Tips & Training

Train Like You Race

Garrett Weber-Gale celebrates his in at2008 Olympic Trials.Garrett Weber-Gale//Olympian

How many times have we heard our coaches, other athletes or motivational speakers talk about visualization?

Throughout the course of my career in swimming, this topic has come up many times. There’s no question that visualization can make a difference if you practice it consistently.

In addition, the idea of mimicking something we will do or feel in our race is definitely worthwhile too. Here at Texas, we try to replicate what certain parts of our race are going to feel like through some of the training we do.

Racing and swimming to the max can be painful and difficult. One of the best ways to prepare ourselves to succeed and push through the pain is to understand what we’re facing. We must try to force our bodies to feel discomfort in workouts, just like we will in our races. Learning to relax and become accustomed to the sensations of how a race is going to hurt is very important.

Here’s a set coach Eddie Reese gave us recently. (It was completed in a long course, 50-meter pool):

  • 200 Free on 3:00, going between 2:10-2:15.
  • 3x50 on 1:00, going 27 or better.
  • 50 easy on 2:00

This entire set was done three times through.

When Eddie gave the set, he said, “I want the 50’s to feel like the third 50 of your 200.”

Along with our bodies experiencing the discomfort of what the third 50 of our 200 will likely feel like, it is important to also think about our stroke rate, kick intensity and making sure our technique is consistent.

Although it can be tough to swim the goal times on the three 50s, maintaining proper technique is critical. If you watch the best swimmers in the world, their techniques never change throughout the race, even when they get tired. The way you can learn to do this is by constantly thinking about your stroke, especially on sets like this.

To be a really great racer, it is important to stay mentally collected and be aware of what’s going on every step of the way.

On this set, practice building your kick on all the 50s like you will in your race. Try to hold a certain stroke rate. At Texas we’ll occasionally use tempo trainers to help us stay at a consistent stroke rate. Maybe even think about taking a certain amount of breaths on each 50, or practicing your breathing pattern. All of these things will help you prepare for that third 50 of your 200. Remember, the more we get used to doing these things now, the easier they’ll be in our races.

As always, talk to your coach about setting the right intervals for you. If you’re really having trouble reaching the times on the 50s, you might even think about putting on some fins for the last round. I hope y’all get some great benefit out of this set. Prepare early, in the proper way, and you will be well on your way to swimming super fast!


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