View Full Version : My Workout and need for Advice!

April 23rd, 2003, 03:00 AM

This is my first post so bear with me as I give a little history...

I am 43 and a professional musician. I swam USMS in the 80s. I was competitive all through high school (graduated in '78), I was an ocean guard for 6 years on beautiful Nantucket Island, I coached HS swimming and taught advanced lifesaving and water safety for several years.

I am recovering from a 4 year illness and began swimming again in November. A year ago I could barely walk let alone swim. Now I swim 4x/wk in a 25 yd indoor pool. My top yardage to date is 4000.

My current workout goes something like this...

(all free)
1000 warmup (average 20 minutes)
2x500 (1 without and 1 with paddles)
5x200 "Lungbusters" (3-5-7-5) - tough cause I have asthma!
5x100 on 2 minutes
6x50 on 1 minute
200 warm down

I have always tried to go from distance to sprints in all my workouts.

Now the catch - I had back problems and got used to pulling my entire workouts. I am trying to break the habit. I just bought Vertex II short blade training fins as a start. I am fairly tight in my build so I have to be careful not to do any damage as I try and get my kicks back.

I would appreciate feedback on my workouts as well as advice on my kick training. I am very self motivated but have as a goal to rejoin USMS in the near future.

It is great to have access to this wonderful forum and I hope to see you all at meets in the future!

April 24th, 2003, 09:39 PM

Welcome back to the pool. It sounds like your workout is fairly challenging. Most Masters groups are averaging somewhere around four thousand yards per session depending on the experience level.

Anyway, two comments. The buoy became a bad habit for me on distance sets. As a pure sprinter, I had always swam rather flat in the water, with little or no roll. In weaning myself off of the buoy I've had to focus on technique which in itself is a very good thing. Instead of wishing for the sets of 75's or 50's, I now welcome the distance swims. By forcing the head into a downwards position, the hips will magically rise to the surface. The legs are now part of the "boat", instead of being the "anchor". And the end result is that the new head position has greatly helped my speed. Even though I'm not quite near my 46 hundred time from the early eighties, the technique improvements have outweighed the need for brute force in going fast. At least that's what I say.

Secondly, save the sprinting sets for the end of the week. They usually require recovery. And at this age, it's well needed. My favorite set when doing solo workouts is ten 75's as follows: One lap kick with a board, take a ten second rest on the wall, go an all out sprint on the second lap, recover on the third lap with double arm back or breast stroke. And repeat. There's no interval.
They say if you want to swim fast, you've got to practice fast. Concentrate on being smooth and clean in the water first, then add the speed.

Lastly, fins are an excellent tool for adding power to the kick. And they definitely loosen up the ankles. Our coach starts every work out with about ten 50's kick before going into the main sets. Hope this is helpful.

I was greeted with some very good information when first posting here myself. Good luck with your efforts.

April 24th, 2003, 10:08 PM

Thanks for your excellent advice. Today I really mixed things up and did some kicks using the training fins.

I am curious as to how far down you recommend placing the head for freestyle. I was always taught that the waterline should be around mid forehead. It sounds like you mean it to be even lower. Any specifics would be appreciated.


April 25th, 2003, 12:56 AM
Do more of the other three strokes. It will certainly knock down your yardage but at least you will use other strokes and other muscle groups. A stroke like breastroke that many freestylers try to avoid will place less stess on your arms. Do about 200 yards of breastroke during some of your workouts. I even do backstroke and I'm one of the worst backsrokers and my fly is not that fast either at 46 years old.

Matt S
April 25th, 2003, 05:10 PM

This represents the Total Immersion school of thought, which some people like, and some do not, but almost ALL of your head should be underwater. Look down, at the lane lines on the bottom of the pool (rather than the cross at the end), and feel like water could wash over the back of your head. If you'd like to know why, go to the Articles section of this web site (http://www.usms.org/training/technique.htm) and read "Air & Gravity" by Emmett Hines.

Another tip: the key point here is not so much to put your head under the water (the absurd exaggeration would be to put your chin on your chest), but to lean on your lungs so that, like a life preserver, they force your hips to float. If you are doing it properly, you should be able to do a pull set (no kicking) without any kind of a pull buoy.

Welcome back, and happy laps,

April 25th, 2003, 08:39 PM

Thanks on the reply post. I would have to say that Cynthia is also right about mixing up your workout with some (non-free) stroke sets. I happen to be a backstroker as well. Some days I'll swim half the workout backstroke in an effort to looosen up the freestyle muscles. The arm pull on backstroke swimming is in opposition to the freestyle arm pull. It can literally massage the tightness out of the triceps and shoulders. This is probably why most people find themselves recovering from a nasty freestyle set with double arm backstroke without even knowing why. But more importantly, too much freestyle can lead to shoulder trouble if it's overdone, especially with excessive paddle use.

About the head position and buoy use, Matt brings up a terrific article by Coach Hines. And I vouch for everything that Emmett says. Rather than looking straight ahead, try staring somewhat down. It feels very wierd at first. Sure on sprints I may pick the head up just slightly to get a focus on the wall, but just a slight tilt downward is all it takes to eliminate that drag. Now the legs are kicking for propulsion instead of trying to keep your butt from sinking.

Click on this link for another insightful article by Coach Hines on why kicking the buoy habit might actual help your swimming:


The same site has a good overview on how to find the right horizontal line in the water:


Who'ld ever thought that swimming could be made easy! Stay smooth and long on each stroke, and the speed will follow. I find that the less I fight the water, the faster I can "slip" through it. The beauty about this sport is that with better technique you can continue to improve even as you age. Best luck to you on your comeback.

April 28th, 2003, 03:41 PM

Great website! I agree that technique may be something we can use to our advantage as we age (particularly since this was not emphasized to this degree back in the 70's).