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  • 11 May 2016

    Training for the Paralympic trials...

    As I begin writing this blog we are less than a week away from the 2016 Paralympic Trials in Glasgow.

    This is arguably one of the most important times in a swimmer’s season; it’s make or break at this point. Either you swim your qualifying time and are Rio bound or you don’t. There’s a real simplicity about this and that’s one thing I love about swimming. It’s just the swimmer, the pool and the clock, nowhere to hide. An entire season can come down to whether or not you can hold your nerve when it counts. This finality may seem to be a bit of a harsh reality but it’s what I thrive on. I love being put under pressure and delivering big performances when they count.

    Many of my races can be finished in less than 40 seconds. Such a short time compared to the countless hours of preparation. As promised in my last blog, I’m going to give you all a glimpse into my training regime and schedule so here goes…

    My preparation for this season started on the 1 September 2015, this is the day I returned back to full time training after my rest period following the 2015 World Championships. For the first month back my squad at the National Performance Centre in Manchester did a great deal of cross training. In other words, we did a great deal of training that wasn’t swimming based. We were still working in the pool but we also did other methods of training such as rock climbing, spinning, bikram yoga and even canoeing!

    You may wonder how all of this will help with my swimming. I too wondered this at the beginning but once you look at it more closely there are correlations between many other physical activities and swimming. Take the following as examples:

    • Rock Climbing – this helps with gaining full body control i.e. generating force through the shoulders and the legs. In swimming it is essential to create power through both the arms and the legs.
    • Spinning – this form of training relies solely on the legs. It builds power and endurance in these muscles which can transfer into a far more powerful leg kick while swimming.
    • Bikram Yoga – balance and core stability are founding principles of yoga; having better control over our core will result in better body position and therefore less drag in the water.

    Taking part in these activities was so refreshing and an innovative way to start the new season, something I would definitely be interested in doing again.

    After this block of training, my team and I headed out to the Olympic Training Centre in Colorado Springs for a three-week training camp. This was an incredibly rare opportunity as a British team hadn’t been granted the chance to train there for a number of years. The facilities at the Olympic Training Centre are second to none! Everything we could ever need or want was located on one campus. No need to travel, no need to drive. Everything we could possibly use to aid our training was right there. We had a fantastic three weeks with lots of training gains made, and the 2016 season was really starting to take shape.

    Although all of the trips and fancy new ways of training are a great experience, the majority of our work is carried out in sunny Manchester. A typical week of training for me consists of around 18 hours of training in the pool, five hours of strength work in the gym and several more hours spent with physio or our soft tissue therapists – this aims to improve recovery and flexibility. I’d say a minimum training week is around 25 hours and on average I swim 40-50 kilometres in the pool, depending on what stage of training I am in.

    As I mentioned at the very start of the blog, the Paralympic trials are fast approaching. For a swimmer this means one thing: taper time. You may be thinking, taper? What’s that? Well quite frankly it’s every swimmers favourite time of year. Forget birthdays or Christmas, taper tops the lot! This is the stage of the season before any big meet where we get to let our bodies rest and recover from all the hard training, it takes two weeks to get fully rested. The distance we swim decreases while the intensity of the workouts increase. An emphasis is put on fine-tuning the small details of our strokes and technique. We also have to focus a lot on recovery and sleep during this time, speaking of sleep I should probably stop writing this and get some shut eye!

    120 days to Rio 2016. See everyone in the next blog when I’ll be confirming if I’ve made the cut for the GB team.

    Fingers crossed!

    Andrew

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