Category Archives: Eamon’s Corner

Competition Focus

As the business end of the season starts to evolve all swimmers will have to start making their newly issued lactate training times every set and every session. They will also need to set specific goals for their championship season. For some this is getting to development games and experiencing longer races. For others it is getting Div 1 or Div 2 or open championship times of even qualifying for the Commonwealth games Ulster squad or European events. It is all relative but the common denominator is work rate, technical improvement, fitness, attitude and ambition. It is about going faster in the key areas of underwater and changing direction – making yards on those ‘Any Given Sunday Film “inches”‘. It is also about not looking at the opposition and being negative about your chances, but rather maximising your strengths and slightly fixing your current weaknesses. As a famous 3 Michelin Start Chef said recently “getting the award is the easy bit, keeping it is a lot harder”. So climb the competition ladder gradually, learn and improve as you climb and when you have all the elements in place stepping onto the podium will be automatic.

The 2014 competition season will run for some until June and for others late July.  Competitions that are coming up that will get you to these summer galas are as follows; Ulster Development Galas, Leinster Graded Galas, Ulster Qualifying and Age Group and Youth championships and Leinster Distance and Open championships. There are also some national events such as the Dave McCullough and Spring championships. If you are unsure what to enter talk to your squad coach. A meeting will be held shortly to help in event selection and goal setting too.

You are what you eat
All swimmers should now be aware of what they eat and drink and the quantity and type of each. Firstly every swimmer should be bringing a water bottle full of water or very slightly flavoured with orange or Ribena. Eating processed food or take away type food is not recommended. Eating sugar rich food or sweetened food regularly is also a problem as it puts on weight that is hard to shift. This can range from cereals to fizzy drinks from many low fat foods to crisps. So monitor your intake and cut down. Again talk to your squad coach if you need help.

Training and Performance Patience

The great Seve Ballesteros (Golfer) once said ‘maybe I should go to a sports shop and buy a trophy. That’s the only way I am going to get one.’ Welshman Jamie Donaldson (who? He is a tennis player) claimed his first trophy after 254 previous attempts. The 36 year old when asked what kept him going said ‘It’s just being a case of keeping going, because I knew what I was doing was right.’ Andy Murray the Scottish tennis player who was the nearly man for years and now in a few months is Olympic and US Open champion. He is recognised by all at the top end of tennis as having an unwavering determination to get better and to put defeat behind him and to try to improve for the next opportunity.

The following are advice nuggets for all involved in competitive sport;

  1. Coaches should introduce the concept of post-performance reflection, analysing both strengths and weaknesses. This should be applied from an early age and parents are encouraged to do it too. This is a two way process but buy in by the swimmer is vital.
  2. Have a plan and have prepared to execute certain things to maximum performance.
  3. Maintain a realistic set of goals – understanding where an individual is in relation to their peers, can aid development.
  4. Get the balance right. Provide room for development. If strength and speed is well developed, work on Technical aspects, as this is the main limiting factor for further progression.

Consider This…

Theodore Roosevelt – a former US President once wrote – “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly… who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Competition season

Summer is approaching and the big competitions are on the horizon.  For some this is the Aqua Sprint Finals and the Community Games event, but for most of our club athletes it is the Division 2 National Championships and for some others it will be the Division 1 and Irish Open .  For others it will also include the Triathlon events.

So to be ready to compete we must focus on the critical elements of training. These include technique, sleep, hydration, nutrition and training like you intend to compete, i.e. FAST. The following short article gives you the reason why you as an athlete need to be motivated, be resilient, be ambitious, and not afraid to PUSH (Poem that says it all on the notice board).

The distribution of fast-twitch fibres is actually fairly evenly distributed between our muscles at birth. Most of us will possess somewhere between 45-55% fast-twitch and 45-55% slow-twitch fibres.  The reality is, fast-twitch fibres are quite lazy. They need to be prodded into action by considerable mental input. This increases the flow of electrical impulses to the motor units and literally ‘switches them on’.

For the majority, our speed and power depends on the way our sporting experiences are shaped and crucially, how we train our muscle fibres throughout our sporting career.

The key to unlocking maximal speed lies in training. Without training we will be neither super-endurance, nor super-fast, strong or powerful.

Training fast-twitch fibre correctly and consistently is the key to improved strength, speed and power. And that training comes in three parts.

The enhancement of speed relies not only on training

  1. The muscles, but also
  2. the mind – and, as recent sports scientific studies prove,
  3. the central nervous system as well.

Last week we were asking..

1.      What exactly do CHO’s do?

Answer – They provide a high intensity energy source

  • Provide energy for all nutrients to be shuttled into cells
  • Switches off fat oxidation
  • Spares protein

They can effect Cortisol levels

  • A powerful catabolic hormone

They have satiating effect so athletes also need to curb potential Carbohydrate addictions (e.g. sugar).

2.     What is the job of Protein?

Answer – Growth, repair of muscles and develops bone strength

  • Boosts immune function
  • Stimulates protein synthesis – Controls the release of insulin
  • High Thermic Effect (see explanatory article on club website).
  • Satiating to athletes

3.     What is the role of Fats in a diet?

Answer – Some good, some bad!

  • ‘Protection and insulation’
  • Stimulate muscle growth
  • Slow energy source

Necessary for:

  • uptake of fat soluble vitamins
  • Production of recovery hormones
  • Can increase metabolic rate

What is the Thermic Effect of Food?  The thermic effect of food, also known as diet-induced thermogenesis or postprandial thermogenesis, is a reference to the increase in metabolic rate (i.e. the rate at which your body burns calories) that occurs after ingestion of food. When you eat food, your body must expend some energy (i.e. calories) to digest, absorb, and store the nutrients in the food you’ve eaten. Therefore, as a result of the thermic effect of food, by consuming calories you actually increase the rate at which your body burns calories.

Implications of the Thermic Effect of Food on Metabolic Rate:  So how does the thermic effect of food affect your overall metabolic rate? Based on the definition provided above, we already know that the thermic effect of food will increase your metabolic rate, but the real question is “How much calorie burn does the thermic effect of food account for?” Well, the general consensus in the scientific community is that the thermic effect of food accounts for roughly 5 to 10 % of the energy content of the food ingested. This would mean, for example, that if you eat a 400 calorie meal, you can reasonably expect somewhere between 20 to 40 calories to be burned in the process of digesting, absorbing, and storing the nutrients from the meal. Or, as another example, if you eat 2000 calories per day, roughly 100 to 200 calories will be burned each day as a result of the thermic effect of food.

Factors that Influence the Thermic Effect of Food:  There are many factors that influence the magnitude of the thermic effect of food. These factors include things that are under your control, such as meal size, meal frequency, meal composition, meal pattern, and body composition, and things that are not under your control, such as age, gender, hormone levels, and genetics. For the purposes of this article we’ll put aside discussion of the thermic effect of food factors that are not under your control, and focus on those that are.

Influence of Meal Size on the Thermic Effect of Food:  There is a direct correlation between meal size and the thermic effect of food. The more calories there are in a meal, the greater the thermic effect of food will be as a result of consuming that meal (assuming that the relative proportions of protein, fat, and carbohydrates remain the same in each meal). This is no surprise, since the thermic effect of food is caused by the digestion, absorption, and storage of consumed nutrients. If you consume more nutrients, it follows that your body will need to expend more energy to process them.

Keep in mind that if you are trying to lose weight it does not make sense to increase your meal sizes to augment the thermic effect of food. Given that your weight is ultimately dependent on your caloric balance, increasing your meal sizes will ultimately result in an overall greater calorie consumption despite the slight increase in calories burned through the thermic effect of food. For example, if you were to eat a 500 calorie meal, 50 calories (or 10%) would be expected to be burned due to the thermic effect of food, so you would have a net calorie consumption of 500 – 50 = 450 calories. If you double the size of the meal to 1000 calories, 100 calories (or 10%) would be expected to be burned due to the thermic effect of food, so you would have a net calorie consumption of 1000 – 100 = 900 calories. In the end, you might have doubled the thermic effect of food from 50 calories to 100 calories, but you have also doubled your net calorie consumption from 450 calories to 900 calories, so you will still gain weight.

Eamon’s Corner

Last weeks quiz and answers

  1. True or False? Drinking tea will dehydrate the body due to the caffeine content?  Answer: False – Drinking Tea will NOT dehydrate the body
  2. What is the ideal Carbohydrate intake for an Athlete?
  • Less than 40%
  • Less than 50%
  • 50%– 60%
  • More than 60%
  • It depends

Answer: It depends – why? ‘Athlete’ is a very broad term and relates to marathon runners, swimmers, divers and weightlifters alike. There is a need to be specific with the carbohydrate intake! This is the case with the other macro nutrients too. This will also change for a single athlete based on the training phase and the specific day whether it be a training or rest day.

  1. Name three Macronutrients? Answer – Carbohydrates, Fats, Proteins.
  2. Name three Micronutrients? Answer – Vitamins, Minerals Water

This week we are asking..

  1. What exactly do CHO’s do?
  2. What is the job of Protein?
  3. What is the role of Fats in a diet?

Helping Swimmers Zero In on the Perfect Push-Off

There are basically only two kinds of push-offs:  Good Ones and Bad Ones.   The good ones give swimmers a forceful burst of speed off every wall. The bad ones tend to grind to a halt before they ever get started. When a swimmer loses a race by a narrow margin, push-offs sometimes take the blame for the loss. By the same token, push-offs sometimes get the credit when a swimmer wins by a touch. Either way, it’s easy to see that push-offs have the potential to make or break a race.

When performed correctly, a push-off employs the human body’s most effective posture for minimizing resistance through water.  And resistance-reducing measures are clearly called for since water is about 800 times denser than air.  In fact, water is so dense that a bullet fired into a body of water will lose all velocity after travelling less than eight feet.  It is water’s tremendous stopping power that compels swimmers to minimize resistance whenever possible.