Guppy Challenge: Week 6

Have I given you enough to think about over the first half of this swim challenge? I think so. Loading you up with more thought experiments as you swim would probably be counterproductive. This week is going to be short on lecture. I’ll present an overview of the implements we talked about during the first half of this challenge, and then we’ll get to the workouts.

Here is how things have changed around here in the last 2-and-a-half years. In July of 2014, 53 percent of Slowtwitchers used paddles in training. Today it’s 55 percent so, basically, unchanged. Seventeen percent of you used ankle bands (or inflated wheelbarrow innertube, something to bind your ankles) back in 2014 and today it’s 22 percent, a modest increase.

Back then, 8 percent of you used a center-mount or symmetric snorkel in training. Today 17 percent of Slowtwitchers use this device. A healthy increase. Let me just remind you of what these devices help you do:

Paddles: I don’t believe these are primarily a strength training device. Rather, they make obvious when you are pulling a lot of water. That is the goal. I just wrote about Roka Pro Swim Paddles, which I think are a really nice general-use paddle. Finis Agility Paddles are specifically designed to not work well unless you are swimming correctly (using the sort of catch and pull dynamics I talked about in the most recent previous Guppy installment. As one Slowtwitcher pointed out, the fact that the Agility paddles don’t use a strap make this an ideal paddle for sets that move to and away from pulling during a timed set.

Ankle Bands: There are two ways to offset mistakes in your stroke. One way is just to correct them. The second way is to mitigate these stroke mistakes with a second mistake that offsets the first. “Crossing over” refers to a catch that occurs not in the front of your shoulder, but past that point, past the body’s centerline. With adult onset swimmers this most frequently happens on the side you breathe on, and it happens when a swimmer exaggerates the process of taking a breath. This pulls the body out of line. How do you mitigate this? If you breathe on the left, the adult onset swimmer naturally pulls to the left. One of your legs pulls to the left as well, to counterbalance this. The result is that your legs splay wide during the kick. Banding your ankles keeps you from performing this mitigation. In fact, when you swim with banded ankles and you pull your body offline to the left, now both your legs will pull to the left to counterbalance. You’ve now exposed the problem. With practice you will find a way to swim without your legs fishtailing like an eel.

Kickable Ankle Bands: Make these yourself. You can kick with these. They limit the amplitude of your kick. This is a bit advanced, because you don’t need a buoy. You must kick without splaying your legs to counterbalance fishtailing, while keeping your feet on the surface.

Buoy: If you band your ankles you now must float your legs (hence the buoy), because you can’t kick and if you can’t kick your legs will sink. An alternative to banding your ankles and floating your legs with a buoy is an inflated wheelbarrow tube that barely allows your feet through.

Kickboard: Up to you. Depends on how you like to kick. If you use a snorkel you don’t really need a kickboard (though it's okay to kick wiht a board and a snorkel). A lot of swimmers kick on their backs, negating the need for a kickboard. That said, most swimmers use a kickboard. I’m ambivalent.

Zoomers: These are very short fins, used only for swimming. I’m not against them, but, as with Swim Sleeves (see below) these are best used by those who just can’t perform the task. They become less useful as you become more adept at kicking.

Snorkel: Mine is the Ameo Powerbreather. Finis championed the concept. The value of this device is legion. It helps you to swim symmetrically. You have no excuse to pull yourself offline by breathing if you don’t have to breathe. So, the use of a snorkel with banded ankles allows you to perfect a symmetric stroke and cure your stroke of fishtailing. A snorkel is also good to use while kicking if you, like I, suffer from spinal stenosis and it’s hard to look forward while kicking with a board. I don’t try to swim fast with a snorkel. I usually don’t flip turn with a snorkel. This is simply a device I use when perfecting technique.

Swim Sleeves: I like De Soto Extreme Swim Sleeves because they float your arms. They make it easier for you to keep your arms – shoulder to hands – level with the surface of the water during the glide or extend phase after the catch. Very few swimmers do this well, but very good swimmers do this well. This prepares you to form a pulling surface from your shoulder to your fingertip, and to form it in front of your body, giving you a nice long pull during which you have that pulling surface perpendicular to the water it’s pulling.

You might wonder whether anybody has come up with a swim paddle that gets your forearms into the action. Again it’s Finis to the rescue, with the Bolster Paddle Here’s a video of what it looks like in action. I’m not showing you this video because I think you should run out and get this paddle, rather that it’s a great example of the hand and arm position after the catch. This elbow-to-fingertip "behavior" is what the Bolster Paddle, and the Finish Agility Paddle, and the De Soto Extreme Swim Sleeves all are designed to prompt.

Which among these implements you use is up to you. I require you to use none of them. You can use as many as you want. And with that…

Guppy Challenge, Week-6, Workout-1

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd
Style set:
=> 6x100yd: Your choice: swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described. Or 3 of each. Flip turn or don’t, but these are done easy-to-moderate. Not hard!
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set:
GUPPIES => 6x200yd, on your interval (5sec to 15sec rest between each)
TARPONS => 8x200yd, on your interval (5sec to 15sec rest between each)
TUNAS => 10x200yd, on your interval (5sec to 15sec rest between each)
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and stroke.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500



Guppy Challenge, Week-6, Workout-2

Warm-up:
=> 2x50yd, 2x100, 2x150 freestyle, easy. On a leave interval 5sec to 10sec slower than your regular leave interval.
Style set:
=> 10x50yd: A 2-beat kick is 1 kick for every arm pull. A lot of distance swimmers use this kick. A typical kick is a 6-beat kick, which is 6 kicks for every “cycle”, which is 2 arm pulls. A 4-beat kick is a hybrid of these, 3 beats for 1 arm pull, 1 beat for the other, and a lot of swimmers use this. For this drill, I want you to kick a 2-beat kick for the first 25, and whatever your normal kick to return.
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 => 3x300yd, slightly longer than your usual interval, each 100 is faster than the prior.
TARPONS => 4x300yd
TUNAS => 5x300yd
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and stroke.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2400



Guppy Challenge, Week-6, Workout-3

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
=> 4x100yd: Your choice: swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described. Or 3 of each. Flip turn or don’t, but these are done easy-to-moderate. Not hard!
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set: Fifties Party!
GUPPIES => 30x50yd swim
TARPONS => 40x50yd swim
TUNAS => 50x50yd swim
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500



Guppy Challenge, Week-6, Workout-4 Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
Style set:
=> 10x50yd w/Banded Ankles: Concentrate on what your arms are doing:
Main set:
GUPPIES => 500yd, straight swim. Do this fairly hard, but don't start hard. Remember your time.
TARPONS => 1000yd, straight swim. Do this fairly hard, but don't start hard. Remember your time.
TUNAS => 1500yd, straight swim. Do this fairly hard, but don't start hard. Remember your time.
2nd Style set:
=> 8x50yd: 2-beat kick first 25, natural kick pattern back.
Kick set:
=> 4x50yd, don’t kick hard, relax, just make your way across the pool, rest 5sec or 10sec, go again.
Warm-down:
=> 400yd, easy freestyle

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2300



Guppy Challenge, Week-6, Workout-5 Double Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 5x100yd, first 50 1-arm pull, second 50 freestyle
=> 6x100yd: Your choice: swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described. Or 3 of each. Flip turn or don’t, but these are done easy-to-moderate. Not hard!
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set:
GUPPIES => down-ladder: 400/300/200/100, on your interval.
TARPONS & TUNAS => down-ladder: 500/400/300/200/100, on your interval.
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500


Total weekly GUPPY yardage

If you do the first 3 workouts: 7400yd
These plus the 4th workout: 9700yd
All 5 workouts: 12,200yd