View Poll Results: How far do you typically swim per week?

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  • < 5,000 yards/meters

    11 6.83%
  • 5-10,000 yards/meters

    40 24.84%
  • 10-15,000 yards/meters

    44 27.33%
  • 15-20,000 yards/meters

    37 22.98%
  • 20-30,000 yards/meters

    19 11.80%
  • 30-40,000 yards/meters

    6 3.73%
  • 40-50,000 yards/meters

    3 1.86%
  • > 50,000 yards/meters

    1 0.62%
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Thread: How far do you swim per week?

  1. #1
    Administrator matysekj's Avatar
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    How far do you swim per week?

    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.

  2. #2
    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    Jim,

    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!

  3. #3
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    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!

  4. #4
    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    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!

  5. #5
    Very Active Member Mark in MD's Avatar
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    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]

  6. #6
    Administrator matysekj's Avatar
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    Jim,

    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.

  7. #7
    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    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.

  8. #8
    Very Active Member Matt S's Avatar
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    Exclamation Yardage Fixation

    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.

    Matt

  9. #9
    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    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.

  10. #10
    Very Active Member Paul Smith's Avatar
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    Ion,
    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!
    I crack myself up. It is jealousy. It is Boredom. I Did not accomplish enough when I was young, and I hate anybody faster/younger than me.

  11. #11
    Very Active Member Matt S's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Hear, hear!!

    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.

    Matt

  12. #12
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    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.

    Fritz

  13. #13
    Very Active Member Bert Petersen's Avatar
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    yardage vs garbage

    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

  14. #14
    Very Active Member jim thornton's Avatar
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    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.

  15. #15
    Very Active Member Mark in MD's Avatar
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    Quantity vs. Quality

    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?
    Last edited by Mark in MD; January 31st, 2002 at 11:56 AM.
    Mark in MD

  16. #16
    Participating Member Tim Hedrick's Avatar
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    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)!

    Tim

  17. #17
    Participating Member Deb's Avatar
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    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 . 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.

  18. #18
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    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.

  19. #19
    Very Active Member Bert Petersen's Avatar
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    yardage, etc.

    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

  20. #20
    Very Active Member Mark in MD's Avatar
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    Thumbs up More Thoughts on Quantity vs. Quality

    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!

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

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