Apr 202015

This past week British Swimmer Adam Peaty absolutely smashed the world record in 100M long course breaststroke at the British Championships in London in an amazing 57.92. Below is the video of his race and his interview after the race. Unfortunately they don’t capture the turn, but nonetheless the race is a beauty!

A few things in his technique stand out:

  1. He ALWAYS returns to the line out front. Even with a very quick tempo to his stroke, he does not sacrifice getting completely horizontal after each stroke. Note how his head and chest drop below his shoulders.
  2. His hip slide is phenomenal! Watch how far forward his hips slide on the insweep of the stroke. Not how dry his back is and how the wave behind him stays low on his back.
  3. His undulation is mild with hips always at or near the surface.
  4. The timing between his pull and his kick is perfection. Slow the video down and you will see that he is almost in streamline out front as his ankles quickly draw up behind him kicking him into a beautiful streamline.
  5. On the pull his elbows remain high and his hand strike forward is in very shallow water.

Adam is only 20 years old. Wow!

In this version you get a little better look at him close up, but it is missing the turn. Adam is in the lime green suit in Lane 4.

In the next video here, you get to see the turn (along with the crowd’s reaction).

Apr 172015

While it might look a little goofy, here is a land based drill to learn the mechanics of the Back-to-Breast Crossover Turn. Courtesy of Swimming World Magazine.


On our website you’ll find other postings to articles and videos on how to do the Crossover turn. Check ‘em out!

Apr 172015

I really like Gary Hall Sr and his methodology. We’ve all seen or done breaststroke pull with flutter kick. He tells you the WHY behind HOW to do it correctly. This is a terrific drill for those of you who have knees or hips that do not allow you to do breaststroke. Put some fins on and you can really get motoring down the pool!

You’ll need to click the video to jump over to Vimeo where you will be able to watch it.

Swimisodes – Freestyle Kick Breaststroke Drill from The Race Club on Vimeo.

Apr 172015

In freestyle it is very important to stay low when breathing. If your head is out of alignment so too are your chest and hips. Before you know it you are either swimming uphill or downhill and using much more energy in your swimming than you need to. Check out this excellent video from our friends at Effortless Swimming.

Apr 172015

If you are new to swimming and are frustrated or struggling a bit, or feel a lack of progress, the first thing you should do is read this article. Gives a great, healthy perspective to what it takes to overcome those frustrations when you first start out.

The next thing you should do is get to one of our Swymnut practices! Let our skilled coaches have the opportunity to work with you! You will find us incredibly supportive and friendly and you won’t regret giving us a visit. We’ll get you past those frustrations and moving more efficiently in the water.


Jan 142015

I have been using USRPT since June 2014 as have a few swimmers on our Swymnut Masters team. To help my swimmers, I created this written guide that has undergone several revisions. Each time I update this guide, I will post a copy of it here. You can obtain a copy by clicking the image below.

Feel free to contact me about your own experiences with USRPT. We all learn from each other!

Ultra Short Race Pace Training Guide v3.5

Sep 012014

Here is the latest instructional video from USMS featuring Coach Cokie and Swymnut Margaret De Somma. It is about the role of your hips in backstroke and freestyle and accompanies an upcoming article in the September/October SWIMMER Magazine titled “Get Hip With Your Hips”. The key is to understand the role your hips play and then learn to control the action to help propel you forward by tapping into the largest muscles in your back, your latissimus dorsi! Thank you to Margaret who makes this look so easy.

Jul 082014

The folks at Swim Smooth have a great write up (click here) on why stroke rate is such an important aspect of your swimming. Stroke rate is different than stroke length. There has been a lot of emphasis in the past with stroke length (I’m sure you’ve heard the term “distance per stroke”) but a better tool for improving your speed is to know your stroke rate. Stroke rate applies to all four strokes, but for the purposes of the Swim Smooth article, they are concentrating on freestyle.

Stroke length is how far you travel with each stroke. A longer stroke length means less strokes to the end of the lap. Stroke length does have a place in our swimming strategy, especially for newbies and beginner-intermediates, but stroke length can also work against you. If you have too much glide in your stroke it can leave you with some significant pauses where your forward momentum begins to stall out. That can create drag and a loss of balance for you as well as an increased use of energy needed to come back from the stall. It can look smooth and pretty but may not give you the efficiency or speed you desire in your swim.

Stroke rate is how many strokes you take, otherwise known as turnover. In a very simplified way of thinking about stroke rate, the longer the swim, the lower your stroke rate. The shorter the swim (think 50 free and its wild splash-and-dash approach) the higher the stroke rate. Stroke rate is measured in strokes per minute (SPM). In the Swim Smooth article they even have a tool you can use to establish your strokes per minute and see how that rate equates to reaching your goal in something like a 100m freestyle race.

There are a few ways to measure Stroke Rate. If you use a Finis Tempo Trainer Pro (the yellow one with the replaceable batter) you can go into Mode 3 and play with a range anywhere from 60-110. 60 is a slow, easy turnover. 110 is frenzied. Try several swims from slow, easy and comfortable to fast and furious. Where do you fall? What can you sustain for a 25? A 50? A 400? Use that knowledge and plan some sets around it.

If you don’t have a Tempo Trainer – well heck ya big goof, go get one – then you can have someone simply time you for 10 strokes. They would start the stopwatch with the first hand entry and each subsequent hand entry is a count, stopping the watch on your 10th hand entry. Have them do this for a few 10-second stretches so you get an accurate look at your stroke rate. You can also get video taped and then conduct your own stopwatch assessment in the same fashion.

Along with the Swim Smooth write up, I found a YouTube video (below) that shows how they took a swimmer, analyzed his stroke (which was too slow with too much glide) and improved his stroke rate so that he would be faster and more efficient. It is a long video (26 minutes) but worth watching. There are some good tips in there on how you can improve your own stroke rate in freestyle.

Again, knowing and working with your stroke rate encompasses all your strokes. Using the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro is one of the best tools you have at your disposal. Keep a log of your stroke rate and set some goals on how to improve it. Remember, you still have to have efficiency in your stroke so don’t sacrifice good stroke mechanics simply to flail yourself down to the other end of the pool. After all, it is about image, right? We want to swim pretty, right? ;-)

Jul 082014

Drag Trumps Power – Gary Hall Sr.

Great video clip on why you need to correct your pull in freestyle – especially if you are a swimmer that pulls with a straight arm or that pulls way under your body (to your opposite hip).  Gary walks you through why drag trumps power and what you can do to get the most out of your freestyle pull.

Click here to see The Race Club Secret Tip on How To Pull In Freestyle

Don't pull like this!

Don’t pull like this!












Instead, pull like this!

Instead, pull like this!

Jun 292014

Feeling frustrated because you’ve hit a plateau in your swimming, or for that matter just about any sport? Could be that you aren’t working hard enough or smart enough.  It takes both to improve. Working harder does not necessarily equate to putting in more yards. (I know, many of you are now off the couch and jumping up and down with excitement!) Granted, there are swimmers out there that love yardage and can handle monster 5000 and 6000 yard workouts on a regular basis. Gotta admit, I’m not one of them and neither are about 90% of the swimmers we coach in Masters swimming. Those swimmers that do heavy yardage workouts (and I have to admit I am envious of their ability to do so) may hold the same time year in and year out for various timed swims in the pool, perhaps even experiencing a moderate time drop. Again, cool! But, if you are a meet goer, or even a fitness swimmer that regularly times yourself in practice on certain events, and wants to get faster, then this posting is for you.

Talking to a couple of coaches this week (Kerry O’Brien and Stu Kahn – some truly amazing guys) we chatted about a common theme in Masters swim practices. Most swimmers swim our easy sets too fast and swim our fast sets too easy. To swim fast in a race, you MUST swim fast in practice. To swim smart in a race, you MUST swim smart in practice. That means executing with excellence in your starts, turns and race strategy. Whatever bad habits you have in practice WILL come back to haunt you in a race (one handed touches, sloppy turns, poor race strategy, inability to handle breath control, etc.)

Stu Kahn spoke about an article he had read from the NY Times, so I came home and did some research to locate the article. It is fascinating as it talks about a protein we have in our bodies – CRTC2 – and how that protein plays a role in improving our fitness and reaching our fitness goals. The gist of the article? There is some truth to the old saying, “No Pain, No Gain”. Check out the NY Times article here by clicking the title.

For Fitness, Push Yourself – NY Times

You are the master of your own destiny – in and out of the pool. You have to WANT something and you have to WORK toward it. There are a rare group of people who can seemingly crank out some pretty awesome sprint times without much work in the pool. I am soooo jealous! Sure wish I could. Every 100th of a second drop in time for me comes from working hard, swimming smart, and pushing myself in practice when I don’t necessarily want to. That seems to be the formula that works for the vast majority of us. In other words…


Yup, I’m talking to YOU! You have to push your body. Ah, yes, I acknowledge that therein lies the challenge for us, ahem, aging Masters swimmers. We have certain frailties – cranky shoulders, wobbly knees, backs that don’t flex anymore – well, you get the picture. My response to that? Where there is a will, there is a way! Key things to consider:

  • Warm Up thoroughly (that means getting to workout on time!)
  • Cool down at the end of your workout (if you run out of pool time, cool down on deck)
  • Swim fast when and where directed (either by the coach or from the workout if swimming on your own)
  • Swim easy when and where directed (again from the coach or from the workout)
  • Challenge yourself. Set goals and work toward them. Set the big goals and the little goals that will get you there.
  • Strive for excellence in what you undertake! Swim smart. Work to minimize resistance and your ability to maximize propulsion will improve.
  • Listen to your body. There are days when you need to back off or even step away from the pool. Don’t push through your injuries. Get help and find cross training programs that strengthen your weak areas without damaging you.

And the final tip?

  • Throw away the concerns about “total yardage” in a workout. 2000, 3000, 4500, 6000?

Yardage really doesn’t have much bearing on the big picture. It just doesn’t matter unless you are training for some significant distances such as big open water swims. If you don’t believe me, then study up on Ultra Short Race Pace Training which is prescribed not just for sprinters but also for distance swimmers – even those doing the 1500m free events. Check out USPRT and you’ll see that this form of training is the big buzz spreading far and wide in the swimming community.

I’m currently studying everything I can find on USRPT. As I get a better handle on how it works with Masters swimming and the constraints we have with our older bodies, I’ll apply it to our program. In the meantime, get focused, set some goals, and swim smart. You want it? Go get it.

What the mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

Return to the pool with a whole new mindset. Whether your workout is 30 minutes long or 90 minutes long, use it to work toward some goals. Let go of measuring quantity and start measuring the quality of your workouts. Activate your catecholamines and watch what happens!



Found another article that is helpful on the mental and physical aspects of sprint training. See 5 Training Tips For Sprinters