Some Thoughts on Sprinting

Sprinting: Some Thoughts, Vince Mikuska

We have evolved from creatures that used to walk 25 kilometers a day in search of food. We are therefore in some sense aerobic machines. Most of what we do in a day is aerobic in nature. You could say that our default setting is aerobic. We rarely move quickly enough to recruit our fast twitch muscles. Those fibers would have evolved to keep us away from danger, eluding saber-toothed tigers for example.

 In order to create and train speed we have to force the body to change from its default aerobic setting to recruit the muscle fibers we want to train. Only explosive movements will get the body to call on its fast twitch fibers. Movements that begin slowly or build to intensity will not create changes in pure speed.

What do we need to train speed?

 Sprinters have to be aerobically fit. Bill Sweetenham has said that being a sprinter is not an excuse for being lazy. Rick DeMont’s presentation at the BCSCA Conference on sprinting began with the premise that early season work (6 weeks) would make the distance coach proud. No base equals no ability to tolerate the intense work required to swim fast.

Get into shape, do aerobic maintenance and then build a race. What components need to be there to achieve your goal? What needs the most work? It might be the development of pure speed; it might be speed endurance for the second 50 of the 100. Rehearse.

 Excellent technique is required in all facets of the race, stroke, start, turn, finish and underwater.

 To train pure speed you have to start fast, only explosive movements will ask for the sprint system. Distances need to be 15-30m. Don’t have builds or expect that descending sets will create speed.  Any underwater kicking has to be done explosively. Starting with slow dolphin kick only tells the body “this is aerobic”

Speed work needs to go into the beginning of workout after warm-up. Swimmers can always go aerobic after speed but they won’t get to speed if they are fatigued. Speed can be trained everyday at every level.

REST

Swimmers have to be given enough rest to reach the speeds that are required. Make sure that your work-to-rest ratios are correct. Work-to-rest ratios need to be 1:4 or higher. (e.g. 25’s @ 1:15 or 50’s on 2:30) You have to provide enough rest to get the speed required for race pace or better. They have to get used to long rest, maximum efforts. They also need to have sufficient time for the energy system to recover. Keep sets short to start with so that they are not inclined to save up for the last one.

Relaxation - Easy Speed

Swimmers need to learn how to stay relaxed and go fast. Application of power in the correct phase of the stroke will help this. They have to ensure that they are not over-pulling in the catch. Acceleration needs to happen in the pushing phase. This will translate into speed in the recovery and increased stroke rate. Swimmers also need to relax their arms in the recovery phase. Swimmers who initiate recovery with their elbow and shoulder instead of their hand will also have a better transfer of power from arm to arm. Easy speed can be taught by giving them sets of 25’s at 100 speed. (10 x 25 @ 1:15 100 pace – foot touch e.g.) Descending dive 25’s can also be helpful. They all need to be pretty fast but often the second last will be fastest as the swimmers won’t be over-trying on that one.

Measurement

Stroke rate and stroke count need to be measured. You can’t expect to hold stroke rates over 60 if you are training at 40. Stroke length also needs to be consistent. Times need to be given especially on 25 repeats. There is a big difference between holding 15.0 and 15.8 on a set of race pace 25’s.

Testing

Dive to 15 or 25 meters. (Pure speed)

8 x 50 @3 best average (dive or push, but the same every time.) Often used by Tom Johnson and Brent Hayden (Anaerobic Capacity)

10 x 50 @2:30 descend 1-10 from PBT + 10 to PBT +1. Record stroke count and time. (Dive last one) Bill Sweetnam test. Can be modified to be 6-8 as well. (Efficiency and speed)

Jamie Connors

Jamie Connors, Head Coach of the Calgary Patriots was the coach of Erica Morningstar when she was the Canadian champion and record holder in the 100 Freestyle. He had these thoughts about creating speed.

Take a neuromuscular approach to speed. Motor units need to be taught how to fire in the proper order (technique) at speed (stroke rate).

Power needs to be generated on land, in the weight room and through the use of medicine balls. Medicine balls need to be thrown hard and fast. The act of catching has a proprioceptive response.

Write your practice like it’s a weight room practice.

Don’t get hung up on the length of the pool, not everything needs to be defined in multiples of 25. For example you might ask for 10 perfect strokes at the required stroke rate.

Use fins and small paddles to recruit motor units in the water. Large paddles can’t be moved fast enough to create the speed needed for power development.

Due to pool time restraints he would have a 1 hour weight room practice then 1 hour in the pool. The swimmers were already warmed up and ready to go fast almost immediately.

Stroke rate is paramount. You can’t train to hold 60+ rating by practicing at 40.

Summary

Acceleration

Faster through the pushing phase into recovery

Speed of Movement

Stroke Rate measured

Distance per Stroke

Stroke Count needs to be monitored

Relaxation

In the recovery

Control

Deliberate movements, place your hand in the water

Balance

Arms and legs need to compliment, don’t over kick

Breathing

Need to have a plan, especially in the 50m. events

Click here to download a copy. 

 

 

Stroke Rates from 2008 European Championships 

       

 

Freestyle

 

Butterfly

Event

Men

Women

 

Event

Men

Women

50m

62

62

 

50m

66

62

100m

54

54

 

100m

55

56

200m

46

46

 

200m

48

53

400m

45

44

       

800m

40

43

       

1500m

45

44

       
             

Breaststroke

 

Backstroke

Event

Men

Women

 

Event

Men

Women

50m

62

63

 

50m

57

54

100m

49

40

 

100m

47

47

200m

42

39

 

200m

45

42

                     

How Fast is Fast?

World Best SC 2010/11

 

50 Free (F)  23.37

Ranomi, Kromowidjojo, NED.

50 Free (M)  20.51

Cesar Cielo, BRA

100 Free (F)  51.44

Ranomi, Kromowidjojo, NED.

100 Free (M)  45.74

Cesar Cielo, BRA

World Best LC 2009/10

 

50 Free (F)  24.27

Therese Alshammar, SWE

50 Free (M)  21.36

Fred Bousquet, FRA

100 Free (F)  53.44

Ranomi, Kromowidjojo, NED.

100 Free (M)  47.98

Brent Hayden, CAN