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Sunday, 16 June 2013

Training for Impact

2004 US Olympic Trials Pool
Long Beach, California
I was talking with one of our T2 Aquatics coaches last week about an athlete on our Senior Squad.  We were discussing the fact that this athlete has an exceptional ability at a certain aspect of training-- in this case, 50s Long Course Butterfly.  The athlete’s ability to swim under 200M pace, for multiple 50s, is exceptional.  Shouldn’t the athlete be able to go a great time in the 200M Fly?  If the athlete can do 4x50s Fly on (:50) at 31.0 seconds, shouldn’t the athlete be able to swim a 2:04, or atleast a sub 2:10, in the 200M Fly?

The multi-faceted answer to this question gets to the heart of the challenge with athletic development.  There are at least 8 different areas of training in which an athlete must excel.   Because an athlete might hit some good “markers” in one area of training does not mean the athlete is ready to make a breakthrough in the event!  Multiple markers must be hit for an athlete to make a breakthrough.

Here are the markers I look for in athletic development:

1.       Aerobic Capacity Development

2.       Neural Racing Development (Race Pace training, with proper Tempo and Distance per stroke cycle).

3.       Start/Turn Training

4.       Kicking Development (including the development of underwater kicking ability)

5.       Mental/Psychological development (including development of ability to ‘self-talk’ appropriately and ability to handle pressure)

6.       Dryland/Strength Development

7.       Hidden Training Development (ability to control outside challenges like nutrition & sleep)

8.       Practice Attendance

It’s clear that an athlete who swims 4x50 on (:50) at 31.0 seconds has the potential to do a 2:04 200M Fly, but it's the athlete’s ability to kick well underwater and train to be aerobically fitter than he/she has ever been that will directly determine the outcome when it’s time to perform in a competition.

I’ve mentioned in a previous blogpost** that an athlete’s ability to develop each of these areas will determine an athlete’s general performance level (i.e. whether an athlete will become a Nationally-ranked swimmer vs. a Regionally-ranked swimmer).  In the same way, when thinking about individual event performance, hitting multiple markers will determine an athlete’s performance level (their time!) in a certain event.

{*Photo by Paul Yetter}
{**Previous Blogpost here: http://developingthechampionwithin.blogspot.com/2010/11/competitive-swimming-order-of.html}

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