the representational stages of action” tested the th  eory by having individuals train a five-finger piano pattern either mentally or physically,and found that results were largely similar between groups. A similar study by Ranganathan et. al. in 2003 yielded similar results, indicating a 35% success rate in “mental training” candidates versus 53% in “physical training” candidates performing voluntary muscle contractions in their little fingers, while the “no training” control group showed no significant changes.


To journal your way to success, you need to harness your mental capacity for learning motor skills. All you need to get started is a blank journal, a writing implement, and the motivation to spend ten minutes after practice writing about it.


Step 1: Log your workout


Even if you can’t remember the entire workout, write down what you do recall. This gives you the chance to reflect on your effort and organize your thoughts about it.


Step 2: Rate your sets


Once you’ve written out the workout, go back and rate each set. You can assign a numerical value to them or simply place a checkmark or an X next to them, but make sure to rate based on your perception of how the sets went. It’s natural to rate based on what you liked and didn’t like, but that’s not the goal. You want to record whether or not your effort was valuable to your training.


Step 3: Record your feelings


Look over your ratings and write down a few words about the sets that jump out at you. If you had a set that rated a 0 or had a heavy-handed X next to it, ignore it. It’s best not to focus on the negative sets too much. Instead, make an effort to write more about the positive sets, making sure to focus on feeling: “felt strong” and “breathing pattern felt easy”are examples of how to record positive training feelings.


Step 4: Record your thoughts


This step is crucial because it provides a road map for mental imagery. Once you’ve finished recording feelings, think back to the thoughts running through your head during the positive sets. If you were singing a song in your head, write down the title. If you were focused on your stroke count, write down what it was. If your mind was blank and you were focused on the feeling of every stroke, write it down! Regardless of what the thoughts were, they contributed to a good performance and are worth remembering.


Step 5: Relive the good performances


Look through your swimming journal before practices or meets to remind yourself of the thoughts and feelings you had during your best moments in the pool. Better yet, use those cues to make a mental image of your upcoming workout; picture yourself in the water, swimming your best, nailing every set, and feeling good about it afterwards.


The best thing about journalling is that it’s personal. No one else has the same thoughts or feelings as you, so your journal is a perfect reflection of your own swimming. You can even use the same five steps to journal about your performances at a swim meet so you can create mental images of your races to run through before you get onto the blocks. Play that song in your head, shut your eyes, and see yourself swimming your best. Chances are you’ll have yet another good performance to write about when the race is over.


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Why you Should do Strength training in the Off season.

Off season strength training; early season drilling

One of the best things that swimmers can do for themselves in the off-season is build their strength. There are plenty of exercises that can help build lean muscle so swimmers can get more power off of the blocks, length off of the turn, and speed out of each stroke. Since swimming uses all of the major muscle groups, so the suggested training exercises can be done in most gyms.


Warm Up and Get Organised

Prior to doing any type of strength training, it is always a good idea to warm up the body with something simple like riding a stationary bike. It is best to get at least 20 minutes of cardio warm-up in before you start lifting weights. It is also important not to overdue anything so you do not overwork your muscles. You are prepping for swimming, not body building. Many swimmers will use a notebook to keep track of their workouts in the weight room so they can be sure to use appropriate weights and recognise their gains.


Large Muscle Exercises

There are several exercises that are good for swimmers’ bodies. For the legs, some of the best choices include squats, leg presses, extensions, and curls. To get at the lats and other back muscles, rowing exercises like a seated row and the bent row, as well as the basic lat pull down and raise work well. As always, abdominal work with and without weights is always beneficial – especially when you get into the lower abs and obliques, too. For the arms, shoulder and bench presses are helpful and the classic dumbbell curl is a good choice.


Work Out at Home

On those days when you cannot get to the gym, there are several exercises that you can do at home to build strength. Dumbbell curls can always be done with soup cans or other weighted items. Abdominal work can always be done at home and so can any type of push up. You can also do any type of stretch as well as yoga work – since there are plenty of videos available for free online.


Get Back into the Pool

As soon as the early season drills get going, it is a good idea to get back into the pool and leave the weights behind for a while. When you start swimming, it is a good idea to focus on the technique. Since you have been building strength in the gym, you might notice some subtle differences in your stroke. Many swimmers in the early season will use paddles to keep building strength. Just like in the gym, it is always recommended to start with a warm up before you start doing any type of strength training in the pool.


Warm Ups and Start Swimming

 Start with stretches on the pool deck and, if you have a stationary bike nearby, take and 10 to 20 minute ride. Then, get in the pool and swim a few laps in freestyle until your body begins to feel like it is ready to start working harder. Since it is early in the season, it is helpful to take your time in the warm up and not push it too hard. When you first start to swim with paddles, you might enjoy adding fins to the drills. By taking the hard work of the legs out of the situation, you can really focus on the arms and upper body with the paddles. Then, to give the legs a good workout, ditch the fins and the paddles. Get a kick board out and start kicking. Of course, it is important to mindfully kick, noticing how your legs, core, and glutes are working as you move through the water.


Take Your Time in the Pool

Those early season drills should work on getting your strokes under control and getting your body stretched out. In the earliest part of the season, take your time getting back to your full speed in the pool, especially after spending the off-season in the off-season.

Swimming through life. Part 1

Transition from age group swimming to university swimming

One of the keys to success for any strong swimmer is being able to transition from one age group to another. Since most swimmers stay in the same youth organisation, the transitions between youth age groups is not that difficult. Young swimmers move from group to group with their friends and often, their coaches follow them, too. Many times, the coaches are team parents, so they know most of the kids in the organisation. Even if they switch organisations, they are still in their local swimming community so the transitions are still easy to make.


Moving Away from the Local Support System

The difficulty for swimmers is moving from their younger age groups to a college swimming team. The biggest changes come from the fact that college swimmers no longer have the same support system that they had in their high school and younger years. Instead, they have the pressures of college and the pressures of ultra-competitive swimming. These pressures intensify for collegiate swimmers who are far from home, away from their families and local friends.


Sleep Becomes an Issue

Along with missing family and friends, new college swimmers often have issues with sleep. Most competitive swimmers are used to getting up early to get into the pool, but they are not used to being away from home with plenty of fun opportunities available every night of the week. High school offered a predictable schedule and parents were able to get their children to bed at a reasonable time, especially when they knew that morning practice was coming. But, college kids do not have curfews. They often have roommates who are not swimmers, so the impact of less sleep can create problems in the pool. The problems can be both physical and mental.


Nutritional Challenges Arise

Another issue for collegiate swimmers is nutrition. When high school swimmers are at home, their parents have control over what they eat (at least at home). But, this changes when the swimmer reaches college. The collegiate food options are not always the best for young athletes and not every collegiate swimming program has enough coaches to help swimmers work on their diets. Often, collegiate swimmers turn to nutritional supplements rather than eating healthy fruits, vegetables, proteins, and carbohydrates. When this is paired with lack of sleep, swimmers’ skills can decline.


Working with New Training Programs

Training is another issue that swimmers have to deal with when they move from youth swimming to collegiate programs. When high school kids begin looking for the perfect swimming programs, they will look for coaches who have training programs that they like. So, many high school kids will select programs that are similar to what they experienced in their youth swimming groups. Despite the similarities in programs, many swimmers need to get used to the training programs and the college pool. Add the issues that can come from lack of sleep and less-than-ideal nutrition and the trifecta can create some difficulties for transitioning swimmers.


Learning the Ins and Outs of College Athletics

The first year of college is a big change for most students, let alone students who are also athletes. While colleges do everything that they can to help their new student-athletes get acclimated to the new environment, no one knows now each student will react. It can be difficult for kids who were big stars in their local programs to move to a large university where there are plenty of big stars. It can also be challenging for students to swim against and with some of the best swimmers in the world. While many students do make a positive transition, it can take time. Some do not succeed and they stop swimming. Others excel and take in the opportunity to work with the best.


Participating in college athletics can be one of the most rewarding programs for young adults. Coaches, swimmers, and their trainers need to work together to ensure that the athletes get what they need to be successful.

How to Make Breaststroke Your Best Stroke


Of the four competitive strokes, breaststroke is the most unique. Unlike the other three, it is swum entirely underwater and requires swimmers to break their streamline over and over again to propel themselves forward. By focusing on preserving the streamline through all the phases of the stroke, breaststroke can easily go from being your worst stroke to your best.


Why swim more than you have to? The easiest way to preserve your streamline is during your push-off. Hold your streamline until you begin to lose momentum, then initiate your fly kick and pullout, making sure to keep your body position the same throughout. Hold this final glide until your momentum slows again, then move into your breakout.

How to train it: Double your pullouts off of each wall, and focus on keeping your eyes locked on the bottom of the pool. Prove to yourself that it works by trying a few pullouts wherein you lift or lower your head halfway through the glide and compare results!


A lot of efficiency is lost during the breakout when swimmers recover their arms underwater without thinking about preserving their streamline. Rather than dragging your bent arms through the water beside your torso, sneak your arms underneath your chest by crossing your forearms and pushing your hands forwards into your streamline. Adam Peaty (GBR) was seen doing this during the 2016 Rio Olympics, and we all know how it worked out for him!

How to train it: Do it on deck! Stand in your tallest streamline, pull your arms down to your sides and mime a fly kick, then initiate a breaststroke kick as you “hug” yourself while stretching your arms back up to streamline. Then, go do it in the pool.


Believe it or not, breaststroke kick can be made more efficient. Preserve your streamline by keeping your knees aligned behind your hips; the angle between your torso and thighs should be no less than 120 degrees. Think about bringing your heels up to your buttocks with your ankles flexed and toes outwards, then push back and down to propel your body forwards. This kick is much more narrow, reducing drag and allowing swimmers to maintain a more streamlined position in the water.

How to train it: You’re going to get up close and personal with the wall, that’s how! Get in the water, place your chest and legs against the pool wall and rest your hands on the deck. Practice bring your heels up to your hips without poking your knees into the wall, and kick! To challenge yourself, try to kick hard enough to get your chest out of the water, then finish with a push-up.


Finally, your pull can be a major player in a more efficient breaststroke. A common mistake swimmers make is taking their outsweep wider than their shoulders and pulling their hands underneath their chin before recovering into streamline. Preserving streamline means keeping all motions within the line of the body, so it would serve you better to outsweep to shoulder width, keep the elbows high, and pull the hands down only until they are perpendicular to the pool bottom before recovering into streamline.

How to train it: Sculling. Lots of sculling. Put on your snorkel, stretch your arms out in front of you, and take a look at how wide you sweep your hands outwards. Make sure that you have your arms rotated so that your elbows are at the surface and your fingers are angled downward, then switch to full breaststroke pulls. Palms should face outward during outsweep, towards you during during the pull, and at the bottom during recovery.

There you have it: four simple ways to make breaststroke your best stroke, all by preserving your streamline in every move you make. If any aspect of your stroke feels too wide, it probably is. Breaststroke is all about being as narrow and flat as possible to ensure that all movements produce forward momentum, so think “streamline” all the time.

From Sarah MacDonald

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Can Two Weeks Off Swimming be Good or Bad?

There are going to be moments when you simply need a break. When you feel like you can’t stand the sight of water or when you can’t stand the smell of chlorine. If you need the time off, take it. But, try not to stay away from the pool for more than two weeks.



Subtle Changes After a Two-Week Holiday

After a two-week hiatus from the pool, you will (hopefully) feel a renewed desire to get back in the water. But, you might notice a few subtle changes. Fortunately, recovery from the two-week break will not take long. The longer you stay away from the pool, the longer it will take to get back to the level of fitness you are accustomed to having.

First, after two weeks, you might find that you get a tired a little faster than usual the first few times you get in the pool. This might make you discouraged. You cannot let that happen. As a swimmer, you know that swimming is a mental and physical exercise. The only way to improve is to just keep swimming.


Time Off Can Help

Even if this sounds discouraging, it can be important to take time off. There are moments when the body really does need to rest, this is why sports have off-seasons. If you are swimming four or more times per week, every week, without a break – you are due for one. The mind also needs a break from all of that work. If you have been swimming that often, your body will not fall apart or get flabby after a two-week break. In fact, you might find that you swim better after the short holiday.



Endurance Weakens Slightly

Some swimmers notice that their aerobic endurance weakens slightly when they return to the pool. If this is the case, just keep swimming because your endurance will pick back up after a few workouts. Some swimmers notice a reduction of endurance up to 20% after two weeks of rest. You might have to start slowly when you get back into the pool, but it won’t take long to get back to where you want to be.


Negligible Strength Differences

On a positive note, your strength will not decrease to a noticeable difference. Younger swimmers will not notice much of a difference in muscle tone, but older swimmers might. Since swimming is an endurance exercise, muscle tone should not change much since most swimmers have lean muscles rather than bulky ones. It should take more than eight weeks away from swimming before any change in muscle tone becomes visibly noticeable. Again, if you feel weak when you first get back into the pool, it’s ok. Your body and mind need to get reacquainted when it comes to swimming and coordination, but the whole process of getting back to your regular strength won’t take very long.


Swimming Will Feel Good Again

If you have been training in the pool for a long time, your will most likely notice that you have taken some time off – but it might not be very evident. If you are not a regular swimmer, you might not notice right away. The big difference will show up in the pool after the hiatus. The fit swimmer will get back to normal quickly, whereas the occasional swimmer will need to swim more to get back to normal. Those losses will plateau and then even out, so the recovery will not take long.


In order to get back to normal, it is helpful to do some high-intensity interval workouts in the pool. With quick bursts and minimal rests, your aerobic endurance will improve dramatically. After two weeks off, it will feel good to get the heart rate going and the water moving. Use paddles, kickboards, and pull-buoys to get the muscles working hard.

Should Olympic Swimmers Speak out?

Doping is a big deal in professional sports. To keep the playing field level, most athletic organisations have developed rules and regulation to prevent their athletes from wanting to cheat. In an individual sport like swimming, doping can make a big difference in the number of wins and losses and since big wins equate to big money, swimmers are easily tempted to dope to get ahead of the pack.


Whose job is it to speak out against doping? Should elite swimmers like Lilly King and Michael Phelps do this? Or should someone else get involved in talking to the media about the problems with doping?  Now that the Olympics are over but still on people’s minds, the elite swimmers are getting the job done.


Spotlight on Lilly King

Young 19-year-old Lilly King made a name for herself not only by her gold medal in the 100 breaststroke, but by calling out her Russian competition, Yulia Efimova. King beat her and pointed out Efimova’s drug history. The Russian swimmer has tested positive twice for drug use. But, despite her doping history, she was beaten by a swimmer who has always tested clean. This finger wave that King gave to Efimova proved that swimmers do not need performance enhancing drugs (PED’s)to be successful.


Michael Phelps Encourages Natural Training

Michael Phelps also spoke out about doping. His complaint was about how swimmers who use PEDs hurt the sport and what it means. His words make sense, because competitive sports are about athletic ability, not about using a drug to get better. Cheating reduces the quality of the sport all the way around. Olympic competition should be clean. No ifs, ands, or buts.


The best voices to speak out against using PEDs are the elite athletes. These are the faces of the sport, so they are recognizable by people all over the world. Instead of men and women in suits, those who actually participate in the sport should speak out to keep their sport real. Of course, the elite athletes should be supported by those who wear the suits and make the policy, but the athletes will get the message across the best.


Social Media Can Bring the Message to the Local Level

Since today’s world is dominated by social media, even the amateur swimmers can speak out against doping. Swimmers in high school and college could actually face opponents who use PEDs. Those users harm the sport just as much as professional athletes who dope harm the sport. When amateur swimmers see their idols like Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky speaking out and creating buzz about doping, those amateur swimmers will be more comfortable talking about doping with their coaches and teammates. They will also be more confident to train without using PEDs.


This is how the ethics of sports changes at the local level. And as the local level changes, the larger levels of the sport will change, too.


Banning Athletes Who Dope

Unfortunately, some athletes will always feel the pressure to do everything they can to survive the competition. This is why some nations continue to support their athletes who prefer to use PEDs rather than train naturally. The international organizations that support the competitions need to get serious about keeping the doping swimmers out of the pool, no matter what and in every situation. Sponsors need to stay away from these athletes and the clean athletes should feel free to expose them.
Doping actually weakens the foundation of sport which is why fighting it is vital to continued success. Elite swimmers and elite athletes in other sports should be the voice that encourages young, amateur athletes and their fellow professional athletes to stay away from the performance enhancing drugs that create an unfair advantage.

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