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Kurt
June 28th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Hi there! I live in north county San Diego. I am 48 yrs and started swimming three years ago. I started swimming with my age-group daughter at her swim club where they let masters folks swim along with the age groupers AND where they teach all four competitive strokes. Last year I moved out of the evening swim club into a noontime masters program to give the daughter her space as Dad was becoming a little "unhip" to be with. I found a great indoor facility (rare for California) with an aggressive masters swim program. Generally 7-8 lanes with 5-6 swimmers per lane, and 4000-4200yrds in 75 minutes. But it is a 100% freestyle workout because I'm told the triathletes are the largest single paying constituency of the program and they neither need nor like doing the other strokes. I have checked with all the masters programs in San Diego county and just one offers an IM day which I have swum and it is still largely freestyle with a little stroke work thrown in. So my question is, and nothing against triathletes or their sport, but what is a swimmer to do? It seems the traditional masters swim program has been hijacked and morphed into a freestyle only program which is in most cases also primarily a cardio workout with little or no anaerobic training. Of course, the longer cardio sets very much simulate the triathletes longer distance open water swim, but in the competitive swimming environment, at least for the 200 and under events of which there are many, cardio training is just an initial foundation. So, am I wrong on this? Do master swimmers who want to further develop their other strokes have to leave the USMS and join USA Swimming and swim with the age-groupers to get their four-stroke workout and training? For this summer, I have just now stopped the masters program workouts and am back swimming the morning workouts with the age-groupers and it is really great to work all four strokes in one workout. Like everyone says, your heart does not know the difference between breast, back, fly or free, or kicking or drills for that matter so it is a great cardio workout without having to swim 4000yrds of freestyle on interval. Any thoughts? Please!

Donna
June 28th, 2007, 03:46 PM
Your not the only one with this problem. Triathletes tend to make up most of our team, but in my case our coach has given us 2-3 days, 3 lanes out of our 6 total lanes for stroke work. Usually Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

You might ask your coach if he can set aside 1 lane on Tuesday and Thursday for those who want to swim the other strokes. You might be surprised to find that there may be others who would like the change of pace. Then if there is more interest you might get him to give 2 lanes, etc.

Donna

Peter Cruise
June 28th, 2007, 04:10 PM
The other solution may be to do your other strokes in slower freestyle lanes.

jim clemmons
June 28th, 2007, 04:24 PM
The other solution may be to do your other strokes in slower freestyle lanes.

I'm with Peter on this one.

Slide down a few lanes (it probably won't be very far knowing most tri-freestylers), let 'em know what you're planning on doing, and go for it.

FindingMyInnerFish
June 28th, 2007, 10:49 PM
I'm not a triathlete b/c I am of the Mark Twain school of thought on bikes: "Buy a bike. You'll never regret it... if you live." But I did come to swimming as a runner and still see myself as part runner/part swimmer. At one of the masters' workouts I attend, about half the people in the workout are triathletes, but all the strokes are offered. If someone prefers to do freestyle, they usually move to the wall lane, while the multi-stroke folks stay in the faster lane. (It's a small group, and often there are only two or three lanes.) I'm not terrrific at the other strokes and confess to preferring freestyle, but I also figure it'll make me a stronger swimmer if I practice the other strokes, even if I won't use them in the kinds of races I ordinarily do (open water). Of course, I do ask that other swimmers shield their eyes when I do butterfly as some systems may not be able to tolerate the sight. ;)

As for sprint sets... I totally LOVE them! Strange thing to say when I'm training for a five mile swim, but they are a fun break... and something like eating chili peppers--your whole body's screaming for you to stop this craziness... and then you want more.

Frank Thompson
June 29th, 2007, 08:42 AM
I am going to link a thread to this because it reminds of an interesting discussion we had two years ago about this subject.

http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=4816&highlight=triathletes

Slowswim
June 29th, 2007, 01:00 PM
The other solution may be to do your other strokes in slower freestyle lanes.

Even for Evilstrokers!!!:confused:

I am a Triathlete and I do the other strokes for balance (still working on that Fly thing). My master program in Florida and the pool I go to in Atlanta are mostly "real" swimmers.

I haven't seen :duel:. In the Masters group everyone swam the same workout. At the pool, people make adjustments if you are swimming different strokes and sharing a lane like a longer glide until you are passed the free styler.

Kurt: I thought people in CA were more relaxed than to fuss about strokes, but I was born in Monterey CA.:wine:
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Kurt
June 29th, 2007, 11:04 PM
Great replies from everyone. Thanks!

I did forget to mention that the masters swim coach where I swim did suggest moving down a few lanes to do stroke work. And I have tried it, and while I cannot say it doesn't work, there is something that just doesn't feel right when doing it. First, people are often sensitive about swimmers moving down to their lane from a faster lane. The other problem is that it is not so easy to coordinate intervals and spacing when all are doing freestyle and just one guy is doing stroke. But I do like Donna's suggestion to establish a swim only lane. It is a very good idea, but I have a feeling the coach will shoot it down due to more administration on his part AND because he is a distance freestyler.

Stay tuned!

Kurt
June 29th, 2007, 11:19 PM
Frank Thompson, thanks for the link to the 2005 discussion on basically the same topic I raised here. Some of their "takes" were interesting and humorous and one guy did mention it is much easier when everyone in the same lane is doing the same stroke. But where I part ways with them is that I have no animosity towards them whatsoever and consider them real swimmers when they are in the pool doing freestyle. In fact, these guys and gals are really good! I mean they would beat most swimmers I know in any open water event. Yeah, they can't dive off the blocks worth beans and I have seen many belly flops, but they have the cardio and flip turns down. My only beef is that the coaches and institutions are now catering to them and tailoring the masters swim program for them. Truthfully, I think the USMS needs to step in and at least encourage coaches and institutions to re-balance the program. Can the moderator of this chat room comment or get these comments to the higher-ups?

joesflyer
June 30th, 2007, 04:11 PM
Hi Kurt,
I work out on my own as a swimmer not a tri athlete. But since there is no one competing in my lane my only obstacles are other kids. You adjust. In your situation I would do like Peter suggests and opt for a slower lane that will allow you to keep their interval while you work on non freestyle strokes. Don't feel intimidated by coming from a faster lane. As long as you meld they should be accepting. I have never thought of swimmers as non accepting as long as they are "asked" if you can join them and not mess up their pace. So good luck. Andy:fish2:

Peter Cruise
June 30th, 2007, 08:12 PM
Kurt- don't take all that you read in that earlier thread seriously; we were all much younger then and not as wise as we undoubtably are now.

Besides, back then, 'infested', rather than 'overrun' would have been in the thread title.

GGS5T
July 1st, 2007, 10:19 AM
Your not the only one with this problem. Triathletes tend to make up most of our team,

I coach at a masters club in the UK and we've attracted quite a few triathletes over the past four or five years. Most who joined us were keen to swim only front crawl.

UK triathletes, more than mainstream masters swimmers, are willing to spend a disproportionate amount of money on improving the swimming discipline of their sport. It's usually the weakest part of their triathlon, so understandable, up to a point.

One year ago we had to call a meeting with our triathletes. Out of 130 masters swimmers in my club there were 38 triathletes with many more on a waiting list to join.

We gave them the option of having their own 'triathletes' sessions or joining in with the rest of the club, which meant training on all srokes and competing in masters events along with eveyone else.

It was no surprise to us when they elected to have their own sessions, specificially designed for triathletes. Their extra pool time was provided by the club, but at a vastly inflated price for them. We overcharged them to such an extent that they now greatly subsidise the training costs for the masters club.

The triathlete section has fifty swimmers in the pool, training four days a week. I must say, the attendance levels achieved by the triathletes puts the masters to shame. They are very keen and rarely miss a session.

Admittedly, we are a very large masters club and this splitting of swimmers wouldn't work with a club made up of triathletes, masters and age groupers.

One very positive aspect that has come out of this is that we are still working as one club. The masters attend the triathlon competitions to enourage our triathletes and they in turn come along to masters meets. Our social events are a glorious mix too.

jgale
July 9th, 2007, 09:45 PM
I am not sure that I understand the "tri bashing" that I have seen on this website. Our master's group is made up of mixture of people who swim for different reasons. We have a number of triathletes and open water swimmers. Many swim just for fitness. Comparatively few of the group actually participate in meets. We work through all four strokes in the fall and winter. In late winter, we switch our focus to preparing for our local open water race.

Everyone brings something unique to the group and are very tolerant of those who swim for different reasons and of varying abilities and ages. Some of the younger post college swimmers are the most helpful to us comparative beginners. I have enjoyed swimming with a wide variety of individuals. It is enjoyable to watch everyone progress.

I am a relatively new swimmer myself (having come to swimming after my 27 year running career was sidelined by a knee injury after an fall). When I started swimming almost four years ago, I focused primarily on freestyle and struggled with the other strokes. I was pleased to find a masters group that welcomed all comers. Since joining the group, I have swum in a number of meets and open water races and have begun to enjoy the other strokes.

The attitude of some of the anti-tri posters strikes me as arrogant, intolerant, and, dare I say, elitest. There is no reason why anyone can't benefit from the sport and take from it what they wish. Just my two cents.

The Fortress
July 9th, 2007, 11:04 PM
We don't have any active triathletes on my team right now. Some ex-tris and ex-runners. We have open water swimmers, distance swimmers, fitness swimmers, strokers, etc. We seem to all get along. We try to stay in the appropriate lanes for speed, etc. and we mostly try to do the same workout. The only real variance is "stroke choice." Varying the workout significantly would not be appreciated.

While some prefer to do copious amounts of freestyle, others don't. We have two sessions per week where you can expect a lot of freestyle and longer distances and two sessions where the focus is more on strokes and IM. I don't usually attend distance freestyle night. Although, when I do, no one gets too irked if I do a lot of backstroke and move to back of the lane.

I wouldn't like swimming on a team of triathletes if distance free was the main thing on the menu. It would be tedious and counter-productive for my training. I have a friend who's been swimming with a triathlete masters group because of the convenience. Not the greatest results. Most strokers don't need to do a 1000 free for time on a regular basis.

There are a number of masters groups in my area comprised primarily of triathletes and open water swimmers. Maybe that's the wave of the future. Until then, everyone should just try to get along. Might help to pick a team that suits your needs as opposed to expecting the team to accomodate your needs.

It's interesting that someone mentioned that swimmers are "arrogant." While I've met many respectful triathletes, I hear a lot of complaints about triathletes automatically thinking they should always lead lanes. Of course, I hear a lot of people say, in somewhat arrogant fashion, that there is no conceivable use for pull buoys and fins either. Can't we all get along and respect the fact that we all train differently and might need to train differently? If you have some specialized work you need to do, do it on your own.

Donna
July 10th, 2007, 11:48 AM
I know for me I would like to get some of my sprinting capability back but with the makeup of our team that is not going to happen unless I make a change.

3 weeks ago due to pool temperature issues (our outdoor pool is too hot) I made an arrangement with another age group team in town that is practicing in one of the only indoor pools around (nice and cold). The workouts are a great change of pace and if I keep this up I feel my 50 at Nationals may be very surprising. Sprint work is something our masters group might do 1 day a month.

I am starting to reevaluate and may make this arrangement more permenant in the future. Especially if my sprint comes back to some respectable form.

Donna

Kurt
July 16th, 2007, 11:41 PM
Thanks very much for the recent comments from Donna, jgale and The Fortress. I have actually just recently left the noontime tri-athlete-based masters swim and am now swimming age group practices in the mornings with my 12 year old daughter, although I am in the lane with the much faster 14-17 year olds. And let me tell you, it is really great! We do drills, 1000yrd kick sets, 50's, 100's and 200's of all strokes and all the other swim stuff. And I should say that the heart rate is up the entire time so instead of driving my freestyle technique into the ground with a 4000yrd freestyle workout, I now get the same cardio benefit as well as all the other stroke technique enhancement in the same amount of time. For those of you "swimmers" still in a tri-athlete-based masters swim program, I comment is that you can tend to acclimate to it until it seems very normal, but if you go back and try a traditional IM swim workout you will see a huge difference. Thanks! Kurt

Donna
July 17th, 2007, 01:10 PM
Kurt,

I too am moving on and training more with the age group club in town and I find I like the variety of the workouts better. I might even get my sprints moving. With the triathaletes I have layed a very good distance base now it is time to get back to a more varied workout and be able to lower some of my sprint times.

After 3 years my 50 free has gone from a 31.7 to a 30.3 and when I did the 31.7 I had such a bad back I could not even touch the block to do a proper start. As my new coach has told me I have had the sprint trained out of me. Now it is time to change that.

Good luck,
Donna

islandsox
July 18th, 2007, 10:41 AM
As a distance freestyler only and not a triathlete, I am surprised that many triathletes do not see the importance of swimming other strokes. Many times a person's body gets accustomed to the same kinds of workouts over and over and becomes so efficient at that stroke, that it is hard to up the level of conditioning. Throwing in some 50 and 100 flys, lots of sprints, back dolphin kicks, will aid in a triathlete's endurance training, as well as using some muscle groups not used in freestyle.

It isn't always about "how far". I am swimming 6 to 7 miles every other day, I take 2 days off a week. Inbetween, I always have one or two days somewhere in there where I do anaerobic drills and sprints, say a mile of them.

donna

haffathot
July 18th, 2007, 10:55 AM
well, it's not just that. no matter how efficient your freestyle, if you don't change things up every once in a while, you will make yourself prone to injury or re-injury because of overuse. there is a clear value to triathletes in balancing out their swimming with a variety of strokes.

Slowswim
July 18th, 2007, 11:50 AM
I do Tri's but do Back and Breast when my e-coach gives me the choice.

When I swam with a team in Florida, it was a mixed group. Almost everyone did Tri's (that's the culture there) but a lot did Tri's and strokes at meets. In practice, We did all strokes. People like me who were new and didn't know all the strokes would get in a lane together so we didn't interfere.

I would love to learn Fly, but have no one to teach me.

Rob Nasser
July 18th, 2007, 10:26 PM
Our group is an interesting dichotomy of folks. Triathletes and not. Honestly, for me, triathletes are a great source of entertainment and fun to pick on when it comes time for anything involving kicking (WITHOUT FINS), stroke (Bk, Br, or Fl), sprinting (kicking and moving the arms at the same time - with intesity - over a short duration), or pushing a lactate tolerance repeat on anything under a 200. I suffer through their distance workouts on Monday, and they flake out when we do stroke on Wednesday and some are brave enough to come in on Fridays for a sprint workout. Tuesday and Thursday are entirely theirs and I don't like showing up since the coaches on these days do not coordinate workouts, so you might see lactate sets two days in a row. I go to another pool for long course work (though those are mostly distance based too - I cannot win!) on these days.

Mentally, I cannot understand how someone can just keep doing the one stroke over and over and over - at least not any more.. I used to swim distance - a lot (16-18K per day in club), so you can count me in those that have immense experience in lots of yards, so when most triathletes go after those extra sets in the end of proactice or gripe about too much rest, I can only laugh about the quality that they must have missed putting into the workout or sets they just did. I have learned that most triathletes can benefit from working every stroke (higher heart rates from different training - improved Anaerobic threshold/VO2 Max), kicking (want to get into the lead pack on that swim without paying dearly for it and strengthen the knees/ankles?), or sprinting (get out fast with less impact too). Of course, consistency is the biggest way to gain, not necessarily tons of yards.

I also do stroke in the lane behind me, though when I am doing IM and they are riding my feet, the breaststroke becomes an "awakening" for many of them as they get my size 12 foot in their _____ (insert body part here).

As with just about any business, money talks, and if the triathletes are footing the bill, so be it, but I cannot just roll with the punches entirely. At least I get some entertainment value out of it :>

Rob

Donna
July 19th, 2007, 11:35 AM
I am glad you can find the humor in their swimming. This past Monday (usually a long or mid distance day) we had a stroke day assigned in honor of one of our swimmers and you are right it is fun to watch triathletes do these. Our top 2 lanes tend to be populated by the "true swimmers" who have just been turned into distance people. Even some of them baulked at the workout.

Only the second and third lanes did the workout as written, all of the others adjusted it and turned into freestyle lanes.

Today (an IM day) only 4 people showed up. Says alot.

I am in a maintenance mode till nationals since I am doing distance events. But in the evenings I am swimming with the kids and remembering what it feels like to sprint and kick(something I am terrible at but working on).

After Nationals I will make a total switch to the kids team and the coach and I are committed to retrain me as the sprinter I was and should still be according to my lactate test.

Donna

Kurt
July 24th, 2007, 11:23 PM
Hi Donna, I just read all the posts since my last post about a week ago. It seems like many other swimmer folks feel the same way I do which is reassuring to know. I also like your coaches comment that you had the "sprint trained out of you". I started off as a sprinter three years ago and could turn-it-on instantly anywhere at anytime. But after a ton of those VOX2 type workouts over the past year, you know those 15 x 200 with 10 seconds rest type main sets, you just sorta get in that highly-aerobic type mindset. That type of main set is not easy for me by any means, but it is not sprint training for sure. I guess the upside is that I am no longer afraid of that type of set which used to be very intimidating. I have a meet coming up on August 4 and am doing some 50's as well as the 100 Breast and 100 Free. I'm truthfully quite worried about the 100 events as I have not trained for them for them unless of course the race was 20 x 100 on the 1:40! Good luck at Nationals and let me know how it goes! Kurt

Donna
July 25th, 2007, 10:54 AM
Since the bulk of my training has been distance these past 3 years and I chose distance events at Nationals, I should do fine. The only one I am curious about is the 50 Free. I am curious if all of the sprints and kicking I am doing at night with the kids team will help or whether I started too late.

This morning I was lucky in that the girl in my lane decided to switch lanes. I was all set of another LONG DISTANCE set 400, 300, 200, 100, 100, 200, 300, 400 then half way thru she leaves. I said 20x25 on 1:00 sprint (1/2 free the second 1/2 IM order) and forgot about the rest of the workout. It was great! Really kicked the heart rate up. My masters coach even commented on my Fly that it looked better than usual.

I'll update you on how Nationals goes Kurt.

Dennis Tesch
August 11th, 2007, 10:46 AM
I think it is great that triathletes are really trying to become better at swimming and are join local masters programs. I find the problem with your statement that masters teams are being overrun by triathletes is that coaches are finding it easier to coach triathletes. I mean who has to think when all you have to do is write freestyle workouts. You get a bunch of triathletes on your team who don't know a thing about getting better at swimming and anything you say goes when you are the coach. I can almost call it the dumbing down of our coaches. It isn't catering to the most people in the group, it is catering to the easiest to coach group on our team. Hell, if you went by what triathletes think are good workouts, all you would have to say is "3000 freestyle, ready go!"

Challenge your coach into writing creative, beneficial workouts that not only benefit swimmers as well as the triathletes...... good luck!

Slowswim
August 13th, 2007, 01:25 PM
Dennis:

You forgot the "...and don't do any kick sets; save your legs for the bike and run."

Treebox
August 20th, 2007, 09:50 AM
I coach and swim with a masters group in MD where we are split evenly between swimmers and triathletes. I agree with the previous comments that bashing the tri-folks is silly. The 'A' workout we do is 4000 yds and has at least one IM set everyday, sometimes a distance set of IMs. We have convinced the tri-swimmers that IMs build serious endurance and give a good core body workout. One of our Tri-swimmers qualified for Hawaii Ironman and has made serious improvements in his 2.4 mile swim. Previously he swam with a team of triathletes that espoused freestyle only, no kick sets, no IM, etc. The swimmers gain in return from the tri-folks in encouragement to cross train and nutrition ideas.

My attitude is the more the merrier. Everyone is there for their own well-being. I strictly compete in open water races these days. Some of my most dedicated swimmers including myself, could care less about competing in meets anymore. Their challenge is against the clock during workouts. Should they be treated any differently than triathletes or those that want to go to meets? No way. Encourage more people to show up and you ensure that you keep your pool time and have the ability to ask for more.

harperfish
April 20th, 2012, 11:33 AM
Hi there! I live in north county San Diego. I am 48 yrs and started swimming three years ago. I started swimming with my age-group daughter at her swim club where they let masters folks swim along with the age groupers AND where they teach all four competitive strokes. Last year I moved out of the evening swim club into a noontime masters program to give the daughter her space as Dad was becoming a little "unhip" to be with. I found a great indoor facility (rare for California) with an aggressive masters swim program. Generally 7-8 lanes with 5-6 swimmers per lane, and 4000-4200yrds in 75 minutes. But it is a 100% freestyle workout because I'm told the triathletes are the largest single paying constituency of the program and they neither need nor like doing the other strokes. I have checked with all the masters programs in San Diego county and just one offers an IM day which I have swum and it is still largely freestyle with a little stroke work thrown in. So my question is, and nothing against triathletes or their sport, but what is a swimmer to do? It seems the traditional masters swim program has been hijacked and morphed into a freestyle only program which is in most cases also primarily a cardio workout with little or no anaerobic training. Of course, the longer cardio sets very much simulate the triathletes longer distance open water swim, but in the competitive swimming environment, at least for the 200 and under events of which there are many, cardio training is just an initial foundation. So, am I wrong on this? Do master swimmers who want to further develop their other strokes have to leave the USMS and join USA Swimming and swim with the age-groupers to get their four-stroke workout and training? For this summer, I have just now stopped the masters program workouts and am back swimming the morning workouts with the age-groupers and it is really great to work all four strokes in one workout. Like everyone says, your heart does not know the difference between breast, back, fly or free, or kicking or drills for that matter so it is a great cardio workout without having to swim 4000yrds of freestyle on interval. Any thoughts? Please!
Hi,
I'm a writer for Swimmer magazine. Do you still have this problem with triathletes? I'm covering this issue soon.
Jim Harper

Betsy
April 21st, 2012, 02:56 PM
When there is a problem with triathletes in a workout, I think it is the coach's fault. The coach has to be in charge. Also, the coach has to educate all swimmers about why you are doing a particular set.
When we do kick sets, I explain that it will get their heart rate up to the rest of the workout. However, I have learned that it is better not to have kick sets on Monday after a long triathlon or road race on Sunday.
Backstroke was an easy sell because the drills are so similar. I notice now that some tri's do back when it is a choice set. Sometimes I set the interval for a set with those who do non-free in mind. I tell those who choose free to swim a little faster so that they need the extra rest.
Everyone seems to enjoy speed work, especially if I time them. Everyone remarks about how much more tired they get. They all accept that practicing to swim faster is good for everyone.
So back to my original statement. It's the coach who can make it work if he/she wants to.

Fresnoid
April 21st, 2012, 04:46 PM
Hi,
I'm a writer for Swimmer magazine. Do you still have this problem with triathletes? I'm covering this issue soon.
Jim Harper

I've never noticed any problems or issues with triathletes during swim workouts. The ones with previous swimming experience don't grumble about stroke or IM's. The ones who were never swimmers struggle through it as a challenge, skip it and keep swimming free or simply go to the two workouts/week that are aimed solely at tri/open water specialists. Those two workouts are in addition to the regular masters schedule so I suspect the slowly bobbing runners and bikers who are just hoping to survive the first leg of a tri never workout with the pure swimmers.

Cokie
April 22nd, 2012, 12:29 AM
I agree with Betsy that a coach has the ultimate responsibility to do their best to meet the needs of all swimmers in the water and on their team.

Knowing your swimmers, their goals and inspirations, is paramount to running a smooth practice and growing a team. I love emphasizing all four strokes and plenty of drills. But, I also know I have yardage hounds, drill lovers, freestyle only swimmers, and the "I want something different every day" swimmers in practice. There are swimmers working toward major pool competitions (e.g. Nationals or Worlds), there are those building to 10k or longer open water swims, there are the triathletes trying to get efficient in freestyle for an upcoming Tri, there are the fitness swimmers, and then there are the social swimmers.

That knowledge of who is in the water, and what they might be working toward is helpful in being able to make changes "on the fly" at practice. There is also the fine art of persuasion that comes in handy when coaching a swimmer that doesn't "want" to do a particular set or workout. (Note that is not "can't.) . Flexibility is, in my opinion, one of the top "must have" tools in a Coach's toolbox. Persuading vs. Demanding keeps the swimmers challenged and coming back.

realAlbertan
May 23rd, 2012, 10:28 PM
Hi,
I'm a writer for Swimmer magazine. Do you still have this problem with triathletes? I'm covering this issue soon.
Jim Harper


Just look at the entries/results for how man swim the 1500/1650 these days. I do both sports and come from a swim background and I train alone so i can balance both sports.

For context I swam 17:06.26 ScM in the 1500 this past weekend as well as

1:00.06 100 Fly, 2:12.98 200 Fly, etc etc