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tells us what we can do to swim faster.
Hot on the back of her stunning wins in 200m freestyle, 100m butterfly and 4 x 50m relay at the BHP Aquatic Super Series,
…keep your hips up and afloat. This is an important part of freestyle that coaches always emphasise and it is something that I worked hard at to improve my stroke. High hips will make you swim more efficiently and you will feel lighter in the water, instead of having that sinking feeling. Swimming with a pull buoy will force your hips up into the correct position – once you get used to that feeling, you can try to replicate that position as best you can when you swim without the pull buoy.
You can vary your training with changes in volume, distances, intervals and pace. My training varies a lot throughout the week, with variations targeting the different strokes and distances, since I swim sprint events as well as middle distance events.
Most sessions I’ll do some short sprints – usually about 15-25m. These are generally part of a warm-up to get my fast twitch muscle fibres firing. This sounds really short, but to put it into perspective, our 100m race in the pool is kind of the equivalent of runners doing the 400m in athletics.
I also need to do some longer things at a moderate to hard pace which keeps up my fitness. Each week I’ll do 4-5 quality sessions that have main sets specific to my events.
We do so many different main sets per week that are all important in different ways, so it’s hard to name a typical set, but a typical heart rate set for fitness would be 30 sets of 100m on every 90 seconds, descending to quicker and quicker times.
The type of gym work that I do is all about injury prevention and making me strong in the areas that I use in swimming. This includes working on my glutes with exercises such as squats, bridges on the ground (lying on my back and lifting hips in air while keeping my feet planted on ground. This helps a lot with my dives and turns, because the glutes play a big role in producing power off the blocks and off the walls in a turn.
I also do Thera Band exercises that were prescribed from a physiotherapist. These exercises generally replicate the actions I use in a swimming stroke. For example, I’ll tie a Thera Band (I use a red one) around a pole and do internal and external rotations, keeping a 90-degree angle at the elbow. The elbow stays at shoulder height through the movement. Exercises such as these train me to keep my elbows high and they are very good for injury prevention, as they strengthen the muscles around the joints that are repeatedly used in swimming strokes.
My turns have improved a lot since I started doing exercises in the gym to increase my power. I do squats to strengthen my glutes, which are a big power generator in turns and dives. These squats are done to full depth, as this is the position swimmers get into in tumble turns – the bottom of the squat is the position I’ll generate power from in both turns and dives. I’ll squat in a controlled movement for technique, then for power I’ll use control on the way down and then go up fast. I usually do up to six reps in a set.
Every time I do a tumble turn in training, I concentrate on the little things that I need to work on, such as pushing off the wall and my underwater kicking.
Before training in the mornings I don’t like to eat too much, mainly because I like to stay in bed for longer! I always have something quickly, usually a muesli bar and fruit cup. After training I have a Sustagen Sport drink as soon as I can, so that my body can start to recover. I then go home for either breakfast or dinner.
Before a meet, I usually try to eat very similar to my normal eating because I don’t want to try anything new or make too many changes. The night before racing I usually fuel up with a simple pasta dish.
I love my 2XU compression tights! I always put them on at competitions between heats and finals to help me to rest and recover and be ready for my next race.
I’ve found that if I’m enjoying what I’m doing, then I’ll be successful at it. I’ve learnt to focus on enjoying my sport and not take it too seriously, and this has made me able to relax more, which in turn has improved my racing since because I’ve been able to train better. One of the ways I’ve found to enjoy training more is to take each session one at a time. I always find that I can train better and enjoy my sessions more if I’m not thinking about the next hard session I have to do.