Load Velocity Profiling in Swimming

Speed and power are vital ingredients for sporting success.

One recognised training mechanism to develop these attributes in swimming is the use of resisted sprinting.

How do we determine what resistance to prescribe for your individual abilities, to improve the odds for optimal adaptations and ultimately increased speed?

If you were to undertake a gym based strength training regime, your program would be carefully designed using a percentage of your 1 rep max or your ability to complete and exercise in a specific speed (VBT – Velocity Based Training). It would not be acceptable to guess the amount of weight to be placed on the bar.

Surely the same would apply when prescribing how much resistance (weight/ load) you use during resisted swimming training.

There are aspects of resisted sprint training that are known to be associated with optimal loading zones.

  • 0%- 10% Vdec is the technical zone
  • 10%-40% Vdec is the speed- strength zone
  • 40%-60% Vdec is the power zone
  • 50% Vdec is about where maximal power is

*Vdec = Velocity Development. https://simplifaster.com/articles/load-velocity-profiling-1800-sprint/

By undertaking a load velocity profile, the guess factor of how much resistance to use for your swimming sprint training is removed. The load velocity assessment quantifies your ability to sprint comparing two variables; load (resistance) and velocity.

Instead of completing one unresisted timed sprint at maximal velocity, a load velocity profile gives a deeper insight into your individual ability by using numerous data points. This increased understanding allows for the programming of resisted swimming, with a higher degree of understanding and accuracy to achieve the desired training adaptations.

Using speed and power technology, you are instructed to complete 3- 5 maximal effort swimming sprints. This allows for the generation of your individual load-velocity report. The information allows your Coach to prescribe exact loads (resistance), ensuring you work within your optimal training or velocity zone.

An example of a simple load velocity profile for a junior swimmer is presented below. Levels of resistance which equal specific decreases in velocity targeting the development of different speed and power attributes can now be prescribed.

Load Velocity Profile

Bodyweight70 kg
Peak or averageAverage speed
screenshot 2024 01 15 at 3.50.58 pm

Without accurate assessment and prescription of loads/ resistance, at best Coaches are guessing what loads will give the best results and how resisted sprint sessions are helping to improve swimming speed.

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