Friday January 13, 2017

Friday was here.  This would be the opportunity to continue to build on the hard work we had done during the week.  The athletes could test out the small stroke corrections and suggestions made while they were in the water and then to capitalize on a pool filled with very motivated athletes all looking to get better.  I can’t stress enough the importance of getting the right balance of people in the water.  You want everyone to be focused and goal oriented.   Everyone in the pool knew why they were here and why they were pursuing a career as a professional triathlete.  The worst thing that can happen is to have people in the group that don’t have goals. If you don’t have the drive, focus, commitment and determination to be a professional triathlete, it will be a very short and unsuccessful career.

This morning workout would all be about pushing the pace and trying to build some more endurance.  We would do a lot of warm up, get them ready to swim fast and try to focus everyone on remembering the little corrections we had made during the week.  For a couple, that had been here longer than a week, I’d get to see how much of an impact we had made with the training since we started out with a similar set from when they first arrived.

Warm up

400 swim with fins

400 kick with fins

400 pull

8 x 50 descend 1-4; 5-8 @ 50


Lead up

8 x 75 kick/swim (25 kick / 50 swim) @ 1:25


Main set

20 x 100 swim @ hold pace


Warm down

8 x 25 swim easy @ 15 seconds rest

Friday results:

Stephen – 1:04

Justin – 1:02

Greg – 1:10

Jocelyn – 1:09

Jozsef – 1:16

With this swim Stephen dropped about 3-4 seconds a 100 from when he got here earlier in the week.  Justin had improved about 2-3 seconds a 100.  Last year when he had more time at the camp he was as fast as :59-1:01 when he left.  Greg improved about 3-4 seconds from when he got here.  Jocelyn was about 2-3 seconds faster than when she arrived.  The biggest improvement, however, was Jozsef.  We he arrived he was swimming around 1:24/100 on a more generous interval.  For this swim, he was coming in a 1:16/100 and I knew in the afternoon he could be faster still.  I was happy with the improvements from the week and I wanted those improvements to continue through the afternoon practice and into the weekend.

Friday afternoon practice:

Warm up

600 swim with fins

300 kick with fins

200 pull

4 x 75 descend 1-4 @ 1:10/1:15


Lead up

6 x 25 kick (2 fast / 1 easy) @ 45

3 x 50 swim (Alternate 25 fast / 25 easy & 25 easy / 25 fast) @ 55



Main set (I would have liked to get in a little more with everyone, but I could tell from the warm up that it just wasn’t going to happen for a lot of them today)

12 x 100 swim @ hold pace


Friday afternoon results

Grace – 1:11

Justin (tightened up his interval by 5 seconds) – 1:02

Jozsef (tightened up his interval by 5 seconds) – 1:15

Jocelyn – 1:12

Some of them were sitting this one out.  Some were loaded up with a lot of training on the bike and run and it showed.  The one thing you find out quickly as a swim coach of triathletes is how much the fatigue from the bike and run impact the athlete’s ability to improve in the water.  If you can’t swim faster, you won’t swim faster.

All in all I was happy with how everything went.  There are no perfect training days and as a coach you try to get as much out of an athlete as you can based on where they are at that particular moment.  You’ve got to be willing to make the tough calls even when they don’t want to hear that they should just do the rest of the set easy or simply get out.  As the coach, you aren’t there to make friends with the athletes.  They are relying on you.  They are trusting you to get them better and not to injure them.

Saturday would be a moderately long, aerobic workout with some fast swimming in the afternoon.  This was the first year where I set up a swim meet, we did 3 events, the 100 free, 500 free and 200 free (4×50) relay.   I think it’s important to get triathletes to understand how swimmers race and the feeling of really putting it all out there in the pool.  As I suspected, a lot of them struggled with the 100 free.  It’s one of the more difficult events in swimming to learn how to race effectively and you only get better through trial and error.  The 100 is a controlled, all out sprint with little room for error.  I think is important for triathletes to understand then it helps with bracketing a better feel for pace.  They will know what the far upper limits of their speed feels like and will be less likely to get near that at the start of an open water swim.  It’s also important for a triathlete to begin to think like a swimmer.  For a lot of the athletes that race Ironman, they think in terms of the competition in tens of minutes and hours.  Swimmers, especially racing the 100, think in hundredths and tenths of second.  There is a lot of precision and attention to detail.  Another bonus from the meet was many who participated saw a bump in their swimming on Monday.

Sunday was the day we filmed and we typically gave each athlete about an hour of one on one instruction.  We would film, break the stroke down so they understood what they were doing right and what they were doing wrong.  Then get back into the water, run through a few drills that specifically targeted the biggest issue in their stroke they needed to overcome and finally review what we tried to work on so they would be focused on it in their next practice.  The focus on it in practice is where the “rubber meets the road.”  If you don’t focus on it, if you don’t try to change your stroke while you are going fast, while you are tired and your brain and body want to revert back to the old way of doing things then you will never see improvement.  You cannot drill your way to a faster, more efficient stroke.

This was a good week of the camp.  We got a lot accomplished in a short period of time and many of them saw how they would need to train on a consistent basis to get better in swimming.  I appreciate everyone that supported the camp.  We couldn’t do it without the community supporting it and everyone working hard to make it happen.  Thanks to all the people that read these blog posts and if anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact us.

Tim Floyd, swim coach and former NCAA Div I swimmer, founded Magnolia Masters in 2010 to specifically help triathletes improve in pool competitions and open water swimming. He is also the recent founder of the podcast Coffee, Beer, Coaching and Dogs. You can find more information about Magnolia Masters and the podcast here and here.