Masters Swimming in Australia general observes two seasons over the course of the year:
- A long course season over the summer in which we use 50m pools
- A short course season over the winter in which we use 25m pools
While this is a longstanding tradition due to there being smaller indoor pools for the winter and larger outdoor pools for the summer (which we have long since moved beyond in Australia where most new pools are an ‘Olympic’ size), it still makes sense to split the year in some way to allow for training and competitive variety.
It is the task of the coaching team to get most improvement out of their swimmers over the season, and from one season to the next. The most common way to achieve this, is to have a progression that builds the swimmers’ skills, fitness, speed and knowledge of the sport. The ultimate goal for any masters swimmer is that your next seasons’ peak performance is better, and not worse, than the last.
Each season is therefore split into at least four training phases with a different focus:
1. Pre-conditioning: longer intervals, technical skills, focus on correcting issues and putting the ground-works in place for a solid season. You will find this gradually transitions into...
2. Conditioning: shortening intervals, faster pace and fitness building. This makes up the core of the season and you should be pushing hard to keep up at the end. A month before our target meet this will transition to...
3. Competition: race pace work begins in earnest, with rest but also speed increasing as the target becomes nearer. Expect dive starts, relay practice, hard work in your turns
4. Taper: A week or so before the target meet the taper begins. The speed, intensity, and distance all decrease to allow your body to rest and recover from your training so that you can perform at your best on race day.
This summer (long-course) season we will have two 'target meets', selected by the coaches and committee based on the number of swimmers likely to attend and their relative importance to the club. These meets are of course, Proud to Play in Auckland, and our own carnival at Sydney Uni at the end of May.
As we build towards Proud to Play in Auckland, you will notice that conditioning will kick into high gear from mid-November onwards, and just as we are all returning from our Christmas holidays in mid-January competition phase will kick in. A mid-season taper is known as a ‘drop taper’ which drops the training distance and intensity just enough to allow your body to recover but not so much that you begin to lose fitness. Then we will be off to Auckland!
For the second half of the summer season we will be building towards our own Wett Ones Carnival at the end of May. The pre-conditioning in this period will be minimal – just enough to tweak any problems from Auckland – and then the swimming will once again ramp up towards the competition phase beginning at the end of April. Two weeks of taper will precede the carnival so the whole team should be in tip top shape to swim!
While only two ‘target meets’ are used to dictate the flow of the training schedule it is highly recommended that swimmers take part in a few mid-season meets. These can be for fun, just used as practice for certain events, and as a way of tracking progress towards your goals. If the first time you hear ‘Take Your Marks’ is when it really counts, the you are setting yourself up for a belly flop, but if you get some practice at small meets beforehand it can make all difference to you race day confidence. All BPS meets in New South Wales are posted on our events calendar and can be entered through the race secretary.
If you ever have any questions about the training programme, please talk freely with the coaches who will be happy to explain what we are doing, and most importantly why we are doing it.
Here’s to a successful summer season of long course swimming!
Wett Ones President