Negative Split Swimming

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Negative Split Swimming

Post by nightcrawler on Thu Mar 16, 2017 7:27 am

In my younger times I was doing lots of negative split sets in order to keep my pace steady. Now I am not doing at all, because USRPT is enough for me to reach my goals.

This thread is for those who are new to swimming and who are not good at feeling and arranging/controlling their tempo(pace).

Let me describe...

What is Negative Splitting?

Everyone inevitably slows down. Whatever the goal, we never seem to have as much energy as we had when we first start something. In fact, oftentimes, the faster we start something, the faster we slow down. That's why competitors like marathon swimmers, runners and triathletes train to build endurance.

Part of learning endurance is learning to pace yourself. In other words, you learn not to start on all cylinders. Even if you start off fastest, if you waste all your fuel in the first part of a race, you'll slow down quickly, allowing someone else to easily overtake you. The proverb "slow and steady wins the race" is true in many circumstances. However, in swimming marathons, triathlons, fast and steady is certainly preferable.

Perhaps the best mentality is trust in delayed gratification. Although everyone is different, many athletes perform best when they hold back a burst of energy until the end of a competition during the homestretch.

Competitive swimmers call this negative split swimming. This simply refers to when a swimmer finishes the second half of a race faster than the first half. But it's not as easy as some of the Olympic gold medalists make it look. It takes restraint to hold back upon your first dive in. That's understandable, because many swimmers like to take advantage of the initial dive to help propel them as much as possible and start off strong.

However, for many, the hardest part of negative splitting is getting faster on the second half of the race. It may feel as if you're putting in more effort than the first half, but your stroke tempo may not have changed at all.

These are reasons why negative split training is so grueling. However, many coaches believe the payoff is enormous. Even if you don't end up using this technique in competition, the training can help swimmers with their overall endurance.

Purpose of Negative Split Swimming

Negative split swimming strikes some as counterintuitive. It doesn't feel right to hold back effort at any point in a competition, least of all at the outset. Indeed, negative split swimming won't lead to faster times until after significant training. However, many coaches maintain that once a swimmer finally does master negative splitting, it'll result in greater control throughout.

First, it's important to understand why swimmers can't keep up their full force throughout an entire race. Your best speeds recruit anaerobic metabolism efforts, which use carbohydrates and not oxygen, causing your body to produce excessive amounts of lactic acid. Coach Gale Bernhardt explains that this lactic acid builds up in tissues and soon prevents enzymes from doing their job of breaking down carbohydrates effectively. Other problems include the damage to cell membranes and a buildup of electrolytes inside cells, which leads to cell swelling.

Negative Split Swim Training

Because it's so counterintuitive, negative splitting is a difficult technique to master.

The first thing is to keep a close watch on a clock during training. Coach Emmett Hines( emphasizes that until you're trained thoroughly in negative splitting, you can't trust your internal sense of time. Although it might seem inconvenient to consistently check a pace clock, Hines suggests several options. If swimming near a clock isn't possible, you should use a watch. Or, if you can't see the clock from where you are, you should get prescription goggles.


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