Episode 81 - How to Become a Faster, More Efficient Swimmer with Brenton Ford
How to Become a Faster, More Efficient Swimmer with Brenton Ford
Joining me on the podcast today is ex-national swimmer turned swim coach, Brenton Ford. Brenton started Effortless Swimming in 2009 to help everyday athletes like you and me become faster, more efficient swimmers.
In this episode we discuss:
- The biggest mistakes triathletes makes when it comes to swim technique (and how to fix them)
- Brenton’s top tips to improve your swimming in the least amount of time
- When in a session is the best time to practise your drills
- How many swim training sessions you need to do in a week to become a better swimmer. Hint - more does not equal better!
- His favourite pool toys to improve your technique
- If there is any strategy to the types of swimming sessions you should be doing, depending on the distance you’re racing
- And the most important question - Do triathletes need to learn how to tumble turn?
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Check out Effortless Swimming and Brenton’s online membership options here | www.effortlessswimming.com
To splash some cash and get Brenton’s fave pool tools:
DMC Elite II Tri Fins (Approx $99 AUD): www.dmcfins.com.au
Eney Buoy 2 Pull Buoy: www.eneybuoy.com
Check how well you’re doing when it comes to your nutrition: Triathlon Nutrition Checklist
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Episode 81: How to Become a Faster, More Efficient Swimmer with Brenton Ford
Taryn Richardson 00:00
In today's episode, I had the pleasure of talking to Brenton Ford from Effortless Swimming all about swim technique for triathletes. He's an ex-national level swimmer, now turned swim coach and coaches a master squad, as well as has an online swim coaching program, Effortless Swimming, that helps athletes all over the world to improve their technique and become faster, efficient swimmers. Today we talked about some of the key mistakes that he see swimmers make and how to fix them, and different strategies that you can implement if you want to become a faster swimmer in less time.
Taryn Richardson 00:40
Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. The show designed to serve you up evidence-based sports nutrition advice from the experts. Hi, I'm your host Taryn, Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Advanced Sports Dietitian and founder of Dietitian Approved. Listen as I break down the latest evidence to give you practical, easy-to-digest strategies to train hard, recover faster and perform at your best. You have so much potential, and I want to help you unlock that with the power of nutrition. Let's get into it.
Taryn Richardson 01:17
Welcome to the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast, Brenton.
Brenton Ford 01:20
Thanks for having me. It's great to be on your podcast after you're a guest on mine. And I learned a lot from that episode with you. So, it's great to return the favor in a way.
Taryn Richardson 01:29
Oh, amazing. I have a question for you actually before we begin. Did you cancel your greens powder subscription off the back of that?
Brenton Ford 01:36
Ah, no comment.
Taryn Richardson 01:37
Taryn Richardson 01:40
Cancel it. Cancel it.
Brenton Ford 01:40
I had two greens powders that had just arrived. So they're on their way. And I'm still going through them. So yeah, we'll see. I've probably got about another 20-25 days left with it. And then I'll make that goal.
Brenton Ford 01:50
That was a contentious topic, that one. Yeah, I don't know. I just need something easy to replace it. That's what I need, I reckon, so.
Taryn Richardson 02:01
It's called fruit and vegetables. We can talk about that offline.
Brenton Ford 02:04
Yeah, sometime soon.
Taryn Richardson 02:05
All right, well, let's get into it. As a master swim coach and someone that's analysed more than 7,000 swimming stroke correction videos now, what I want to get from you is some of the biggest mistakes swimmers make with their technique and things that stop them from progressing. Because you and I are both natural swimmers. It's something we've been doing since we were very young and so changing technique is a bit easier. And we don't have to think about swimming necessarily. But for somebody that's new to swimming or new to the sport, a lot of triathletes are really heavy run focused, and then they have to throw swimming in. And there's so many minutes that can be gained from a good quality swim versus a bad quality swim. But also how much energy it takes if you are not a very good swimmer, which is kind of not how we want to set ourselves up at the very beginning of a race - absolutely exhausted from a swim, that is only a tiny proportion of the event. So what are some of the biggest mistakes you see triathletes make when it comes to swimming?
Brenton Ford 03:04
There's a lot of them and there's a bit of a structure that I normally go through, if I'm looking at someone swim. I think it's helpful to have an order of things to look at and then know what to work on. Because quite often people just go straight to the catch. And that could certainly need some work and improvement. But if someone's over rotating with their body and their shoulders, it's going to be very hard to improve the catch. Same with a number of other things in the stroke. So, the order that we tend to look at things in is, we'll go body, head, kick, rotation, and then we start to look at their arms, extremities, and the timing of things. That's generally the way that we'd go. So I'd often look at their body and quite often people are holding themselves in a position where they're swimming like a runner or a cyclist. There's a lot of bend through their hips.
Brenton Ford 03:52
So it's some of these things are a bit counterintuitive. And when you learn the right way to approach it and you build up in the right way, then swimming becomes so much easier. So that's probably the key thing is just get your body right first. Head position is one that everyone knows about - either looking too far forwards. But I'm getting quite a few people looking too far down as well these days where they're trying to get their back half up. So they'd bury their head down, and they're swimming underwater, so their head back and shoulders is all the way under the water and it's just hard work down there. It's hard to breathe, because you've either got to lift your head up and turn, or you've got to turn your head a long way to be able to get your mouth out of the water. So looking slightly forwards, I think is a good place for most triathletes, because you want that awareness when you're in the open water, and keeping the top your head just out of the water.
Brenton Ford 03:52
As you're aware, I've been running clinics on the weekend and there was a couple of swimmers who were 215-230, so 100 pace - so at the probably slower end of the triathlon pace and they couldn't swim much further than about 100 meters. And that was the main thing for them - they were just bending through the hips, kicking like they're riding a bike, and just not holding themselves correctly. And it's just so hard if you're holding yourself that way. So we would start with how you hold your body. And I like to think of being one from your spine all the way through to your feet, switch your core on, engage your glutes a little bit - where you're straight through your body rather than having your bum sticking out. Because sometimes people try and get good body position with head, hips and heels at the surface by sticking their bum out and trying to get that up near the surface. But that just creates that bend through the middle of the body.
Brenton Ford 05:24
So get those two things right. I mean, just make sure the kicks not doing anything too funky, where they're bending the knees a lot, making sure the toes are somewhat pointed. And I know a lot of triathletes are very stiff through the ankles with all the running and riding. But to the best of your ability, just try and point your toes and a bit of a workaround for that can be turning your feet slightly inwards. So it gives you a bit more flexion through the feet. And that can just give you slightly better range of motion. So we kind of get those things right, make sure you're not over rotating, which is really common, going past about 40 degrees is usually too much. So that's probably one of the most common ones that I see in clinic - is just people rotating their shoulders and their hips to 90 degrees. But it's not the way to do it. 30 to 40 degrees is what I normally see. If you're looking at someone swimming directly towards you, they're normally going 30 to 40 degrees. So I'd consider that - it's like you're rocking side by side, rather than rolling side to side.
Brenton Ford 06:16
And especially in triathlon, you want a decent stroke rate, you don't want to be too slow with it. And that's a great way just to be able to get that up. And then obviously, the catch, a lot of people tend to drop their elbows and so on. But we normally work to that kind of progression when we go through drills, when I'm analysing people. And just go about it in the right order, because otherwise you're going to be always limited with the stroke that you can be swimming with.
Taryn Richardson 06:37
So many good things and so many good tips. If somebody's listing, and they have no idea if they're doing anything right or wrong, what's the best way for somebody to fix it?
Brenton Ford 06:47
I've posted heaps of videos on YouTube, we call them Feedback Friday videos. And so I analyse either weekend warrior or age group triathletes. And that'll give you a really good understanding of what we look for in the stroke and how you could approach it. On our website as well, I've got the Five Core Principles of Fast Freestyle - which it kind of goes in that order that I talked about. But I think just having that awareness of what you should be doing - one of the main mistakes people make, and then maybe having some sort of structure to follow can really help. And I was watching the video, this is Gwen Jorgensen, she won the Olympic gold in Rio 2016. Then ran professionally for five years, but now she's back going after the triathlon gold, I think, for France is what she's after.
Taryn Richardson 07:28
Yeah, so excited to see her return. She was an amazing athlete.
Brenton Ford 07:32
Yeah, she was really just a step above. So it'd be exciting to see what she can do. I was watching a video of hers recently where she was documenting one of her swims back and she was just saying, she can't look at the clock at the moment, because the times are quite a bit slower because she's obviously been out of the water for a while. So what she's doing is she's just focusing on her technique, and the times will eventually come. But as you get further down the track, it's the technique that's going to carry you to those faster times.
Brenton Ford 07:57
So a good place for most people to start is just getting their technique right, because drag, I guess, is just such a big thing and propulsion. Yeah, it's just so different to the other two sports. It's much more technique focused or technique heavy.
Taryn Richardson 08:11
Yeah, totally agree. It's kind of like running though, too. If you’re really inefficient at running, it takes so much out of you and swimming's the same.
Brenton Ford 08:18
You're going to have this big build up of lactate when you're at the end of the swim. I was talking with a mate of mine, Mitch Kibby, who's a pro triathlete. And he just got 2nd at the Hobart, half Ironman. And he said that for his swim training, he's just been doing a few bigger sessions. He changed his training a little bit because, prior to Hobart, he said there was just too much lactic acid in the swim to try and stick with the first group and that was impacting his run. So then he just changed what he was doing in the pool. And he was able to stick with the main group and still feel pretty fresh. And then he went on to ride well and run well. And that's probably the same for a lot of people but more because they're just inefficient with their swim and it might be hard to swim 1.9 or 3.8K.
Taryn Richardson 09:01
So question for you, when people look at doing something like a marathon, you never really run marathon. But when it comes to swimming, we always out swim the distance that we have to do in an event. Is there any science or any reason around that? Why we go way beyond those distances in a swimming sense?
Brenton Ford 09:21
But they're certainly some sprinters that I don't train a huge amount. It's more like gym work. But I mean because swimming is such a short part of the triathlon compared to the other legs, it's a lot easier to go past that distance. And you might be hard pressed to get much of a workout in if you're not swimming much more than 750 or maybe 500 meters in a training session. So I think in order to develop that muscle memory, to develop this swim strength that you want to maintain across a triathlon, you need to do the work. And depending on the person, I'd be thinking, I normally say three to four times a week. Anything less than three and it can be hard to make those gains or those improvements.
Brenton Ford 10:00
And then in terms of timewise in the water, if you're doing half Ironman, you'd want to be doing an hour to an hour and a half, if you can, somewhere in that range and doing that at least three times a week. So they're shortcuts, but they're not shortcuts. There's ways you can do things smartly. And I mean, I imagine it's like nutrition - you can only cut corners to a certain extent. There's, yeah, a smart way to approach it. But you've still got to do the work. There's no getting around that.
Taryn Richardson 10:25
Leads me really nicely into the next thing I wanted to ask you, which is, if we want to become a better swimmer, do we just do more training? Do we smash ourselves and just keep, like, flogging a dead horse in a way? Or is there a better, more efficient way to get fitter, faster, more efficient in the water?
Brenton Ford 10:43
I know that that's a little bit of a leading question, but I like it because I know you know the answer to that one, too. So often, triathletes, I should say, are working hard in training and often training above the right training zones for what they should be doing. And so I think aerobically, they're not getting the gains there. But then I think probably more, what you're referring to is the technical side of things is, the best swimmers in the world are the most consistent with what their stroke looks like. So if you look at their stroke path, you look at their technique, they I can just do it on repeat. They are very consistent with it. And that goes for in a race, that goes for in training. So that's what we want to try and achieve in training as well is to be able to maintain good technique and good form throughout an entire session and then throughout the week and continue to build that up.
Brenton Ford 11:30
So I think it's really important to have a technique is the number one thing, where set yourself up while you're in your warmup, which might include a couple of drills. Then, just keep that same technique focus into a main set. And if you're getting to a point in your session, where you can just feel everything's falling apart, your times have dropped off five seconds a lap, then obviously your technique's not there. So you might just need to take a bit of a rest, reset, let the muscles recover, and then get back into it. Or maybe you just need to back off the pace a bit so you can hold better form. So it's good to get to that point where you're starting to break down and it's hard to hold your technique. But you don't want to be training that on a regular basis where you've got this really poor technique because you're training the wrong thing. And it's just all about maintaining technique at the end of a race or throughout a race for triathlon.
Taryn Richardson 12:18
Yeah, really good advice. So if you're listening, more training does not equal better.
Brenton Ford 12:23
That's exactly right. And it's good to sort of play around yet, especially for triathlon, it's a very time consuming sport. So maybe you are better with three sessions a week than four, because the benefit that you get from four, you might be better off doing another bike. So it's good to play around with that stuff. But make sure that the sessions that you're doing are setting it up really well with your technique. And what I've said for the last couple of years, and when people come to our clinics, I'd say to them, do somewhere between 200 to 400 meters, have some drill swim work as part of your warmup, and make those drills specific to what you need to improve. And then just go about your main set because often people are doing like a kilometre of drills or 1500m of drills and then, like a 400m main set. But you can't ingrain that muscle memory, you can't ingrain that good technique if it's just drills - you need to be doing more swimming. So I think a little amount of drills, large amount of swimming, when you're thinking about that stuff.
Taryn Richardson 13:19
Hmm. And is it better to do the technique drill stuff in the beginning of a session or right at the end?
Brenton Ford 13:24
I've heard a few different opinions. I like it in the warm up because for me, personally, I feel that sets them out really well for the rest of the session. Then I heard Lucy Charles Barkley saying she likes to do something in the middle of her main set just to reinforce good form. So I can't argue with her either. So it's probably more personal. And it just depends how you go throughout a set. But sometimes people are doing main sets that might be like a kilometre/1500m non stop. So there's no intervals, they're not breaking down the set. And if you don't give your muscles that rest or that time to recover, then normally your form breaks down. So that's something that people who might have come from a running background, who have just ran for 30 minutes or 40 minutes, and that's what they think training is - but swimming is quite different. It requires you to stop after 100-200, to break it down into intervals, to have that little bit of rest, let the muscles recover, and then go again, and you can hold better form throughout. There is times to do longer intervals, obviously, but it's not for the majority of these sessions, that's for sure.
Taryn Richardson 14:24
So talking about breaking it down. I know a lot of triathletes who don't know how to tumble turn and refuse to learn because you don't need to tumble down in triathlon. What are your thoughts? Would you prefer all swimmers learn how to tumble turn? Or do you not care so much when it comes to triathlete swimmers?
Brenton Ford 14:42
I don't care too much, but they're going to find swimming much more enjoyable when they spend the 20 minutes to half an hour to learn how to tumble turn. And if they have struggled in the past, usually there's a couple of things that I see when people are getting the tumble turn wrong. So the first one is that when you go into the wall, you should be going in head first with your hands and your arms by your side. So you take the last stroke, you're pulling to the wall, you're going in head first towards the wall. But most people will be the opposite, they'll have both hands in front of them. And then they'll do this big pull to get themselves over. So they're doing it the wrong way. So go in head first, arms by the side. Then when you flip over, you almost want to keep your hands in the same spot, while just your body flips over. Your hands staying in the same spot, then they're going to streamline and you'd push off the wall. That takes a little bit to learn. And there's heaps of YouTube videos online just to be able to try and work that one out. And the other thing that people struggle with is they run out of breath when they do a tumble turn. They don't like that aspect of it.
Taryn Richardson 15:40
Because you're under the water for quite a long period of time.
Brenton Ford 15:43
That's right. And it can take a lot of effort if you're doing it the wrong way. If you're doing this big pull or big scoop with your hands, like if I do that I get exhausted too if I do it the wrong way. So when you learn how to do it the right way, it's much easier. The other thing that people often do is they'll push off the wall and be doing 2,3,4 dolphin kicks off the wall (they're a triathlete), push off, come straight up, like do some freestyle kicks, come straight up and breathe the first stroke. That's what I do in training. Yet when I was training as a pool competitor, I was ... wouldn't breathe first stroke off the wall, I'd do some dolphin kicks. But you need the air and you actually see ... so the 800 Freestyle Short Course World Record got broken, I think Ledecky broke it or Summer McIntosh broke it a couple months ago. And then like the week after this Chinese girl broke it.
Brenton Ford 16:30
And I was watching the video of her doing this 800 freestyle. She breathes every stroke into the wall, every stroke out of the wall. And she breathes in the middle of the pool and 25 she goes like breathes left and then right. So, like, breathing immediately after it. And that goes against everything that you see taught about breathing.
Taryn Richardson 16:48
Yeah, every three strokes.
Brenton Ford 16:50
Exactly right. So you're better off getting the air in, and you'll be much faster, you'll find it much easier if you just allow yourself to breathe first stroke in and out. And if I'm saying that to a group of kids 12,13,14 that we're pure competitive swimmers, I wouldn't give them that advice. But sometimes I think the advice for triathletes, and compared to swimmers, is different. It just is - because it's different sports and you're working with people who are late to the sport.
Taryn Richardson 17:16
Yeah, it's nice to hear that because, same as you, have had drilled into me - breathe every three strokes. Like you're a wuss if you breathe off the wall, you have to do this many dolphin kicks. But in a triathlon, it doesn't matter whatsoever. So it's nice and refreshing to hear that advice that is tailored specifically for the triathlete.
Brenton Ford 17:34
And I'm totally guilty of it. When I first started coaching, I would teach everyone from a swimming perspective and I'd be getting stuck into the triathletes about those couple of things. And then eventually I learned, well, hang on a minute, like it's a different sport, what they want to get out of it and what's going to make them better in triathlon. And it's not doing four dolphin kicks off the wall. You've got to be smart about it and allow for those considerations between the different types of sports.
Taryn Richardson 18:02
I love it. Do you have any toys that you'd like triathletes to use to help them improve their swimming technique? So pool buoy, kickboard, bands (I used to be punished with bands a lot as a swimmer), paddles, anything like that you find can be useful for people to help?
Brenton Ford 18:17
I think there's a lot that can be useful. The number one thing that triathletes should have is fins, especially if they're swimming in the morning. So the group that I coach here in Geelong, every session, we've got 600 fins - just easy warm up, because it's 5:30 in the morning, most people have been awake for about half an hour. So we wear fins and it helps just ease your shoulders into it because personally I'm quite stiff and sore in the morning. And if I've just woken up, it's just good to ease into it with some fins because it takes the pressure off your shoulders and you're catching your pull. Get a good pair of fins - there are some that are absolutely rubbish. So I cannot stand the Speedo fins. They're short ones, I think they're red and blue, they're very stiff. They actually can make you go a bit slower because they're that heavy and stiff.
Brenton Ford 19:01
If you get the DMC Elite II training fins, they're kind of designed for triathletes where their materials are a bit softer. So you won't have as much stress or pressure on your ankle joint and they're great propulsion. And the shorter blade fins compared to the long ones, they don't change your stroke rhythm or timing like the longer blade ones do. It's like if you're wearing dive fins, it's a different kick timing to what your upper body is doing. So a good pair of fins is worthwhile. Like, it costs 100 bucks, but it's just worth it to get a good pair. You'll thank yourself.
Taryn Richardson 19:33
It's a very expensive sport, but you know, 100 bucks is nothing. It's a drop in the water in the grand scheme of super bikes and Garmins and carbon sole shoes.
Brenton Ford 19:42
Exactly. Yeah, good luck trying to spend the same amount on your swimming kit bags, like what you can fit in there compared to your bike. I don't know what you'd to have to buy to do that.
Taryn Richardson 19:51
And it will last you forever as well. Like I've got stuff from when I was a kid still, like old school paddles that are square and flat.
Brenton Ford 19:57
Yeah, paddles can be good. Depending on the person, it's snorkels as well. So if you're trying to work on your catch and pull, I get my swimmers to wear a snorkel because then it takes the breathing out of it. And that's where most errors will come from is just turning to the side to breathe. So just allows you to focus on your catch and pull, especially if that's something that you've been working on. They're probably the main ones that most triathletes should have in a kit bag.
Brenton Ford 19:57
I think a pool buoy is a great one for triathletes and obviously paddles can be very good to help build that swim strength. In terms of the pool buoys, there's one called the Eney Buoy 2 (E-N-E-Y Buoy 2). So a friend of mine, Eney Jones, she has made those for the last couple of years and you'll see all the top triathletes using those. They're narrow on the inside, so you can keep your legs and your knees pretty close together. Whereas I've seen some pool buoys that are really thick in the middle and your legs are hanging out wide, creates more drag, and you actually swim a bit slow and you don't hold your body the right way. So I really like those pool buoys. It's kind of got two almost like plastic bottle looking things on each end. So it's very buoyant, because it's just completely air compared to the foam.
Brenton Ford 20:38
Do you punish people with bands as well or is it's not something you typically do with people to help sort out technique?
Brenton Ford 20:48
When I give the sessions for the squad that I sort of coach in swimming, I don't have the more aerobic base sessions. So we don't sort of use much band there. I think it can sometimes be overdone with the band, especially if it's without a pool buoy. So I know some swimmers that their technique just falls apart when they swim with the band and they're something like this, and that includes myself. So I think it can be overdone. I like having the pool buoy in at the same time while wearing the band. What's your preference?
Taryn Richardson 21:32
I hated having to do band. It was something that my triathlon swim coach did to us all the time. And I'm a really strong swimmer, so it wasn't so bad. But I don't know - I found after a while, because you have to concentrate on keeping your legs up, that hurts your back. It's like just a dead weight down there, sometimes. And we had to do it without a pool buoy. And because I was a strong swimmer, I had to do double band as well. So I felt like it was a bit of a punishment rather than something that was useful to help you become better.
Brenton Ford 22:01
Yeah, yeah, I think that's a fair point. And that's why, yeah, I just don't really give it much at all. I don't think it's that beneficial and there's better ways to build strength.
Taryn Richardson 22:10
I might link some of those products in the show notes of this episode. So if people want to go and check it out, I'll grab them from you after so that we can go and spend some passive money and get better at swimming easily and more efficiently.
Brenton Ford 22:24
That's the way to get better - you just spend more money, get better.
Taryn Richardson 22:27
Yeah. I always talk about nutrition not being passive. You know, you have to do some work to change habits and behaviours and understand what you need to do with nutrition. And I guess, triathletes are like, I'll just go the easy option and blow some more money and hopefully, that will make me a better athlete. Like, I will just buy a 20 grand bike, and that will make me two minutes faster.
Brenton Ford 22:47
Yeah, if you can't get into aero position, it's like, that's an expensive 20 grand. Yeah, there's a certain point, isn't there?
Taryn Richardson 22:54
Brenton Ford 22:54
The good thing about swimming is that it's yes, a wetsuit is expensive, like it can cost $600 to $1,200. But technique is kind of evens the playing field. And one of the main gripes I get from people or when people come to clinics, they're like, "Ah, this guy in my pool, and he's twice as heavy as me. And he's 15 years older, and he flies up and down. And I'm really annoyed with it, because I'm so much fitter." And like, you're right, that's good motivation to get you going and it's technique. So yeah, technique can be the great equaliser, I think, in swimming.
Taryn Richardson 23:28
Yeah, people that don't look particularly efficient or aerodynamic in the water, whatever that word is in the water.
Brenton Ford 23:34
And I can see how like that can be very frustrating when you see someone who, you know, your VO2 max might be much higher, but you can't beat them. I can see why that's frustrating. That's why I have a job, I think.
Taryn Richardson 23:47
You'll be busy forever.
Brenton Ford 23:48
Taryn Richardson 23:49
Is there any strategy to the types of training sessions that we should be doing for the particular distances of races? So obviously, Ironman distance (full distance) is very aerobic and long distance event. Is your training for that type of race in the pool, should that look completely different to a sprint distance or a standard distance triathlon?
Brenton Ford 24:13
I think the majority of it would be similar, except for those more sprint based ones. You'd probably be looking to do a few little bit of higher intensity stuff, especially compared to an Ironman. So I think it's good to have just general good aerobic fitness working at sort of 60% to 80% of max heart rate, doing at least one session there a week is good. But then obviously, if you are doing the shorter stuff, a sprint distance, even up to maybe an Olympic distance, you might be looking to do a little bit more sort of above threshold work in training. But I think for most people, if we're talking sort of anyone above 130 pace per 100, they would be doing somewhat similar sort of training across the board. As you start to get to the pointy end, if you're going a bit quicker than sort of 130 paces time, then you can start to look more into just changing the training around it. But I think for most people with where their swimming ability is at, they're better off focusing on the technique, I should say, rather than the type of training, if that makes sense.
Taryn Richardson 25:17
Yeah, it's so interesting, isn't it? Because we do something totally different on the bike and the run. Like an Ironman distance athlete train so differently compared to a sprint distance athlete. But in a swimming sense, it all seems to be relatively the same.
Brenton Ford 25:30
Yeah, I'd say that's certainly true up to a certain level of athlete. If you're obviously the, alright, to you guys and stuff, they do a lot of sort of fast training as well, because their race distances are a lot shorter. But because they're new to the sport, let's say they've done it for two years or three years, they may not have the ability to change gears that much with their swimming. Certainly something that I hear a lot from people is I've got one speed, or maybe two speeds, if I'm lucky. So if that's the case, then well, you're probably not being able to vary the pace that much anyway. So you're better off just doing perhaps a bit more, zone two, or zone three sort of work, depending on how you classify it, and just focusing on your technique and just building it up that way.
Taryn Richardson 26:13
Awesome. And can we finish on one of the things I hear people say to me all the time, "I suck at swimming. So I'm just going to do one session a week and focus on my running" when it comes to being a better triathlete?
Brenton Ford 26:26
Yeah, well, if you believe that, then that's probably the case. So I think what you believe and what you tell yourself can really have a big impact on your progress. What I've seen over the last couple of years where I've met lots of people at the clinics and camps that we do, and just through the videos that I've put out. For the people I've seen that switch where they've hated swimming, and then they've actually gone to love it and like, oh, hang on, I better drop the amount of sessions I'm doing, because I'm doing too much swimming now that I've really started to enjoy it. When you see yourself improve, that gets quite addictive. It's like, oh, cool, like I can swim five seconds fast per 100. That's pretty cool. What if I can go a little bit quicker now? And when they see those improvements, they start to enjoy it.
Brenton Ford 27:04
And I think that comes from knowing how to make those improvements. And often knowing how to make those improvements comes down to what should you be doing with your technique and your stroke? And where does the speed come from? What's slowing me down? And just getting to know swimming technique a little bit better. And that's when I see that positive feedback loop where people will actually turn that around. But if you are swimming once a week, well, it's going to be very hard to get better off that.
Brenton Ford 27:29
So I'd say two things is, try swimming three times a week, see if that just improves you even without changing technique that would likely improve where you're at. And also just get a better understanding of how to swim faster. And I think even just those Feedback Friday videos that I've done on YouTube would be beneficial, because I've had a lot of people just email me saying, "I changed this and I've taken off 20 seconds in the last six months from my hundred times just by watching your videos on YouTube." They've just taken it on board and gone, okay, I reckon I'm doing this in my stroke. So I'll try this and cool, that works. So it's possible. Yeah, it can certainly be done.
Brenton Ford 28:07
Yeah, it's really cool. And yeah, like this podcast isn't just in Australia. It's overseas as well. So it's pretty amazing that someone from the other side of the world can see something or hear something and make a change and really make a difference to their training. Even when we did our podcast, right? You were talking about, yeah, making sure you fuel enough and all of this. And then I think a week later, we did 100, hundreds just before Christmas. And I know in the past when I've done that I have not fuelled enough, or I've had the wrong thing. So I was just making sure I basically had enough carbs in between. So I think every 20 minutes, I was just having something and I went so well in that 100 hundreds, just so much better than I've done in the past. Whereas I reckon the first time I did, it would have been about 11 years ago, and I would have been swimming probably five seconds to six seconds faster per 100. Now, when I'm 35 compared to 26, just because I was fuelling better. But yeah, it just takes one idea.
Taryn Richardson 29:01
Sometimes you just need to be reminded as well, from an external force, that fuelling is not bad, and that carbs are not evil. I love that my podcast touches so many ears all around the world and often the same, get emails or DMs on Insta, with people saying like, "Thank you so much. I've changed this as a result." That just gives me the warm fuzzies.
Brenton Ford 29:20
Yeah, it's so cool, isn't it? Yes, it's such a great platform to be able to share your knowledge and meet new people. And we were talking about this before, that it's great to be able to have the podcast and that's how you can have good guests on and for me, I learn from whatever guests I have on my podcast and yourself included. So it's really cool.
Taryn Richardson 29:36
So if people want to find you, they want to look you up, they want to hunt you down, watch YouTube, what's the best way to find Effortless Swimming?
Brenton Ford 29:43
Yeah, so Effortless Swimming on all the social media platforms and then effortlessswimming.com. If you're in Australia, we run clinics around the country where we do underwater filming and analysis. So that's a good way to really get your stroke sorted and get something that's specific to you that will make a difference. If you're overseas or in Australia as well, the best sort of thing that we could offer would be our Effortless Swimming membership where I've got some different technique courses. You an actually send in a video of you swimming there and get feedback on it as well. So that's a good way to improve your technique. And we've had thousands of swimmers go through that, or thousands of triathletes. And I love working with people in there and just seeing them get better results in their triathlon. So that's what I really love. And I don't really coach kids or juniors, I've always just worked with adults, because I can see those huge gains that can be made from people who don't necessarily have that background in swimming. So that's what I love to do.
Taryn Richardson 30:33
Awesome. I'll link that in the show notes as well, if anybody wants to go check it out. Well, thank you so much for joining me on my podcast this time. We'll have to do another reverse on your podcast soon. And maybe we can talk about ...well, whatever you want to talk about, really. I can talk all day about nutrition.
Brenton Ford 30:47
That'd be great. Thanks so much for having me Taryn. I really appreciate it.
Taryn Richardson 30:49
Taryn Richardson 30:52
Thanks for joining me for this episode of the Triathlon Nutrition Academy podcast. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions or want to share with me what you've learned, email me at [email protected]. You can also spread the word by leaving me a review and taking a screenshot of you listening to the show. Don't forget to tag me on social media, @dietitian.approved, so I can give you a shout out, too. If you want to learn more about what we do, head to dietitianapproved.com. And if you want to learn more about the Triathlon Nutrition Academy program, head to dietitianapproved.com/academy. Thanks for joining me and I look forward to helping you smashed in the fourth leg - nutrition!