Swim Sessions

Coventry Triathletes runs three fully coached one hour swim sessions each week, on Wednesday at 6.00 pm and Sunday at 5.30 pm and 6.30 pm. The purpose of our swim sessions is to facilitate improvements in participants’ freestyle swimming technique and speed, for participation in triathlon. Our coaches are an experienced team of Level 1 and Level 2 coaches. They are there to ensure all participants have a safe, fun swim and to provide feedback and instructions on the drills, the session and participants’ technique.

Our sessions are suitable for anyone who can already swim 100m freestyle continuously. If you cannot swim 100m freestyle without stopping, please sign up for one of our Novices swim courses (see below), which run during the Autumn and Winter. These will teach you the basics to enable you to participate in our sessions after the course finishes.

Attending a swim session

You must pre-book and pay the session fee (£5 for members) onto the session using our booking app, TeamUp, before you arrive for the session. This is important because session numbers are limited to comply with the coach-athlete ratios prescribed by British Triathlon. If you arrive having not booked and the session is full, you will not be permitted to swim.

You must bring a costume suitable for swimming in (bikinis and board shorts are not appropriate swimwear for our sessions). You must also bring goggles, as the club does not lend these out, and if you have long hair, we strongly encourage you to use a swim cap. You do not need to bring any other equipment with you – anything else we will use in the session will be provided by the club.

Swim coaching

The club coaches do not coach swim strokes other than freestyle. Participants may be permitted by the coaches to practice other swim strokes in the cool down, but we do not include these in our sessions. Please ensure you ask the coaches before going ahead with a different stroke.

Participants will be allocated to a lane by the session coaches based on their pace for 400m freestyle. Coaches may move participants around in the lanes to ensure everyone has sufficient room. There will usually be no more than 5 participants in a lane. The lane you will be allocated to depends on the other participants at the session, but as a general guide:

Lane 1

Under 6 minutes

Lane 2

6 – 7 minutes

Lane 3

7 – 8 minutes

Lane 4

8 – 9 minutes

Lane 5

Over 9 minutes

Lane 6

Over 9 minutes

The swim sessions we use are printed on large laminated cards. The cards are split into sections for warm up, swim drills, main set and cool down. The coaches will aim to spend around 10 minutes on the warm up, 10 to 15 minutes for the drills, 25 to 35 minutes on the main set and 5 minutes on the cool down.

Types of swim session

Speed: these are usually shorter sessions in overall distance. They focus on hard/fast swimming for shorter distances (typically a max of 200m). They include longer rest intervals after each effort, to take account of the harder effort. These are intended to prepare participants for the hard efforts they may need to make at the start or end of a triathlon swim.

Endurance: these are usually the longest sessions in overall distance. They focus on moderate/easy/smooth swimming for longer distances (typically 200m to 400m). They include shorter rest intervals after each effort. These are intended to prepare participants for longer distance triathlon swims. Speed-endurance: these are sessions that contain a mixture of harder efforts and longer distance efforts, often with less rest than for a speed session. They may require a change of pace during an effort – from hard to easy or vice versa. These are intended to prepare participants for the change of pace they may need to make during a longer triathlon swim. Technique: these are sessions that focus exclusively on technique improvements. There are drills between the warm up and the main session, but the coaches will emphasise continuing the drills in the main session. The overall distance in the session is likely to be fairly short, and the pace will be comfortable, to ensure participants get the best out of the technique practice. CSS: these are sessions that focus on holding a particular cadence or pace per length for the whole of the main set. The coaches will use tempo trainers (beepers) set to either stroke rate (setting 1 – cadence) or pace per length (setting 2). If there are sufficient to go around, they will give a beeper to every participant that wants one. If the session is busy, the coaches will give a beeper to the participant leading each lane. The coaches may adjust the pace on the setting up or down during the session, depending on participant feedback and their own observations. For setting 1, the purpose is to ensure the stroke length does not shorten as the participant tires towards the end of the session. For setting 2, the purpose is to ensure the participant holds a consistent pace throughout the session – otherwise, typically, participants will start the session at a faster than sustainable pace. Special sessions: open water, end of term/Christmas sessions: open water sessions focus on the skills needed to swim in open water – sighting, deep water starts, swimming in a pack, swimming round buoys etc. The other ad hoc sessions are intended to provide a bit of fun for participants. The coaches schedule speed, endurance, speed-endurance, technique and CSS sessions in rotation throughout the year, so that if a participant attends both Wednesday and Sunday, they should be swimming a different type of session each time. The open water sessions are generally only scheduled during the spring and summer.

Swimming drills

The club uses six sets of swimming drills in rotation throughout the year, spending around four weeks on each set before moving onto the next. The coaches may also use other drills on an ad hoc basis during the sessions. Each set of drills focuses on specific aspects of swim technique, including: rotation, breathing, hand entry and catch, the drive part of the swim stroke, the hand exit, arm recovery and kick. The coaches will explain the drill purpose and technique at each session and will provide feedback and corrections to drill technique to all participants.  Apart from kick drills, the drills are generally completed with a pull buoy, so the coaches will ask all participants to use one. Kick drills are generally completed without a kick board or fins, unless the coaches decide that their use is appropriate. 

General points on swimming

• Participants are generally expected to complete the session as written or instructed by the coaches, including the swimming drills. If you have a medical condition or injury which means you cannot complete the drills or the session as intended, including using swim aids (pull buoys and paddles), please ensure you inform the coaches before the session starts and the coach will suggest adaptations to the session as appropriate. If you have a medical condition that requires you to carry medication (such as an asthma inhaler or epipen), please ensure you have your medication with you at all times.

• If a participant is struggling with a particular swim drill, the coaches will give feedback and may suggest modifications to the drill or a different drill altogether if they feel it will benefit the participant and lead to a similar outcome. This is part of the coaching role and the athlete-centred approach. • The coaches will observe and provide feedback to all participants on their technique throughout the session. This may mean stopping the lane from continuing in a drill or part of the main set to give additional instructions or feedback or to discuss a point with some or all of the lane. Please be courteous to the coach and other participants in the lane in these circumstances. • The rest intervals written on the session card should be observed by all participants unless instructed otherwise by the coach. These are always written as a time interval from the last participant in the lane, to ensure all participants receive an appropriate amount of rest. This is an important aspect of our inclusive approach to our sessions. back to Training Sessions