Coaches Corner
Training Intensity Table
Code Type Typical repeats  Heart Rate Guideline % Effort
A1  Aerobic Low Intensity Skills Drills Any Distance 90 BPM -140 BPM 50-70%
A2 Aerobic End/ Maintenance Generally longer 400m + 140-160 BPM ( 50-30 BBM) 50-70%
A3 Aerobic Development 100,200,400,800 1500m Repeats 140-180 BPM (50-30 BBM) 60-85%
AT Aerobic/Anaerobic Threshold 200 - 1500  30%-50% swim time rest intervals 160-180 BPM (30-10BBM) 80-95%
Overload Aerobic Overload VO2 Max 200 - 1500  5%-10% swim time rest intervals 170-180 BPM (20-10BBM) Max
Aerobic Overload Anaerobic Development 100m or shorter 170-190 BPM (20- 0 BBM) Max
La Prod Lactate Production  100m or shorter Long rest & Recovery swims 190 Max
LA Tol Lactate Tolerance 100m or shorter  Less rest no recovery swim 190 Max
HVO / MVO High speed / Max speed  75m or Less Max Max
ATCP Short Burst alactic  25m or less N/A Max
Glossary of Terms
BPM = Heart Beats measured per minute
BBM = Heart Beats Below Maximum Heart Rate
Aerobic = Type of exercise using oxygen based energy regeneration
Anaerobic = Type of exercise based on energy supplied by muscle stores and glycogen producing lactic acid as a by-product
Alactic = Exercise using energy from the Creatine Phosphate system
VO2 = Volume of oxygen uptake 


The Bedrock of my Coaching Philosophy

In the many years of coaching experience gained I more than ever have total belief in creating an environment to allow athletes to drive themselves and continually encourage good decision making with sound advice to help them reach these decisions.

I was sent this thought provoking article which sums up my ethos in a practical story. Please take the time to read it and reflect upon the really well made message.


Do you want to keep riding down the path or shall we turn around and ride back to Mum?”

“I want ride down this way, Dad.”

It was an option that I hadn’t even considered. My 3-year-old daughter was pointing down a grass slope that stretched down and away from the concrete path on which we stood.

I hesitated for a moment. This would be by far the most difficult thing she had attempted on the balance bike. After receiving the bike for her third birthday some months before, progress had been intermittent, as was her interest. She had always tired quickly of any “practice” even sometimes protesting at the mere suggestion of getting the bike out. Her improvement had taken a bit of an upturn lately – she was now able to generate a little bit of speed on a flat surface – but the prospect of racing down a hill was entirely different to riding around in front of our garage.

I expected a tentative attempt from her, but once she was in position at the lip of the slope, she kicked off and rolled over the edge. I jogged after her, watching anxiously. She built up speed as she ran her feet along the ground on either side of the bike, she a wobbled a little but maintained control. She was going faster than ever before when she lifted both feet off the ground and coasted . . . and coasted . . . and kicked again . . . and coasted some more. She rode faster and further than she ever had before. It was a huge improvement. A monumental leap forward. I was proud, relieved and frankly amazed.

When she finally came to a stop she looked up at me triumphantly and shouted: “Again!” She immediately wheeled her bike around and rode it back up the hill.

This scene was repeated about a dozen times with only fatigue preventing her from continuing.

Her energy, enthusiasm, and perseverance for the activity was in such contrast to previous efforts, it made me wonder what had happened. The dad in me was proud and amazed, and the coach in me was curious.

Athlete-Driven Action

What I had witnessed that day with my daughter was similar to what we should be striving to facilitate as parents and coaches: an enthusiasm and persistence that is completely child-driven.  This is not always possible, but there are times where we can allow this to happen.

It got me thinking.

If we can stumble upon situations that motivate kids to attack what was previously difficult or uninteresting for them, can we subsequently learn to intentionally craft an environment around young children that generates such buy-in and engagement in a sporting domain?

If so, we firstly need to be alert to what factors lead to such self-driven engagement. So, what worked for my daughter?

In hindsight, I suspect that a number of things aligned on the day to provide such a  positive experience for her.


My daughter chose to ride down that hill and completely drove the activity herself. There was no instruction or cajoling from any outside source.

Autonomy is critical to intrinsic (internal) motivation. Intrinsic motivation is a higher quality form of motivation than being motivated extrinsically (from an outside source).

A child is most likely to try something with vigor if it is their idea and driven from within.

Why so Many Sessions?

Probably the most frequently asked question among swimming parents. Perhaps the best way to understand this is to explain how many different aspects of swimming need to be covered in training.

Firstly, there are the 4 strokes:

Butterfly, Backstroke Breaststroke and Freestyle (front crawl) – this is the basic training for fitness stroke as well the one which has the most diverse distance element. Swimmers need to swim very differently in the 1500m event compared to the 50m sprint event for example.

Then there are the three medley events– the way that strokes are executed in this varies to how each is performed in the individual stroke events.

Starts and Turns – key technical elements of swimming development.

On top of all of this the swimmers need to develop the fitness base to have the speed endurance to race successfully.  The key to swimming success is simply to maintain excellent attendance with a first-class work ethic.

Why early mornings?

Early morning training is essential for swimmer development. Many studies have also shown that young people who attend morning training are alert and therefore exhibit better concentration than those who rise just in time for School.

Always a quandary for parents of new swimmers – how do I get my child to morning training without “forcing them”.  My best advice is to discuss the benefits with the swimmer to encourage them to get into the habit while they are young.  Once it is decided they are committed to it, avoid early
morning arguments by agreeing the night before that they are going then stick to it in the morning.  Remember committing to the programme is the key to swimming success – it is also very useful for young people to learn to be consistent with whatever they do – it teaches a huge amount of self discipline which also helps with good character building.

Yours swimmingly
Maidenhead Coaching Team