I was recently having a discussion with one of my club athletes who has come from a non swimming background. She is determined to do a triathlon this year and has been quietly working away on her swimming outwith club sessions.
As it happens she also swims where I train so I occasionally see her. What was noticeable when I last watched her was her swimming had improved a lot but her swim fitness (probably due to confidence) hadn’t.
This made me do some self reflection on my own swimming which has never been great and I felt was currently going backwards.
I though of it in terms of a fulcrum
We have to get the balance right between where we put in the effort and the reward we get from it. At one extreme of the see-saw we have skill technique and the other end swim fitness and these need to be kept in line.
The basis of a fulcrum is you can balance it using unequal distances for different loads as in the diagram below.
If we now think of the load as ability and the distance from the middle as how much time (think frequency rather than real time) we work on it we can continue to keep our time spent in balance. If we don’t the see-saw will fall.
As the ability (either skill or fitness) increases the load on each side will need to move towards the centre of the fulcrum so eventually once we reach a high level we move regularly between both.
Let’s put this into the context of somebody swimming 4 times a week as beginner.
They start by going to the pool and just swimming 4 times a week so the swim fitness load increases. They reach a point where they plateau as the see-saw has become unbalanced.
You now need to address the skill element to move forwards so they get a coach and go the other way and do skill sessions 3 times a week. This will start to bring the balance back again. This process continues ad-infinitum.
Eventually they will do 2 sessions of skill and 2 of fitness as the balance and this may even change for different times of the year/season or to address a weakness.
For me I had lost this balance. I had totally focused on speed work to get faster and had lost the time investing in skill technique. As a result my technique had collapsed and I was getting slower though my fitness is good.
I am now back taking some more time to slow things down again to get faster.