Swimming: Grace Under Pressure
Speed and agility training is as important in swimming as it is in any land-based competitive sport. The challenge for swimmers is to have the ability to break through a natural barrier which is at the core of the sport—water.
There are a number of similarities between swimming speed drills and that of other sports like the need to develop explosive power, endurance, and strength. Oftentimes, land-based and water-based sports interchange their training workouts because both have essential characteristics in developing the over-all performance of an athlete.
Stages of Competition
According to Swimming USA, there are over 4,000 swimming competitions happening in the country every year—from school-age children’s swimming contests to professional competitions. The four main swimming categories are:
All categories are swum over the distances of 100 and 200 meters, with freestyle having the additional 50-meter race for men and women, 1500-meter for men, and 800-meter for women. Another swimming category that was introduced in the 2008 Beijing Olympics was the 10-kilometer swimming marathon.
Team competition for both men and women includes 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relay and 4×100 medley relay. Combinations of categories in one event can be witnessed in individual medley competitions, which can either be in 200 or 400-meter distance.
Focus of Speed and Agility Training in Swimming
The biggest challenge for any swimmer is to be able to sustain a very high energy level throughout an event and still have enough power to accelerate towards the end. This is made even more difficult because a swimmer cannot breathe normally like in other sports played on solid ground.
Sprint Swimming Speed Drills
For sprint swimmers competing in short distances from 50 to 200 meters, the focus of swimming speed and agility training is anaerobic power. This means that the swimmer must be able to perform efficiently without as much as a breath of air. Swimming speed workouts must be designed to strengthen muscles to work extremely hard over a short period of time without the benefit of oxygen circulation. Without these swimming speed drills, a swimmer will surely falter in the middle of the competition.
Long Distance Swimming Speed Workout
For swimmers competing in 400 meters and up, swimming speed and agility training is centered on aerobic capability—the efficiency of the cardiovascular system to absorb and transport oxygen efficiently under stress for a long period of time. This explains why speed and agility drills for swimming are not always done in the water. Much like every other athlete, swimmers also jog, bike, or even sprint. They also use swimming speed and agility equipment similar to football or even basketball athletes.
Most swimmers participate in almost all events except for the marathon. As such, they maintain regular speed and agility drills for swimming, plus extra swimming speed workouts for each event.
Swimming speed and agility training are done both on land and water. Gym exercises, road workouts, and swimming drills must all be incorporated in any swimming regimen. The use of specialized swimming speed and agility equipment is important in developing both anaerobic and aerobic capability of all swimmers in order to triumph in the end.