How to Audit Your Training in the Pool

How to Audit Your Training in the Pool

When you are feeling like things aren’t progressing anymore in the pool it’s time to sit down and audit your training. Here is how to do it.

The effort is there, the attendance is there, and you feel like you are putting in a focused effort each time you step on the pool deck.

And yet, progress has stalled. You feel like you are spinning your wheels, training harder and harder and not making the progression that you feel you deserve.

When you are feeling stuck, like things aren’t improving, it’s time to audit your training, your training habits, and the other performance factors that influence your swimming.

Start here

Before you can figure out where things went wrong, it’s necessary to figure out what you are actually doing in the water. Sure, you can guess and recollect how your recent training but an audit requires a measure of objectivity.

How to Audit Your Training in the Pool

The way we are going to do this is to start by recording your workouts from top to bottom for a period of at least a week, preferably two. If you do it for a couple days you won’t catch the patterns and habits.

Build a training history to give you a clear bird’s eye view of what you are doing in the water. It provides the clarity to find answers to swimming better and faster.

Taking inventory of your practices

Write out your workouts (if you aren’t already), and take stock of the following things:

  • What is your effort level? How would you rate your consistency in the pool? Did you sandbag the main set or give it total effort?
  • How would you rate technical focus? Did you maintain proper technique through the “off” sets as well as the main set?
  • How much work are you doing at race pace? You have goal times in the pool (right?), and you should know what the pace for those goal times is. How much swimming are you doing at or faster than goal pace?
  • What was your attendance like? Did you make all of the assigned and available workouts?
  • Are you eating like your mouth is a dumpster outside 7/11 or are you eating like the high performance athlete that you consider yourself to be?
  • What are the gaps in your training? What are the slip-ups that continue to appear over and over again like a chlorinated version of Groundhog Day?
  • Is progression being achieved on a weekly basis? Or are you doing reps at the same intervals, at the same speed, over and over again.
  • How are you sleeping over the week? Are you consistently dipping below 7-8 hours per night and waiting till the weekend to catch up?
  • Sit down with your coach and compare your notes with his or her thoughts to get an additional layer of objectivity. See where there are gaps in assessment and be willing to keep an open mind to their suggestions and thoughts.

The Results

Being willing to be honest with yourself about your training is tough. It’s easier to think we are doing great, and then act shocked when we don’t race as fast as we would like.

But having a solid level of self-awareness is key to being a superior swimmer.

And the first step is having an inventory of your training and having the humility to see the habits and patterns in your swim practices.

I can’t give you the specifics for your specific case, but from my own experience a few things will happen when you audit your practices:

  • You might discover that you aren’t making as many practices as you thought
  • Or that you were swimming through a lot of the workouts with little thought to technique or form
  • Or that your effort in some of the main sets was a little, ahem, lacklustre.

Whatever the case, doing an audit of your training will show you the things you can improve in your training, helping you shatter through that plateau and get back on track to destroying your best times.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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