View Full Version : increasing speed

April 5th, 2004, 03:03 PM
First I just would like to thank everybody that responds to the few posts I have put out. They usually are seeking advice as this one is. Can anyone tell me a good way to increase my speed in back and free. I returned to swimming after a 17 year layoff since high school. I've been working out since the beginning of December and have been to 5 meets. My 100 free is 56.5, 50 free 25.8, 100 back 1.07 and 200 free 2.05. I can't seem to get that initial burst in the first 50 yds of the event. In high school I did 22's in the 50 and 49's in the 100 but now am struggling to get 25's. Is it due to age ( I hope not I'm 36)? I do on the average 3000 yds 4 or 5 times a week in varied forms, intervals, distance, IM etc. Is there something specific I should do? I don't lift weights but could if that might help. Again, thanks for all the good advice>

Tom Bubel
April 5th, 2004, 03:31 PM
Our high school times are almost THE Same. I took 9 years off from swimming- so not quite as many as you- but I am now 34 and I am still going 49 in the 100 (so don't worry- it's not age)
You swim about the same yardage as I do a week but perhaps you aren't tapering for your big meets. (You need to retrain your body to have good arm speed again- the only way you can do that is by doing sets that allow you to work as hard as you can- which means a good amount of recovery time. Here is a simple taper plan that I use every year (you would start this 1 month before your big meet)
All these practices should start with 4x200 warmup set and 8x50 kicks on 1:00
Then, there is ONLY ONE SET to do after this (that is why it is called a taper)
Week 1 Every practice Only set: 5x200 Free/Choice on 8:00
Week 2 Every practice Only set: 5x100 Free/Choice on 6:00
Week 3 Every practice Only set: 5x50 Free/Choice on 3:00
Week 4 Every practice Only set: 5x25 Free/Choice on 1:30

There is a TON of recovery time in these sets so you should feel like you are going as hard as you would be in a real race in these sets. If you do these right, you will probably feel like you are going to puke when you are done (just keep it in)

I find most masters swimmers (especially the triathlete types) are afraid of backing off the yardage like this- they don't trust the taper- they don't understand that you will actually go faster doing fewer yards. Trust me- it works
Good luck!
Tom B.

April 5th, 2004, 03:36 PM
Have your times been dropping since Dec.? If so, I wouldn't worry too much. It takes a while to get back into shape. Yes age will play a factor unfortunately. But then again, there are many masters swimmers who swim very fast.

If you want to get better at sprints, I would start lifting. Generally for sprint events you'll want to lower rep sets with more wieght vs. less weight w/more reps for distance.

What type of sets have been doing in practice? For training for sprinting I prefer sets such as:

9x200 on 3:00, descend 1-3, 4-6, 7-9. #4 must be faster than #2. #7 must be faster than number 5.

16x25 sprints from the block. Get out walk back, go again. Should be about 20-30 seconds rest between 25s

Drop off 100s and 50s. Start on 1:30 (for hundreds, 1:00 for 50s) and drop a second each time. So first 100 is on 1:30, 2ns on 1:29, 3rd on 1:28... until you can no longer make the interval.

3x100 on 1:45 #1 75 easy/25 sprint, #2 50easy/50 sprint, #3 all out. 2 minute rest repeat set 3 times.

Another drop off set that I enjoy, start interval on 3:30, drop 5 seconds each time. So #1 is on 3:30, #2 on 3:25... Start with 200s. When you can no longer make 200s, go straight into 150s, when you can longer make the 150s go to 100s, then to 50s.

April 5th, 2004, 05:01 PM
Thanks for the advice. The workout and taper sounds really good. I'll definitely give both a try. I did try to taper for my last meet(Colonies Zones) but I don't think I was too successful. I did best times in 5 of 6 events but I think with a good taper they would have been better. I only tapered 1 week and it was erratic.
I think the only reason the times went down was because I've been swimming longer.

April 5th, 2004, 05:05 PM
Originally posted by sefswim
I think the only reason the times went down was because I've been swimming longer.

I wouldn't worry about too much increasing your speed if your times are still dropping. You're still getting back into shape. It may well take over a year. I took about 3 yrs. off from swimming, been back in the water 7 months now and I still don't think of myself as 'in shape'.

April 5th, 2004, 05:21 PM
try ladder sets:-
make your own to suit you but heres one i sometimes do:-
1x25mfree fast as you can(take what rest you need)
1x50mfree ditto
1x75mfree "
1x100m free "
then do all this in reverse:-
1x225m"fast as you can(take what rest you need)
.....1x25m finish,....although ladder increases stamina...speed comes from good stamina!!!!!


Tom Bubel
April 5th, 2004, 10:33 PM
Hard training- by itself does not give you speed in the water (unless you are talking about 1000 or 1650 free) The stamina training is a good base for a season, but you will not be able to swim faster times until you do some sort of taper- fast armspeed work with maximum recovery time for about 1 month. To me, and most competitive swimmers, you should not expect best times during the "regular season" when you are doing higher yardage. It is only when you taper can and should you expect best times. TRUST THE TAPER!!!

April 6th, 2004, 11:12 AM

How much weight lifting do you do? In college after my sophomore season I started lifting weight hard. My end of season time in the 50 Free was 22.38 (tapered etc.). My first meet in the fall of my Junior year, I went a 22.01. My 100 free dropped 2 seconds that year too. I was ALREADY doing the swim training, so the time drops can specifically be tied to the weights. Also, I don't lift weights like I used to, and I am back to 22 Mid (I am only 27, so I shouldn't be that much slower!).

Now here are the things you need to know: For a sprinter, weight training means you become and honorary gym rat. The only difference between you and the muscle-heads is that you are smart enough to stretch thoroughly before and after your lifting sessions. However, you work out all your muscle groups, not just "swimming" muscles. Make it a goal to increase your bench press by 50 lbs and your squats by 75. Purchasing a few dumbells and doing curls before work won't cut it! Work you arse off and I am certain you will drop time!

PS: If you are already doing this, then, well good luck!

Damage Inc
April 6th, 2004, 08:20 PM
Be patient. If you have only been swimming since December give it time. Don't try to force it, you may end up with an injury. I thought I was doing well my first year back at the age of 35 when I made a National Qualifying Time in the 1650. Well last week I drop my time by another 80 sec. I dont feel that I am working out any harder, its just that I have become a better and faster swimmer over time.
BTW, I lift weights 1-2 times a week. I do reps of 10-12 in sets of 3. I work the major groups and feel it helps my swimming quite a bit.
Good Luck

April 7th, 2004, 05:55 PM
im trying the taper...started tonight...nearly puked....must trust the taper.....must trust the taper.....(doing slightly different taper but one that pushes me similarly..with less distance naturally and good recovery)feel revitalised knowing that i have learnt something new..you see i dont compete at swimming ..only against myself personal records etc..im trying to do the 1500m in less than 30 mins...yea i know its slow to some but my present times are in the 32 mins region...maybe this taper lark will assist???

April 7th, 2004, 08:23 PM
Thanks for all these awsome suggestions. I intend on trying all of these in some form, especially the taper a month before my next big meet (2004 Keystone games). I have a minor meet the end of this month so I'm just going to practice regular and try for a good time. After that try getting into some kind of lifting program which to answer some of the replies I haven't done. Hopefully I could keep to a weekly schedule. Time always seems to play a big factor (2 kids in swimming, work and married)...not necessarily in that order....in case my wife sees this post:rolleyes:

April 12th, 2004, 02:24 PM
If you are a distance swimmer, your taper should be a bit different. You rely on your aerobic system. 100 and 50 swimmers rely mostly on their anaerobic system. Sprinters can taper and not worry about key enzymes decreasing in concentration. In fact, during the taper where intensity is increased, they may increase in concentration. As a distance swimmer, a month without doing aerobic work may decrease aerobic enzyme concentration as well as mitochondria density. Keep doing aerobic work for the first 2 weeks of your taper. Just do less. Then during the last two weeks, taper off like a mad man.

April 12th, 2004, 04:23 PM
hey sefswim,
I see that we have a couple of things in common, the family thing and the fact that we are swimming in the keystone games. Well, looking at your times, you'll rock where I will sink like a rock.

Well, good luck in your training for the games. Hope to hear from you in Wilkes-Barre. hopefully, your not in my age group.:D

btw, where the heck is Drums, PA:confused:

April 13th, 2004, 10:57 AM
Drums is about 20 miles south of wilkes barre. Are there meets out in North Central Pa? What LMSC is that? Thanks for the compliment on times. I just did the zones and after seeing some of the times in and out of my age group I have to admit it was humbling. ( motivating too). I'm sure your times are good too. How often do you swim? Remember, as long as it makes you happy and you enjoy it, they're good times>

April 13th, 2004, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by Tom Bubel

There is a TON of recovery time in these sets so you should feel like you are going as hard as you would be in a real race in these sets. If you do these right, you will probably feel like you are going to puke when you are done (just keep it in)Tom B.

THANK-YOU! I feel better now. I must be tapering right! I was feeling like I was going to toss my cookies yesterday when we did a set of 6x100's with lots of rest. We timed ourselves from the blocks on #3 and #6. I was exhausted afterwards! Hopefully it will help my speed for the 50 and 100's!

Tom Bubel
April 13th, 2004, 03:20 PM
Great- Wow I am impressed that you did 6 of them- I usually only do 5 of them. I think you will notice that your times in these sets will only get faster as you continue to do it because your hands are learning to swim fast again. Try not to puke but if you are feeling that way, you are swimming the set the way you are supposed to. Make sure you not only swim as hard as you can (90-95%), but you also MAINTAIN close to the same time for all 5 or 6 of them. Good luck and you should expect your 50s-500s to get faster.

April 13th, 2004, 04:13 PM
Well sef, I live about twenty minutes north of Wellsboro in Tioga County, so I am still in Delaware Valley LMSC. Any meet that I want to swim in I always have to travel to. i swam in Feb. at a meet in Canandaigua,NY. It's about a two hour trip. i was going to swim at your meet in Wilkes-Barre at the Y but they reschedualed it around the time that my family is going to the Outer Banks:D. hopefully by the time the Keystone Games gets around, I might be ready to swim that 100 IM. If I get down to around 1:05.00, I'll be doin' good ;) . Won't be bad for a fat man trying to get thiner.