Training Frederica Pellegrini (’09 World Champ in Women’s 200 & 400 Frees) by Stefano Morini (with Translation by Camillo Cametti, 2010)


[NOTE: Coach Stefano Morini spoke the presentation in Italian, his native language. As he presented, the talk was translated into English by Camillo Carnetti, which is what is presented here. Also, Morini was not Pellegrini’s coach leading into the 2009 Worlds; Alberto Castagnetti was. However, Coach Castagnetti died in October 2009; Morini speaks on his behalf.]

[translator]: Thank you for sharing with us this tribute. Now, the floor to Stefano, whose task today—because he doesn’t speak English, but also as a coach of Federica Pellegrini—is not the easiest. Actually, he inherited from Alberto the task because Pellegrini chose him. He had been an assistant to Alberto for many years and he knows Federica. And Pellegrini says, ‘Alberto was unique; nobody can substitute him.’ But with Stefano, we’ll try to establish a fruitful relationship.

So I’m sure they have already done this. I’m sure they will improve on this. And I’m sure that Pellegrini’s place in Budapest at the 2010 European Championships in the 200m freestyle was the evidence of this. Buongiorno.

[SM begins]
Good morning.

I’m so sorry I can’t speak English. But I promise myself and to you that I’ll try and learn this language. Maybe for the next time there would be one.

Also I need to apologize because the translation in English there I’m not perfect. They’re actually a little bit a proximity. But I’m sure you will understand. (I’ll try to help.) In [any] case, you may just ask for clarification.

I was deputy [assistant] to Alberto from 2000-2009.

Now I am responsible of the Italian federation’s Elite Training Center in Verona (and he named a few of the swimmers that are under his care).

So I wish to make now a comparison between the preparation for the [2009] World Championships in Rome last year, and the [2010] European Championships in Budapest in August this season.

No need to translate [the slide], I believe, these figures and those words. The only thing is that as you can see, if you make an average, Federica didn’t swim more than 10,000 per day, for 6 days a week, so not really much.

The planning of our training workouts in the latest years has followed this scheme. You can see the A, B and C. So the explanation is there: aerobic easy, aerobic intensity, and anaerobic in strength, with the relative percentages.

As you can see, only 6% has been done at a race pace. Only 6% of the total workout is race pace.

In both seasons, the workouts have been very similar, not many differences. And especially true, this is for arm pulls at low intensity.

Instead, in kicking workouts, they use, we use (let’s pretend I am Stefano) we use the three category, the A, the B, and the C; the easy aerobics, the aerobic intensity and anaerobic in strength.

Yeah. That’s an example of a low intensity arms pull aerobic. Can you see? Everyone can see or do we need to read it? Okay.

As already said, for kicking, for kicking workouts, the ABC scheme has always been used.

Si. Can we move on or do you want to take another look?

I see somebody taking notes.

Si. If somebody is interested, we can later on we can, or tomorrow I mean, we can produce some printouts. Okay, so let’s move on, andiamo.

[discussion between SM and translator, in Italian]

In each training session, we have only goal to pursue, to fulfill, just one goal. Not many goals, not multiple goals, just one single objective.

We have three gym sessions per week, twice in the morning and once in the afternoon.

After the training session of the Wednesday in the afternoon always follows a training session in the water immediately after, as a continuation of the workout in the gym. And that training session in the water is meant to train the force or the strength of the swimmer through increased resistance drag and other technical tools.

Mi scusi. As you can see, they use, he uses actually and Pellegrini’s as tools a bucket with holes, not so many. And then they will swim in with elastic alternating one totally either and one assistant with the coach recovering the swimmer fast. And then the third line, the second last line, you can see 4×15 upright with legs. That means that the swimmer, that Pellegrini, is in the upright positions and she’s kicking in the upright position.

With arms obviously in three positions, alternating alongside the body, and here and up, and also with all the load of 5 kilos.

So the goal of this training in the water after the gym is of transforming the force in kinetic speed.

One thing that they do, that he does with Federica, is to use the same warm-up format for both the race… that is the three race warm-up and before every training, during the tapering period, every high intensity training session.

The season, for the last 3 seasons, the season has been divided in 3 periods of microcycles. And there you can see 11 weeks before the European Short Course Championships and then another 11 weeks before the Italian Championships, and then 12 plus 8 weeks before the World Championships.

You see, the preparation is more or less a photocopy of the previous season.

So the dark color means: low aerobic, low intensity. The middle color means: aerobic intensity. And the yellow on top means: anaerobic in strength.

The scheme this season was a little bit different that much because Pellegrini swam a little bit more kilometers than the previous season.

This season has been a little bit anomalous, different I would say, than the usual because of the death of Alberto, which happened on 12 October last year. So Pellegrini skipped some training sessions. I would say several training sessions during the autumn, last year, and they had to recover this lack of training with more training in January in Fort Lauderdale, when they had a training camp in Fort Lauderdale; and then in May when they had an altitude training camp in Sierra Nevada, I believe.

(Spain) In Spain.

There you can see the totals of kilometers, in kilometers of workouts in both 2008-2009 season and…

In the first microcycle… macrocycle.

Some examples of workouts in the season 2008-2009, you see some sets if you have any questions about this.

So each set averages a time length of one minute three seconds and four. And there you have the value of blood lactate after each workout.

This is an example of a workout made in Verona prior to the European Swimming Championships short course in Istanbul.

(Short course) Short course.

So this is the conclusion, the outcome let’s say, of the first microcycle in both season prior to the European Championships short course obviously in Rijeka, Croatia [December 2008] and then Istanbul, Turkey [December 2009]. And in both cases, Pellegrini set a World Record on the 200m freestyle wearing the now outlawed shiny body suits.

After the championships in Istanbul last December we stopped for a week, no training, and then we resumed training in January this year.

Here you have the second microcycle of the previous season and the second microcycle in this season.

From the 10 January until 18 April, the second microcycle in this season.

Again, you have for this microcycle the total in kilometers of the different workouts in the three categories, A, B, and C.

This year, we are trying to slightly increase kilometers also because we were targeting the 800m freestyle already at the European Short Course Championship in Istanbul.

You can see, these are examples of single days training sessions, 28 of January, 31 of January to February. And they have made in altitude in USA flight stuff during the season 2008 and 2009 for three weeks.

More examples for 2009, the 10 weeks, 24 of February, 26 of February. Again, you have the average of each sets, the average time, and the blood lactate value.

This year.

This is an example of workout in Fort Lauderdale this year, 28 of February. In 50m pool, they had a test race at maximum speed on the 200m freestyle.

Test was made starting from the water, not from the block, and wearing a very normal, not-shiny suit.

More examples of workouts in 50 meters pool.

Two weeks before the Italian Championships, also the trials for the [2010] European Championships in Budapest.

Comparison of results of the second microcycle in two seasons.

Results of the Italian Championships that also as I just said were the trials for the World Championships in 2009 and the European Championships.

This year, at the Italian Championships in April, Pellegrini swam the 200, the 400, and for the first time, the 800. And I wish to specify that the Italian Championships are run on 5 days, just 5 days. So she had actually to race very frequently.

We have, as you can see, the third microcycle diagram for the season, for the previous season.

And the current season.

Now there’s a comparison between the volume of the microcycle in two seasons and the totals in kilometers. The overall total for each season and the split total for the three categories, A, B, and C.

More examples of the fifth week’s preparation before the World Championships in Rome 31 of March and then 8 of April.

8 of April was actually a race, a test race or a race test.

So she swam in a Jaked suit and you can see the result in the 400 meter, impressive, 3:55.7. And after 20 minutes, Federica swam the 100 meters in 52.4.

This is an example of a workout for increasing the tolerance to lactic acid to the lactate, blood lactate. And so she had swum a set of 8x100m on 7:00 with easy swim for recovery. And you have the times there.

She was actually very tired after that workout, that specific workout, and they needed to make an easier workout actually in the next days, a few days, in order to restore her energies and recover from that high intensity workout.

In the pre-competitive racing period, competition period, they used to swim a lot of broken distances, 25 meters actually.

High-intensity, broken, 25 meters, at race pace.

The last three weeks before the Rome World Championships in 2009.

Much use of broken swims, 25 meters.

This was the last quality training session, training workout, before the World Championships on July the 21st in Rome, before the World Championships.

As you can see after the warm-up, Federica swam twice the 100, with just a second rest followed by 200 easy.

Slow down swim.

Then a broken 200 into four 50s at 35 seconds. And you have the times there.

And the last broken was 100 split in two 50s on 35 seconds.

This here, as said, we have a training camp in altitude in Sierra Nevada for three weeks. And these are some examples, May 26th and June the 1st.

Excuse me. Media does not mean the press, it means average.

In altitude, actually our training workouts are low intensity but high volume up to 18 kilometers a day. Low intensity, high in volume.

Examples of the second week in altitudes this year.

The first said, it means the first set. The average was 1:01.7.

In this particular day in the course, Federica didn’t deliver as expected during the training session. So he told her to get out of the water and get more rest.

Fifteen weeks: already in tapering for the European Championship that would start about 12 days later in Budapest on August the 9th.

The next days we made some workouts trying to restore the optimal fitness, body fitness, and then [in Italian].

(Difference) So the difference between the best time, it’s in there. On the 200 and the 100 freestyle, it had to be 1:45. That means the differential between the times of the best time in the 200 and the 100.

This was typically a training session to recover, to totally recover from fatigue. And the swimmer was asked to take care at the maximum of her technique rather than putting any real effort in the swims

On the same day in the afternoon the last high intensity workout was made with that set of swims according to that set of swims.

Comparison of the result of the third microcycle [between]: Rome World Championships, 200m freestyle, 400 freestyle, gold medals and World Records in both events, and after Budapest.

Where she swam best time without shiny suit. And the gold medal, of course, and the best world time ever. And then she won a bronze medal in the 800 freestyle. A race that she attempted for the first time in long course actually, improving on her time, on her personal best of about 3 or 4 seconds.

In Budapest, she had to forfeit, to scratch on the 400m freestyle. That should have been her last race of the 3, but actually she didn’t feel like… since she arrived in that city, in Budapest, she had been feverish. A little bit feverish every day and every day. And then after having racing a race twice she didn’t feel to have enough strength to start for her third competition.

So the promise is we’ll try to make this triple in Shanghai, where perhaps, if she feels like she could try in starting also on the 100m freestyle Shanghai World Championships next year.

It is also a last tribute here for Alberto, who on his notebook before leaving for start of the World Championships wrote that sentence: that the force be with you, the strength be with you. And that was it.

Thank you for your attention and for your patience. Thank you.

If there are any questions from the floor I believe we have some time to take them.

[audience member]: The reason for introducing 800 now is to keep moving the challenges in before her? Or what is it?

The purpose is to extend her training range from the 100 meters so she can improve on the speed and the 800 so she can improve on endurance. And obviously, the major focus will always be on the 200 and the 400.

So the 100 and the 800 would be like a game or a play for Federica. Whatever comes, come; and why the focus will be again on 200 and 400. Please.

[audience member]: As you add the 100 and 800, will the percent is these categories [Inaudible] [00:45:56]?

Which percent, what percent?

[audience member]: Where you had like category one 85%. Will those change much or it stays the same as your 800 or 100?

Okay. I understand the question. [Foreign Language] [00:46:06].

That’s a good question.

We are thinking on it. We are working on it. But we don’t have the recipe yet.

The first microcycle could be a test for these percentages because in both: Eindhoven, the 2010 Short Course European Championships in late November; and Dubai mid-December, and the 2010 World Short Course Championships, she would swim both the 100 and the 800.

[audience member]: What was the general weekly cycle, the general weekly plan by day?

There are 10 training sessions in the water, 3 in the gym. And each day, 2 sessions on Monday, Tuesday…

Wednesday, Thursday and…

Okay, so twice a day except for Wednesday and Saturday; once in the water.

Each training session will last about two- to two-hours-and-a-half. Please.

[audience member]: Stefano, thank you for sharing all the intellectuals behind this. I’m especially interested in some of what I faced information when I saw there was a specific morning which you didn’t test concerning 2:01 in 200 freestyle.

Excuse me. I’ll split your question.

[audience member]: The 2:01 would be the [Inaudible] [00:49:15] 200 freestyle but then you wrote only ‘three minutes’. It took her that [Inaudible] [00:49:21]?

Morning and afternoon, there will certainly be differences because of the timing in the day.

Federica typically does not produce a high lactate blood.

So once every month we make a test of 300m x 5 with increasing speed.

At the end of each 300 immediately…

…the test, the lactate test and one-minute rest. And then she starts again for the next 300.

At the end of the set of five 300s they produce the curve on the lactate’s values.

So at the end, through a mathematical calculation, they get the value of the maximal lactate and the…

…and the pace that she has to go during the next training session. Please.

[audience member]: What are the maximum lactates for this test that he has to step test and in competition?

After this test?

[audience member]: Yeah, after the test and in competition as well.

6.3 after the test.

After the race in Budapest, after the 100 meter race, she had 10.8. Any other questions? Let’s see, over there.

[audience member]: She does approximately 16% of the work in kicking.

(Si) Yes.

[audience member]: More or less, or approximately, how many kilometers or how much percentage of that were in kicking, where you doing an A, B, or C?

Of the 16%, he says that 8% would be A, 6% would be B and 2% would be C. Thank you. Over there.

[audience member]: How far out is Sierra Nevada from Budapest?

How far?

[audience member]: How far out in weeks, your altitude camps here in Nevada?

Oh, how far! Okay. How far is…

So they left for Nevada on May 23rd and they came down on June the 6th, which means exactly 2 months and 3 days before Budapest. And there they have only done a general kind of preparation, not a specific one.

They needed 8 weeks from I would say going down to sea level to Budapest.

After five days from Sierra Nevada, Federica Pellegrini swam 4:03 in the 400m freestyle, long course, at the Seven Hills meet in Rome.

Sorry, not in Rome, but nearby city in Pescara on the Adriatic Sea. Over there.

[audience member]: Do you make any training over an anaerobic threshold?

Before leaving for altitude training, we tried to increase our aerobic load.

(Capacita) Yeah, aerobic capacity or load.

First 5 days in altitude will be swum at easy swims, easy pace.

So from day 1 to day 5, the kilometers will be increased from 5 kilometers on the first day and then started from day 6, they will swim 6… sorry, 18 kilometers per day. 18.

So from the sixth day we go 18 kilometers per day. But on every 5 sessions, training session, we do anaerobic session

All right, above the aerobic threshold.

We do sprint training at the end at the beginning, but preferably at the end of each workout in this period. Say, the second period. And that is meant to refine technique rather than increasing the speed but to refine technique at race pace.

We always test the lactate and that we always want to swim during this second period in altitude under the 2.5…

(Minimo lactate, minimo) Minimum. I think we have time for the last question if there is one. I don’t see any so – there is one. Please.

[audience member]: In those days where she does sprinting, does she go for every day sprinting?

(Si.) Yes. (Yes.)

You’re talking swimming?

[audience member]: That’s what it is, swimming.

Swimming, yeah.

On every day, at the conclusion of every workout say session, she will always swim… she will always sprint, alternating sprints, on 25 meters and 50 meters. And alternating one fast and one slow, actually so not so much sprint.

We always want to enhance the search for the memory that the swimmer has of the time, the swimmer’s body has of the time she needs to swim on the 200 and the 400. Okay. Again, thank you very much to all of you.

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