I love the number seven in terms of the number of swims performed. Seven swims is enough to be a challenge yet not so many to be insurmountable. To add distance, we can then add multiple blocks of seven swims and psychologically not get overwhelmed. I use this type of set frequently to deviously hide a lot of distance from my swimmers.
From a coaching perspective it is always useful to offer individual rest periods rather than 100m off 2min for a lane, where some swimmers will get 20sec rest, some 10 and others nothing in a club or group setting. Seven swims with the following rest periods can really challenge, if the effort is put in, it will force pace changes and effort levels to jump. Between the seven swims take the following rest period pattern eg, 10/20/30/10/20/30. We do adjust these as the distances come down and go up. See below.
HOW TO GET THE BEST FROM IT
You could float through this and get some good distance swum but it is the changing rest periods that give you the opportunity to really get something more from this session. I encourage our swimmers to get quicker with each repeat as the rest increases from swims 1-4. Then try to get quicker again from 5-7 or ‘hang on’ at the pace of Number 4 until the rest builds again.
THE FINE DETAILS
This can be a subtle way to hide a longer block of work, the 3.5km mainset above is a great example. Most of our swimmers were surprised to learn they had swum so far. You also get the pace change effect if you suggest building pace 1-4 then hanging on for the last 3 which will be a challenge but again not impossible as rest is restored after you hit the tough reduction in rest between swims 4&5. Maybe have a pull buoy ready for swims 5/6/7 if you misjudge the pace. Use the first of each seven swims as a swim down if really working hard on the build efforts. Another way to make this a really tough option would be to reduce the number of swims to six and rest 10/20/30/20/10. Build the pace from 1-4 then maintain it as the rest is
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Swim for Tri, based in London but now coaching across the UK, is a swim technique and coaching concept brought to you by the brother and sister team of Dan and Keeley Bullock. The team share over 50 years experience of competitive swimming, coaching, teaching swim lessons and direct involvement with the sport of Triathlon and Openwater racing as competitors and Coaches.