Training Information

Training guidelines

Brompton SC General Training Group Descriptions

Training kit guidelines
Warm up protocol
Cool down protocol

Training tips

Where do you start with training tips?

There is so much to learn.

Clearly if as a swimmer you are very experienced, this is not the article for you. If on the other hand you are less experienced read on.


Training should be a daily thing like eating, drinking and sleeping.

Remember: Swim, Eat, Sleep, Repeat.

Doing 3 or 4 sessions on the bounce then missing a week is very bad. Progress will not be made under these conditions. 3 sessions in the pool per week is the minimum. The reason our youngest group is based at three sessions a week is that 8-10 year old swimmers will also be swimming at school. Our top swimmers will swim twice a day Monday through Saturday and once on Sunday!!

Lastly remember prizes are given by Brompton for attendance.

Clock watching

The big clock is there for a reason. Learn to know the times you do for different strokes and distances.

For instance a swimmer in Academy will swim 100m Front Crawl in between 1.40 min and 2 min. 50m kicking should take most swimmers in National about 45-50 secs. So a brief look at where you started and finished on the clock will quickly tell you what time you have achieved. If the coach asks you to take 10 secs rest the big clock will tell you that.

You can even use the clock to measure how many reps have been completed. 10 x 100 on 2mins. After 18 minutes you have done 9!!!!

Pulse is easily measured using the clock. See below.

Get used to using the clock all the time.

Lane etiquette and courtesy

Read the section on lane etiquette. Know the direction of your lane, give the person in front 5 secs start, never cheat on your start time. Give way to faster swimmers, or try to go faster.

Technique versus effort

Never sacrifice on technique. When trying hard technique is often sacrificed. Don’t. Poor technique means more resistance and harder to swim fast.

Always give a training session your best. Never get out thinking it was easy as this normally means you weren't working hard enough!


We all have weaknesses. The way to improve as an athlete is to work on your weakness. It’s a concept called improvement by marginal gain. So if your leg kick is poor. That means you cannot do 50m kick in less than 60 seconds, do more kick. This applies to all areas of swimming.

How hard to try?

Your coach will always tell you how hard to try. That is usually set by the swim and rest times. So if the coach says you have 10 x 100m to do on 2mins swim and rest, don’t ask how much rest. The faster you swim the more rest you will get.

If your coach says swim slowly then do so. He or she is asking you to try to work on technical perfection, best done slowly.

If the coach says as fast as possible, you should be panting by the end.

A one length sprint should be head down and kicking as hard as possible.

A kicking training set should nearly always be done hard.

Pulse rate

Here is an article all on its own.

The Rule of thumb is that maximum heart/pulse rate is 220 minus your age.

So for the average Age Group swimmer, that means a max pulse of just over 200.

An 80% effort means a pulse rate of 160, get it?

For older swimmers the AT, the Anaerobic Threshold is at 80%. That’s when lactate starts to kick in and it hurts. 

Measuring pulse could not be simpler. Put two fingers into the neck between jugular and jaw, push in to feel the pulse.

Count for 6 seconds, add a zero to the count and that’s your pulse per minute. Some people say count for 10 seconds as it’s more accurate. True, but a pain if you only have a 10 second rest and what is 6 x 28 in your head?

Training zones

Training zones are best measured by pulse rate.

In simple terms and without getting too technical about this, training zones are:

Slow – pulse about 50%. Warm up and cool down.

Medium – technique and drill work. 50-70%

400m pace – A pace you can maintain for 400m 70 – 80%

200m pace – A pace you can maintain for 200m 80 - 90%

Sprint – A pace you can manage for 25 to 50m only. 90 – 100%

Note: warm ups should include some fast swimming and movement. This can be no further than 10-15m but max effort.

There are warm up and cool down protocols available on this website.

Starts, turns and finishes

The last Olympic 100m Fly saw three swimmers win silver with an identical time to 100th of a second.

That’s madness! It’s also a great reason for finishing properly, it can be the difference between a medal or not.

Starts – Correct transition, breath at the right time, not the first stroke on Fly or Free.

Turns – Practice turns like a race. Fast in, proper turn and a good transition. Britain gets criticised on the world stage for the quality of turns. Let’s be a club where turns are brilliant.

Finishes – Always finish at full stretch by touching the wall. Never breathe on Front crawl of Fly on the last 5m. Backstroke; always finish with a dive and on the back. Breaststroke; always measure the final three strokes to finish on spot.

Food and drink

Read the section on food and drink.

Always have a bottle of water on poolside and a snack for after training.

Leave the sweets alone.


An old coach bugbear is the swimmer who does not have the correct equipment, or it breaks or doesn’t fit! Check out the kit list and have that with you at all times.

Training log

Ever since Adam was a lad, coaches have wanted athletes to record how much training they are doing.

Record the date, the session, the total distance, how you did and felt. Importantly what you learned. I defy anyone in any experience not to learn something.

Mental approach

The single rule that all successful athletes and business people refer to is focus. A single minded approach to achieving goals that have been set. In swimming remember when the going gets tough, the sprinters get out!!!!

Keep trying even when it is hurting and it will to be a great swimmer.

Trophies and medals

Well done you have the reward. PBs are great but hardware is best!!!

Write on the back of the trophy or medal what, where, when, position and time. When you have a drawer full it’s sometimes hard to remember.

Take a photo of the prize giving and label it for when you want to remember what it was for.

Stroke guidance

This series is designed to give all members a set of guidelines with which to think about their swimming.

Your coach is the number one person to give guidance about stroke, but there are things of which to remind yourself.

Look at YouTube. There will be links to good technique with each stroke for you to do a direct comparison.

In general terms you should always look at a stroke in the flowing order:

1. Body

2. Legs

3. Arms

4. Breathing

5. Timing

You should always be as straight and smooth in the water as possible.


Front Crawl (YouTube)

Front Crawl is the fastest of the four strokes. The fastest swimmer ever achieved a 100m Front Crawl in 46.9, faster than 2 metres per second.

For good front crawl:

1. Body

Needs to be flat and high in the water.

Must rotate around the long axis, from head to legs and not “snake”.

Rotate the shoulders.

Some people call this leading with the hips.

2. Legs

Need to kick from the hips and continuously.

A whip kick with some flexing in the knees.

3. Arms


Enter thumb and fingers first, never little finger first.

Enter without splashing.

Enter fingers before elbow.

Catch the water and try to propel your body over the hand.

Maintain a high elbow position relative to the hand.

Pull first then push as your hands go past your hips.

Accelerate through the stroke.


Elbow out first.

Elbow high and lead the movement.

Relax the forearm.

4. Breathing

Breath out under water.

Breath quick and deep.

Breath every three to five strokes if you can. Certainly bilateral in young swimmers.

Don’t breathe on the final 5 metres of the race, just breathe out underwater.

5. Timing

¾ catch up.

2 to 6. Two arm pulls to 6 kicks.


Backstroke (YouTube)

1. Body

High body position.

Hips high.

Head looking at ceiling or slightly ahead.

2. Legs

Strong upward beating kick.

Kick from hips.

3. Arms


Ensure the hand enters the water little finger first and with a straight arm.

Hand needs to go underwater prior to the catch.

Catch and a high elbow with a relatively straight arm.

Only bend on the push part of the propulsion close to the body after the hand has passed the hip.


Thumb first.

Straight arm throughout.

Twist hand just prior to entry to effect a little finger entry.

4. Breathing

When needed, but easier if after the arm has passed mouth.

5. Timing

Continuous arms.

6 kicks to 2 arm pulls each stroke.

Finish with a dive and inverted fly kick.


Breaststroke (YouTube)

A stroke where British men lead the world and the stroke where Britain has won more medals in Olympic Games than any other. For the record let’s remember Adam Peaty, Adrian Moorhouse, David Wilkie, Nick Gillingham, Michael Jamieson. Adam Peaty is of course the reigning Olympic and World Champion.

Interestingly, breaststroke is the one that has changed most dramatically over the past 10 or so years. The transfer of relative propulsive power from the legs to the arms and the increase in the number of strokes per length both make the stroke transformed.

1. Body

The movement is an undulating one, around the hips. This produces a dolphin style movement.

The body still needs to be flat and high on the water, and the head must be down between the arms during the streamlined phase of the stroke. 

2. Legs

The unique Breaststroke kick.

Recovery with heels to bottom, turn out the feet and sweep backwards in a circular fashion.

Feet should be shoulder or slightly wider width when kicking.

Feet need to come together strongly in an accelerating movement.

3. Arms

The big change is the increased use of arms.

Described as an out sweep with body flat and then a raising body with the strong in sweep.

A continuous movement into the recovery, ideally for young swimmers under the water and in a straight line.

4. Breathing

In on the in sweep and out with the recovery.

5. Timing

Classically Pull, Breathe, Kick and Glide WITH THE HEAD DOWN.

In sprinting the glide has been shortened to reaching the catch point and then pulling again.

Don’t try that on a 200m, ensure the glide is there.

What better example could there be than Adam Peaty: (YouTube)


Butterfly (YouTube)

Butterfly is the hardest stroke to do continuously over distance. It is difficult because of the recovery action with both arms coming over the water together.

1. Body

Body needs to be high and flat on the water with an undulation around the hips.

The head needs to lift no higher than chin height when breathing and of course your head should be breaking the water when not breathing.

2. Legs

The legs produce a two beat downward kick simultaneously. Any breaking of the simultaneous movement will lead to a disqualification.

The first beat is harder than the second.

The feet should be turned in so the toes almost touch. This is a key to good fly kicking.

3. Arms

With the entry at shoulder width, the hands catch the water, sweep outwards and ten inwards under the tummy with a hard propulsion backwards to the hips.

Recovery sees straight arms with the back of the hands facing forwards. The recovery is over the water but quite low through to the re-entry point at shoulder width.

4. Breathing

Breathing on any event of 100m or more should be every stroke or every other stroke. Any less than this risks oxygen debt which is painful on fly.

Breathe with the chin on the water. Fully exhale with your face in the water so that on the first part of the propulsion you can lift your head to breathe.

Famously, Michael Phelps breathes every stroke. If you can do this and stay streamline, then do it.

5. Timing

Absolutely critical in butterfly.

The rhythm is “Kick In Kick Out” where, as your arms enter the water you deliver a strong kick and reach and a fast kick as your arms exit the water.

The arms only pause at the front of the head, never by the sides. This leads to a very damaging stroke


The Fifth Stroke

Bill Sweetenham was the man who termed the underwater section or sub kicking, the fifth stroke.

In short, because of the massive resistance that water provides the swimmer, the fastest movement through is to push or dive off the wall maintaining the momentum and generate speed using strong dolphin kicks.

The rule is a 15m maximum, although younger swimmers should only go as far as they can while maintain speed, there is no point staying under for 15m if you are slowing down and wasting energy!

Check out the video below, on YouTube, for a the best demonstration.

When the coach asks you to do 6 or 8 sub kicks every length, do it, it’s the easiest way to improve and sets you on a path to greatness!

Ryan Lochte underwater: (YouTube)