Why Do Swimmers Train So Much?

Why Do Swimmers Train So Much?

One of the most common questions we receive from parents of children who take part in competitive swimming is “Why do swimmers have to train so much?” It’s a question we recently received in our parent support program.

Children who play land based sports like soccer, football, netball, basketball, hockey or whatever sport it may be, attend training once or twice a week as a junior and age grouper and in most cases, their games last for a period of time longer than their training time. The skills that children learn in many sports have been learnt since they started crawling, walking and running, all land-based activities.

Learning Skills in Water and Not on Land

Swimming is not done on land and is totally foreign to our neuromuscular system, our balance mechanisms, and the way we breathe. To swim, we are immersed in a totally different medium to what we were designed for, so that takes some getting used to. Our body is in a horizontal position instead of our normal vertical position and we have our face in water, so we must learn how to breathe. To breathe, we first need to be able to blowout underwater and then breathe in when the mouth is clear of the water and then regulate the breathing in a rhythmical way. This is not a natural thing to do.

On land, we propel ourselves using our lower body. In the water, propulsion is largely done with our upper body. So, learning to swim is a hard skill to learn. We’ve got to go back in a way, like we did when we were learning how to crawl. We learn a whole new set of skills that prepare us for motion or propelling in the medium of water. Our neuromuscular system must start from scratch, but teaching totally new motor patterns, and then there’s the difficult task of applying pressure to this medium that moves (water) with the limb applying the pressure (hand and arm).

So when we walk or run we make contact with the ground which doesn’t move, and the frictional force is so great that we can pull ourselves past the point where we’ve connected with the medium (ground) and propel ourselves forward. In swimming, as soon as we apply force to the water, the water moves. So, we have to manage how much force we apply to be able to move forward efficiently and get as much distance as we can for each propulsive movement. That’s a very complicated task and some people naturally have much more sensitivity to the pressure in that moving medium (water) than others. And that’s the big factor that separates really talented swimmers and people who are not as talented.

This complexity requires a lot of practice and we can only learn how to swim in the water. We can’t learn to do it out of the water. We can enhance it with exercises out of the water but we can’t learn how to do it. Each stroke has different technical requirement and each skill (think starts, turns and finishes) are learned skills that take time and plenty of practice to do well.

Training for Swimming

When it comes to actually training for swimming, the specifics of swimming and swimming fitness can only be done in the pool. They can’t be done anywhere else. We can develop cardiovascular fitness outside of the pool, but we can get that specific swimming fitness that we need for swimming.

We have found that to be average at competitive swimming, you have to do a lot more training than people do in other land-based sports. So, it requires a massive commitment because we are constantly adapting to that fluid environment. We need to be able to train a lot to condition our body to be able to manage everything that we have to do to swim in the pool.

If we work on improving our technique and swim more often whilst receiving the right sort of feedback and monitoring, we are more likely to get better at it. But if we don’t practice regularly, we won’t improve, and swimmers quickly lose their feel for the water. That’s why the sport doesn’t offer long breaks. The current coronavirus situation has really tested this. Once kids have got back into the water, they start to get their sensitivity back. It has however taken some time, but a majority are swimming really well again after just 8 to 12 weeks.

Aerobic Fitness

Swimming also requires an enormous amount of aerobic development. It really is a highly aerobic exercise. To get that aerobic fitness in swimming and particularly to develop the muscles that are going to propel us through the water we must swim a lot. It takes a long time to get the muscles to adapt and for us to get that cardiovascular fitness that we need that is specific to swimming. It requires a lot of training, particularly in the teenage years to create the anatomical changes that we need to support us when we swim.

One of the things basically that’s going to happen to us is apart from all the technical elements of being able to swim with really good stroke technique in the water and swim efficiently, is that we have to deliver nutrients and oxygen to our muscle cells and we have to remove the metabolites after we’ve produced the energy so we have to have this really good circulatory system.

So, the more training we do, the more the vascular system develops, and we get more and more fine capillaries around the muscle fibres and that allows us to deliver more oxygen and more nutrients. This can only be developed through volumes of training over the years.

If you are a parent of a competitive swimmer and would like to learn more and help support your child to be the best that they can be, join us at Swim Parent Advantage.

Take Your Coaching to Another Level

Take Your Coaching to Another Level

Over the next four months we are going to provide all swimming coaches with some gold.

Not real gold, but golden ideas to assist swim coaches to better understand two key aspects of coaching which many coaches find difficult to understand. They will be explained in live sessions where you can ask questions until you fully understand and can utilise every aspect in your coaching.

Think of it as a crash course on everything you want to better understand to take your coaching to another level. This is a golden opportunity to increase your knowledge to become a better informed and more successful swim coach.

And if you are keen to improve your coaching, please read right to the bottom of this post to take advantage of our special offer. This is your opportunity to get in at the ground floor.

The program has now begun and you will get access to any sessions that have already been recorded. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take your coaching to another level.

We have put together responses to some of the most commonly asked questions that swim coaches have. These include:

 How do I prepare a seasonal plan and then weekly plan for my squad/s?

  • How do I write workout designs effectively?
  • How do the energy systems work?
  • How do I know what the right training intensities are for my swimmers?
  • Why should I be preparing my swimmers for 200m events?

We will answer all these and more in…


The School of Physiology for Training and Planning for Swimming Performance

Physiology of Training for Competition Swimmers

Coaches will be hand-led through the minefield that is understanding the physiology of training. By the end you will fully understand the terminology and practical application around training principles, energy systems, progressive overload and much more.

These sessions are all included as part of our world-wide coaching program, Swim Coach Advantage. The following topics will be explained in an easy to understand way that will help you improve your coaching.

  • Training principles, training zones, training variables & training specifics
  • Overload & progressive overload
  • Understanding energy systems, energy systems and events, energy systems and training design
  • Aerobic & anaerobic
  • Lactate production, lactate clearance & lactate tolerance
  • Aerobic threshold & anaerobic threshold
  • VO2 Max – Maximum O2 Uptake
  • Anaerobic Glycolysis
  • Muscle fuel – ATP, ATP-PC
  • Lactic acid & lactate curve
  • Heart rate & heart rate curve
  • Recovery

Planning for Competition Swimmers

You will also be provided with a step by step guide to assist you with your seasonal planning, weekly planning and workout design. This includes:

  • Seasonal planning for Juniors and Advanced Juniors
  • Seasonal Planning for Age and Youth Performance
  • Training Intensities, weekly planning and workout design for advanced juniors
  • Preparation Planning for Age and Youth Performance
  • Weekly Planning and Weekly Periodisation for Age and Youth Performance
  • Importance of Preparing for 200m events
  • Considerations for race preparation and Tapering for peak performance

These sessions are only for current members of Swim Coach Advantage.

Your Presenter

The presentation and delivery of the content above will be led by 2004 & 2012 Australian Olympic Swim Team Head Coach, Leigh Nugent. “Nugget” as he is affectionally known around the swimming traps, will deliver the key components above and will be supported by a number of guest contributors including Australia’s next Head Coach Rohan Taylor and a physiologist.

Special Offer

As a new member to Swim Coach Advantage, you will also receive 12 months access to:

  • More than 200 stroke drill videos
  • Weekly swim observations from experienced coaches
  • The Coaching Junior Swimmers certificate program
  • The weekly Mentor PODs which are held live each week (and recorded for viewing later if you miss them)
  • The Swim Parent Advantage program – see, read and watch all the information provided to swim parents
  • A coaching network of like-minded coaches who want to learn and develop their coaching knowledge and skills

Take advantage of our special offer. This offer is time sensitive. Join by Sunday 13 September 2020 and you can use the Coupon Code “ASCTA” and receive $50.00 off the yearly price.

This program will begin on Thursday 27 August 2020. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to take your coaching to another level.

See more at Swim Coach Advantage.

Lessons from the Philosophy of Water

Lessons from the Philosophy of Water

You may know this feeling: you wake up to multiple unread notifications on your mobile phone. Your calendar is already packed with meetings, sometimes double- or triple-booked. You feel engaged, you feel busy. In fact, you feel productive. But at the end of it all, something still feels missing. You try to figure out what it is. But before you do, the next day starts all over again. That was how I felt two years ago. I felt stressed; I felt anxious. I felt a bit trapped. The world around me was moving very quickly. And I didn’t know what to do. I started wondering to myself: How do I keep up with all this? How do we find fulfillment in a world that’s literally changing as fast as we can think, or maybe even faster?

We encourage you to watch the video below.

This message is a cool metaphor for coping in the world of Covid-19 and with life in general.

Sport Psychology

Sport Psychology

In our latest Swim Parent POD, sport psychologist Megan Davis explained the ins and outs of sport psychology and how what we say to our children can greatly affect them in a positive or negative manner.

Today we share a few excerpts from the most recent POD where Megan discusses the way she likes to work with sport psychology. It is so much more than just peak performance. It’s about establishing a foundation of a ‘secure self’ and then working towards ‘great practice’ before any focus on ‘peak performance’.

In the video below we have shared the discussion on ‘great practice’. Megan is a regular contributor to Swim Parent Advantage and the full one hour session is available to all members.

“It’s a pity there are not 2,000 parents on this today because this information is gold. I’ve really enjoyed listening to you speak Megan and absorbing the salient points here. There is no doubt that members (and future members) will be going in and looking at this at a time that is more convenient to them” former Australian Head Coach Leigh Nugent said at the end of the POD.

The program is designed to assist parents of competitive swimmers aged 8 years through to high level performing swimmers by educating and supporting them in a safe environment.

Swim Parent Support

Swim Parent Support

Gold Class Swimming are well known for their swim clinics throughout Australia. With hundreds of swimmers each year participating in them, lead coach Leigh Nugent came to the realisation that while the swimmers and coaches were well supported, a majority of parents are seeking their own education so they can effectively support their child’s involvement in the sport. For many parents, this was their first involvement in the sport and there is so much to learn.

Over the past two years, the team at Gold Class Swimming have put together a comprehensive educational program for parents of swimmers of all ages. The program consists of more than 50 videos, regular Parent PODs (Zoom meetings were you can ask questions) and a private Facebook group. Best of all, you are provided with access to three of Australia’s leading aquatic educators, Leigh Nugent, Gary Barclay & Rohan Taylor.

Today Leigh and Gary talk about the Leigh’s experiences supporting parents of competitive swimmers. To be involved in the parent support program and give your child the best chance for success go to Swim Parent Advantage.