A Cutting Edge Strategy For a Faster Swim

Interleaving is used in telecommunications and computing to increase performance and as an unconventional approach to learning. 

Now there's evidence that the underlying concepts of interleaving can be applied to your training regimen to make you a faster endurance athletes. 

In telecommunications, interleaving involves alternating two or more digital signals. That same basic concept of mixing things up can be used to make you a faster triathlete or learn a new skill. 

Researchers, academics, and psychology professors from UCLA to Harvard University are watching and studying Dan McLaughlin, a photographer-turned-golfer who has become better than 85 percent of American male golfers using the interleaving technique. 

What is Interleaving?

Most triathletes focus on one aspect of their training at a time. One workout might just work on their freestyle stroke. With interleaving, the strategy is to spend that same hour working mixing in a range of skills like freestyle stroke, breathing and speed. 

Top swimming coaches follow the interleaving theory in practice. Interleaving places different stresses on the body and mind by practicing a variety of skills. It's a valuable strategy in open water swimming because triathletes can learn better in smaller, more randomized bits of specific drills and different practices of skills.

Most of us are in a somewhat nebulous middle. Is it possible to estimate your own efficiency? Are you 4 percent efficient. Six percent? Maybe even 8 percent?

So instead of swimming pounding out miles and miles of freestyle, swimming hours after hours at the same intervals and at the same pace leading up to an open water swim, interleaving in the open water swimming world includes alternately pulling, kicking, stroke work, sprinting, and distance sets in a workout. 

Interleaving also incorporates the use of different strokes and individual medley sets: performed forwards (butterfly, backstroke, breaststroke, and freestyle), backwards (freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, and butterfly), and randomly (where all four strokes are swum in no particular pattern during sets).

More: Swim Drills: The Key to Efficiency

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About the Author

Terry Laughlin

Terry Laughlin is head coach of Total Immersion. Read similar articles at www.swimwellblog.com.

Terry Laughlin is head coach of Total Immersion. Read similar articles at www.swimwellblog.com.

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