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Time For a Change III

Channeling Skills

During the first stage of the skill acquisition process, a large amount of variability was introduced. At this point, swimmers should have an enhanced kinesthetic awareness, improved sense of different movement possibilities, as well as identified the tasks that they feel best develops their skills.

When designing training sets, the focus should be on accomplishing the following objectives-

  • Include a greater proportion of ‘regular’ swimming.

  • Slowly intensify and/or extend the regular swimming.

  • Include specific tasks that best help the swimmers feel the desired technical changes.

Let’s assume the swimmer in question felt that using resisted swimming work with tennis balls and aerobic pulling were the most helpful. The sets below reflect those changes.

Set #1

4x through

2*25@45 STRONG Backstroke swim w/chute; tennis balls in each hand

2*25@1 FAST swim backstroke

2*25@45 STRONG Backstroke swim w/ chute; 1 hand tennis ball/1 hand open; switch at 25

50@3 FAST swim backstroke


The percentage of regular swimming has increased and the distances have started to extend as well. However, the rest periods are still relatively open to ensure that fatigue is not significantly impairing performance. While the intervals may prevent maximal performance, they allow for good efforts. The idea is to use the parachutes to lock in the desired skills and then ‘test’ them with the fast swimming. With frequent contrast, swimmers have multiple opportunities to work through the learning process.

Set #2

8x through

20@1.30 Backstroke FAST on Power Tower (or cord) with tennis balls

20@1.30 Backstroke FAST on Power Tower (or cord) with tennis balls

37.5@2 FAST Backstroke swim from a start


See set #1. The same idea with a different set up.

Set #3

4x through

2*50@45 Backstroke pull with band/strap

8*50@40 Swim ODD maximal DPS; EVEN des 1-4 to 200 pace at same stroke count (1 sec/50)

*Dolphin kick count is constant*

*Extra 40 seconds to put the band back on*


This set begins the transition to race specific work in an aerobic context. The swimmer is now being challenged to execute his skills with increasing velocity, while maintaining effective mechanics and efficiency. The inclusion of the backstroke pull ensures that the swimmer is reminded of his technical goals each round, as the backstroke pull helps him lock into his skills.

Set #4

4x through

2*75@1.05 Backstroke pull with a band 1 less stroke per 25

4*100@1.15 Backstroke As fast as possible; same stroke/dolphin kick count each 25

100@2 EZ choice; maintaining stroke count


This set requires the swimmer to be consistent and effective with their stroke count while developing higher level aerobic abilities. Each round is preceded with the backstroke pull that helps to lock in this particular swimmer’s skills. They challenge is then to maintain that efficiency at higher levels of physiological stress.

Physiological Considerations

As you move toward the middle of your season, the aerobic challenge will increase and pace work and sprint work will be introduced. This coincides with the need to increase technical stability during increasing speed and physiological stress. The inclusion of more free swimming is supportive of this goal. The percentages of work allocated to each type of training will be dictated by each swimmer’s individual attributes, as well as the events they are targeting.

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