Guppy Challenge: Week 2

We have some great swim coaches in triathlon and my measure for “greatness” is the ability to teach and coach adult-onset swimmers. Adults learn via a different pathway, and being a good swim coach for triathletes is a lot like teaching English as a second language versus teaching English grammar to kids.

Before I become an acceptable swimmer a coach apparently not tutored in teaching adults told me, “you’re over-reaching.” Okay, I tried to fix that. “No! You’re not extending! You need to extend!” So I extended. “No, you’re over-reaching!” And this is how it went for about 6 months. I finally understood what she was saying, about 5 years later and in retrospect. But she failed at her attempts to explain to me what she meant.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! This thing of extending and over-reaching, nebulous as these terms are, refer to the “catch” phase of the stroke and we’re not quite there yet. My interest now is in your “hull.” You can replace a 150hp boat motor with a 300hp motor and the boat won’t really go any faster if its hull is only designed for low speed. That’s why many of you give up trying to get better at swimming. Your motor keeps getting more powerful but you don’t get any faster.

Improving the shape of your hull is, at least for now, an exercise in 2 planes. We need to get your feet up on the surface, that’s the vertical plane. And we need to keep your feet from moving side to side, that’s the horizontal plane. There are 2 ways to do this:

1. We can show you what BAD feels like, and expose your weakness, graphically, obviously. Watch this video. This is pure torture. Valuable torture, yes, but not for you. I don’t think you’re ready for this. Instead, watch this video, reminding me of the movie Rocky, where Mickey ties a string joining Rocky’s feet, to keep them from spreading more than the appropriate width. You don’t need to buy a pair of bands and tie them together. You can make this tool from a blown inner tube (best is an MTB tube). Tie some knots that allow a reasonable distance between your feet, and then tie more knots that allow each foot to slide in by stretching the elastic.

2. We can show you what GOOD feels like. Banding the ankles makes your ankles sink, and forces you to try to keep them afloat. A pull buoy between the legs floats your legs artificially and some coaches don’t like that because you’re not forced to work to float the legs. But this shows you what “good” feels like. Brett Sutton has variously championed both banding and pull buoys, which seems to me to say that both methods are of value, as long as you receive the right take-away from each.

But putting a buoy between your legs is a tool that shows you what GOOD feels like in the vertical plane: that’s where your legs need to be! It also exposes what BAD feels like in the horizontal plane: If a buoy forces your feet to stay together you can’t splay them to counteract your bending at the waist when you breathe.

What is your takeaway from the above? Don’t just do the drill. Thing about the purpose of the drill. Bands tying the ankles; bands fixing the ankles at a certain distance from each other; pull buoys; wetsuit arms; center snorkels; one-arm pulls; think about what these are trying to get you to do. Think about whether these are exposing a flaw by magnifying it, or erasing your flaw and showing you what GOOD feels like.

If you don't know what the drill is supposed to do, go to our Reader Forum, hunt up a thread on the subject, and ask.

Guppy Challenge, Week-2, Workout-1

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
Style set:
=> 6x100yd alternating 1-arm pull and freestyle, moderate pace, 10sec rest between each.
Main set:
GUPPIES => 5x200yd, moderate pace, leave interval allowing 10-15sec rest between each.
TARPONS => 8x200yd
TUNAS => 10x200yd
Kick set:
=> 4x50yd, don’t kick hard, relax, just make your way across the pool, rest 5sec or 10sec, go again.
Warm-down:
=> 200yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke” and when we simply say “stroke” in swimming that’s parlance for anything other than freestyle (backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly).

Do you have a “leave interval” established yet? I get posts and emails asking, “What’s the leave interval? How do I know? How fast do you swim? You have to determine a leave interval. A typical leave interval for a main set, perhaps a set of 100s or 200s that is 1200 yards long in total, will give you maybe 10 seconds to recover after each swim. Maybe you “leave” every 1min40sec for a 100 (which means leaving every 3min20sec in a set of 200s). Do you know what your leave interval for a typical main set is yet? If not, starting thinking about this.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2300



Guppy Challenge, Week-2, Workout-2

Warm-up:
=> 2x50yd, 2x100, 2x150 freestyle, easy! On a leave interval 5sec to 10sec slower than your regular leave interval.
Style set:
=> 6x100yd: swim the 1st and 3rd 50 as slow as you can!. Swim the 2nd and 4th 50 normal. You practice these banded if you want, but not legs tied together fast; rather legs tied to keep them a given distance apart. You can also use a buoy if you prefer. Or with with, some without.
Kick set:
=> 4x50yd: use a kickboard or not. If so, and you can’t crane your neck to look forward, use a center snorkel. Also okay to kick on your back, arms in front of your head, hands locked together.
Main set:
GUPPIES => 4x150yd: see if you can do these all in the same time.
TARPONS => 8x150yd
TUNAS => 12x150yd
Warm-down:
=> 300yd: again, first 50 very slow, second 50 normal, then repeat. Were the “slow” 50s easier to swim, easier to maintain form, than earlier in the workout?

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2300



Guppy Challenge, Week-2, Workout-3

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
Style + Kick set: Any mix of the below:
=> 6x100yd, each 100 alternating 1 length of 1-arm pull and 1 length of SLOW freestyle; with a 50 kick after every 100.
Main set:
GUPPIES => down-ladder: 400, 300, 200, 100yd, on your leave.
TARPONS => down-ladder: 500, 400, 300, 200, 100yd, on your leave.
TUNAS => up-down-ladder: 100, 200, 300, 400, 300, 200, 100, on your leave.
Warm-down:
=> 200yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2400



Guppy Challenge, Week-2, Workout-4 Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
Style set:
=> 6x100yd alternating 1-arm pull and freestyle, moderate pace, 10sec rest between each.
Main set + kick set:
GUPPIES => 2 sets of 2x200yd swim, on your interval, 50 kick after each set
TARPONS => 2 sets of 3x200yd swim, on your interval, 50 kick after each set
TUNAS => 2 sets of 4x200yd swim, on your interval, 50 kick after each set

=> 200yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2000



Guppy Challenge, Week-2, Workout-5 Double Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 2x50yd, 2x100, 2x150 freestyle, easy! On a leave interval 5sec to 10sec slower than your regular leave interval.
Style set:
=> 6x100yd: swim the 1st and 3rd 50 as slow as you can!. Swim the 2nd and 4th 50 normal.
Kick set:
=> 4x50yd
Main set:
GUPPIES => 500yd straight swim, every 2nd 50 is slow, every 4th 50 is sprint
TARPONS => 1000yd straight swim, every 2nd 50 is slow, every 4th 50 is sprint
TUNAS => 1500yd straight swim, every 2nd 50 is slow, every 4th 50 is sprint
Warm-down:
=> 100yd: easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2000




Total weekly GUPPY yardage

If you do the first 3 workouts: 7000yd
These plus the 4th workout: 9000yd
All 5 workouts: 11,000yd