Christmas/New Year Club Races & Training

Our last training session for 2021 will be held on Thursday, 23rd December, while our last week of club races will be held on Saturday, 18th December.

Club Races start at 7am as usual, and will include Novelty Events after the regular races.

Training will resume on Tuesday, 4th January, 2022, with Club Races resuming on Saturday, 8th January.

Our Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, 18th December in conjunction with the Club Races from 7am. All squad members are encouraged to attend for the club races and novelty events. We would love to see you there. Enter online here.

Are going to be away at all in December or January?

If you will be away, then please complete the form below to indicate your last day of training and your first day back.

Training Break Form

The Committee and Coaching Staff hope you have enjoyed the first few months back in the water after a long break. Have a Merry Christmas and keep training hard as school carnivals and the Merrylands SwimFest approaches.

See Also

Christmas/New Year Club Races & Training

Our last training session for 2020 will be held on Thursday, 17th December, while our last week of club races will be held on Saturday, 19th December.

Club Races start at 7am as usual, and will include Novelty Events after the regular races.

Both Club Races and Training will resume on Saturday, 2nd January, 2021.

Our Christmas Party will be held on Saturday, 19th December in conjunction with the Club Races from 7am. All squad members are encouraged to attend for the club races and novelty events. We would love to see you there. Enter online here.

Are going to be away at all in December or January?

If you will be away, then please complete the form below to indicate your last day of training and your first day back.

Training Break Form

The Committee and Coaching Staff hope you have enjoyed the first few months of the Summer Season, have a Merry Christmas and keep training hard as school carnivals and the Merrylands SwimFest approaches.

See Also

Land Training at Home

Some sessions may be incomplete due to content requiring edited before publishing.

Monday, 18th May, 2020

In this session:

  • Weekly Challenge
  • Junior Excellence Awards
  • COVID-19 Update
  • Land Warm-up

Thursday, 14th May, 2020

In this session:

  • Thursday at the Movies with Katie: The Greatest Showman
  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Training Phase

Tuesday, 28th April, 2020

In this session:

  • Weekly Quiz with our Quiz Master - World Record Holders
  • Dawn Fraser - 100m Freestyle
  • Land Warm-up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Training Phase

Monday, 27th April, 2020

In this session:

Thursday, 23rd April, 2020

In this session:

  • April Birthdays
  • Thursday at the Movies with Katie: Avengers End Game review
  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Training Phase

Wednesday, 22nd April, 2020

In this session:

  • Tech Talk: Starts - Foot and Leg Positions
  • Pilates - Complete the "Yoga for Swimmers" routine rather than the Pilates session: https://youtu.be/WymRLcDo1ek

Tuesday, 21st April, 2020

In this session:

  • Weekly Quiz with our Quiz Master - Swimming Families
  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Training Phase

Monday, 20th April, 2020

In this session:

  • Skipping & Prone Bridge Photos
  • Weekly Challenge Results: Pool Design
  • Leaderboard Update
  • Land Warm-Up

Thursday, 16th April, 2020

In this session:

  • Thursday at the Movies with Katie: Aladdin review
  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Preliminary Phase

Wednesday, 15th April, 2020

In this session:

  • Tech Talk: Freestyle Hand Entry, Catch and Pull Through
  • Pilates - Complete the "Yoga for Swimmers" routine rather than the Pilates session: https://youtu.be/WymRLcDo1ek

Tuesday, 14th April, 2020

In this session:

  • Weekly Quiz with our Quiz Master - Where Am I?
  • Skipping Challenge
  • Land Warm-up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Preliminary Phase

Thursday, 9th April, 2020

Happy Easter!

In this session:

  • Thursday at the Movies with Katie: Inside Out review
  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Preliminary Phase

Tuesday, 7th April, 2020

In this session:

  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning - Preliminary Phase

Monday, 6th April, 2020

In this session:

  • Skipping & Prone Bridge Photos
  • Skipping Challenge
  • Land Warm-Up

Thursday, 2nd April, 2020

In this session:

  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Preliminary Phase

Wednesday, 1st April, 2020

In this session:

  • Tech Talk: Underwater Kicking
  • Pilates - Complete the "Yoga for Swimmers" routine rather than the Pilates session: https://youtu.be/WymRLcDo1ek

Tuesday, 31st March, 2020

In this session:

  • Weekly Quiz with our Quiz Master
  • Prone Bridge Review
  • Land Warm-Up
  • Strength & Conditioning Session - Preliminary Phase

Monday, 30th March, 2020

In this session:

  • Swimming Cap Photos
  • Prone Bridge Introduction
  • Land Warm-Up

Introduction

Training Cancelled - Thursday Afternoon

Swimming Training for all afternoon squads has been cancelled for Thursday, 21st November, 2019 due to the poor air quality caused by bushfires.

Swimmers who usually attend training on a Thursday afternoon may choose to attend an alternate session, subject to space.

If you would like to attend an alternate session, please email squad@merrylandsasc.asn.au to let us know which session you would like to attend and we will confirm availability.

Training and club races are expected to be on as usual for Saturday.

See Also

This is why athletes should eat breakfast

The importance of breakfast is in its title, its breaking the overnight fast. Your first meal is the key to turn your body on for the day.

Eating a good breakfast when you get up, or directly after training will be an important start to how you fuel your day. Putting the right energy in around training will mean you have energy to burn and be more likely to train harder and better.

In the same way you wouldn’t set out on a long drive when the petrol light is on in your car, you also don’t want to head out for the day with no fuel in your system.

Why breakfast is crucial for athletes

  • Within 30 minutes of waking up the body is like a sponge in anticipation of absorbing energy from food so there is fuel for the body to work.
  • If this opportunity is missed your metabolism starts to slow down.
  • Your body is then forced to find energy through breaking down the body’s stores – including muscles – which is a slow and inefficient process to best fuel training.
  • If training whilst fasting, it needs to be done under controlled conditions and match the training and outcomes you have in place, otherwise it is not recommended.

What skipping breakfast means

  • If the body has been placed under stress in training without any food available, and feels it has been starved of adequate energy for a period of time it drives appetite and hunger to encourage the replacement of the energy that was missed.
  • When you do start to eat later in the day it may lead to overconsuming at meals and irregular or poor snacking.
  • This energy imbalance can have a negative impact on blood glucose levels, appetite, performance and potentially weight gain.

What to eat for breakfast and when

  • What you eat depends on how quickly you need the energy.
  • If going to an early training, you may not want a large volume of food, fibre or fat sitting in the stomach while you train, as blood flow will move away from the stomach and can lead to indigestion.
  • Prior to earlier training, if time is limited, it’s better to have a smaller, easily digested carb choice or a fluid option if that sits better during training while getting used to what you can tolerate.
  • Consider pre-training intake as a function to aid performance and outcomes rather than food for pleasure or to fill up.
    If you aren’t training early, and you are heading to work, school or uni then it’s better to have a balanced option for breakfast with some fibre, wholegrain carbohydrates, lean protein, good fats and nutrients so the body has everything it needs to slowly fuel the body over the morning.

Pre early training breakfast

A small, low fibre, low fat, high carbohydrate snack will be adequate when you wake up to engage your carbohydrate stores and to get the body using fuel more effectively by kick starting the metabolism before training, including:

  • A banana, or piece fruit
  • Raisin or regular toast with jam or honey
  • Rice cakes / corn thins / cruskits
  • Glass light milk or 100% juice
  • 2-3 scoops Sustagen
  • 300ml Powerade
  • 2 fresh dates
  • Low fibre cereal like cornflakes or nutri-grain
  • Low fat yoghurt

Regular daily / post training breakfast

Follow training or day to day, start with a high nutrient, high fibre and balanced breakfast, choices could include:

  • A bowl wholegrain cereal with milk or yoghurt
  • Porridge or oats with milk or yoghurt
  • A smoothie with oats, fresh fruit, milk and yoghurt
  • Natural yoghurt with fresh fruit and mixed nuts/seeds (pepitas, sunflower seeds almonds)
  • Grain toast with a protein source like egg or sliced ham and avocado + extra vege (spinach, tomato)
  • Toast with spreads + protein shake or drink milk
  • Bircher muesli made with oats, natural yoghurt and grated apple

Stepping out of your comfort zone

Every person has comfort zones within which he or she operates. Physical comfort zones are easy to identify. If your true AT* pace for Freestyle is 1:30 per hundred, any swim done at 1:40/100 would fall within your comfort zone. On the other hand swimming at 1:20/100 would quickly elevate lactic acid levels to the point of discomfort. Somewhere around 90m you would stray from your comfort zone.

Psychological comfort zones are a little harder to quantify. Most people find talking to a friend or a few friends at once to be no challenge at all. However, the thought of standing up in a room of twenty or thirty people to give a 5 minute speech, even if it is on a familiar topic, is enough to cause goose bumps and moist underarms for the majority of people. Giving a 45 minute speech in front of a live audience of 10 or 20 thousand (or a TV audience of several millions) is unthinkable for all but a tiny fraction of a percent of the human population.

The key to personal growth and increasing success in nearly every endeavour is the willingness to step outside of one's comfort zone. In swimming this might mean doing something physical like swimming a particular set all fly instead of all free, or choosing to go on faster intervals or leading the lane instead of drafting off the leader. It might mean doing something more cerebral like deciding to enter your first meet or setting a goal to swim a personal best time and then training toward it.

Virtually everyone enjoys the feeling they get when leaving their comfort zone results in success. How about asking someone out for a date? This is out of the zone for most people. Yet how wonderful it is when the other person says "Yes."

Yet, fear causes most people to hesitate to step outside of their comfort zone. Fear of failure. And we all know, but rarely admit to ourselves, that the real "consequences" of failure are truly inconsequential and usually short-lived. It just doesn't seem that way at the moment of truth - the moment where we either decide to act or decide to remain quiescent.

It is obvious that enlarging one's comfort zones pays off in many aspects of life. It is not as readily obvious that the persistent and consistent practice of "steppin' out," even a short distance, from the confines of a comfort zone can yield nearly unbelievable results over the long haul.

There is a story about an FFA live stock show where the older boys engaged in a calf lifting contest. Each boy would, in turn, select and lift off the ground a heavier calf than the previous boy. Once a boy failed he was out of the contest. When there was just one boy left and he was about to be awarded the prize one of the younger, smaller boys that had been watching called out "Wait, I can beat that!" The other boys laughed at him, told him to be quiet and ruffled his hair. Undaunted, he walked over to his entry in the stock show, a nearly mature bull that weighed fully three times what the heaviest calf lifted weighed. He proceeded to lift that bull three inches off the ground and immediately was greeted with "Ooohs!", "Ahhhhs!", applause and the prize.

When asked how he managed such a feat, the boy explained that, ever since the calf was born, he would lift the calf off the ground once a day. He never missed a day as the animal grew. The boy's calf lifting ability grew into bull lifting ability. To do this he never had to step very far outside his physical comfort zone. Yet by consistently and persistently taking small steps he managed to enlarge his comfort zone to immense proportions.

I challenge you to define both your physical and psychological comfort zones in swimming (or any other aspect of your life for that matter) and then set upon a course of persistent and consistent forays, outward bound.

*AT = Anaerobic Threshold—The point at which lactate accumulation begins to rise sharply is the Anaerobic Threshold. Swimmers should train with a heart rate 20 to 30 beats below maximum.

Streamline to Faster Swimming

How important is a streamline to a swimmer? I think it can make a world of difference, particularly in a short-course setting, since streamlines and the idea of reducing drag can be applied to starts, swimming, and turns. My take on swimming and streamlines is they are a way to make a minimum energy investment for a maximum speed return. Not exactly a free lunch for a swimmer, but as close as it gets in the swimming pool. Initiating the first kick or pull is a matter of determining when the swimmer's speed is about to drop from faster than they can swim to their race swimming speed. Experiment with different timing.

From a start, the speed gained from the push off of the block and from the force of gravity is faster than the swimmer can actually swim. If they can maintain that speed for any extra duration, and everything else is equal, their overall time for the race could be quicker. And all they had to was perform an improved streamline.

During the swimming portions of a race, any chances to reduce the external forces fighting against the swimmer's forward progress (like drag) can result in a faster race time. If a better body position through a slight adjustment of head position results in decreased drag, then the swimmer just got faster - without putting any real extra effort into moving forward any faster. Other ways to reduce drag include paying attention to hand entry and hand/arm position (both arms!) during the stroke cycle. And don't forget the legs. A wide kick might have more force to it for some swimmers, but it also increase drag, and it is likely that the wide kick's force is working to overcome the drag it creates, resulting in little or no added speed (in other words, a narrow kick could be more efficient).

What about turns? Lot's of chances to reduce drag on those things, open or flip. How is the direction being changed? Is there a loose limb sticking out someplace that is being "dragged" through the water instead of slipped through it? Is water being pushed against or slid through during the direction change? How about the swimmer's push off the pool wall. The swimmer's upper body must be in a streamline shape prior to the initiation of the push to maximize speed off of the wall. As the push-off continues, the swimmer must pull the rest of their body into a streamline so they area able to hold that speed (which should be faster than swimming) for as long as possible.

The easiest place to make a quick change in streamlines is off a wall. These are the things I look for in a streamline after the swimmer as left the wall:

  • One hand aligned on top of the other, with fingers pointing the direction of travel. The little finger and thumb of the top hand wrapped around the lower hand (to allow leverage and to prevent separation).
  • The fingertips stretching and reaching as far forward as possible.
  • The arms extended, pointing the direction of travel, with the biceps behind the ears.
  • The surface from the back of the swimmer's hands, along the arms, then down the shoulders and back should be one (relatively) smooth surface with no "head bump" sticking up on that side.
  • The head bump is on the chest side.
  • The swimmer's arms are actively squeezing in behind the head, as if they are trying to make their elbows touch.
  • The swimmer's core is tight and straight - every muscle pulling in towards the centre, trying to make the swimmer longer and thinner.
  • The swimmer's legs are adducted (that is, squeezed in and together) with their toes are pointed.
  • I want to see the swimmer become a strong, long torpedo, rocket, or pencil shape off the wall (and on a start).

We practice streamlines off starts and turns regularly. We include a few push offs that are purposely not streamlined to remind the swimmers how much easier it is when they do perform a great streamline. You can practice and use streamlining techniques every swim workout to help make yourself a better swimmer.

Swim On!

High Performance Nutrition for Swim Meets

Nutrition is an important area of successful performance in any sport. Swimmers need to eat nutritious foods to compete and train to the best of their ability. Coaches need to ensure that swimmers are eating well and re-hydrating to complement their training program.  Parents want to help their kids achieve their goals and are keen to support them in every possible way.

Swim Clubs and swimming organisations, selling food and drink at Swim Meets need to ensure that a variety of highly nutritious healthy options that can still generate income and raise funds are available to the swimmers.

Swim Meets, Swim Competitions and Swimming Championships are the places where all the vested interests in swimming nutrition come together: swimmers, coaches, parents and administrators. Everyone is looking for the same thing: how can we maximise the opportunity presented by the competition?

Swimmers want to maximise the opportunity of swimming fast at the Meet. Coaches want to maximise the opportunities for the individual swimmers and team to compete successfully. Parents want their kids to make the most of the competitive opportunity and swim well. Administrators want to maximise the opportunity to generate income from the fund raising activities at the Meet. Is it possible to develop an overall nutrition strategy to meet the needs of everyone?

Swimmers

A feature of successful athletes in any sport is how they take responsibility for their own performances. As swimmers get older and approach open level competition they should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own diet and nutrition program – to become coach and parent independent as far as food preparation and consumption are concerned.

On Meet day, swimmers should check their own bags to make sure all the fuel they will need over the day has been packed. This includes not only an adequate supply of food and drinks for the Meet day but enough nutritious snacks to cover the crucial post race recovery period. If for example, the last race of the day is 4:00pm and the swimmer is unlikely to eat dinner before 7:00pm, it is important that foods like fruit, sandwiches and other nutritious snacks are available to munch on between 4 and 7pm. (It is unlikely you can “ruin the appetite” of a competitive swimmer!).

Athletes, by their actions, are above average people. They choose to push themselves to their limits and in doing so are “high performance” human beings. Just as High Performance motor vehicles use a high grade, high octane fuel, “high performance humans” need the best possible fuel to perform at their best. However, athletes do not need to live a hermit type existence and abstain from all Take Away Foods, snacks, nibbles, lollies etc. The pressures of advertising and their peer group will make a totally junk food free existence near impossible for kids in the current times. The goal should be to practice sensible nutrition habits the majority of the time, to understand the basics of high performance eating and to be aware of the link between good food and fast swimming.

Immediately after racing, drink. Water is perfect, or try other fluids such as sports drink, cordial or fruit juice. Also eat something light within 10 minutes of finishing the race. This is the time when your body is best able to absorb and utilise new fuels.

If the Meet is two days or longer in duration, Recovery Nutrition is an important part of racing successfully. Recovery nutrition is about planning an eating and drinking strategy that helps your body:

  1. Recover from the physical stresses of racing.
  2. Prepare for the racing to come.

This is also called the Repair-Prepare approach to Swim Meet eating. Recovery nutrition is a technique which provides the swimmer’s body with what they need to recover (eg carbohydrates to replace used up energy, proteins for muscle building and repair) and prepare for the next day of competition. In between races, recovery nutrition is about replenishing energy stores quickly and effectively so that the next race can be completed at maximum speed.

Foods that aid in a recovery nutrition program between races include fruit, blended fruit packs, tinned fruits and sports drinks – things that are easy to digest and absorb into the body. To maximise the impact of these “recovery foods” they need to be eaten or drunk as soon as possible after racing.

A key element of a successful Swim Meet nutrition program is Eating Timing. Swimmers need to ensure that their eating program is as finely tuned as their training and racing schedule. If competing early in the morning some swimmers may find it necessary to rise early (3-4 hours before warm up) eat, then go back to bed for a little more rest. Other athletes may chose to eat, then go for a short walk or jog to start the warm up / race preparation process going.

Competition Schedule - What to Eat / When to Eat

Early Morning Heats (8: 00am – 10:00am)

Breakfast – Light meal Complex Carbohydrates the focus 6:00am-7:00am

Afternoon Heats/Semi Finals/Finals (2:00pm-4:00pm)

Light lunch – Salad and Sandwiches. Cooked lunch of rice or pasta. 11:00am - 1:00pm depending on start time.

Allow approx 2 hours between eating and racing

Evening Events (6:00pm-9:00pm)

Late Afternoon Meal (Early dinner) - Small quantities of rice, pasta, vegetables. Bread, bread rolls. Fruit. 4:00pm – 5:00pm.

For a Medal winning Meet morning breakfast try some of these suggestions:

  • Cereals (not the popular Chocolate or sugary ones). Try WeetBix, Vita Brits, Sustain, Just Right, Sports Plus.
  • Reduced fat milk – e.g. Shape, Physical, Rev, Hi-Lo
  • Low fat fruit yoghurt. Selection of fresh and/or tinned fruit (in natural juice).  Sliced banana goes great on Weetbix and Vita Brits!
  • Selection of bread, toast, crumpets, muffins, and spreads such as margarine, jam, vegemite and honey.
  • Drinks – fruit juices, water, and milo.
  • Spaghetti, baked beans or creamed corn on toast.
  • Poached eggs or grilled tomatoes on toast.
  • Pancakes or pikelets (with small amounts of syrup).

If travelling to a Meet where you are likely to be arriving early in the morning or late in the evening have swimmers carry their first two meals with them. This reduces the temptation to seek Fast Food for dinner or breakfast.

Arriving in a competition venue in the evening means that the only food outlets open will be Home Delivery Pizza and the Hamburger chains.

Arriving at the competition venue early in the morning means coffee and donuts or the Fast Food chains.

Weeks of hard work and tough training may all be for nothing if the final two meals before competition are high fat, high salt and high sugar food choices.

Have swimmers follow a set nutrition and re-hydration routine around every race. Try the R-D-T-E-R routine (Race-Drink-Talk-Eat-Rest). Swimmers race, then grab their drink bottles and take a sip, go the coach for the post race review, have a bite to eat then rest.

Lastly, swimmers don’t always notice it, but sweating occurs when training and racing – even though the activity happens in the water. It is vital that a good supply of cool water, cordial, sports drink or juice is on hand at Swim Meets.

Speed vs Technique

Adapted from an article by Dave Tonnesen, ASCA Level 4 Coach

Ooooohhhh! Look at that swimmer...they make it look so easy, and they are so fast!
Don't you love to watch the Olympics! It is just awesome to watch Ryan Lochte make fast swimming look almost magically effortless.

How does he do it?
Well, the good news is that fast swimming is not magical, and when done right, fast swimming can look so beautiful that it appears almost effortless.

Let's start off with a couple questions.

How do you progress your strokes and drop time?

What should I focus on first, speed or technique?

The Basic Progression is:

  • Step 1 - Master Excellent Technique
  • Step 2 - Maintain Excellent Technique while Building Endurance
  • Step 3 - Speed with Excellent Technique

Why?

Technique is the key because water is roughly 1,000 times denser than air. And for your swimming that means for every unit of speed that you achieve, you get a penalty of 4 units of drag to go along with your speed. In swimming, it is crucial to have great technique so that you can reduce your drag before focusing on endurance and speed.

Step 1 Master Excellent Technique

It is vital that you learn proper technique before you focus on endurance and speed. Proper technique is the fundamental building block for great swimming. It doesn't matter if you want to be a summer league swimmer, a high school swimmer, a college level swimmer, a nationally ranked swimmer or the next Michael Phelps. To reach your potential, you should have a solid foundation in proper stroke technique that progresses them to their desired goals.  Australian coach Bill Sweetnam has a great quote, 99% right is 100% wrong.

Step 2: Swim Drill-Like (Build Endurance with Excellent Technique)

Once you have a solid foundation of proper stroke technique, your next step is be able to hold your excellent technique while building your endurance.  This is achieved through drill progressions - a combination of drill and swim - and longer swims at an easy pace to improve endurance while still focusing on technique. 

Step 3: Race Drill-Like (Speed with Excellent Technique)

At this point, your training will vary depending on your goals. You will begin incorporating race strategies for everything from the 50 to 1,500 Freestyle, 100 to 400 IM, 50 to 200 of each stroke. You may learn about the importance of distance per stroke, stroke efficiency, cycles per second, break out for starts and turns, the importance of underwater fly kick and mental training techniques among many other things.  This is the double edged sword where many swimmers struggle.  How do you hold technique and swim fast?  Most swimmers see this as an either/or situation.  We use sets like decending sets where we begin adding the time component into sets and you have to increase your speed on each repeat, while still maintaining your technique. These sets are not usually achieved the first or second time age group swimmers attempt them. 

So, to unlock the magic of fast swimming, focus of the technique improvements and have patience. Think in terms of a learning curve.

When you are in step 1 - mastering changes in your stroke technique, it is natural for you to be slow and deliberate.  It is common to overthink as you are learning. This is very normal until you have mastered the technique. Once you have a solid stroke foundation, you will start climbing the learning curve and may drop time especially in longer events.  Focus should be on excellent technique and not time drops.  You will go through another learning curve in step 2 as you progress to holding your technique while improving your endurance (swimming drill-like).  In step 2, many swimmers see time drops in distance events, and even and negative splitting become easier.  The final step is swimming fast with excellent technique (Race Drill-Like) and holding that technique at race pace.

No matter what level swimmer you are or want to be it is crucial to understand that great technique comes first! That is why in our squad program, we do drills at all levels, from the Novice Squad, right through to the Senior and Masters Squads. With persistence, patience and hard work the results will be MAGICAL!  Apply these basics and you will become one of those swimmers everyone ooooohhhhs at during your races!