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This week’s workout comes from 2016 U.S. Paralympian, national and world paratriathlon champion, and coach Aaron Scheidies, who developed this swim set to help all athletes simulate the variety of impairments that compete in the sport of paratriathlon. “Athletes who do this workout will get a chance to understand what it’s like by at least in a way putting ourselves in their situation,” said Scheidies, who competes in the visually impaired (VI) category of paratriathlon.
But there’s more to this workout than understanding the depth and breadth of the paratriathlon experience. Scheidies uses this set with his athletes to help them develop their most fundamental swim skills. “We’re using the power of taking something away in order to find your feel for the water,” said Scheidies. “Swimming is very much a sport of feel.”
The swim opens with a few basic strokes and drills, including swimming with the hands closed in fists and cat paws (where the hand is clawed like a cat). Then it progresses to single-arm sets, where one arm remains on the side of the body while the other arm performs the stroke. The next set restricts the use of the legs – without a buoy for flotation – before progressing to a VI set, where athletes alternate between swimming with their eyes open and closed.
Through all of these sets, the athlete should not worry about speed, said Scheidies: “Put your focus completely on feel in the water. This includes really feeling what happens to your body when you take away one arm, your legs, or your sight, and making subtle corrections to get yourself back in alignment without overcorrecting. With the eyes closed, it’s really all about staying calm and relaxed and not getting anxious.”
One Hour Workout: Paratriathlon Swim Simulation
400 easy, swim every 3rd length backstroke
6×50 drill/swim (Drills: scull, fists, cat paw)
Set 1: Upper Extremity Amputee
10×50 as: 12.5 single-arm right/12.5 single-arm left/25 swim smooth
200 steady tempo pace (RPE 5-6)
Set 2: Lower Extremity Paraplegic
10×50 as: 25 hard/25 easy; every other 25 hard uses no legs (“dead legs”)
200 smooth tempo (RPE 5-6)
Set 3: Blind/VI
5×100, with 2×5 strokes eyes closed (EC) each 25 (push off wall with eyes open, then 5 strokes closed, 3 strokes open, 5 closed, remainder open)
200 tempo (RPE 5-6)