Aqua Notes

My Race Club Experience

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For years, I have enjoyed watching the Race Club coaches, Mike Bottom and Jon Olsen, create workouts for their swimmers that are out of the box….I mean way out of the box. Coming from an era of hard yet predictable workouts, it is refreshing to watch swimmers train where they don’t have a clue what might be coming next. And to be truthful, I don’t think the coaches always know either. Depending on how the group looks, feels, acts, there is always room for a lot of improvisation. Often it seems like crazy stuff…pulling with weights wrapped around ankles, kicking with a cinder block pressed against the abdomen, out of the water for a boxing session, a sprint session with a stretch cord wrapped around the waist, back out of the water for a few dunks on the basketball court, then back in for more sprints. The only thing predictable about these workouts is the result: fast swimming. And the swimmers never get bored. Read more

Motivational Letter to a Discouraged Swimmer

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I got word that you are having some difficult times with the training that swimming requires. I know what you’re thinking because I have thought it myself. Every swimmer goes through that. We ask ourselves questions like, “Why am I doing this?” when things aren’t fun.

It’s a good question. Do you know the answer? There aren’t any magic words that I can say that will make you leap from your bed every morning for the rest of your life exclaiming, “Today, I will swim!” because there are going to be days when you don’t feel like getting out of bed. There are going to be days when you would rather be hanging out doing normal stuff with friends than swimming practice. I will tell you that by identifying what you like about swimming, why you are swimming, and focusing on that during those tough days will make getting through it a LOT easier. Read more

What’s Nuevo?

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Get a Massage:

I got a massage yesterday. I usually make a massage part of my training recovery. While I am training intensely I try to get one or two massages a week. When I am not training I don’t get massages and it is easy to forget how important a massage can be to general well being. Here is a link to a site that outlines some of the benefits of massage therapy:

Click here.

Do yourself and your health a favor and get a massage. It doesn’t matter what level athlete you are or if you aren’t an athlete at all. It doesn’t matter if you are young or old. Most insurance companies have started to cover massage therapy. Look into it, get a phone book and call to set one up. Read more

Clean Athletes Unite!

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Who’s head grows four helmet sizes bigger in their mid thirties? Barry Bonds, that’s who:
Please read this.

If the news that Barry Bonds has been using steroids comes as a surprise to you, welcome back from the coma you’ve been in. Here is a list of how much Barry Bonds made over the years: Read more

Winter Olympic Wrap Up

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I am disappointed but more than disappointment, I feel embarrassed.

Let’s start with the obvious target, the rebel skier. Bode can blow. How can you not hate this guy right now? His attitude and actions go against the Olympic spirit. There isn’t any place for this whole antihero thing he’s attempted to spin at the Olympic Games. He has single handedly tarnished the image and spirit of the Olympics.

If I want despondent, “Who cares?” attitude I can watch MTV. I got enough of this “whatever” crap when I was in high school. I tune into the Olympics because it is supposed to be a refreshing change, an up lifting and inspiring experience. When and how did it become cool to strive for below mediocrity? I hate the substandard attitude that this jerk seems to be consumed with. If it’s what you want you can join Bode at the video arcade where he will be hanging out for the rest of his life. Read more

Aqua Notes with Hook Ups

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There has been a lot of interest in the boxing that I have done as dry land activity.

I don’t think that you need to incorporate full contact boxing to reap the benefits. Hooks with a partner using focus mits make you work the trunk rotation that will help freestyle swimming. Incorporate some of those “hold your breath for 30 seconds” hypoxic work that we were discussing in the message board area while doing hooks or uppercuts sets.

It is also an incredible workout if you can find a sparring partner to go through a few 3 minute rounds.

If you are just starting out it is less important to hit hard. You can sprain your wrist. As you practice it more and build strength in your wrists you can start hitting the mits harder. Read more

Aye Aye, Captain!

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The Throw Up Challenge:

Thanks to all who have submitted their favorite workout with projectile results. Pool managers across the country curse me, and chlorine sales are up. We are giving a free Race Club T-shirt to the author of the best set and are closing the contest when the next Aqua Notes newsletter goes out (in about a week) so get your set in now.

Click here to join the message board.

So far there have been no reported fatalities, so that is good. Let’s keep it that way. Read more

The Throw Up Challenge

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I can go on about being naturally inclined towards sprinting by having fast twitch muscle fiber or distance with slow twitch, but if your heart isn’t in the event you’re training for you aren’t going to swim fast.

Now to address some aerobic training alternatives.

Aerobic work: keeping an elevated heart rate over a period of time. Take the heart rate throughout the long “garbage yardage” set. Find another exercise that 1) you enjoy 2) achieves a higher heart rate. Swim afterwards with quality sets and stroke technique drills.

Put a stationary bike on deck. Pedal trying to maintain a difficult pace (all stationary bikes measure output somehow). Aerobic work is for your heart and lungs, not your stroke technique. So focus on your heart and lungs. You want a higher heart rate? Hold your breath for 30 seconds every other minute on the bike. Pedal for 20 to 45 minutes doing this. Read more

Now Read This!

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There has been a great response to my recent newsletters offering the idea that sprinters would be better served to be trained like sprinters and not like distance swimmers.

Some have politely offered their counter argument to their take on my points. “How we are ruining our age groupers and chasing them to other sports because we won’t allow everyone to become 50 Freestylers,” or “I just don’t think sprint specific training is the way to go with kids that threaten to quit.” These are a couple of quotes taken from the message board. It’s my fault if I haven’t expressed myself clearly enough. I really appreciate everyone that has posted on our board, there has been a ton of high quality posts that offer a wealth of information for swimming fast. I love the arguments. If you don’t agree with what we are doing or saying we want to hear from you. If you agree with what we are saying or doing we want to hear from you. Read more

Straight from a Sprinter’s Mouth

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The last time I swam the 500 free I was a sophomore in high school. That was like 15 years ago! And this is a true story. The last mile I swam, during that same year, I was pulled out of the water half way through the race in the middle of a flip turn, by my feet, by my coach at the time, the man that made me hate distance swimming forever, Pierre Lafontaine, for swimming it too slow.

Did that help my fifty free? No. I would have quit if Pierre didn’t quit that same year and go back to Canada. I will note that my personal goal in swimming at that time was to outlast Pierre. The yardage that I did when I was 16 made me decide that I hated swimming. I was wrong, I didn’t hate swimming. I hated doing something that I was never built to do, that I was never going to be good at. It took the time after Pierre left to figure out that I didn’t hate swimming, I actually liked it. I hated swimming for Pierre. Read more