Plan your time
These are strange times. Everything including swimming has stopped to protect the more vulnerable people in the community. Normally your time is very organised with school or college, and for most older swimmers in SWSC, at least one two-hour session each day. Your schools or colleges are doing a lot of online teaching and assessment, but what about the missing swimming? I would urge that you plan your days and weeks. You must take over the organisation of your time. With a plan in place you’ll find you feel a lot better! The first thing to list is when you’ll get up, your mealtimes and when you’ll go to bed. Try to keep these constant from day to day. Next-how many hours each weekday you are going to devote to academic activities. Read the stuff you were going to get in lessons or lectures. Paradoxically, you may make better progress than when you are actually in school or college.
In terms of swimming- what can you do? Here I’m going to talk in general. Richard and his coaching team, with help from some of the senior swimmers, will be sending you the details of exercise regimes. While obviously you will be missing out on developing specific pool fitness, you can keep up general aerobic fitness by running or cycling for about 30minutes a day. Cycling is particularly good for breast strokers. The Russians insist that their top breast strokers cycle everywhere. You may have access to exercise bikes or threadmills, and these can also be built into fitness training and substitute for outside activities when it’s pouring with rain.
Also don’t forget to walk in the open air. You’ll sleep much better. While you not in the pool you will also need less food, probably about 30% less (and resist the urge to snack!). In this way you will have retained some basic aerobic fitness during this layoff and be quickly able to regain water fitness when you are able to get back to training. So far we have been talking about minimising losses but there are certain things that you can improve on compared with normal times. These relate to power (fast strength or explosiveness) and flexibility, and these can be improved with good land programmes. You never have enough time for these you’re in the water, so now is your chance.
Increased power means better starts and turns! Assess the equipment available to you-barbels, dumbells, weight machines, rubber pulleys, Mini Gyms, even swim benches. Most modern S & C coaches feel that pulleys and swim benches are redundant if you’re doing enough water work (not sure I agree) but they are ideal in the present circumstances because you can accurately mimic swimming actions. If none of these aids are available to you, you can use body weight as Richard and his team will demonstrate, and as you will see from Paul Talty of Swim Ireland and many other web sources. There are also many effective flexibility exercises that you can do. Your aim should be to finish this lockdown period more powerful and flexible than ever. Do a series of exercises every day and be patient. You will see the results in a few weeks. And remember, if you go too hard you will end up sore and disillusioned, so build up gradually.
So much for your swimming body. You can also work on your swimming mind! Watch the daily GoSwim videos (you also have free access to all the previous videos at present). Don’t necessarily accept all you see. Be analytical. Ask-“would that work for me”? Also have a think about the various aspects of your technique on all strokes-starts, turns, finishes, UW and surface swimming. Do you know exactly what you are trying to do? How might you improve? This is called mind modelling. Finally, did you know that you are probably addicted to swimming because of all the training, and feel less good when you are out of the water. I know I still love swimming a few times each week and miss it. Just be aware of this and try to counter it by organising to fill your days!
Tom Cross, SWSC President