Swim Smarter, Swim Faster: Five Easy Steps to Improve Your Lap Time

The goal of every swimmer is to shave seconds off their race times and continually get better.  While the goal is simple, achieving results is not. Most swimmers spend countless hours training inside and outside of the pool, but it’s tough to measure the key areas that ultimately affect one’s event time: length times, stroke count, stroke tempo, breakout time, average speed, distance per stroke, kick count and kick tempo.

Bennett Clark, a former collegiate All-American and captain of the University of California-Berkeley men’s swim team, has experienced dramatic results by utilizing a five step process to analyze his training sessions using the AvidaSports Telemetry System. Since he began training with the system, Clark has swam the sixth fastest split in the 100 meter freestyle in college history, as well as finishing in the top five at U.S. Nationals in both the 50 and 100 meter freestyle.

Clark is currently using the AvidaSports system to aid his training as he strives for a spot on the 2016 U.S. Olympic swim team.

What is the AvidaSports Athletic Telemetry System?

It’s a digital tracking system that helps swimmers get faster by accelerating the  development of muscle memory, which increases performance by linking mindset and technique to results. Small wireless athletic telemetry (AT) devices worm by the swimmer allow them to hear real-time how they are performing each length allowing them to continually adjust their swim to what works best.

In addition, through an audio feed to the swimmer’s ear bud, Coaches can communicate with each swimmer while watching eight different performance metrics at one time on a laptop on the pool deck, allowing instantaneous feedback at any time during the training session. These feedback loops are the foundation of AT.  Swimmers who know the details of their performance during training can replicate their success far easier on race day.

How does Bennett Clark use the AvidaSports system to his advantage?

While many swimmers across the country are using the AvidaSports system in a variety of ways, Clark follows a simple five step process.

“Before AvidaSports, I only worked on technique and making tactical improvements, but I never had a way to know exactly how I was doing,” says Bennett Clark. “Now I have a process to track specific metrics, which makes me more accountable for my own success and motivates me to do better.”

Step 1: Set goals

Time is the ultimate measurement of a swimmer’s success, but understanding how you got there is important.

“One of the biggest benefits of using Avida’s product is that it lets you track tangible goals you would otherwise not be able to track,” says Clark. “I work with my coach to determine a goal for each workout. Usually we focus on my season long goals of improving my efficiency through reducing my stroke count by two full strokes and optimizing my tempo.”

Step 2: Set up equipment and sensors

Once goals have been set, it’s important to make sure you set up the AvidaSports equipment to track properly. Earbuds are customized to fit each swimmer; Velcro straps are used to fix comfortably ankle and wrist devises.  Make sure you wear all of the appropriate sensors and choose the audio feedback you want to listen to while training.  Bennett says that wearing the equipment is comfortable but it still takes a few sessions before he doesn’t even notice that he is wearing five microcomputers.

“During all of my workouts I wear an ear piece as well as sensors on each of my wrists and ankles and under my swim cap,” says Clark. “That way all of the data on my length time, stroke count, stroke tempo, breakout time, average speed, distance per stroke, kick count and kick tempo will be properly tracked for me to analyze with my coach.”

Step 3: Train

Go about training as you normally would . Your coach will be able to see all of your data while you swim and speak with you through the audio device to help you understand how to improve while you are swimming.

“I once swam a 50 meter freestyle in training, waited until I was fully recharged and then swam the 50 again,” Clark reminisces. “My coach and I saw I swam the exact same time, yet I felt like my body tightened up and I had much more difficulty swimming the second set. We noticed in the data that I took two extra full strokes in the second set. Even though I swam the same times, I was much less efficient the second time around. In my next workout, we took steps to focus on my stroke count and tempo, which helped improve my effectiveness in the long run.”

Step 4: Learn

Not only is there real-time feedback while in the pool, but the data is also stored within the system so swimmers and coaches have access to each individual workout over the course of the whole season, making it easy to track both short-term and long-term progress and trends in the underlying metrics. By working with your coaches, you can:

  • Lean muscle memory; every length has a specific meaning. Metrics to analyze each length increases your accountability, improving workout effectiveness.
  • Training history and trends are readily available. Streamed data and historical analysis for up to 100 swimmers can be used to help you continually improve, track goals and bench mark against your competition.
  • Captured data shows you the power and consequences changing your technique. The impact on performance is no longer based on just your coach’s “opinion” – both you and coaches have facts.
  • Replay “coaches calls” made during training to further consider what the coach was instructing during the training session.

Step 5: Be accountable

Once you and your coaches have a well rounded picture of your strengths and weaknesses, sit down together and create an improvement plan.

“The biggest piece of advice I can offer swimmers is to make sure you are communicating with your coach,” suggests Clark. “If you don’t set goals and create a measurable plan for improvement, then all of the data you have access to with AvidaSports is useless. Hold yourself accountable, stay on top of the data and measuring progress. You will be amazed at how much you improve.”

Swim smarter, swim faster

If you’re interested in learning more about how AvidaSports can help you improve your times year-over-year, check out the Swimmer’s Central for videos and stats from Bennett Clark and other swimmers who have seen their race times drop significantly by using AvidaSports. You can also keep up with all the latest AvidaSports news and product enhancements by liking us on Facebook or following us on Twitter (@Avidasports).