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Long Distance Training Keys & Strategies by Stéphane Lecat

Long Distance Training Keys & Strategies by Stéphane Lecat

To say that France is passionate about open water swimming would be an understatement. They now have 12 open water swims on their schedule. Check them out they look awesome.

Stéphane Lecat, the Open-water team director for Fédération Française de Natation (that's French for FFN), was scheduled to speak at the 2018 Fina Convention but had trouble with his flights and was unable to make it to Hangzhou.

Coach Lecat doesn't just talk the talk but he walked the walk. According to his International Swimming Hall of Fame bio he, "won 3 FINA World Cup Series, 3 Traversée Internationale du lac St-Jean, 4 Rio Corondo, 3 Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog swim, 25 km European Championship, 10 times French Champion and an Around-the-Island Marathon Swim in Atlantic City plus a very fast English Channel in 8 hours 19 minutes." He knows what it takes to be a champion.

I had been waiting months for Coach Lecat's presentation -- it was of course the one I was looking forward to the most. I DM'ed him on Twitter and we got to talking -- low and behold he had made a short video for his presentation that was never played the Convention. I asked if I could share it with the world along with a copy of his presentation slides. He said yes.

So, here it is, in all its glory:

Coach Lecat's 17 page .pdf presentation can be downloaded here.

We added English subtitles to help you follow along.




00:00   Hi everybody. My name is Stephane Lecat. I am the Devita of the Open Swimming Federation, a Swim French Federation for open water and since 2013. Today I am speaking by video because, yesterday I have a problem with my flight, and I tried to find the solution. So I had that situation and this is open water, so, you have to do the same when you are coaching open water. So that's why I wanted to do a video, not to miss my presentation for any point. So Finna invite me to speak about long distance swimming and the key strategies, because since many years, the French Federation and the swimmers have the French Federation have good results. So on slide two presents you what we will speak. We speak on content will be: open water French team description; history and context; discipline characteristics; performance model with some specificities; development tools; and perspectives.

01:11   Slide three. So some numbers on the French Federation. Visha we have 25,000 numbers precipitate in an open water event in France in 2013. It is a lot of 2018. It is a lot of number of person who participates, but between May and the September in the open water events in France. And it is very important for us, because it is more or more popular every year. So maybe because this port is in actuality with a colonial navy thing or maybe because of the athletes of the French Swimming Federation is having good results. We have 41 open water event between May and October. 19 countries take part at the French Open Championship this year. And we are proud about that because now it is a French Open, of course. It is a land camp too, but it is international event for us, and it help our swimmers, juniors and seniors to prepare for the international competition.

02:21   We have 193 swimmers take part at the 10K at the French Championships. It was a 119 women on the 149 men. It was big numbers, and all the women started at the same time and the men too. And this is very important because when you are in a international competition like World Championships, where you have to qualify at the Olympic Games. You have to find a way, the best place at the beginning, at the end. And if you not take part in this kind of race with many people, it is hard for you to adapt and to find a solution. That is why it is important to propose a good event for many, many countries in our championships. [inaudible 03:10] we have four hours, 20 minutes live on television, French international television are doing the French Open.

03:17   So it is a good picture for our discipline, and we are very proud about that. We have to do the same thing next year of course. Since 2014, 73 international swimming medals won in French and international competitions. It was 49 in gold; 14 in silver; 21 in bronze. We are so happy about that, and we worked hard for that. And always we are asked if it is luck or because we have a good strategy? I think it is mixed, because we have very good athletes, and we have very good coach. And we will speak about that after. And we have a, I think, a good organization too, and we know to adapt. This last number is very important. French Swimming Federation and the first Olympic medal in Rio in 2016 with Marc-Antoine Olivier.

04:28   It was the bronze medal at the Olympics for the men's. And we are very proud about that. So slide four. So History and Context - open waters is like life. Sometimes you have to face strong waves, but passing them allows you to find the voice to success again. This is very important because, for example, in Rio 2016 our athlete, Aurélie Muller, had the silver medal. She was silver medal, one meter before the end and she was finally disqualified just one meter before the end and it was very hard for her for course. And for the whole team, but one year after, Aurélie won three medals at the World Championships - two gold medals and one silver medal. And she was Athlete of the Year in 2017. This is really open water, she, you have sometimes [inaudible 05:34] and this is top level sports.

05:38   Sometimes you have bad [inaudible 05:39], but you learn about that on the [inaudible 05:42] after, of course, it is not finished. Aurélie, we want to support her to try to be number one at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. She won the first step, and we hope we'd be the same in the future.

06:00   Next slide. So the History and Context. Why take the direction of French open water in February, 2015? Well, I decided to be National Devita at this time because the plan proposed by the Federation at the time was, in my way. If your plan is not with your philosophy, it is not a good idea to take the position. And for me, sharing skills to ensure the French swimmer perform on a high level, is very important. Many French swimmers win medals, which is the most important, to create beautiful emotions, together because we work for that too.

06:48   And they share time together. This is very, very important for me, in my team, for junior and senior. To share the emotion, to share the podium because we are together. It is not one swimmer, and one swimmer, and one coach, one coach, we are together. We work together, and this is very important. So how? I am the director and the manager. So it means, for me to be director, of the open water, you have to see and you have to take care about your coach. Not only about the swimmer because you are the coach. Sometimes call the coach one day and say, hi, how are you doing and you asked me, why are you calling me? I said, just to ask you, if you okay. And this is very important to take of my team.

07:39   My team is coach and swimmers. It is very important to have a coach who knows to win. We have Phillip Breca in our team. And I think, it is this coach who showed the way at the French Swimming Federation in Portsmouth on the open water swimming, how to win gold medals in an international event. And this is very, very important for us, because when Phillip came to us in 2015, he helped us to have confidence. And he the learned to everybody, how to show the way to the victory. And to show the way, not to accept the defeat. And this is very important. We do not win always, of course, but we want to try, every time. And this is very important. And then become a team. At the beginning of course, we build it, but now I think we have a team.

08:42   We are a real team. The place of the open water in the Federation. Today, open water has an important place because it is a further possibility to win medals at the Olympic. It is a possibility to increasing the number of members in the Federation. This is very important. Maybe we have 10,000 or 15,000 members more, because open water, since the four years, open water has become bigger and bigger. And it offers the possibility to perform in a singular challenge. It is not because you are not top level, you cannot do open water challenge. You can cross a channel, like the channel between England to France, or everything. This is open water, you do not need to be top level. You can have your personal challenge and it is with a boat, and its safe and there is not injury most of the time.

09:45   This is a very, very good sport. That's why open water is getting bigger and bigger. On the Open Water Scientifics, this is very important. I know in our part like [inaudible 09:55], the open swimmer must be able to adapt himself. How about what? The natural environment, because we swim in the ocean; we swim in the lake; we swim in the river; and you have to adapt to that. This is very important too, how to adapt that with your technique; with a tactic; with your brain; and between the other streamers, the opponent. Next slide.

10:28   Open water Characteristics. Open water is the discipline where the swimmer must use all his qualities: philosophical, technical, tactical and mental to face the problem related to the environment in which he evolves as well as those related to the opponents in order to touch pad first. What are the essential performance factors, In my view, of open water? Coaching because the coach, for me, is very important because they show the way everyday to the swimmers. Tactical and technical, because it is not because you do not have, the more you have a beautiful, good technique, efficient, the more, you will be better in a 10k finish it. Physiological, because it is very important too. Observation. The observation to your swimmers and the other on the other team is very important, as is the other spot - mental. And, of course, in the middle of everything you have the swimmers.

11:34   Next slide. Provides the means to win: Create a Performance Model. Observation. From 2013 to August 13. I did observation and analysis with the international opponents and the difference between the swimmers. Which was very important in Barcelona 2014, to see how the Brazil team, U.S. Team organize everything before the race, during the race and after the race. Because it wasn't tough on the, we were number seven in the world. Of course number seven in the world, is not enough when you want to be first. So you have to show how the best is doing, and then after you have to adapt with your culture and with your swimmers, and with your organization that is very important. Construction of the French Performance Model on the 10K. Race strategy, planning strategy training analysis, individualization. Individualization is very important because each swimmer do not have the same quality. So you have a plan for everybody, but yet, you have to adapt even with each quality of the swimmers.

12:48   Next slide. Development tools. From the performance model, identification of key points to work on. For each phase of the race, you have a quality to improve. Endurance capacity; speed at the end of the race; technical and tactical works. Lucidity works. This is really important, make a choice at the right time in the race. On the promote open water French culture and dynamic training camp with the senior engineer. Every, every year we do two or three training camp together and with a junior and a senior. On the this swim camp, help us to knowledge sharing between coach and coach training camp with the best international. Go to the swimmers. Sometimes some swimmers and coach go in the international coach to see how they manage the open water training session. Scientific sports. So we are working on the hypoxia on altitude training; Heat acclimatization (warm and cold environment); individual race strategy before each major competition; work on lucidity in the race. About lucidity in the race. This is very important, because sometimes you are very strong, but if you do not have the capacity to be lucid and with a big vicinity you cannot win. You have to be very, very lucid about what you can do; and what you have to do; and what you want to do. Maybe one or two minutes, after the moment you think about that.

14:35   Next slide. Improvement of several qualities: technical, tactical, mental. You have on the screen, the example what we do on a test. We do a test scale on the average speed of the swimmers, it is 100. Then he might have to decide the strategy, how he wants to do before the test. And you have to stop three times and when you stop, you have a question about lucidity. And after that we do the analysis of everything. About speed, about [inaudible 15:05] that. about lucidity too, and we do everything. We take into consideration everything, to understand how the swimmer is good or not in every point. Who is very important. Next slide.

15:26   Improve the speed at the end of the race. The key factor of the 10K. You can see now, that you have the top 10 time on the 200, 400, on the 800, and 1500 female woman. Or you can see the level is very good, for the man and for the woman. This is women, yet you need in your career a minimum speed, top speed maybe in the top 50 men and 50 women in the world [inaudible 15:53] ranking, to being a good open water swimmers. Next slide.

15:59   At the Word Cup in Abu D'habi, this year, you can see the percent of the speed of the swimmers. Are the 400 freestyle for the men on a throwing on variable quandaries. And you can see [inaudible 16:11] is not an on the higher percentile on the speed. Because you are a reserve, so because he have [inaudible 16:18] it is not comfortable for him to win the race.

16:21   So it is not only the one quality but it is one of the biggest quality. Setting-up a French open-water culture and an effort culture. Training camp principles. Two or three weeks with senior and junior, two times yearly. Advantages - skills sharing between coach; training with world championship. Take the time to perform several analyses in various areas - physiology, technique, tactics, psychology. And multiply the number of the open water competitions to better immerse yourself in the discipline. It is very important to take part at the competition.

17:02   Next slide. Be the dynamic team of course. The director is available and attentive with a committed and trusted staff. Strong relationship between the seniors and juniors. Scientific advisors on disposal to the coach, very important. Support swimmers and their coach. Maximization of physiological capacities in altitude. Setting up tools: measurement of level of fatigue; physiological test every day; heat acclimatization, you have adpoted better race strategy, worked on lucidity, like I explained to you, before.

17:42   Next slide. Perspectives. How to explain the success of the French, open water swimming. Caring and investment are the keys to the French system. Coach who know how to win and are fair and consistent with basic principle on high level requirement like Philippe Lucas, of course, Éric Boissiere, Magali Merino and many more. The taste of victory. A logistical organization focused on the swimmer and the coach. How to sustain and optimize results? That's a question. I think individualized training depending on the swimmer, response is very important. Support and offer experts to our coach. Involve young coach with the best French or foreign coach or use external expertise. This is the best [inaudible 18:38].

18:38   And now, for the next slide, you will have a short video to explain between 2014 to now, what we build in our team. Thank you for everything. Goodbye.