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Profile of a High School Swimmer

Molly is a sophomore and an extremely talented athlete. I had to wait until the cross country season was over before Molly started training for the season. She began the season three months later than the rest of her competition at the High School State Level.

It took at least two months before Molly started to achieve the Race Pace work needed to compete at the State Level in the 200 IM and the 500 free. Molly did the workouts as written that many of you have received thru the weekly FasterSwimming workouts written for the 23 week program.

She was trained with all the Race Pace work to hold 1:01.. She swam a 5:08.55 – :58.5, 1:02.1, 1:03.4, 1:03.1, 1:00.2 and finaled at States. Did Molly train the traditional way for the 500 free, NO. Could she have started the season earlier and been faster, YES. Would a different style of training help, it has worked for decades, YES. Given all the information above I believe that we did the best for her in a very short amount of time.

Now Molly will be swimming year round so “Katie bar the door”! The only thing I will change in training her will be longer sets (not necessarily longer distances) at goal Race Pace in the 500, 1000, 1650 etc… The send offs and rest intervals will become faster as her ability to hold Race Pace longer improves.

I rested (with the sprinters) Molly an additional 3 weeks to swim at the USA Sectional meet with just a few sets holding 500 Race Pace. I decided that Molly should just stay strong in the water knowing that she will swim the 400 IM and the 1650 free at the meet.

She just missed her US OPEN cut in the 400 IM by a few tenths and placed 2nd in the mile. Her splits in the mile averaged 1:03. high. 1st 500 @ 5:16.14, 2nd 500 @ 5:20.07, 3rd 500 @ 5:20.68 with her last 50 28.8 totaling 17:28.91. I do know that wasn’t a record of any type but a testament to Molly’s training and the importance of Race Pace.

Molly did a great job of sprint kicking off each wall. She maintained the desired warm-up Race Pace of 1:03, less than 8 minutes previous to the swim. She added more kicking to her swimming as the race continued based on her fitness level. Now the goal is to maintain a faster Race Pace goal in practice and hold for longer periods of time.

I encourage any comments. Discussion always leads to better swimming and coaching.

Here are sectional team scores:

http://www.daytonraiders.com/meets_sc_2007/sect_team_scores.htm

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Questions re: Distance. Some Advice for Practices

Q
I am a new subscriber and received my first set of workouts this morning. I have read through them carefully and looking forward to getting started. I love the instruction on improving the dives, streamlining with dolphin kick etc. Plus the turns practice. However, how do I compensate for the distance as it is a bit far for me. I’m only used to swimming @ 3000 to 3500m in practice.

A
Once you develop more strength in dryland and can handle the mechanics of swimming fly with the fly kick your goal of breaking 4 min. should be easy. Try kicking with fins when swimming fly to help with your leg strength and speed but don’t get into a habit of using fins. Work on some short fly swimming (with fly kick) without breathing while maintaining proper body position as described in Faster Swimming. Stay as streamlined as possible and take a few strokes to begin working on timing with the fly kick then slowing work in the breathing. Timing and breathing of the stroke is described for you also. Let me know how you progress.

Determine your stroke counts for training as it’ll definitely be a part of practices. In the course of a week you’ll train all strokes with a lot more kicking than you are use to. Work in the kicking as you are able and feel free to use fins for part of it until you can handle all the additional kicking. As the season progresses kicking will be a smaller part (percentage) of the workout.

You don’t have to increase your yardage drastically and whatever you don’t finish on a specific day, just continue it the next practice. Try to plan your swimming workouts as to never have three days between practices as you’ll lose the feel for the water.

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Question re: Weightlifting for High School Swimmers

Q
I’ve had a chance to look over your ebook. I’m very impressed but have a question regarding the weightlifting section. My son is 5′ 3″ and weighs 111 pounds. He will be a 10th grader and is obviously small for his age. Should he be doing the weight lifting considering his size and his age? If so, 1-2 times a week or every other day?

A
The focus is definitely not on power lifting and won’t stunt his growth. I have all my freshman swimmers lifting once to twice a week for maybe 45 minutes each session. Lifting every other day is fine alternating either upper and lower body work-out by days or sets. You could lift twice a week and do dryland on the third day, then the following week switch to two dryland days and one weight lifting. Keep me updated with his progress.

Q
My son swims the 50 free, 100 breast and is on 2 relay teams. The coach is having them lift 3 sets of 10 with moderate to heavy weights. My son says he can lift the first 2 sets without problem. When he gets to the 3rd set he has difficulty lifting rep 8, 9 & 10. Is this consistent with your coaching or is this type of lifting going to hurt him? He is a sophomore, weighs 115 and is 5’5”. From what I read in your book he should maintain his speed throughout all sets. Is this correct and does he need to lower his amount of weights per station?

A
Your son should be able to maintain the speed on the third set and if the last few reps are a bit challenging that is OK. He could take more rest before the last set or he could lower the weight to maintain speed. I would have swimmers do multiple rep sets once a in a while but not on a regular basis.

The workouts are written in a manner that is adaptive to any age group at any level. Some of the send-offs and some of the heart rate sets you’ll experience throughout the year can be adjusted by you as needed for your physical abilities.

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Regeneration

One of the most overlooked aspects of successful training in the Western World is that of regeneration. Regeneration is the product of sound training and methods that help in repairing athletes to function better. Recovery (or rest) and restoration (return of energy, hormonal, or other levels) are entwined in this process, but do not provide a complete picture in and of themselves. Regeneration can be looked at as the optimized integration of these and various other factors. Regeneration in sport can also be defined as:

1. Continuous management of muscle tension, structure, and tone
2. Accelerated removal of the effects of fatigue
3. Rapid restoration of energy systems and energy substrates
4. Improved ability to renew physical activity, without wasting the athlete’s energy unnecessarily.

Hydration, nutrition, active and passive recovery methods, as well as additional supplementation can and should be optimized to enhance performance.

The Training Diary provides an area for recording these factors under “Regeneration.” Hydration status heads this section (H2O) and provides space for “IN” (or intake) and “OUT.” Intake can be recorded as an actual amount, or most usually as good or bad. Record a value you can use and understand. “Out” is simply the number of times of urination each day. A hydrated value for “out” is usually a bathroom visit five times or more each day.

A meal/nutrition log follows. Space for seven meals (or “feeding opportunities”) is included. What you eat, when you eat, and how much you eat will all affect performance and restoration. Tracking and modifying your nutritional habits to fit your needs, day-by-day and training phase-by-training phase, is key to complete restoration and your best performances. Space is provided to the right to notate what you feel you need to track. This could be as simple as good, great, or poor; or as detailed as listing some or all of protein (P), carbohydrate (C), fat (F), and/or calories for each meal or just at the end of the day. At the very least you should record your daily meals until you have a baseline for optimal regeneration to work from. General reference points for hard training and peaking are 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, 3-4 grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight, and around 15% of total calories coming from fat intake. It is not so important that you hit these exact numbers (maybe not important at all), but that you understand the amounts/ratios that help to enhance your performance.

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Questions from Across the Pond

This note and the following questions are received from a coach just North-west of London, England.

“I coach on a voluntary basis and have a passion to ensure I give the very best to my swimmers and ensuring that they arrive at the championships in March in the best form they can. All help and guidance is gratefully received.”

Question #1. Variable Speed swimming Distances/ Efforts- Does that mean to use all energy systems ? And would any of the sets be at or near race pace? I have perviously planned my season using Counsilman and Maglishco reference books and am therefore familiar with EN1, En2, En3 and so on.

Answer #1. Variable speed focuses on the ability to change speeds at will, to never over train either the fast twitch or slow twitch muscles. Throughout the season you will see Race Pace added into sets, especially the months during taper. Changing the effort during sets increases work load and the aerobic capacity quicker than grinding out yardage. The mechanics of strokes have changed a lot as well as training methods. This as is evident by the amount of speed at the USA High School Level. Swimming is finally following the lead by track coaches to train athletes for a specific event. Training yards or short course meters is key to training speed and puts more emphasis on starts, turns and momentum. Take what you need from Counsilman and Maglishco as they have obviously helped swimming more than I can give them credit for in this newsletter. We all learn from the past just don’t get stuck in it.

Question #2. Legs – Yardage at 50%, does that mean, if say for example I had a total distance of 3000m for the session 1500m should be legs only? Also does the phrase mix it up, shown on Monday of week 1 apply to everyday with legs at 50%?

Answer #2. Do the best you can to have 50% of kicking a day during the first part of the season. It is hard to write in and motivate the swimmers to do this but they will taper better and have more speed for all events. As you know the legs muscles are big and require more training than coaches think. I’ll take less yardage and more kicking any day. Do the best you can to be creative and do lots of variable speed to increase the aerobic gains from kicking.

Question #3. Basic Format – Alternating upper body and lower body by Set. Would that mean one set pull, one set of legs?

Answer #3. Yes, or just a swim set alternating with a kick set. Swimmers don’t kick as much as they should and will focus on upper body work during a swim set, so I use a swim set for upper body and pulling is great also. Work in what is best for the talent you are training.

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Winter Break Practices

Increased volume = Increased energy use = Increased calorie intake!

Body weight should NOT drop more than 3 pounds during an intense period of training in-season. Most large training load increases in-season come in 2 or 3 week periods, and the benefits can be numerous, BUT… Losing weight quickly in-season does NOT equate to being in better shape (necessarily…) – faster swimming equates to being in better shape at this time! Losing muscle to provide energy for practice is not the path to increased recovery and faster swimming, and the idea that you need to “break down” to build back up has serious limits.

If your practices are coming close to or going beyond double your normal volume, an additional 1000 calories per day may be in order. Your body weight and recovery status will determine this need. 1000 calorie examples: 2 large protein shakes OR 4 snickers bars OR 1 Chipotle burrito.

If you lose 3+ pounds (in a 2 to 3 week period), add an additional 500 calories per practice.

If you lose 6+ pounds, add an additional 100 calories per practice.

And, as you should be doing throughout the season… drink Gatorade (or something like it) at any practice over 1 hour, and be sure to drink something (chocolate milk or a protein shake) or at the very least eat something with both carbs and protein within one hour post-practice. The first hour after practice you should try to get in somewhere between 400 and 800 calories – again coming mainly from carbs and protein.

Good luck in your training, and remember the take home message here: During intense in-season training losing weight does not equate to better shape, faster swimming equates to better shape! Improved recovery doesn’t have to be a complicated effort, just a consistent effort!

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Administering Test Sets

Let’s administer test sets while maintaining yardage goals. Work in as you see fit but try to complete during the week.

The test sets are to establish repeat pace per 100’s on all strokes to help the swimmer and coach adjust send offs for the Holiday training demands.

The following warm up is a great set pattern for swimmers to learn and complete at meets. Adjust at meets based on time and warm up facilities offered.

Warm up:
600 choice swim

6 x 100 choice 50 kick / 50 swim :10rest
then stretch based on time allowed no longer than 5 minutes

6 x 75 choice :10rest with heart rate about +/-20 at a minimum, check twice
adjust heart rate based on age and level of fitness
1-3 kick / swim / kick by 25, 4-6 swim / kick / swim by 25

6 x 50 choice swim – raise heart rate, check heart rate and then :15rest
1-3 heart rate +/-25, 4 easy swim, 5-6 heart rate +/-30

100 easy

2 x 25 sprint (work in starts at meet)

75 easy after each

Total warm up yardage = 2,250

Some swimmers need more and some less based on your demands for the day and learning to read your body. Don’t do less just because. Remember to simulate practices where you have great sprint swims at the end with 5,000 or more yards to warm up……….

Don’t let more than 5-7 minutes elapse before starting test sets. This would also be the ideal time period between warm up and your events at meets.

Do the below set for all strokes except butterfly unless you or your swimmer is the exception. Most swimmers are too weak mechanically to complete this set fly. The fasterswimming work outs are designed to train fly at race pace mainly alternating upper and lower body while focusing on timing and mechanics.

Goals for set:
You need to be able to repeat your pace with your heart rate +/- 25 (this is for the national level swimmer, please adjust accordingly). Check your heart rate only a few times at the beginning of the set to establish speed. Your initial rest will be :05 seconds between swims developing a send off with the same amount of rest. Adjust send offs either faster or slower as needed. This should not be at a comfortable pace but on the challenging side with heart rate appropriate while holding pace thru set. Read set and start with a goal pace in mind.

Record your results (pace per 100) and use for setting send offs for the upcoming weeks.

4 x 100 start setting pace and establishing heart rate

8 x 25 this will be the easiest part, use to establish heart rate

6 x 50

4 x 100

2 x 200

recovery swim of 6 x 75 on +/- 1:15

set yardage = 2,150 for each stroke

Total yardage not including the set fly = 8,700

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Thoughts on Training

OK… No nonsense here – just some thoughts on training pertaining to what I’ve been reading lately and how I train my teams (swimming, track, and many others). No particular order, but the pieces do fit:

A. Training regularly, systematically, and progressively are keys to obtaining the desired goals of training (better competitive performances!!).

B. The real effectiveness of training depends to a large extent on the quality of distances covered (or movements performed) at high velocities.

C. Training intensity is directly proportional to your competitive results.

D. Double practices can benefit several fitness factors, and optimal recovery is required to reap these benefits.

E. Train as hard as possible, as often as possible, while staying as “fresh” as possible.

F. You must develop neuromuscular capacity to improve maximal speed; maximal speed being an important predictor of both sprint AND endurance performances.

G. Greater speed depends on greater force production, quicker force production, and improved stability and coordination. These attributes are not developed in a day or a week, but over the course of seasons and years.

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Workout Nutrition

WHEN you eat can be as important as WHAT you eat regarding workout nutrition. There are an endless array of supplements and wonder-foods available, many promising a great return if you simply purchase their product. Well, there are some supplements that could help with workouts and recovery, but they are just that – supplements to a regular diet and exercise program. Get your regular diet and eating habits in order first, and then you’ll be able to tell which supplements really seem to help you out.

So how do you go about getting your eating habits in order? Start with the things that matter the most, of course. We will detail this in a future newsletter, but the bullet points:

  • Eat breakfast everyday
  • Eat a complete protein with each regular meal
  • Eat every two to three hours
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day
  • Drink mainly non-caloric beverages

Before you start counting every gram and half-gram of fat in your diet, get these basics in order. Eating smaller, more frequent meals can not only stop cravings, but leave you felling less hungry during the day, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve recovery from training. Get this in order first.

This all leads us to the title of this article – workout nutrition. Besides (or possibly including) breakfast, timing nutrient intake around your training is the most important aspect of recovery. Multiple studies have shown far higher recovery rates (in some studies as much as 300%!) for those consuming a pre- and post- workout drink containing both carbohydrates and protein opposed to those consuming only water around the workout window. We will define this workout window as 30 minutes prior to and 30 minutes post-workout, and this nutrition should come in the form of liquid and contain little to no fat for ease of assimilation. There are many drinks that address this issue (Endurox, Surge, etc.) and fit this bill – but there is an easy choice in your local grocery – – chocolate skim milk. An easy to find, relatively cheap way to increase your recovery from hard training. Add a small bottle to your workout bag and sip some about 30 minutes prior to your workout, and finish the bottle within 30 minutes post-workout. This bottle would of course be in addition to your water bottle (or Gatorade, etc) – because we want to cover basic hydration as well.

If you aren’t already doing so, try incorporating workout nutrition as detailed in your training program and start recovering faster. Find which workout-window drink works best for you (chocolate milk is an easy starting point…) and follow the bullet points above to get your eating habits (and timing) in order. Improved recovery doesn’t have to be a complicated effort, just a consistent effort!

  • by John Coffman,
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Fitness and Fatigue

When training to compete we increase our fitness by recovering from our training. There are several models to describe training and it’s after effects, the most popular and recognized of which is the single-factor model. The single-factor model proposes that training is the stimulus for super-compensation, and that repeated bouts of gradually increasing intensity result in gradually increased fitness. Basically: train, recover to a higher level, train again, recover to yet a higher level, etc, etc. This model, however, does not take into full account the factor of fatigue.

The two-factor model of training takes fatigue into full account. The two-factor model proposes both a long-term fitness after-effect from training, leading to specific fitness (aerobic, anaerobic, etc.); and a short-term fatigue after-effect, leading to specific (aerobic, anaerobic, etc.) fatigue. Throughout much of our training, fatigue masks fitness. A high work load in training, especially in a concentrated block or multi-sport training, can cause a much more pronounced fatigued state. The athlete themselves may have an exceptional level of fitness, but performances can suffer or become stale if fatigue is not taken into account and managed. The ONE time of the year fatigue should not mask fitness is during a peaking phase (otherwise known as tapering).

There is a lot more to all of this – but the take-home message is to be aware that your training produces both fitness and fatigue, and that fatigue can mask your actual fitness level much of the time. So how much fatigue is too much? Your Resting Heart Rate (RHR) can tell you a lot. After a couple of off days from training, simply take your heart rate as soon as you wake up. Don’t go to the bathroom first or take your HR after breakfast – measure your HR as soon as you wake, while still in bed. This will give you a base-line measure. If during the training week your RHR differs upward from your base-line RHR more than 6-8 beats per minute, take it easy that day. You can still train in this state, but a recovery-type of training day may be in order. If your RHR differs upward more than 9-10 beats per minute, a day off is probably in order. Anything under 6 beats difference and you should be good to go. I say “should” and “may” because every athlete’s response to training and ability to recover is different.

These are some general guidelines for you to track your recovery and monitor your fatigue, and if you stay on top of your recovery, your true fitness level will be accessible when you need it!