ROKA Sports Swim Session: 07.08.14

It’s Championship Week around the world.  That is for the World Cup, arguably the biggest sporting event on the planet.  So in keeping with the Championship theme, this week we do some Championship prep work.  It’s lactate clearance time.  Having the ability to effectively metabolize lactate in the swim is an important skill in maximizing your overall performance, for not only the swim leg but also the entire race.  The skill allows you to surge and recover at race pace during critical moments in the swim and actually race this portion of the day tactically.


In this set we use the 50s to accumulate lactate into the system.  While the 50s are done at a sub-maximal effort, they are  still very, very fast.  The longer intervals at race pace and shorter rest are used to then manage the metabolic byproducts, including lactate.  Depending on where you are in your season and the length of the swim you have coming up in your ‘A’ race, you can add/subtract to the fast 50s or the longer intervals to periodize this set.

Before getting going on the set, be sure to be properly warmed up and ready to go.  In our first installment of this series we talked about ground rules for warm up and a pre-main set here.

Lactate Clearance Set

3×50 @ 25″ Rest Interval (RI), FAST!!!

3×200 @ 15″ RI, Hold Race Pace

200 @ 30″ RI, easy

3×50 @ 25″ Rest Interval (RI) – FAST!!!

4×150 @ 10″ RI, Hold Race Pace

200 easy

Total: 1900 yards or meters



ROKA Sports Swim Session: 7/1/14

With the 4th of July approaching quickly on Friday, we go old school swimming workout for this week.  The 4th and New Year’s are traditional days for a lot of club swimming teams in the States.  These events which also happen to mark the first 6-month periods of a given year lend themselves to big training days.  And by big, we mean 10k big, usually marked by 100×100.  So in celebration of these traditional days, and a #WeBelieve USMNT clash against the Belgians, we go the classic 100×100.  Enjoy!


The Traditional: 100 x 100

— warmup:

– (1) 20×100 @ 10″ RI (Rest Interval) as 4x

1: free

2: 50 drill – 50 free

3: 50 k – 50 free

4: 50 backstroke – 50 free

5: free as 75 steady – 25 build

– (2) 12 x 100 as 4x @ 10″ RI

1: 25 Right Arm – 25 Left Arm – 50 free swim

2: 50 fists – 50 free

3: free swim as 50 steady – 50 build

– (3) 15 x 100 as 3x @ 15″ RI

1: 25 fast kick switch- 75 free swim  (kick switch = 9 kicks on side with one hand out in front, the other at the side; after 9 kicks, take a stroke and switch sides)

2: 50 fast kick switch – 50 free

3: 75 fast kick switch – 25 free

4: 100 fast kick switch

5: 100 easy free

– (4) 30 x 100 as 3x

Round 1: Fins

Round 2: Paddles-only

Round 3: Swim

1-2: @ 10″ RI, steady

3: @ 5″ RI, race effort

4-5: @ 10″ RI, steady

6-7: @ 5″ RI, race effort

8-9: @ 10″ RI, steady

10: FAST!!! @ 30″ RI

– (5) 16 […]

ROKA Sports Swim Session: 6/16/14

Coming off a big sports weekend here in the States – World Cup, US Open, NBA Finals, US Swimming Open Water Champs & a Game of Thrones finale – we have a mid-week work set to challenge your fitness. The idea behind this set is to get faster as the distances get shorter.  I like using odd distances for certain sets because our egos aren’t wrapped up in specific numbers based on our past performances.  This allows us to more readily focus on the process of executing the set rather than get too wrapped up in the numbers we’re hitting.  Before getting going on the set, be sure to be properly warmed up and ready to go.  In our first installment of this series we talked about ground rules for warm up and a pre-main set here.




Winning Descent

2x Through:
2x 250 @ 20″ RI, steady, slight negative split
2x 125 @ 15″ RI, race effort
4×75 @ 5″ RI or tightest interval that provides 3-5″ rest at slightly FASTER than race effort
2×25 @ 20″ RI, ALL OUT!!!

Total: 2200 yards or meters

By |June 16th, 2014|News, Swimming|0 Comments

ROKA Sports Swim Session: 6/9/14

Some Monday morning blocking and tackling this week. Whether you do this one middle of the week or end of the week, this one’s steeped in technical fundamentals and aerobic maintenance, packaged in a nice ascending/descending ladder. In our first installment of this series we talked about ground rules for warm up and a pre-main set here. As you choose the drills, look for inspiration from last week’s session here.


Blocking & Tackling Aerobic Ladder

100 @ 15″ RI, 50 drill/50 free

200 @ 15″ RI, pull, negative split to z3 or 80% of race effort

300 @ 20″ RI as 3x

400 @ 20″ RI, pull, negative split to z3 or 80% of race effort

400 @ 20″ RI as 4x

300 @ 20″ RI, pull, negative split to race effort

200 @ 15″ as 2x

100 pull @ race effort

total: 2000 yards or meters


ROKA Sports Swim Session: 6/2/14

For our program we’re coming off a big race weekend. We typically do a “no-legs” day for our AGers on Monday which means it’s pool time.  And after a harder weekend in we usually go to drills and lighter aerobic swimming and shorter repeats – think 100s and 200s.  For this week’s swim session, we have a series of 150s and 100s with emphasis on drill work that gets incorporated directly into full stroke swimming.  It’s purposeful and immediately translates from skill to application.

There are a handful of drills, I prefer for technique work.  The two we feature this week, focus on what some call “high early vertical forearm” or the “catch” portion of the stroke and developing a good feel for what that entails. The early catch allows a longer range of motion for the power phase of freestyle swimming that starts as soon as the forearm of the catching arm angles downward towards the bottom of the pool and extends to just past the hips.  The longer that line, the more opportunity for great power to be created and transferred to the recovery portion of the stroke.  The other components to power transfer are the high elbow position which allows the swimmer to use the stored tension between the delta in shoulder angle and hip angle as well as pulling velocity.  These drills allow the athlete to work on each aspect of power creation and transfer with the body and arms (less the kick here).  First, let’s get to the two featured drills and then on to the main set.

1. Single Arm Freestyle: There are several variations of this drill and all work on something a bit different from the […]

ROKA Sports Swim Session: 5/27/14

Coming off the holiday weekend here in the States we go to a bread and butter, hard hat set.  It’s a hard hat set because it’s good ole’ fashioned aerobic work; the type of work that makes you a better swimmer and triathlete.  The theme of this set is 800s, but depending on the distance race you’re focused on, the centerpiece distance can range from 400s to 1000s. In our first installment of this series we talked about ground rules for warm up and a pre-main set here.

Because of the duration of this one, a pre-main set isn’t necessarily a requirement. You have the first 800 to act like that. The most important concept  of the set is that you take the cumulative time of each 800 distance (800 | 2×400 | 4×200 | 8×100 ) and make sure that the cumulative time of the work intervals of each subsequent 800 is faster  than the previous.  In short, you are descending the 800 intervals throughout and end a long main set – 3200 yards or meters – with a really strong effort.  This type of descending effort is a great exercise in patience and muscular and aerobic endurance.  Context aside, let’s put on the hard hat and go get to work.

Hard Hat

Work 800s

800 pull, buoy/paddles @ 45″ RI

2×400 @ 30″ RI, negative split each, descend (dec.) 1-2

4×200 @ 20″ RI, neg split, dec. 1-4

8×100 @ 10″ RI, dec. 1-4, 5-8

(3200 yards or meters)

ROKA Sports Swim Session: 5/19/14

We’re trying a new recurring post in our blog session with our friends over at ROKA Sports. The focus will naturally be on swimming and typically entail a swim set or discussion of swim mechanics and more often than not, both. There are some ground rules on the swim sets on this blog. At Dynamo during the season we typically give our athletes main sets that run at the 2k-3k range. This provides the training stimulus necessary for the open water distances our athletes have to face on race day regardless of distance. Leading into the main set, there’s typically a structured warm-up of 1k (400 choice / 200 as 50 drill – 50 swim / 200 as 50 kick – 50 swim / 200 build) followed by a pre-main set (600-1500m or yards) that has a skill focus mixed with short intensity as we prepare the body for the work ahead. As you, the reader, follow the workouts and if you do them on your own, take this into consideration. Depending on how much time you have, you should always aim to complete the main set in entirety. If you need to cut anything down, shorten the warm-up and pre-main set by doing what’s necessary to prepare your body for the main set.


For this week, we have a nice race-season set since we’re in the middle of final preps on a lot of  ‘A’ races this time of year.  We use some toys for this session, so you’ll need paddles and fins.  This is also a great set to use your ROKA Sim Shorts, so if you have […]

Swimming in Circles

By Matthew Rose, Founder, Head Coach

I wanted to address a recent swimming article published by a local coaching group that provides what I believe is erroneous counsel on swimming technique.  In the article, the author contends that the proper “finish” to the freestyle pull (pull defined as the underwater portion of the stroke) is “extending the arm back towards the feet”.  The author then explicitly advises not to finish at the hips.  By teaching the swimmer to “push back” all the way through to the feet, the author advocates for a linear pulling technique, and in doing so counsels athletes to pull extremely inefficiently, the cost being precious heart beats we can use for the bike and run.

The misconception of the “pull back” technique lies in its linear nature, the subsequent large fluctuation in power output with that technique and the excess muscle fatigue placed on the tricep at no material gain of speed.  If you were to plot out a power curve for a freestyle pull (using watts or distance per second on the “Y”-axis and time on the “X”-axis), what you would see on a “pull back” swimmer is two spikes.  The first, and most dramatic, would be at the beginning of the stroke, occurring after the “catch” phase of the pull when the swimmer “catches” the water in front of the body (and better so, as far in front as possible without sacrificing the structural integrity or rigidity of the swimmer’s core).  Assuming the swimmer maintains a high elbow position, the first several inches of the pull after the “catch” phase will create a spike in power.  As the hand pulls back past the chest (note: fingers ALWAYS pointed towards the […]