Guppy Challenge: Week 8

We finally have something here we’ve never gotten before: a bunch of people posting swim videos of themselves, looking for instruction.

I mentioned during last week’s installment that we get these often for help with bike fit – Critique my fit! – but not for swim instruction. A number of you took me up on the offer, and we have a critique-my-swim forum thread now with a bunch of your videos on it (along with replies from me and others). Keep ‘em coming!

One thing I notice on these videos, and it’s on almost all of them: dragging feet. Feet low in the water. Feet kicking, but kicking below the surface, feet often not clearing the water at all, not even the heels breaking the surface. I mentioned to one such person in that forum thread the notion of swimming “downhill”. This is a device used by a number of swim coaches. If you think of yourself as swimming downhill, perhaps at least you won’t be swimming uphill! Which is what a lot of you are doing.

For this reason I have you doing a lot of drills – kicking, 1-arm pulling – and one thing I hope you all can feel is your feet breaking the surface. At least your heels! And occasionally the entire foot. Just, not through bending your knees.

One seasoned Slowtwitcher who is a very good swimmer commented you “uphill” swimmers should, "identify by feel those [core] muscles by lifting your straight legs while lying stomach-down on the floor, then engage those muscles while you swim. Once practiced enough, it becomes second nature.” That’s a sound approach. Tim Elon, ex of Finis, asked swimmers to lay face down on the top of the water and try to keep on top of the water, especially from the waist down. That becomes harder, because you often can’t do that regardless of how much of your core you engage. I think both techniques are worth a go. Eventually you’ll pick it up.

Just, with many of you the lower your head the higher your legs, and you’re still too high from your chest to your head. If you are able to do the 1-arm pulls the way I’ve been asking you to do them – with your attention paid to your off hand – and you think you have that mastered, then continue to do these now with the focus on your feet. it’s easier to keep your feet on the surface during 1-arm pulls, and if you can get the sense for how this feels, then try to replicate this when you’re swimming regular freestyle.

The only other element common to many of your videos with which I find minor fault is the lack of a robust extend phase after the catch. Your recovering arm should be at ear level before you begin your pull. Instead, many of you are beginning your pull when your recovering arm is barely out of the water. Dave Scott has a nice drill for you. It’s called "slow arm recovery with hesitation”.

The above – getting your legs on the surface; tuning your extend phase – that’s enough. I’m very happy with the way that most of you are catching with your hands in front of your shoulders, and I’m pretty happy with the way your stroke looks under the water. These two elements I’m asking you to focus on are reasonably advanced, at least for adult onset swimmers early in their development. I’m happy with the progress you’re making! We have 3 more weeks in this 10-week challenge and if we can get your feet up, and your stroke looking polished from the shoulders forward, you’ll be well on your way.

Guppy Challenge, Week-8, Workout-1

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
Style set:
=> 3x100yd: Swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set: I like to do 250s. 250s and 150s. There’s an arcane mathematical symmetry to these which I won’t go into. Calculate your leave interval for these.
GUPPIES => 6x200yd
TARPONS => 8x200yd
TUNAS => 10x200yd
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500



Guppy Challenge, Week-8, Workout-2

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd
Style set:
=> 10x50yd: first 25 Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 25 regular freestyle.
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set: repeat through the following sequence twice (or more if you're above Guppy):
GUPPIES => 1000yd, for time. See how much progress you’ve made since the last time you did this.
TARPONS => 1500yd for time.
TUNAS => 2000yd for time.
Warm-down:
=> 200yd, easy, alternate freestyle and stroke.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2300



Guppy Challenge, Week-8, Workout-3

Warm-up:
=> 2x50yd, 2x100yd, 2x150yd
Style set:
=> 3x100yd: Swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set:
GUPPIES => 10x100yd, on your interval (5sec to 10sec rest between each)
TARPONS => 15x100yd, on your interval
TUNAS => 20x100yd, on your interval
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and stroke.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2600



Guppy Challenge, Week-8 Workout-4 Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd
Style set:
=> 3x100yd: Swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set: 50s party:
GUPPIES => 20x50yd swim
TARPONS => 30x50yd swim
TUNAS => 40x50yd swim
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2200



Guppy Challenge, Week-8, Workout-5 Double Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
Style set:
=> 6x50yd: 2-beat kick first 25, natural kick pattern back.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Main set:
GUPPIES => 6x200yd, on your interval
TARPONS => 8x200yd, on your interval
TUNAS => 10x200yd, on your interval
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 freestyle

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500

Total weekly GUPPY yardage

If you do the first 3 workouts: 7,400yd
These plus the 4th workout: 9,600yd
All 5 workouts: 12,100yd