Test Set Tuesday, that’s a thing, or at least it was when I was in college. Tuesday meant one thing, you were about to do a decently hard set and coach was going to keep track of stats. Yes, we hated them, but we generally hated anything that made us stronger and better. The idea of a test set is to have one, or multiple, sets you repeat a couple of times throughout the season. Keep track of your stats from each set, and over time when you have completed the set a few times you should be able to compare and measure improvement.
The idea of swim golf (also known as SWOLF) is simple – create a benchmark to be used to indicate technique improvement over time. This simple drill will help you develop:
1. Better swimming technique: Placing value on distance per stroke, you must adapt your stroke, reducing drag and improving technique.
2. Improved efficiency: Swimming efficiency is essential for success, as an inefficient stroke is slow and tiresome. Combing a technical and performance aspect in the score of the drill, you will further enhance efficiency.
3. Sense of pace: Many swimmers have difficulty properly pacing their swimming races. Poor pacing can hinder performance and increase injury risk. Performing multiple repetitions while maintaining a stroke rate and time encourages you to properly pace during swimming.
Step 1 – Establish a Baseline
Start by completing a single 50-yard or 50-meter timed interval and count the strokes taken within the 50 (a stroke is each single arm movement – count the number of hand entries to make it simple). This interval should be completed as you would normally swim, not sprinting and not recovery, but something that is comfortable. Once completed, add the number of strokes taken to the time it takes to complete the lap. For example, if you complete the interval in 45 seconds, with 40 strokes, your golf score would be 85 (45 + 40 = 85). Just like in regular golf, the lower the score the better the performance. This number is like your par.
Step 2 – Improve your Golf Game
There are three ways to improve your score; take less strokes, swim a faster time, and lower both your stroke count and your time. Completing multiple intervals as a low to moderate intensity with one minute rest/recovery between each allows you to eliminate intensity and fatigue and focus on technique. Start making minor changes to technique; this could be a variety of things depending on the individual, but the feedback you receive from the water will tell you which modification improves score and which does not.
12×50 @ 1:00 Rest
Focus on making minor adjustments to technique and how they affect your score. I would keep the focus the same through the entire set (ex Week 1 focus – high elbows, Week 2 focus – hand entry, Week 3 focus – Head Position). Keep track of your score each 50 to measure improvement.