Swimming is one of the hardest sports to master mainly due to its technical nature. You can swim your hardest every day and still not improve. Swimming smarter rather than harder is where most swimmers find they can make gains, but what exactly does swimming smarter mean?
Historically, cutting edge technology used to help further develop a swimmers' understanding of their swimming has previously only really been made available to elite swimmers. Accessible technology and frameworks for progression for both cycling and running have led cyclists and runners to better understand their performance and how to improve. These same principles can be applied to swimming as well. Now with the availability of our FORM Smart Swim Goggles it’s easier than ever to quantify your swims, and swim smarter.
To do this, start with goal setting to create a focused routine that is a cycle of preparation, execution, and analysis.
To do anything smarter, it’s a good idea to set SMART goals that will define where the ideal final destination is, so that on the journey there are milestones and focuses to guide you. Being SMART goals, they need to contain the following qualities: be Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Relevant, and Time-bound. You can hear FORMie and Olympian Scott Dickens discuss this in further detail in our Goal Setting webinar. The important takeaway here is that having goals with these qualities gives you the necessary groundwork for getting into the habit of preparing, executing, and reflecting on each swim that you do to ensure that you maximize your improvement with the time you have available.
A Cycle of Preparation, Execution, & Analysis
To maximize outcomes for every swim you do, each session should begin with preparation before even heading to the pool. At a minimum, this should include reviewing your goals for the session, taking a look at the entire session plan, and bringing hydration and nutrition along as dictated by the session length. It is also good to get into the routine of packing everything you need for the session, such as your towel and FORM goggles. Little things like forgetting a towel can make it easy to lose focus during a workout and doing these little things right makes a big difference. Part of your preparation should include ensuring that you have your dashboards configured in a way that will meet your swim session needs. This way you don't have to worry about setup once at the pool or in the middle of a swim session. With this out of the way, it’s time to jump in the pool.
Next comes the part that most people are more familiar with, executing the swim to the best of their ability. If you’ve prepared correctly, there are only a couple things you should be thinking about: technique and, if you have FORM goggles, the metrics needed to measure your performance with respect to your goals. Maintaining a level of focus on technique during the entire swim will help your body become accustomed to both high and low intensity work with good form, instead of focusing on your effort.
Because you reviewed your session before starting your swim, you should know what your effort should be. While this is often the biggest consumer of mental energy while swimming, it should be subconscious rather than being the forefront thought in your mind. Using the FORM goggles, you get real-time feedback on metrics from stroke rate to interval distance, so trying to count lengths while swimming is a thing of the past. Instead you can make sure you are at the right stroke rate or in the right heart rate zone for the set you are doing in real-time. If you don’t have the FORM goggles, you can still count your strokes or revert to using the pace clock next to the pool, but make sure you don’t forget to lose focus on your technique in doing so.
Similar to what you see while you’re swimming, FORM provides the data to reflect on after your swim, with all your data organized automatically under workout details, grouped into sets. Once you finish your swim, hop into the FORM Swim App to compare your goals and intentions for the swim against your actual execution. You can gain powerful insights by reviewing every swim, and by utilizing these insights when preparing for your next swim, you stand to continually improve and learn.
Getting into these habits might take a while, but in focusing on doing so, each swim will be better than the last. You will improve much faster than those around you who get out of every swim exhausted, are plateauing, and don’t know how to improve, as they ultimately don’t take the time to do the little things that make smarter swimmers into faster swimmers.