We did a set the other day that was inspired by Katie Ledecky and the fantastic way she finishes her races. I recently read an article about Katie titled "How Katie Ledecky became better at swimming than anyone is at anything"1. The title is a little over the top, but nevertheless as a swimmer the article is an inspiring read.
Her coach at the time, Bruce Gemmell, had this to say:
"You watch her in Rio this summer: I guarantee you, whether she wins or not, she'll win the last 15 meters of the race," Gemmell said. "She practices that every day. We're doing repeat 50s in practice, and she's the one who's putting her head down, powering into the wall, trying to get her hand to the wall first. And seven out of eight of the other great athletes in the pool are just finishing their repeat the same way they swam the other 35 meters.
"If you watch a practice with her, you'll see her come to the wall 40 times in practice with the same effort and energy she finishes a 200 free in trials. Do that 48 weeks out of the year, and do that six to 10 times a week, and do that 20 to 40 times a practice, and it's going to be real easy for her to do it in the last 15 meters of an Olympics."
This inspired me to think about what types of sets my swimming buddies and I could do to work on finishing strong.
Finishing Strong with Firebelly
The set we did was 12 x 75 yards free. The first 50 was a good cruise pace, our target was mile pace. Then the last 25 was supposed to be the fastest one of the 3 lengths. This really puts the focus on not just "making it to the wall" on the last length, but on trying to pick up your speed. It is especially difficult to beat your time from the first length when you were fresh off the rest. Here are my times as recorded by Firebelly. You can see that it was difficult to be faster on the last 25 and I didn't always succeed.
We did these using Mode 1 of Firebelly which gives you your split times on each 25. With Firebelly you know exactly what time you need to beat on the last length. It was also inspiring to picture how Katie swims and finishes her races while doing the set :-)
See you at the pool!
1. "How Katie Ledecky became better at swimming than anyone is at anything", by Dave Sheinin, Washington Post
2. Cover image by Repórter Fotográfico, Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, 7 August 2016, Creative Commons Attribution.