In my last post, I talked about the swim video I got so I could analyze my form and figure out some areas to focus on in the off-season. I identified 3 things I want to focus on: not over-rotating, improving my catch and improving my kick.
Identifying problems is one thing. Fixing them is another. To start, I broke my training into three phases...
Phase 1 - Form phase. This is about 2 months long and the focus is form. All short repeats (less than 200 yards) with longer rest periods. Lots of kicking.
Phase 2 - Base phase. About 3 months. Higher volume, less form work but still working on form. Repeats will be a little longer, but still mostly short intervals. Rest intervals will tighten a bit. Not as much kicking.
Phase 3 - Race specific phase. This goes through the race season. Trying to maintain gains made in phases 1 and 2 but lowering volume to increase bike/run volume. Maintaining speed but adding in more endurance work and some longer repeats and open water work. Rest intervals tighten up a bit more.
I also bought a few new swim toys to help me work on form....
Ameo Powerbreather Snorkel. I've read about the benefits of training with a snorkel many times - mainly, by eliminating the need to turn your head to breathe, you can focus on other aspects of your stroke like the catch, symmetry, body roll, head position, etc. I bought a center-mount snorkel a few years ago but didn't like it so I never used it. Slowtwitch wrote about the Powerbreather recently and it sounded like an improvement over the center-mount snorkel so I ordered one. They're also good for kick sets. I'll be using this a lot in phase 1 as I work on form then I'll use it mainly in my warm up and cool down to continue working on form.
Finis Alignment Kickboard. No more kick sets with my head above the water practicing bad body position. This board forces you into a streamlined position so you're kicking with good form. It works best if you have a snorkel so you don't have to lift your head to breathe. This will get a lot of use in phase 1 as I focus on my kick.
Fins. To work on ankle flexibility and strengthening my kick.
Finis Tempo Trainer. I love this thing. I use it for pacing and stroke rate sets. I probably won't use this until phase 2 and definitely in phase 3.
So those are my training phases and the swim toys/aids I'll be using. I plan on getting video a few times if possible to make sure I'm making progress with the form work. I'm also thinking about signing up for a few masters swim meets this winter for motivation.
To test my progress I'll be doing the occasional 1000 yard time trial. I've done those in the past, so I have prior times to compare.
I started my swim phase with video last week and then a few days working on form with the snorkel and kick board. A few days ago I did my first 1000 yard time trial to set my bench mark. I surprised myself by swimming it in 13:17, which is a 2 second PR. I was expecting something closer to 13:40 - 13:50. It's a good surprise, but it makes me wonder. Did I improve already? If not, why have I been swimming some of my slowest open water times in years this season if I'm capable of a 1000 yard PR?
I suppose it doesn't matter. All I can do now is focus on improving my swim in the pool and then try to make that speed transfer to the open water next year, which has been a challenge for me in prior years.