View Full Version : How far do you swim per week?

January 29th, 2002, 05:26 PM
In response to Jim Thornton's request for a poll in the "Brave New World" thread, here it is. Let everyone know how far you typically swim each week. Note that your vote is private, so don't be shy.

jim thornton
January 29th, 2002, 07:26 PM

Is there anyway to add demographic data to this poll? I am curious if retirees swim less (because of age) or more (because of free time).

Thanks for doing this poll -- when more data filters in, it should be very interesting. I thought I was doing a lot at 13,500 a week--turns out I may have been deluding myself!

Bob Boder
January 29th, 2002, 09:39 PM
I swim about 10 to 12,000 yards per week. This is down from the 15,000 yards or more that I swam last year, mostly due to lack of time. It doesn't seem to have effected my proformance however. Our team just got back from a great meet in Charlotte NC and I had 5 PB's out of 13 events! I wish I had more time to swim!

jim thornton
January 29th, 2002, 10:15 PM
A modest proposal to the forum administrator: Perhaps if this and other polls prove to be popular and successful, you could consider giving polls their own separate area within general discussions. This way, as the various topics steadily accrue over the weeks, months and years, the polls won't get buried in amongst other topics but rather remain relatively easy to access (with new data points constantly coming in!)

One other quick note specifically on this poll of weekly distance. A couple years ago, I wrote a simple spread sheet program to help me keep track of my own distance in the pool. Before I actually started typing in the numbers, I think I was deluding myself a bit as to how much I was actually swimming. In any event, keeping true count has proven very motivating for me. My spreadsheet breaks distance into weekly miles:

4.25 (7480 yards)--1998-99 season
4.00 (7040 yards)--1999-2000
5.08 (8940 yards)--2000-2001
7.53 (13252 yards)--2001-2002 year to date

Just by keeping tabs on this, I've been able to "keep myself honest." If I find I'm starting to dip down a bit, I will try to make up for it with some longer weekend and/or morning swims.

I also keep track of my actual yardage during the weeks I actually swim (i.e., sometimes sickness or work travel keeps me out of the pool.) I guess everyone has their own tricks for keeping motivated, but this has helped me a lot and may work for others inclined towards obsessive score keeping mentality!

Mark in MD
January 29th, 2002, 10:29 PM
Great idea, Jim [Matysek], for a first "poll." I was amazed where I fell as a newbie to USMS, that is, not too bad. This got me to thinking. Wonder if a correlation can be made between the distance swam in a week and how long a person has been swimming? I suppose that there are "pro's and con's" for doing this, but it might (emphasize "might" here) give us newer folks to USMS a goal to which we can work. [/FONT]:cool:

January 29th, 2002, 10:32 PM

Congratulations on your promotion to "Junior Member".

Some replies to some of your questions:

The polls are not multidimensional - we can only add one question with a multiple-choice option (with a maximum of 10 choices). I don't know how to add demographic info into this poll. Any suggestions?

As for the polls slipping down the list of threads as time goes on, there is an option in the forums setup to prevent this. There's an option to update the thread date whenever someone votes in a poll, which keeps the poll at the top of the list of threads as long as people are still voting on it. I had this enabled during the testing phase and found it to be confusing. The thread date would keep changing, so I kept opening the thread, only to find that there were no new posts, just new votes. Now I see the other side of the coin, and perhaps that little bit of confusion is better than losing the poll thread amongst other threads as time goes by.

Ion Beza
January 30th, 2002, 01:24 AM
I swim 26 km per week, which is 28,600 yards, and I do weights and running once or twice per week.
Every year so far, there is a slight increase in weekly swim.
Within this, 8 km or 8,800 yards per week, it's kicking; there is also a little weekly quota of swimming without breathing, of butterfly and drills.
I do it outside a full time work often requiring over time, in about five work outs with UCSD Masters and two or three work outs alone.

I want to make my body obey my mind, if I can, when I can.

Matt S
January 30th, 2002, 12:12 PM
Dear All,

This is an interesting poll, and I am happy to participate. BUT, the total yardage you swim is only one factor in determining the effectiveness of your practice/conditioning program.

Yes, I am a shill for Total Immersion, but a number of coaches with some fairly impressive credentials (Terry L, Emmett) have argued that stroke technique can be more important than conditioning in how fast you swim. As other posters have noted, time available for working out is limited. Also, as we age our bodies do not respond as well to conditioning workouts, and can take less before hitting the "failing adaption" zone. All these factors suggest we need to be a lot smarter about how we "spend" the yards we swim, rather than piling up as many yards as possible.

My problem with deifying yardage totals is that it tends to force you to swim like an unsophisticated triathlete. (Politically correct clarification: I mean that portion of triathletes who are not knowledgable about swimming. I am NOT suggesting all triathletes are per se unsophisticated.) Long aerobic sets, low rest/low quality, all freestyle. Where are the other 3 strokes? Where are the stroke drills? What about sprint training? What about peaking for your target competition? All those things will cause you to log fewer yards, but swim better and faster in your races.

Let's keep yardage in perspective. Paul Smith had a pretty impressive LC Meters season last year--1st, 2nd or 3rd in the Top Ten for all sprint freestyle and fly races. He described one of his "typical" weeks in a related discussion thread. If my recollection is correct, he swims 3-4000 yards 3 times per week, does 3 weight-lifting work-outs, and 2 yoga sessions. His yardage total is pedestrian, but his results are impressive. This is worth considering.


Ion Beza
January 30th, 2002, 12:53 PM
There is a factor Matt, not included in your reply.

Paul doesn't go for lifetime bests. Paul preserves as much as possible of his peak teenage aerobic ability with as little as possible yardage. I don't know of anyone else as outstanding as he is at doing this: Susie O'Neill (Aus.) won 200 meter freestyle in the 2000SydneyOlympics by full-time swimming 60 km per week and delivering a 1:58.xx performance; Paul equaled this performance in the 2001LongCourseNationals after a pedestrian part-time training, which is maybe a second or third priority only in his present life.

To go for lifetime bests in my opinion, one needs to do forever teenage type of work outs: developing aerobic, anaerobic, VO2Max capacities, technique, weights and running.
The "...developing aerobic..." aspect of this , is really swimming medium-hard lots of yardage. It is harder to start doing it or to keep doing it for adults than it is for growing teenagers, but the benefit still applies.
Expert coaching monitoring these phases with individual attention is hard to find in USMS, though. Mostly it is fitness workouts for masses of people who don't train hard and taper.

Paul Smith
January 30th, 2002, 08:42 PM
With all due respect, my training is not about how "little" yardage I can do. Rather, I have focused on "quality" rather than quantity. Although my yardage may be low relative to other folks in the poll, the leveel of intesity in anything I do is of far more relevance.

Prior to the changeover to the new format I posted my thoughts on training and its relevance in an idiviudulas success in "competition". Basically I said that most people overlook the "mental" aspect with regards to both training & competition.

If yardage alone was the deciding factor in any masters swimmers success I would certainly be at the bottom of the pack (you'd most likely kick my ass in the pool & the weight room). My approach is far from "pedestrian", I approach everything I do in life with a beleif that i will succed (when truth be told that isn't the case :). However I try to be realistic, faactor in what's improtant (people), accept failure with an attitude to come back stronger and ultimatley have "fun"!

Ion, we have met a couple of times and discussed swimming/training. My advise to you is to back off on the yards, work intensley on your stroke technique, race as much as possible (many demons exist in that realm) and most importantly take a deep breath and try and "connect" with more of swimmers that are active in USMS!

Matt S
January 30th, 2002, 10:28 PM
Paul, Ion,

Paul, thank you for that clarification.

Ion, as someone who considers you a friend, I could not agree more with Paul's comments. There is more than VO2 Max to being a fast swimmer, just like there is more than running fast to being a great soccer player. An even more important, there is much, Much, MUCH more to masters swimming than the stop watch.


Fritz Lehman
January 30th, 2002, 10:51 PM
The vast majority of my age group swimming was in the 70's. In the summer months, it wasn't uncommon for us to swim around 20,000 meters a day. It may not have been the most in the country but I'm sure we were up there. Hindsight being what it is, I can tell you that a large percentage of the yardage was absolute garbage. Now as a 43 year old, I train less in a week than one of those summer days. Honestly, I don't keep track of weekly totals. I don't want to get caught up in it and don't think it's that relevant. My best masters times are getting close to those heavy training years which has just amazed me because I grew up worshiping the yardage god. I try to swim less garbage and make better use of my time.

Paul and Matt are absolutely correct. It's not about who swims the most yards/meters. Train wisely, listen to your body and have some fun with it. If you're swimming 30,000 a week and can have fun then power to you. Just don't assume the 30,000 alone is going to get you to the promise land.


Bert Petersen
January 31st, 2002, 02:02 AM
No doubt about it - quality trumps quantity every time. However,comma, if one can get more yardage while maintaining a high degree of intensity, that should be better than less yardage. In other words, more is better than less but only if it's a "quality" more. Does this make any sense ? Let me try again. 3000 yards of straight freestyle for me would be a waste of time. 2000 yards of good quality fly work-intervals, etc. would be smarter. Therefor, 2500 yards of quality should be more beneficial than 2000 yards. I await your critiques.............. Bert

jim thornton
January 31st, 2002, 10:46 AM
It seems obvious to me that the quantity vs. quality debate really isn't an either/or situation. We have had representatives of both camps on our team over the years--one fellow, for example, who felt he'd acomplished nothing if he didn't brutally punish himself with mega yardage; and another guy who read about Popov (out of context) and concluded the key to swimming fast in meets was to swim incredibly slow in practice (while emphasizing "perfect balance" and the like.)

As earlier posters have pointed out, you need big yardage (relative to your own shape) to get your endurance system in fine working order; you need quality sprints to get your fast twitch muscles trained; you need submaximal sprinting to get your body to better tolerate lactic acid; and you need to work on your stroke to make it as efficient and drag-less as possible.

The debate is not which of these things is more necessary or better than the others--they are all important. I think what is more important to consider is the relative proportions of each over the course of a season. Bottom line: if you're out of shape, there is no substitute for yardage. Once you get into aerobic condition, however, you may not need quite so much yardage to keep this stoked--and you can shift to more quality type swimming (and train the fast twitch systems.)

One final point: all this assumes your goal is competing. For many fitness swimmers, not to mention many competitors as well, a more important goal is the stress relief and (potential) endorphin release that comes from working out. I'd like to do my best times, of course; but if swimming can make me happy and relaxed, I'll take this every time. And for me, at least, the longer mileage route seems to prove more relaxing than the quality route.

Mark in MD
January 31st, 2002, 11:14 AM
Might I add something to this Quantity vs. Quality discussion here, in addition to my quick comment previously made? Being a professional musican, in addition to a full-time job, here's something I learned a long time ago as one who spent many hours practicing music in college. And I should mention that the instrument I play is not the easiest to master.

Anyway, I learned the hard way, through trial and error (and lots of error!), that it's not the number of hours of practice a musician puts in that make for good music, rather it's how well one uses his/her practice time. Good practice habits involves refining one's technique in addition to playing the correct notes. I would rather spend one hour working on a single piece of music during which time I worked on technique and correcting sloppily played measures of music than playing aimlessly through the music numerous times for two hours without meaningful corrections.

I've now tried to apply the same philosphy during my swim workouts, i.e., swim practices. I know that, being new to Masters Swimming, I have only been able to complete 90% of the assigned drills/sets at coached workouts (which has been a steady increase), in comparison to those who are better than I. And ... although this has bothered me a bit from time to time ... it keeps me focused knowing that I completed a quality session and will eventually meet my goal of 100%. I think it's great for anyone who can get in the distance, but for what price? Quantity and no quality? To be sure, everyone is entitled to make their choice here. I 'spose it gets down to whatever floats your boat.

May I sum my observation in this statement: Quality practice makes perfect. Isn't this what we all should be about?

Tim Hedrick
January 31st, 2002, 01:02 PM
I agree with the other posters on the quality issue, and want to underscore swimguymd's reference to technique.

I believe that quality in a practice can have several forms, from a purely physical standpoint to also including attention to the mechanics of the swim, including stroke and turns. So often I can get wrapped up in the time goals of the workout or set that I tend to wander from the mechanical goals too.

I've noticed how much better everything tends to feel when I pay attention to a set goal like distance-per-stroke.

I think that for many of us some large potential gains can come from technique improvements. If we overdo it in this area though, we can become so critical that we might as well be practicing golf. As swimmers, at least we don't have to chase down a wayward ball (two fairways over)!


January 31st, 2002, 02:20 PM
I think the quality/quantity is particularly a tough issue for us uncoached (maybe uncoachable?:)) swimmers. I find it very hard to make up my own workouts, trying to balance distance goals with drill/quality goals. Perhaps experience and temperment have a lot to do with this, too. There are many days that I can, like Tim said, get wrapped up in a challenging set, and forget entirely about mechanics and feel great that I just made the distance and time.

The hardest thing about drills is knowing what I should be doing and even more so, that I am doing it RIGHT. For a change of pace last year, I decided I would learn to do do butterfly. I learned a sort of "strugglefly" as an age grouper, and have avoided fly for years. I used the TI tape, practiced the drills, working on it for months. Then I had a coach come along and tell me I was still doing it all wrong :confused: . Basic body-dolphin and timing was all messed up. Very frustrating. So I went back to swimming my mostly freestyle workouts to get the distance in and just feel comfortable and satisfied in working out.

Sometimes the motivation for less competitive masters swimmers is to do a certain amount of yardage a week. If that's what gets you in the pool, there is nothing wrong with that either.

As far as the poll goes, I do weights 2x per week and I swim 4 or 5x per week, and total about 10,000 yards.

Philip Arcuni
January 31st, 2002, 09:04 PM
I go back and forth on the yardage/quality issue. My current problem is spectacularly large pianos hitting me at the end of 200 fly events. I know I go out too fast, but it sure does not feel like it - I keep the first 100 nice and puffy. I also know that 25 years ago I would have laughed at any 43 year old trying to swim that event on only 10,000 yards a week. On the other hand, I am swimming as fast as I did in high school with much less yardage.

However, right now I don't think I can double or triple the yardage and still maintain quality in the workout. I'm pretty competitive. I look at the people that beat me and wonder, why not me? I believe that led me to be sick, sick, sick the first few months back in the water. Since then I have been trying to take it a little easier.

So is it better to up the 'quality' with the yardage I do now, or increase the yardage and develop the aerobic capacity, but take the quality down a little?

I dunnuh.

Bert Petersen
January 31st, 2002, 09:47 PM
Hey Phil; none of us know for sure. I find that some weeks I get to a point that I really don't care about quality and/or quantity. That's when I realize I need a vacation or at least a few days off. Overtraining is largely in the mind, but it still feels physical. Since a 200 fly is so specialized, I wouldn't think that long, dreary freestyle sets would help much once you have your base conditioning accomplished. So : my approach would be to get tougher at what you are doing, rather than extending the yardage. N'est pas ??? Bert:D

Mark in MD
January 31st, 2002, 11:04 PM
Thanks, Tim, for your reference to my comments on technique. I believe the term technique can be applied to any skill, hence my comparison to music.

To me, honing one's technique is like putting a puzzle together. In practicing musical compositions for the keyboard, I found, over the years, one should pay attention as to how the music is played, that is, techinique, which involves (1) proper placement of fingers on the keyboard, (2) the correct notes and rhythm, (3) proper dynamics (loud/soft) written in the music and so forth. The technique of a swimming stroke would then seem to follow the same pattern. Certainly there are different parts to any particular stroke. After all, how did we learn them? For me, I learned them (and still honing these techniques) part by part, much like music. And ... to be sure, it takes patience to reach a particular goal such as a new stroke.

Bert makes an excellent point about "taking a a few days off." When I work on a particularly difficult piece of music, I've learned to "give it a rest" when I have gotten overly frustrated when practicing the music. And so, Bert's point regarding to swimming seems to follow the same vein.

Phil also makes an excellent point about being frustrated about being beaten by others when he first returned to the water and trying to take it a little easier. I still believe that if one truly feels that he/she has put in a quality workout, then one's self-esteem is tweaked which certainly can't hurt. Phil, you are lucky that you were able to compete in the water years ago. I never had the opportunity and wish I did. Now, I can, and do take advantage of the opportunity to do what I would like to have done years ago.

Deb, you and I are in the same pool (boat?) concerning the "strugglefly." I've tried it myself, only to become frustrated. However, I am not going to give up. My New Year's resolution is to learn the butterfly. I am going to apply the same techniques I use for practicing music, I will eventually learn it, by George! For me, it's going to be a step-by-step process, mixed with a little bit of patience. If I can learn music for my instrument which involves two hands and two feet, in attention to reading the music and paying attention to the controls of the instrument, then I can learn the 'fly. (Sorry, I should mention that I am an organist.) Patience, I believe is the key here. I think that anything is worth learning, but learning to do something well is doubly rewarding. Hang in there, Deb. We can do it! :cool:

I apologize for my ramblings here. I felt it important to share my musical experience as it relates to swimming in this particular thread.

February 1st, 2002, 05:25 AM
I agree with the notion that quality practice is better than just practicing hard. In swimming, only a limited amount of strength is used, and studies have shown that gaining strength from resistance trainging will not increase swimming ability noticeably. Swimming is a hugely technical skill that relies on the cardiovascular system, but is definately NOT a direct measure of cardiovascular capacity like something such as jogging is, because it is so hugely determined by the efficiency of the swimmer. This means that aerobic training will help, weight lifting will likely not, and that top priority should be placed on producing an efficient stroke which taxes your body less per distance, allowing for longer distances in training. :eek:

jim thornton
February 1st, 2002, 10:48 AM
Dan, I am familiar with the notion that wt training does not particularly help swimming, largely because it's so difficult to precisely simulate the muscle actions used in the pool with dry land resistance machines, dumbbells, etc. One thing I wonder about, however, is the age factor. I suspect that most of the studies on swimming and wt training were done on college aged and/or Olympic type swimmers--young whipper snappers, in other words, who have not begun to slowly lose muscle mass due to aging. Wt. training in men and women over 40 may not improve our swimming per se, but it might slow the rate of decline by retarding somewhat this natural loss of muscle mass.

Does anyone know of any studies on wt training and swimming performance specifically in older (40 or 50 years plus) masters swimmers?

One last note: even if wt training does not make anyone faster in the pool, young or old alike (and I think this is debatable for the latter category), I do think a well-rounded program of resistance training can help reduce the inevitable muscle imbalances that come from swim training, reducing the chance of overuse injuries. Anything that reduces injuries will, in turn, allow swim training to continue unabated, and this in itself should help our times from deteriorating.

Mark in MD
February 1st, 2002, 01:01 PM

I have a family member who is a registered physical therapist. I keep her abreast of my activities in the pool AND as well as weight training. She encourages a practical program of weight training for pretty much the same general reasons you state, most importantly to reduce muscle injuries, and in addition, maintaing muscle mass. So, it would seem that we older whipper-snappers should continue to visit the weight room in addition to spending the time in the pool. Perhaps this might give more for thought on this topic.

February 2nd, 2002, 11:58 AM
Quality vs Quantity? Weights vs none? Sprints vs endurance?

What's your goal?

You can't do a good 1650 without grinding out some yardage.

You can't do a good 50 free without swimming fast often.

You won't often see the same person winning the 50 and the
1650 in the same meet.

Look at the classic male sprinters (Biondi) and guess whether
or not they weight train. Granted, we're "just" masters swim-
mers, and there are "freaks" (using that term respectfully),
but if you want to do well in a specific event, you obviously
need to adapt your training to your goal.

Having said that, and being a jack of all trades and master
of none, I usually try to alternate distance vs quality days,
(4x/week, 3000-4500 per day) and do some weights

On a very good day, when the hips get going right and I
feel that core power working, I feel the weights help get
that power out to my forearms and hands.

February 2nd, 2002, 12:03 PM
Reistance training probably is beneficial for maintaining muscle mass, but weight training isn't the only form of resistance training. I'm skeptical of the benefits of weights for swimming, basically because of the difficulty of simulating swimming movements and isolating the muscles used in swimming using weights. But, I've been advised by some coaches (and my own experience) that you can get good, and more swimming-specific, results with stretch cords. They get much closer to the movements used in swimming. They don't provide as much resistance as weights -- but that type of strength doesn't seem useful for swimming and I doubt it's needed to maintain muscle mass.

Bert Petersen
February 2nd, 2002, 01:59 PM
Had a thought while grinding away at a long freestyle set this morning: If the interval is such that you get no rest, it ALL becomes garbage. You know- I pull as hard as I can but nothing happens- sometimes known as spaghetti arms. So ! The answer is..(envelope please) Rest. A sprinters favorite 4-letter word. I have an intuitive feeling while doing 500 free repeats that my 50 fly is going in the tank, pun intended.

Ion Beza
February 3rd, 2002, 02:12 PM
It seems to me, many USMS swimmers perceive Alex. Popov (Rus.)reputation as of a one competitor who swims slow in practice and emphasizes technique. It is true to being a component only, but not being all components in a workout.
One post by Jim Thornton dealing with the quality and quantity aspects of training, speaks about this USMS perception.

Originally posted by jim thornton
...We have had representatives of both camps on our team over the years--one fellow, for example, who felt he'd acomplished nothing if he didn't brutally punish himself with mega yardage; and another guy who read about Popov (out of context) and concluded the key to swimming fast in meets was to swim incredibly slow in practice (while emphasizing "perfect balance" and the like.)...
Susie O'Neill (Aus.), gold medal winner in 1996AtlantaOlympics and 2000SydneyOlympics, in her book "Choose to win", mentions Alex. Popov as almost breaking world records in workouts.
A letter to the editor on the web site www.swiminfo.com from a US Swimming coach about four years ago that I remember, mentioned strong anaerobic threshold workouts by Popov when swimming in Santa Clara, California, in the early 90s.
The web site www.fina.org, under 'Biographies'-> 'Swimming'->'Alexander Popov', currently writes "He spends over 6 hours a day in the pool..." "...and swims 80-90 km a week..." (in between 88,000 and 99,000 yards a week).
It is with such physical conditioning Popov mentions many times that he is proud about, that he set a new world record in 50 meter freestyle in 2000, swam the fourth fastest 100 meter freestyle in history in 2000, and won a silver medal in 100 meter freestyle during the 2000SydneyOlympics.

I think I fit in this post by Jim Thornton:

Originally posted by jim thornton
...As earlier posters have pointed out, you need big yardage (relative to your own shape) to get your endurance system in fine working order; you need quality sprints to get your fast twitch muscles trained; you need submaximal sprinting to get your body to better tolerate lactic acid; and you need to work on your stroke to make it as efficient and drag-less as possible.

The debate is not which of these things is more necessary or better than the others--they are all important. I think what is more important to consider is the relative proportions of each over the course of a season. Bottom line: if you're out of shape, there is no substitute for yardage. Once you get into aerobic condition, however, you may not need quite so much yardage to keep this stoked--and you can shift to more quality type swimming (and train the fast twitch systems.)...

Having started swimming at age 25, I still want to develop today aerobic, anaerobic, Vo2Max capacities, technique and weights strength, when I do 26 km swim weights and running once or twice per week outside a fulltime work.
To be attempting lifetime bests I want to emulate at my level, programs of Popov's likes.
Three USMS pollsters already voted a weekly yardage in excess of 30,000 yards, and have this mentality.

Bert Petersen
February 8th, 2002, 02:34 AM
So, you will undoubtedly remember in my last novel here that I was trying to average about 3,000 yards per workout........ I don't know how it happened, but Coach has been sneaking extra yards into my world, and of course,trying to maintain good quality therein, I've been busting my tail over about 3,500 each night. Guess what ? I now have a sore shoulder and my right triceps muscle feels like someone cut a chunk out of it. Not known as Bert the Stupid, I plan to take my wife's sage advice and "back off, boy !" Moral to this story : Neither quality nor quantity really matters if you hurt yourself. Be careful out there, people !

jean sterling
February 8th, 2002, 08:45 AM
Dr. Sheehan, who used to write in Runners' World, had a favorite saying. It was, "Listen to your body". This is important at any age but becomes even more important as you "age up".

jim thornton
February 12th, 2002, 02:44 PM
I notice on this poll that two diehard souls swim between 40,000 to 50,000 yards or meters a week. Assuming, for the sake of argument, this means an average of 45,000 yards (as opposed to a high of 55,000 yards, which is 50,000 meters converted to yards), this works out to just under 6500 yards (nearly 4 miles!) of practice a day, seven days a week.

If either of these men and/or women read this, I have some questions for you:

1) how do you keep from being injured from so much yardage?

2) do you do two practices a day most days, or just one long single practice?

3) assuming that over the course of the practice, including rest between sets, kicking sets, different strokes, etc., you average approximately 1:30 pace for every hundred you swim, it would take just shy of 1 hour 40 minutes to complete this workout--more if you swim "quality" sets with extra rest, less if you swim lots of 500s and 1000s on a shortish interval. In any event, how do you find the time to do this every day of the week? If you have a family and/or social life, do your loved ones ever get on you negatively for spending so much time in the pool?

4) finally--and I don't mean to sound marmish here--but do you ever feel that this much swimming leads to an unbalanced, perhaps ever obsessional quality of life? There was a theory a few years ago that diehard runners who rack up tremendous mileage per week, even at the expense of injuries and sacrificed social life, suffer a kind of sports anorexia. Might this apply here too? Or am I just jealous that I can't (and don't want to) devote so much energy to swimming?

February 12th, 2002, 04:28 PM
I'm on the low end of the responses for this query, and there's no way I'd get up to 6500 a day even in my heaviest training, but it certainly is possible, if I lived in the right place. Right now I get up at 5 am to train. If there was a pool right outside my door I could be done with swimming and breakfast and on my way to work by 7:45. That would be with mostly free on 1:30, kicking and stroke on 2:00 kinds of sets. Of course, I go to bed pretty early, but not everyone needs as much sleep as I do.

A long distance swimmer might hit a few 10,000s for time or some long open water swims or 10x1000? Not my cup of water but it might add up fast. Eric Vendt did a set of 30x1000s one time, on 11:00, I think. I'd imagine most of us Masters are slower, though.

As far as injury risk goes, I don't know. I've been injured seriously once already during masters swimming, and that was during a 15000 a week period. I think it would take me a long time to get safely to 40-50,000 yards a week.

Swim fast,

Matt S
February 12th, 2002, 04:39 PM

There is another discussion thread where people are talking about songs that play in their head when they swim. You have made some very interesting comparisons between practicing music and practicing swimming. Since you are an accomplished musician (anyone who can play one of those enourmous, church organs with his hands and feet is accomplished in my book :D) I would be VERY interested in knowing what tunes play in YOUR head while you swim. Seriously, if you find certain rhythms or other musical patterns or techniques have some cross-over into swimming, that would be interesting. Emmett and Terry have argued swimming should be practiced more like a marshall art to explain TI. Perhaps their are some useful musicians' analogies out there.


Consider that the coach who trashed your fly may use an entirely different technique for fly swimming than the one you were trying to learn. He may have criticized your technique BECAUSE you were doing it properly, using a school of thought he personally disagreed with. The big question for you (a solo swimmer) in learning a new stroke is how are you doing objectively? How fast for a given length? How many strokes per length? Video tape yourself doing fly and compare it to a video of a swimmer using the technique you are studying. Seeking help from a coach is a good idea, but before you start, talk to him about what you are using for references. If he hasn't heard of and/or is not interested in considering the technique you are using, that may be a red flag as to the usefulness of his advice...


February 13th, 2002, 08:57 AM
I don't know if it was a matter of different techniques or not. I haven't thought of objective measures (speed, stroke length) for two reasons. One is that I when I have worked on freestyle technique, any change in my stroke initially feels awkward and may actually be slower for a time. So I wasn't concerned about speed initially. Although stroke count is an interesting idea, because I do find it helps me to work on that in breaststroke (and free).

Secondly, as far as speed goes, I don't have any background of times in fly. I just know it is slow. I'm not an especially talented swimmer, I enjoy the fitness and the competition. So, as far as fly goes, I'm just trying to figure out a way to improve it swimming solo. A coach last week helped me a little with my body position and kick. I guess I make a common mistake of kicking down too hard and totally lose my streamline body position. If I concentrate on leading with my hands and doing small kicks, the kick alone is better. Putting the whole stroke together sitll needs some work. But I'm taking the Nike approach of "Just Do It" for the time being.

John Hudson
February 15th, 2002, 02:01 PM
In response to Jim:

The quantity versus quality issue is pretty much relative to what you want to accomplish as a swimmer. If a person can meet their goals by swimming less yardage with more quality more power to them.

This philosophy only works so far. If you aren't putting in the quality yardage to build tolerance you aren't going to improve much in the middle to long distance races.

The term quality is pretty loose. I believe quality is the most important part of a workout whether it be descending a set, holding Vo2 on the interval, or working a drill to perfection. The quality of a workout is first, after that a swimmer can work on building yardage to become a better and ultimately stronger swimmer.

I swim approximately 40,000 yards per week in 8 workouts. And like Jim Thornton I log every workout including intervals and my performance in that workout. I don't swim this yardage all season long. I build on quality from about 25,000 yards early in the season to where I am now and hold that yardage for about 1.5 months before dropping yardage starting in March.

In answer to Jim's questions, not in order:

1) I obviously double up 2-3 times per week.
2)I have not so much as pulled a muscle in my training. But I do get sore by the end of the week- Sunday off!
3)My family supports me in this. This is the only year I am going to dedicate this amount of time to swimming. After that I will be happy to swim 4-5 times per week . But this year I have some goals I would like to reach. I do network (computer) consulting so I have a flexible schedule.
4)So to answer your last question, I am obsessed but only for this year and I think it is worth it whether or not I make my goals. And I do make a lot of social sacrifices to get to bed by 8:30 pm.

A comment on weight training. It may not make you a better swimmer but it certainly can make you a faster swimmer. I have increased my leg strength dramatically by lifting and this has shown big improvements in my breastroke turns.

Stay Healthy!

jim thornton
February 15th, 2002, 03:05 PM

Thanks for your reply. I admire your stamina, I really do. On Monday this week, I swam 5400 yards, the longest workout for me since last summer, and I was definitely beat afterwards--not so much tired on a general level but so arm-weary that I doubt I could have done too much more that day. So to be able to average significantly more than this, every day for six days a week, for 1 1/2 months seems to me an impressive feat.

Can I ask how old you are (not that this would make too much difference since I can't see myself finding your regimen any easier when I was in my 30s or even mid 40s)?

Also, and perhaps more importantly, have you seen any direct correlations between practice yardage and performance--and if so, what? Do your race times decrease in all strokes and all race distances proportionately, or does the megayards approach pay more dividends in, say, 500 plus freestyle events and the 400 IM?

Even though my own yards are signficantly reduced from yours, I've found that my middle distance and longer distance events are much faster this year than last year (when I was swimming about 1/3rd less in practice), but that my sprints are not improved and in some cases a little worse off.

Two extreme examples: this year's 1650 time is 19:27 vs. last year;s 20:35. But this year's 25 yard fly is 12.45 vs. last year's 12.10, or this years 50 free of 24.33 vs. last year's 23.84.

This failure to improve in sprints may be a consequence of devoting much for time to AT sets than sprint sets.

Over the course of your 40,000 weekly yards, how do you break this down approximately in terms of:

types of sets (i.e., AT with short swim-to-rest ratio vs. sprint with lots of rest)

PS I did not mean to imply anything negative about obsessionality. I am an obsessive type myself and have found that for me, at least, it's best to not let it get out of whack.

February 18th, 2002, 04:42 PM
I'd be curious to see how competitive this readership really is. For instance, how many meets ... or maybe races ... do folks participate in annually?

Ion Beza
February 18th, 2002, 07:10 PM
For me five, with two important.

Mark in MD
February 18th, 2002, 09:22 PM
Originally posted by Matt S


"There is another discussion thread where people are talking about songs that play in their head when they swim. You have made some very interesting comparisons between practicing music and practicing swimming. Since you are an accomplished musician (anyone who can play one of those enourmous, church organs with his hands and feet is accomplished in my book :D) I would be VERY interested in knowing what tunes play in YOUR head while you swim. Seriously, if you find certain rhythms or other musical patterns or techniques have some cross-over into swimming, that would be interesting. Emmett and Terry have argued swimming should be practiced more like a marshall art to explain TI. Perhaps their are some useful musicians' analogies out there.


Hello, Matt!

Yes, I am guilty of putting my two cents' worth on the thread about music while in the pool. I do liken playing the organ to swimming as both are technique-intensive.

One of the more interesting forms of classical music is the Fugue. (Example: the fugue in Bach's Toccata and Fugue in d-minor.) The fugue is essentially a "follow the leader" piece of music. A musical sentence is stated in a single melody and then it is imitated through other voices entering, playing the same melody. Think of "Three Blind Mice" being sung be three people, each entering the melody in staggered timing. Think of it as a relay race, perhaps. The music theory term for a fugue is that it is contrapuntal music or counterpoint (statement + answer).

In performing a fugue, for example on the organ, you might have to state the melody with your right hand, then answer with the left, with the right hand now complementing what the left hand is now playing. THEN, the melody will enter on the pedalboard played by the feet with the right and left hands complementing the melody being played with one's feet. This requires a coordination of effort of all body parts, i.e, hands and feet.
Most of the fugues of which I am familiar have a very flowing style and they tend not to be played too slowly, if ever. Again, listen to the Bach example I cite.

Most competent organists I know only use the parts of the body needed for playng. They don't dip and sway their bodies and waste unnecessary body action. Now, of course, one does "get into the music" and you will find yourself "going with the flow of music." Wouldn't it be obvious that good swimmers use only what's needed from their bodies?

I could go on and on using many other comparisons to music and swimming. My example of the fugue is only one. The toccata tend to be even more showy, as it literally mean "touch piece." Its form is much more freer than the fugue, although many fugues were written with an associated toccata. Perhaps the toccata would fit better towards Emmett's and Terry's notion of swimming. Just a thought, nothing to be set into concrete.

I can tell you that there are many kinds of music I run through in my water-logged head whilst in the pool. But then, I might have to switch off the music and work on my music planning for church. Of course, I might have had to switch off the music because I was not paying attention to what's ahead and just banged into the wall of the pool! :eek:

I hope that this gives you some insight of a musician's (albeit part-time) point-of-view on swimming. I still have much to learn in the pool, but no one said learning the organ was easy, either. All it takes is time and patience. And ... I am grateful for the support I receive form here and at the pool.

February 19th, 2002, 09:11 AM
Mark, the real question is.... do you silently think about your freestyle stroke technique while playing the organ at church? :rolleyes:

Mark in MD
February 19th, 2002, 04:21 PM

I figured that someone would ask that question. Yes, it has come to mind while performing, but you have got to be careful! One has to pay attention to what's going on during church service. (This is really no different than being in the water ... paying attention, that is.) There are plenty distractions in addition to everything one must be doing while "on the bench." Oh yes, I have made my fair share of boo-boos from being distracted over the years. Hope this information floats your boat.

March 8th, 2003, 12:28 AM
This an old thread folks. But I usually workout between the 5,000 to 10,000 or the 10,000 to 15,000 a week. I do swim all the four strokes to use different muscles and swim mor backstroke and Fly than when I was started but usually swim the most yardage in freestyle than breastroke. What do you feel helps you be in shape.

March 10th, 2003, 10:04 PM
I swim 3-4 days a week. Usually 3 weeknights about 3 - 3500 yards. On Saturday mornings about 4-5000 yards. I lift light weights afterwards and do stretch cords.

I think your success of how fast you go is dependant upon how many times you participate in meets. Nothing can compare to competition.

I have both a USMS & USS/A registration card. For the USMS season, because of where I live (Greater Cincinnati area) I am able to attend 2 Masters meets or more each month starting in October. For the LC season, I use my USS/A card to attend meets.

To test your ability, you must put yourself in the actual situation.

That is my opinion.

March 10th, 2003, 11:34 PM
I've done three meets in masters. Don't want to do the USA open thing because a lot of 9-10 and 11-12 year old girls can beat me. But I do fair in the breast for my age.

March 11th, 2003, 12:29 PM
This has been an interesting thread. I have been back at swimming for just under a year after a 18 yr layoff. I am currently logging 30,000+ per week in the pool. I swim m-w-f mornings at least 3,500 per practice. These are my better workouts because I get a lane to myself and can work the fly. I also swim every evening where I concentrate on either distance or sprinting. After my evening workouts I also incorporate dryland for an hour which consists of situps, dumbells, and stretch cords.

As for competeting, I swim in all the meets I can. I do both Masters meets and USS meets. CJR, I have probably seen you at a USS meet since I am in Dayton area and swim many USS meets in Cincy. Time wise, my times I do not feel where they should be at. I feel as if I am swimming faster and better in practice than I did as a youth, but its relearning to swim at race speed and getting that "swim mentality"at a meet.

All I know is I am looking forward to the middle of April once I begin my taper.

See everyone in Tempe,