Peak performance cannot happen with out planning. When we plan for a season, we break it down the season into training phases. Doing so allows us to monitor progress while making the necessary adjustments needed to keep athletes on track. The term we use to describe how we break down the season is called Periodization.

Periodization may be defined as the process of varying the intensity, volume and type of exercise/movement of a training program at scheduled intervals to cause improvements in physical performance that may not be achieved through a purely random program. While a randomized program can produce general gains (as long as stress is consistently increased) it cannot cause a swimmer to reach his/her ultimate potential.

Planning and organizing training over the course of several months or years allows the athlete to achieve his/her maximum potential and make continual progress for years to come. The plan must be formulated so that the skills and performance (times) constantly improve. The plan must emphasize the main performance factors according to an individual’s goals (Event) and must also include periodic evaluation to determine weak links in the fitness chain. Those areas of weakness must be stressed further in ensuing training phases.

1)  General, to develop metabolic capacity

2)  Preparatory, to increase muscular strength and endurance

3)  Specific, to practice and sharpen sport-specific technique and improve efficiency

The term we use to describe how we train during an entire training phase (SCY/LCM) is called Macrocycle. The first SCY Macrocycle begins in September and ends Mid-March. During this season, the Elite swimmers train for Short Course meets. Short Course yards are the same length that High School teams compete in for meets (25 Yards.) From Mid-March to August, we train for Olympic Standard meets (50 Meters.)

Each Macrocycle is broken down into several Mesocycles. A Mesocycle can last anywhere from several weeks to several months depending on the athletes goals and the number of competitions within the period. Each Mesocycle is divided into two or more Microcycles. A Microcycle will typically last anywhere from 1 to 4 weeks. This short cycle focuses on daily and weekly training variations.

By manipulating intensity, volume, and technique through the implementation of Mesocycles and Microcycles within an overall Macrocycle, we are able to prevent overtraining and optimize performance.

We break down both seasons into 5 distinct Mesocycles. Each Mesocycle is designed to prepare the athlete for the next. We lay the foundation for our training during the preseason and essentially hack away from the unessential as we progress through the season.

Training Pyramid

To improve, an athlete must accept that they haven’t reached their potential, and be willing to push beyond their perceived limitation. Training goals are achieved by training a wide variety of energy systems and movements, with emphasis on muscles, muscle groups and movements that are the foundation of daily functional and athletic movements.

This same program may also be used to build a solid foundation and starting point for a periodized, sport specific application, which is designed to address the particular neurological and efficiency demands of the sport.

  1. The Preseason represents low-moderate loads of intensive training that is devoted to recruiting muscle and sensory awareness.
  2. The first 2 Competition Mesocycle develop, condition, and educate the athlete as adaptions occur.
  3. The final Competition Mesocycle prepares the athlete for peak performance
  4. Optimal performance occurs during the taper


Preseason Mesocycle

The first Mesocycle of the season is called the Preseason. The Preseason takes up roughly 6-8 weeks to complete. During this time, training goals are achieved through very generalized aerobic training.

Aerobic training can be defined as low to moderate training (50-85%) that depends on energy derived from the Citric Cycle (Krebs).

During the preseason, the body is going to go through a state of shock. All our athletes will have just taken a week or two off and will need several weeks to adjust to training.

We try to keep the intensity low in order for the body to adjust to the stressors of training.

Preseason Objectives:

1) Assess current training level

2) Establish aerobic base

3) Set individual and team goals for entire season

4) Establish training baseline through kicking

5) Recover fitness level from previous season Establish breathing patterns/breathing techniques

6) Establish proper head position

7) Recruit muscles and develop muscle patterns needed for optimal performance later in the season

Competition Mesocycle

The Second Mesocycle is called the Competition Mesocycle. The Competition period takes 3 to 6 months to complete. The goal for the competition season is to increase performance potential by greatly increasing training intensity and emphasis on technique.

The overall volume will increase as well, but at a much slower rate.

We tend to break the competition season down into 3 Microcycles in order to peak the swimmer’s performance for the most critical competitions. Each Microcycle emphasizes different training modes in order to accomplish our objectives.

Competition 1 Objectives:

1) Reinforce training goals from Preseason

2) Breakdown practices in hi-low, kick-pull, and isolation segments. Breakdown the stroke as much as possible (Component Training).

3) Develop basic strength for all 4 strokes including streamline with the use of fins, paddles, pull buoys, and other in water equipment

4) Develop specific strength for primary stroke.

5) Increase aerobic endurance

6) Incorporate drills for flip turns and open turns

7) Increase capacity to perform underwater (streamlines and pull downs)

Competition 2 Objectives:

1) Increase performance potential speed through frequent implementation of Fartlek and Interval training.

2) Swim the stroke more as a whole with fewer drills.

3) Maintain aerobic endurance

4) Gradually reduce equipment used so swimmer can develop a better “feel” for the water.

5) Increase speed and power of walls and starts

Competition 3 Objectives:

1) Increase metabolic conditioning by implementing Speed-Endurance sets.

2) Emphasize race pace technics by increasing communication between Coach and swimmer and allowing more time to recover between sets.

3) Establish stroke count for primary stroke

4) Increase power of wall and starts by applying the 6-second build rule.

5) Monitor and chart times in practice to ensure we are on pace to achieve our goal times

Taper Mesocycle

 The final Mesocycle of the season is called the taper. This usually takes 2 weeks to a month to complete. We plan a taper right before our final meet of the season. During this time, we hack away all of the “unnecessary” training and hone in on the events they are competing in.

Taper Objectives:

1) Maintain aerobic endurance

2) Decrease intensity

3) Greater emphasis on race components

4) Provide information regarding Carb Loading

5) Perform rehearsal swims at submaximal pace and provide feedback between each swim.

The bottom line is swimmers must have an enormous amount endurance and power in order to. Bridging the two takes careful planning and teamwork. Our objective for each season is to have them reach a level of conditioning needed for optimal performance. This does not happen by chance. Achieving optimal conditioning requires an insurmountable amount of planning and attention to detail.

Our coaches understand the components and conditions that need be considered to reach the ends of the spectrum. We recognize the importance of addressing individual objectives and status within individualized programming. Creating and maintaining unique protocols is too inefficient for words but what we can is teach the athletes how to assess, analyze and adapt to a training program that provides satisfactory results.