We asked Gregorio Paltrinieri, Olympic and world 1500m freestyle champion who is currently training in Australia, what differences he has noticed between the training methods he usually follows in Italy and those he has been testing out during the last few months over on the other side of the world. This is what he had to say…
1. TRAINING TIMES
Let’s begin with the most obvious thing: the difference in training times. Here in Australia, morning training is usually from 6-8 a.m. (sometimes for 5.30-7.30 a.m.) and afternoon training is from 3-5 p.m. We take things much easier in Italy, swimming from 9-11 a.m. and from 5. 30-7.30 p.m.
2. WORK-OUTS ON DRY LAND
Weekly training in Italy consists of 10 swim sessions, 3 gym sessions and shoulder exercises before entering the water. Here in Australia, on the other hand, they do 10 swim sessions, 2 gym sessions, 1 boxing session and 1 gymnastics session, as well as an after-training sauna and cycling sessions (during specific periods), plus lots of stretching before entering the pool.
3. TRAINING PLAN
Generally speaking, in Italy it is the coach who decides what to do during a training session and when to do it (and, more often than not, there will be no “spoiler” about the session before you enter the water! ).
Here in Melbourne, in contrast, there is a set weekly training plan. This means that, even though the sessions may all be very different, you know it will be aerobic work on Monday morning, race pace training on Monday afternoon, leg work on Tuesday morning, etc. etc.
4. TECHNIQUE DRILLS
Another difference I have noticed is that there is a lot more technique work in Australia, focusing on specifics like the start, tumble turn or swim stroke, even if this means swimming less distance overall during any given session. In Italy, on the other hand, the tendency is to swim a lot and do a lot more aerobic and threshold work.
5. LENGTH OF SESSIONS
This might seem to contradict the previous point, but training sessions are always a bit longer here in Australia than in Italy. In Italy, we may swim 8-9 km in more or less 2 hours, whereas in Australia, because the rests between sets are longer and there is a lot more technique work, it ends up taking 2.15 hours to swim around 7 km.
When in Australia, train like the Australians