Dan Jones and the Swim Wales National Elite Squad headed off to Miami Florida training camp, here’s how it went and don’t get too jealous of the bright blue sky!
Written by Dan Jones
Swim Wales flew 13 of the National Senior Elite Squad out to Miami, Florida USA on a 2-week warm weather training camp. Our training facilities were based in Coral Springs Aquatics Complex which I’ve been lucky enough to train at 7 years ago on one of my first Welsh Camps abroad. It has world class facilities with the 8 lane 50m pool/ diving pool, boards & platforms/ Short course yards pool & a massive gym with 3 big rooms full of different equipment & weights.
The aim of the camp was to jell as a team as all of us are on the long list for commonwealth games this year, get a great block of training in to push each other to make those extra gains & enjoy a bit of outdoor training and sun.
The first couple of sessions for myself in the pool were low level aerobic with a lot of high skills & drill with equipment to get the feel of the water back after the long 10hr flight out to the states.
My favourite kit to use for skills/ drills are the Arena Elite Finger Paddles with a snorkel & fins just so you can focus on the catch & feel for the water at the start of the stoke & using the snorkel it takes rotating your head out of the equation so you can just focus on the catch. Then when progressing the drill into more of a propulsion & recovery drill I’ll swap the finger paddles for the Elite Hand Paddles just so I can hold more water in the propulsion phase of the stroke to generate more power.
I believe that lower level/ higher skill sessions are as important as race pace/ specific sessions because you need to be able to get the technique correct first before you can start applying the speed/power. Once you’re able to hold great technique & water then start bringing in more power & see how long you can hold it with great technique.
Throughout the first week in Florida, we built up the intensity of the sessions with a couple of tough race pace sessions towards the back end of the week & rounding it off with a great speed set in the short course yards pool. All alongside a de-load week in the gym as in the second week all the athletes would be 1 rep Max testing!
After a tough first week we did have some downtime on the Sunday where we all decide to go to Fort Lauderdale Beach which was about 30mins drive from our hotel, so we all got in the hire cars & the coaches dropped us off for a couple of hours to relax, switch off from training & enjoy our day off as a team as we knew he had an even bigger week coming up!
Week 2, started as we were meant to go on! I had an aerobic with speed set Monday morning to fire me up for the day, then when we came in Monday night, we had a speed into Lactate Production set. We’d done this set before back in Swansea, but this was a progression of that set, so it ramped up at the end to push us that little bit more, the set was tough, but we managed it well & got a great return. Resulting in getting a new Lactate PB of 19.9 which was a great start to the week.
Tuesday morning was our first 1 Rep Max Day in the gym which consisted of Back Squat, Bench Press & Prone Pull. We tend to only do a couple of lifts as it takes a while to warm up to the heavy set & also you only want to be few lifts, so you don’t jeopardise the lift because of being fatigued. Especially on the back of Monday night’s session I was very happy to get new PB’s in all my lifts that morning. We carried that momentum into the afternoon set which was out & out speed, short sharp & Max with long rests and a couple of assisted bungees to help with over speed. Our speed sets will be a lot of short max efforts either from a dive or push being between 15-25m on longer rests just so every effort can be at maximum effort.
The start of the 2nd week was a big one for me because Wednesday morning we didn’t stop there! I had my own test set that morning which the coaches have designed specifically for me to test my ‘Stroke Length & Velocity’ in the water. I could tell you what the set is & how it’s done but I can’t because I don’t want to give away all my secrets… sorry but what I can tell you is that it’s hard, it’s all Max & the lactate acid is burning at the end. The one difference in doing the set in Miami was that because it was outdoors in the morning it was a lot cooler air temperature so between efforts, I was able to stay warm by jumping in the hot tub by the diving pit, I think because of this I managed to get my best results.
So after a heavy start to the week, I had Wednesday afternoon off & was able to just chill out/ recover at & around the hotel, which I think was well deserved.
Thursday we were back in the gym that morning for another testing session, exercises for that session were Football Bar Rack Press (like bench press but the weight is resting on stands just above your chest then you press up), Pull Up & Lat Pull Down. Again, it was another great session getting even more PB’s in all the lifts. So, myself & my Strength and conditioning coach were very happy with the numbers being produced that week in the gym.
That Afternoon I was very privileged & fortunate to be able to have a 1-1 coaching/ training session with Arena Athlete, and 50m freestyle Olympic Bronze Medallist Bruno Fratus & his coach Brett Hawke as this is where Bruno trains. We were lucky enough to talk to him throughout the week & the coaches manage to organise the session with them.
The session started with some gentle swimming & drills so that Brett could suss me out quick & what I would like him to help me work on during that session to carry on back into my own program. At this point Bruno had already started watching from underwater & was giving me pointers on how to adjust my arm position for the catch phase to be able to generate more power in the propulsion phase when I got up to speed.
It was interesting listening to the break down the stroke & explain things in a different way as Bruno was very switched on & knew a lot about the mechanics of the stroke to be able to put maximum force down in the water.
We carried on with some short drills for body position & hand positioning then transferring it into speed. It was very beneficial because Bruno would demonstrate the task with Brett explaining on the poolside then when I would give it a go & Brett would be able to explain what I was doing from the surface again & Bruno would be watching under the water.
It was an amazing opportunity to get some great technical pointers to develop my stroke from one of the best sprinters in the world. That afternoon session wasn’t too long, mainly consisting of drill & some speed to stay sharp as they were heading to Orlando the next day to race so it was really nice of them to take the time out of their program to help. The Coaching team & I learnt a lot that we have now brought back to our daily sessions back in Swansea. Another thing that Bruno & Brett looked at was my equipment & one thing they spotted was my snorkel & said it wasn’t good for sprinting as it moved too much & was like an rudder so since being home Arena have sent me the Arena Swim Snorkel Pro III & immediately I’ve noticed the difference, I’m not having to adjust it coming off turns & it’s so much more stable for when I’m doing speed as its design is more streamline/ compact it doesn’t move around so I would highly recommend any swimmer gets this snorkel as it is a vital bit of equipment to have in your kit bag!
Our final couple of session we had out in the sun started with a chilled Fins Friday session then in afternoon was our last big push with everyone having suited swims to finish off the 2 weeks.
My suited swims consisted of:
Dive 50m Max (22.5) – 200m ez
Broken 100m- 50/50 @60 (23.2/24.7= 48.0) – 200m ez
Broken 100m- 50/50 @50 (23.2/24.6= 47.8) – 200m ez
Dive 50m Max (22.7)
Which I was very happy about and it finished off a great camp.