If you’re like me then you’ve got pretty much every swim aid invented by man in the hope they will unlock that hidden Phelps inside. However, over the last three or four months there is one aid that has become indispensible to me, which I’m convinced should be placed on your immediate shopping list if you haven’t already got one!
So what is it First let me just start by asking a couple of questions Hands up if you are unaware that an evenly (or just slightly negatively) paced split, whether it’s swim, bike or run, is the fastest way to get from A to B. And hands up if you’ve only neared the end of the first 50m of a long set before you’ve realized that your effort and pace are nowhere near sustainable?! I’m willing to bet even those of you who think you are pacing sets correctly would be surprised if your 50m splits were recorded and how much they vary. Unfortunately, not many of us have a handy friend willing to be timing every lap for us and trying to catch a sneaky look at your own stopwatch just isn’t practical or easy!
All of this adds up to mean that a metronome should be your number one swimming aid, if it isn’t already! I use the Finis Tempo Trainer, which allows me to control my pace exactly on sets, with the metronome set to beep at the rate I wish to hit each 25m of a 300m interval for example. It will soon become apparent whether the pace you’ve chosen was too easy or two hard as you try to make a 2000m set! Of course it also allows for one of the fundamental training principles to be implemented that of progression small incremental changes to put additional training stress on your body so that you ultimately get faster! There has been the odd time when I’ve been struggling and seem to have plateaued and I’ve changed the metronome to beep just 1/10 of a second faster (per 25m), making me a whopping 4/10 of second faster per 100m. This may sound fairly unimpressive taken on its own, but of course all of these improvements over the weeks and months soon add up to a new PB!
However, the fun doesn’t stop hereJ The metronome can also help you with your cadence i.e strokes per minute (SPM). In very simplistic terms there are potentially a couple of advantages of upping your SPM firstly it can get rid of any over gliding or dead spots at the front of your stroke and secondly, a more punchier style is usually more advantageous in open water swims to cut your way through choppier water. The end result is even on technique days I still have the metronome stuck under my swim cap to get me used to a slightly faster cadence when performing drills, using an alternative mode setting of setting the number of beats per minute.
If any of you are familiar with the Swimsmooth website then lots of this information will sound familiar. If you’e not familiar with it or the concept of a metronome then I’d highly recommend their website for more detailed (and betterJ) explanation of this wonderful gadget’s benefits.