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Swim coach Wayne Goldsmith reveals the seven steps of swim skill development that will help get your tri off to a flying start.

Below are the Seven Steps of Skills Development - A step by step progression of skills development from the initial learning experiences through the effective execution of the skill at race pace under fatigue and pressure conditions ie. competition.

STEP LEARNING PHASE EXAMPLE WHY DO IT?
1

Learn the basic movements of the skill.

6 x 25 free drill – relaxed and slow – 

Interval determined by the coach based on the rate of learning of the swimmers. 

Long rests between each repeat to allow time for feedback and correction from the coach.

Learn to do the technique correctly by practicing and understanding the fundamental concepts and movements involved.

2

Master the basic movements of the skill – i.e. learn to do it well.

12 x 25 free drill easy on 1:00. 

Relatively long rest between each repeat to allow time for feedback and correction from the coach.

Increasing the number of repeats provides the opportunity for greater learning and mastery of the technique or skill through further repetition. 

3

Learn to do it well at speed.

12 x 25 free drill fast on 1:30 at PB pace plus 3 seconds. 

Relatively long rest between each repeat to allow adequate rest and feedback from the coach, i.e. repeats are completed much faster but the technique is still practiced with precision.

It’s important to increase the speed of the drill or skills practice to learn how to maintain the technique at higher speeds, i.e. closer to race pace.

4

Learn to do it well at speed when you’re tired.

12 x 50 free on 1:15 – first 25 moderate pace swim, second 25 drill. 

The first 25 pre-fatigues the swimmer – the aim of the second 25 is to maintain precision in technique while experiencing fatigue. 

By pre-fatiguing the swimmer then asking for precision in the technique, the swimmer learns how to maintain an efficient swimming stroke when they are experiencing fatigue in racing.

5

Learn to do it well at speed, when you’re tired and under pressure.

10 x 100 at T.R.P. (TARGET RACE PACE) (first 5 on 2:30, next 3 on 2:15 and final 2 on 2:00) – as 75 free / 25 drill.

First 75 metres is target race pace then as the interval repeat time decreases and the swimmer becomes fatigued (and feels under pressure to maintain their target time), insist of technical precision in their stroke.

Progressively decreasing the rest interval over the set while demanding the swimmer maintains both target race pace and technical precision teaches them to think about and focus on efficient technique during the latter stages of their swim leg, i.e. when they feel fatigued and pressured to maintain race speed.

6

Learn to do it well at speed, when you’re tired and under pressure – consistently.

10 x 100 at T.R.P. (TARGET RACE PACE) (first 5 on 2:30, next 3 on 2:15 and final 2 on 2:00) – as 75 free / 25 drill.

Whilst swimming the same set as Step 5, include some measurable skill markers, e.g. stroke count with the onset of fatigue and pressure.

Many swimmers will demonstrate a decrease in stroke efficiency with the onset of fatigue and pressure. 

By including other measurable markers of stroke efficiency such as stroke count, stroke rate and breathing regularity throughout a set, triathletes can learn to control their stroke efficiency by focusing on these markers, e.g. maintain stroke count for the second 50 throughout the set. 

7

Learn to do it well at speed, when you’re tired and under pressure – consistently – and in race conditions

“Brick” type combination sets.

For example:

5 x (400 swim at target race pace T.R.P. where the final 25 of every 100 is drill / 1000 metre run at target race pace). 3 minutes rest between each swim / run repeat.

The real test of how well the triathlete has learnt the new stroke skill or technique is how well the skill stands up to the fatigue and pressures of race conditions. 

It is important to include challenging multi-disciplinary race simulation / “brick” style training sets where the emphasis is on both maintaining target race pace and stroke efficiency under race conditions.

 

Image by Delly Carr.

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