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    Admin Mediterra

    There will likely be a point in your year where you take time off from swimming. It could be planned or a surprise, an interruption by illness, injury, or some personal matter comes up that takes your time and attention away from it. That’s OK. Life happens.

    But when you get back in the water to resume, realize that you can’t simply pick up where you left off on the first day, or even in the first week. Your swimming body and brain will need some time to get set up again to do the kind of swimming your were doing at peak, before your time away. And, the amount of time needed to get set up again will depend on how many consecutive years you’ve been swimming (drawing on it like ‘money stored up in the swimming account’), and how long you were away from the water, and what you did with your body during that time away.

    Because that is such a personal situation I can’t blindly suggest to you how much time you are going to need – it could be a series of practices or several weeks of practices – but your body will give you signals that will guide you through the stages, once you understand what to look for. Just expect that the longer you have been away the more time you will need to get back.

    The good news is that a smart, patient process of restoration in the beginning will allow you to get back into higher intensity swimming sooner and at far lower risk-of-injury than if you tried to push back there quickly from the start. Let me suggest some stages to work through as you restore yourself to prime swimming:

    The first stage is to Seek Ease by loosening up the tissues that support your swimming. This word ‘ease’ does not mean ‘no effort’. It means giving your body time to figure out an easier way of getting the same work done for less expense – this is the essence of efficiency. Seek it first and hold it as you gradually increase the challenges in your practice schedule.

    Some primary sensations of efficiency to pursue:

    • relaxation
    • lengthening of the body line
    • loosening of muscles (so no single area is tightening up)
    • stability of body position
    • synchronization of parts
    • precision of movements

    All this can be done well at gentle swimmer intensity. ‘Silent Swimming’ is a good guideline for how to swim at this stage.

    The second stage is to Increase Distance by holding those sensations of the previous stage for longer distances. Those distances could be in the form of longer intervals (transitioning from 25-50-75 to 100-150-200, for example) or in overall distance you cover during a practice (like increasing from 1500 meter practices to 3000 meter practices, but increasing only about 10% per week).

    The third stage is to Increase Intensity by holding those First Stage sensations while changing tempo, both toward your Fast Tempo Threshold and toward your Slow Tempo Threshold. This is going to awaken your sensitivity and tune up your neuro-muscular control. Tempo sets can be moderate – 200-600 meters total, broken into small interval pieces (25-50-75).

    Once those feel comfortable you can go back to Stage Two and increase distance again, while holding Efficiency Sensation and practicing over a wide range of tempos.

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