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Swim times have not improved despite more training

QUESTION:

Hi Gary,

I was just after your thoughts on my daughter’s swim times not going anywhere.   Last year she was swimming 2x1hr squad sessions per week and at every time trial/swim meet her times would improve in all of her strokes.

Since joining a new Squad at start of February and now swimming 4 x 1hr 45mins morning sessions per week, her times haven’t improved at all and, more often than not, 1-2secs slower than PB’s.

Is this simply an adjustment to the increased training schedule  or should I be looking at other areas to help her?    She’s 11 years old, her diet is pretty much “clean eating” and she has given up other activities to concentrate on swimming.   She doesn’t do any gym work.

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Regards,
Jenny

ANSWER:

Hi Jenny,

Your question is a very familiar one and I receive similar feedback from concerned swimming parents every few weeks.

From my experience, when a young swimmer increases their training load they often take time to adjust to a number of factors.  These factors include:

  • the adjustment to a new swim coach who may talk differently or focus on different aspects of training to their previous coach;
  • increased number of sessions per week – in your daughters case from 2 to 4 sessions per week;
  • increased session length – in your daughter’s case the sessions are now 1 3/4 hours whilst her previous sessions were 1 hour in length, and
  • increased intensity within the training sessions if the new squad has swimmers who train and compete at a lightly higher level.

The more changes you make in one hit, the longer some swimmers will take to adjust.

My rule of thumb is that each change will take 6 to 12 weeks to adjust to if the swimmer is consistent with their training.  If you combine the 4 factors above, you are looking at 24 to 48 weeks to make a full adjustment.

Now these figures are based only on my observations, and I am unaware of any formal research however most swimmers fit into these guidelines.  There are some swimmers though who can adjust within a few weeks and others may take at least a year to fully adjust.

In your daughter’s case, she has increased the time in the water from 2 hours per week to 6 hours per week and I have no doubt the distance swum and intensity within the sessions would be at a higher level.

It is normal for many swimmers to swim slower for a period of time when making this type of adjustment and yes I do believe it is quite normal.  Once your daughter is prepared for a swim meet and freshened up (by slight reduction in her workload) I am sure she will swim PBs again and hopefully enjoy some really big ones.

The key for your daughter is to focus in each session on her technique and skill development (starts, turns and finishes).  She is probably old enough to read these in www.50SwimTips.com.

There is also some information in www.SwimmingForParents.com that discusses increases in workloads and also swimmer progression as their body develops, if you are interested.

Please stay in touch and let me kno9w how she goes in the coming months.

Regards

Gary

The Swimming Expert



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2 Responses to Swim times have not improved despite more training

  1. Jenny March 30, 2014 at 4:40 am #

    Thanks for this Gary – appreciate your expertise, advice and time. I’ve already accessed the 50SwimTips and have added SwimmingForParents and the Nutrition guide to my list. I’ll keep you posted on how she goes over the next few months.

    Regards,
    Jenny

    • Gary March 30, 2014 at 6:13 am #

      Thanks Jenny, good luck.



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