View Full Version : Cheating in workout??

Dennis Tesch
October 24th, 2005, 06:46 PM
I am always amused at how often master's swimmers will take individual liberties in workout to suit their own needs. For example:

* Swimming free instead of breaststroke or the stroke prescribed by the coach.
* One handed turns on breast and fly.
* Cutting corners to stay up with the lane
* Using pull gear when it isn't a pull set
* Kicking your favorite kick and not the one given by the coach
* Leaving 2 seconds behind (more like 2 tenths behind)
* Pulling on the lane line
* Swimming when it's a kick set
* etc...

Maybe its all those years of swimming under "do it my way or the highway" type coaches, that I still have a hard time changing anything in the workout. I must admit however that it does feel good once and while to cheat a little.

As a coach, I've asked many swimmers as to why they change the set or cheat and I hear a million different excuses. I'm very interested in hearing from all of you, all the excuses you have or have heard from other swimmers.

Some of my favorite ones are:

* I don't want to get passed!!!
* I hate the other strokes? (from a former IM'r)
* My tri coach say's I shouldn't swim other strokes

October 24th, 2005, 07:45 PM
It's called modifying. I can't say I cut corners or leave early but I will change the kick to fit my needs. Hey, we know what's best for us.

October 24th, 2005, 07:53 PM
Wow, I had no idea my fellow swimmers were all watching to see what corners I cut and considered me a "cheater" if I skipped a set or whathaveyou. As a mature adult, I feel perfectly fine in modifying exercise rather than pushing myself to the point of hurting myself just because "everyone else is doing it."

Lots of people on our team modify the workout in places to fit with their level of fitness - I wouldn't consider them "cheating." A coach doesn't normally have time to go around to each person and go, "So, how are you feeling today? Oh, you've had bronchitis and your kid was up all night? Well, take a minute of rest between sets rather than the 30 seconds everyone else is taking." But I think most swimmers in that situation would modify their workout if they felt bad and I think most other swimmers and coaches would think that's perfectly normal and justified.

I mean, really, do you expect everyone on the team to do the same workout? What about modifying for age, fitness level, illness, or injury?

jim clemmons
October 24th, 2005, 08:05 PM
I think the term "cheating" might be a little overkill.

For some of scenarios it might be appropriate, but, if a swimmer's having problems with a knee he/she might not be able to kick breaststroke or problems with a shoulder may have to lay off fly.

One handed turns might just be sloppiness/lazyness. They'll probably get their just due when they get DQ'ed.

I'm one to tend to swim the exercise as given by the coach more times than not, but there are times when I modify to suit my particular circumstances especially around the time of more important meets. Most other folks in our pool aren't there to compete and have no intentions of ever competing but we just forgive them and move on.

October 24th, 2005, 08:42 PM
Originally posted by Dennis Tesch
IAs a coach, I've asked many swimmers as to why they change the set or cheat and I hear a million different excuses. I'm very interested in hearing from all of you, all the excuses you have or have heard from other swimmers.

Some of my favorite ones are:

* I don't want to get passed!!!
* I hate the other strokes? (from a former IM'r)
* My tri coach say's I shouldn't swim other strokes

Wow - I never listen to a coach who thinks he knows it all. I will only do what I want to do. When they ask me to use fins and floaties I always say no thanks. If they ask me to do drills I say no thanks. If they ask me to swim backstroke I say no thanks. If they ask me to swim breaststroke it's no thanks. I swim only crawl and fly and don't break up the strokes except I do a little one arm fly when I first start to train and I never do more than a hundred fly. But when I coach it is I who decides what the swimmers do but I know there abilities before Igive a workout.

Tom Ellison
October 24th, 2005, 08:52 PM
You mean your NOT allowed to pull on the lane line while swimming backstroke in practice.....? Ops....

October 24th, 2005, 08:57 PM
I thought masters was supposed to be open to swimmers of different levels and abilities. Speaking for myself, I'm new to "serious" swimming, just learned breaststroke and fly within the past year, and can't possibly complete the workouts as spelled out on the board.

Sabretooth Tiger
October 24th, 2005, 09:22 PM
In our pool its called the "Masters' Prerogative" which has it's own corallary . . the "Masters' Minute."

October 24th, 2005, 09:38 PM
I'm not so sure cheating is the best phrase...

Even on my college team, modifications are common. Many of us are sick or injured at times and need to alter things to avoid hurting ourselves.

It happens.

As for cutting a set short, we do that too. If for some reason you haven't finished your warmup/set by the time the rest of the team has, you hold up. That's just what you do.

I really don't consider it cheating.....it's just part of the process.

October 24th, 2005, 11:18 PM
Originally posted by Dennis Tesch
As a coach, I've asked many swimmers as to why they change the set or cheat and I hear a million different excuses.

Well, Dennis, we haven't heard quite a million yet in this thread, but we're getting up there already ;)

October 25th, 2005, 08:38 AM
But coach....if I couldn't swim backstroke or breaststroke when I was a young whippersnapper what makes you think I can swim it as a masters swimmer (nice way of saying old, bald guy).

Or how about, I get too much air when I swim backstroke which causes me to realize that I'm swimming a workout. Just let me stick to my oxygen-deprived sprint freestyle so I can remain in my state of unknowingness. I think the endorphins work better that way anyway!

October 25th, 2005, 08:54 AM
I hear the kids talk about the swimmers that "cheat" all the time. Funny it crops up in Masters. When I work out, I do what I can with the work-out, but sometimes it simply is above my ability and I am in the fast lane of my work-out group. It does not bother me if others modify the work-out. On a Friday night when work has been he!! all week, sometimes people just don't have it in them to do the work-out. I feel, we are adults, we can do what we like!

October 25th, 2005, 09:09 AM
I swim in the fastest lane on our team but can't keep up on kick sets with my lane mates. It's actually rather discouraging. So, I have been known to cut a lap or only do a 450 kick if the lane is doing a 500. I do it partly out of self shame but mostly to not slow down or cause others in my lane to be caught up behind me.

However, if you can't do the workout on the board, why are you even swimming with a team? It seems that it's very important for everyone in the lane to do the same workout or, at the very least, to no hold up the other swimmers. It's very annoying to have a drill set or a stroke set and have someone swim straight free and screw up the interval or be on my butt the whole time.

I also have it on good authority that lane lines are specifically engineered to enable backstroke pulling.

October 25th, 2005, 09:38 AM
I personally like it when people "cheat" or modify the workout, because it will make me push myself that much harder. One example is we have a person who is known for grabbing a pull buoy and going crazy during a tough set. So I will always try to leave him in the dust when he grabs the toy.

Our team also has what we call the "Masters Option" which basically means you can do what you want or can. I think it is great just to see people in the water and if they "cheat" or modify that is fine, as long as they keep coming back.


October 25th, 2005, 10:07 AM
Originally posted by aquageek
However, if you can't do the workout on the board, why are you even swimming with a team?

Ouch. I guess that helps me decide whether or not to renew for next year. :(

I do think this is something Masters should decide and set as a policy, rather than encourage less experienced swimmers (like me) to join and then just be irritated with us throughout the practice. When I picked up a brochure, it said you had to be able to swim 600 free -- it didn't say you had to be able to complete a 3,600 workout of stroke sets. I was totally honest with the coach about my ability level before I went to the first practice (and, of course, she could see me swim in the first workout). If you only want swimmers who can complete the workouts as prescribed, it would be much kinder to just state that up front.

Out of curiousity, what about older swimmers? I watched a meet this past weekend which had an 80-year-old guy competing in several events, very cool. However, I doubt he could keep up with the workout intervals without modifications.

October 25th, 2005, 10:41 AM
Originally posted by IndyGal
Ouch. I guess that helps me decide whether or not to renew for next year. :(

Let me rephrase since I didn't make my point too well.

You should be swimming in a team workout in a lane that suits your abilities. Your coach has the responsibility to put you in the correct lane or you to self govern if you find yourself in a lane that is either too fast or too slow for your abilities.

It is extremely disruptive to have a lane full of circle swimmers and have one person modify the workout or alter the intervals, either slower or faster.

I don't think USMS needs some sort of policy about workouts. Most coaches will put together workouts for various lanes. The point is you should not disrupt those you are swimming with so as to negatively impact everyone's workout.

Why don't you ask your coach/team why they don't have a lane or practice time for those needing less yardage/more instruction?

October 25th, 2005, 10:56 AM
At our work-outs, we have 3 lanes of abilities, and we self appoint, although sometimes the coach will move us around to challenge us a little. Everyone is really supportive, and not condescening at all, so we have no issue with anyone "cheating". We also NOW have a coach that supplies different levels of a work-out so everyone does a work-out and gets done with a set at the same time. When we had a coach that wrote one work-out, it was usually geared to the top swimmers, and the slower swimmers either did not complete it, or cut corners to complete it. The slower swimmers hated that because they never got a sense of accomplishment for finishing a work-out. It is much better to have different levels of the work-out. We have one gentleman that is far faster than any of us. Sometimes the send-offs in the fast lane are geared to him, and the rest if us struggle to make the intervals, and sometimes it is geared to the slower of the faster swimmers, and then he adds reps so he does not wait too long.

Dennis Tesch
October 25th, 2005, 11:38 AM
Maybe cheating is a tough word?? As a coach I know many people who "modify" the workout due to several reasons that people have obviously pointed out. I think a good masters coach talks to their team enough to know limitations, swimming ability levels, doctors orders, plain stubborness, etc...

Please note, that I am making light of this situation because I know we are all adults and have the freedom to do what ever we want. I quess I just sometimes wonder why people sometimes modify "cheat" during workout when they are capable of doing something the correct way.

All I'm trying to do is a create a funny list of why masters cheat "modify" their workouts....

I'm sure some of you have some good statements out there....I love the ones I've read already.

Dennis Tesch
October 25th, 2005, 11:44 AM
Originally posted by aquageek
I also have it on good authority that lane lines are specifically engineered to enable backstroke pulling.

You sound just like my lane mate in the morning. I think he would actually consider competing again if there was a 200 lane line pull backstroke... I can't wait to tell him tomorrow about lane lines being engineered to help his backstroke. He will love it.

October 25th, 2005, 11:51 AM
I think the bottom line is if you can't keep up in your lane you should move down to a slower lane, or if that isn't an option modify the workout such that you are disturbing the rest of your lane as little as possible. There's a big difference between skipping a 50 now and then to catch up and just totally going on a different interval than the rest of your lane.

October 25th, 2005, 11:53 AM
Here's one of my personal favorite "modifications" -

I'm a decent mid/long distance freestyler, and I usually go first on those sets. Depending on the time of day I'm swimming, and of course, depending on who I'm swimming with, I may or may not wear paddles. If I swim at 6 am and we have a set like that, I don't wear them. If I swim at noon, I wear paddles, because if I'm leading - and you folks know how it is sometimes with lane democracy and you get "voted" to lead, and there's someone else who doesn't want to go first, yet your speeds are comparable, then by golly, I'm putting on those freakin' modifying paddles!!

Of course, I am like a slug when it comes to IM sets of any kind, so if we're working on 100 or 200 IMs on an interval, then I will modify my IM - on a 200, for example, I'll swim a 25 fly, 25 free, 25 back, 25 free, and so on. Otherwise I won't make the interval. On IM sets I should be in a slower lane. Yet on kick sets or long freestyle sets I'm fine where I'm at - so does that mean that I bounce from lane to lane during the workout, or do I modify myself?

We too have lanes that are set up fastest to slowest; however, even in each individual lane there are various degrees of speed, etc.;)

October 25th, 2005, 11:56 AM
Oh yeah...and dolphin kick hurts my knee, so I'll do flutter kick. Unless, of course, my knee isn't hurting that day.

Modifications at work! ;)

October 25th, 2005, 01:20 PM
Right now we have a huge influx of new/beginning swimmers. We only have 4 lanes to work out in. Last night we had 2 experienced, fast swimmers, and three lanes full of slower swimmers. It didn't make sense nor was it fair to kick all of the beginners to two lanes and let me have my own lane. So I joined the fast lane. They kicked my butt. We were all a bit frustrated but if I had gone down to the next slowest lane, I would have lapped people in a 100. I modified my workout a bit, by not going on my exact interval if one of the faster people was about to flip. I waited until they passed me, then went. I ended up doing a bit less yardage, and was given different intervals for one set. I don't think it's cheating ...

Everyonce in awhile, I modify due to some minor (or severe) ache or pain ... usually I follow the workout exactly ... I am the queen of asking, now when you say stroke can we do IM? When you say such and such can I do blah blah blah instead?

October 25th, 2005, 01:28 PM
"Masters option".

I like that.

Sort of like poetic license.

Frankly, we're talking about masters here. You do what you can, and (at least we pretend so) nobody judges.

Actually, even when I was in competitive swimming in high school, I didn't do other strokes. Freestyle, or I'm leaving. I didn't start with team swimming until high school, and I simply never learned the other strokes. Oh, I could fake a decent backstroke or breaststroke, but I never got butterfly.

And you know what? My coach recognized that, and he gave me the leeway to do freestyle. He needed a freestyle sprinter, and I was it, and if I had been required to do fly, I might have decided to bag the whole idea. In my junior and senior years, I was the anchor on the medley relays.

Some people might say that I missed out. Perhaps that's true, from their perspective. From my perspective, ignorance is bliss. I added a whole dimension to my life by making the swim team in high school, and I have never looked back. I do what I do, and I think I do it pretty well. I'm happy with that. And if my decision to replace the fly set with free nowadays ticks someone off, well ... that's not really MY problem.

I see some people walk 10 yards from the wall before starting their sets. That's "cheating" too, but the way I see it, they're not getting the full benefit of doing the full distance, and if I ever race against them (or someone like them) in a meet, they may choke over the last 10 yards and I'll win. In the same way, someone who gets upset about my bagging fly might take solace in the knowledge that their more comprehensive training might give them the extra tenth of a second advantage that will allow them to touch me (and other like me) out at the wall. (Also, there is one less person taking up lanes in the fly heats at the meet! :) )

I get out of it what I want. I hope everyone else gets out of swimming what they want. Let's not try to make others get out of it what WE want them to get out of it.

October 25th, 2005, 02:06 PM
Keather/Heather - I just tried to email you and it bounced back - shoot me off an email with your new address...!



Also....as for modifications.....if I'm stuck in a lane with swimmers who are too fast for me (happens on a particularly crowded workout), and we're doing long sets, I'll cut off a 50 to keep the interval or just to keep up. There's no sin in that (I agree with the posts listed above)

October 25th, 2005, 02:26 PM
Is it cheating when you're pushing off the wall next to an Ohio Class submarine that is 3 inches taller and 40 lbs heavier? !

I say not !

Leave early !

Don't let the Evil Smith get ahead of you. You must establish discipline during workout.

John Smith

October 25th, 2005, 04:17 PM
Actually the guys who I swim with are a foot taller, and much heavier, so I guess I am justified, no?

Tom Ellison
October 25th, 2005, 05:51 PM
Geek Posted:
"I also have it on good authority that lane lines are specifically engineered to enable backstroke pulling."

That a boy Geek....

October 25th, 2005, 09:01 PM
We are not in the strict regiment of AAU/USS/USA swimming anymore - "modifying" to your strengths and to stay out of the way of your fellow lane mates or adjust to not aggravate injuries is fine with me. I'm here to have fun and so what if I miss a workout or set- well that's easy to say I do workout by myself ;)