Before we begin I would like to talk about the various levels of workout programs that you might possibly be involved with. Before we touch upon constructing a workout, we must take this into consideration. You would then have to evaluate what I am saying, and how it would fit into your particular program.
I am aware of this because of the various levels of swimming which I have been involved with over the past few years. The various types of programs that I have had to try to adjust to themselves would be a high school level, a junior college situation, an age group AAU program, a senior AAU program and a college swimming pro gram. These are five difference experiences that I have had the privilege to work in the past few years. I think each one of them offers a somewhat different challenge in the type of program you are going to run.
I believe the main thing you have to do first of all is to analyze the situation. I am speaking more in hindsight now as I look back how things evolved for me in these various programs. Not that I was wise enough or experienced enough to charge into each one of these and know exactly what to do. If I were ever faced again with
the problem of starting a program, each one of them would be a little easier I think from the experience gained in the past. I hope that this is what I can pass on to you.
Let’s take for example, the high school program. If you would go into a high school situation and have to start developing the team, I think the first thing you need to do would be to analyze your situation, your particular conference, league or Whoever you would be competing with.
This would give you direction as to what type of workout you would want to start to run.
First of all, most of the high school programs in the past have been based around the 50 yard race. This has now extended upward to where I think we could safely say today it is based perhaps more around the 100 yard distance than the 50, especially since they have changed it to a l00 freestyle relay. I would imagine in the future it will be the 100 yard medley relay race too.
The advent of the 400 freestyle which, of course, is not new now but in our area of California where we have class swimming B-C and A rather than a sophomore-varsity type of competition
They have brought the 400 down to the Class B. Even Class C where the smallest and youngest kids are swimming go up to 400 yard distance or dual meets events.
You must analyze this first of all to see what event you are training for before you can start constructing a program. If at this point then you have determined that most of your races and meets are going to be run around the 100 yard distance, then I think this is the type of training and work to plan for. It was never an easy thing for me when I was coaching in high school because at that particular time the high school meets the dual meets especially, were won and lost on the SO yard level because of the 200 yard relays, 50 free, etc. The type of training you would approach then would be a variety of strokes, kicking and pulling.
The next thing that comes into my mind, no matter what particular level you are working ·with, is how much full time availability you have. We do quite a bit of kicking in our program. I would say right now we usually do between 500 to 1000 yards of kicking because we almost always have at least a two hour block period of time to train. If we were cut down to an hour and a half, the first thing that I would sacrifice of the workout period would be some of the kicking because it takes the longest to accomplish. I do feel it is very important but not as important as the pulling or swimming might be.
I would backdoor the program then of trying to develop the program for the high school races, primarily the 100 1 s. I think that different parts of the season are certainly going to affect the type of workout. We are talking about a mid-season situation, not an early season where we are putting in primarily a distance type work out which might just be to bring them around in the respiratory cardiovascular system but one that would give us just a general conditioning as we approach a championship, or a tapering period.
In the high school situation, and probably in an afternoon workout, If you are fortunate and can, you should have two workouts a day. In an afternoon situation we probably would like to aim at 4,000 yards, stretching sometimes up to 4500 yards and maybe as low as 3500, but hopefully having had a workout that morning of somewhere between 2 and 3,000. So we are talking about training of perhaps 10 workouts a week assuming you’ve got a meet on Friday afternoon and you have another workout on Saturday morning. These 10 sessions a week averaging somewhere around 7,000 for each day, 35,000 to 45,000 yards a week. I would break this type of workout down as follows. Generally we start our particular training with what I call a forced warm-up where we’re working interval on the clock. We control the type of warm-up by the type of interval we give. Again, if in a situation where you are primarily working for 100’s, you probably would do a lot of 50’s on a minute whether they were kicking, pulling or swimming. We might start out with 30 50’s (10 kicking, 10 pulling and 10 swimming) on a minute, and do this two or three times a week, not every day. We vary it with some other type of workout where this would give us about 1500 yards in 30 minutes of training. In a high school situation you might even have to go slow sometimes, a minute and 15 seconds for 50 yards kicking, to encompass the squad.
We find, just as most of you involved in any large squads have found, that by using the pace clock and having everything start and finish on a time interval allows everyone to finish at the same time and keeps the groups so that you can handle them. You have three different workouts going in the pool at the same time. You stagger the individuals having some go on intervals of two minutes to four minutes, three to five minutes or seven so that you can work back and forth from group to group while swimmers finish their various series.
We start with 1500 yards of kick, pull and swim type work, The theory, or idea that I try to get across in this type of a forced warm-up is that as the season progresses and we repeat this warm-up, I would like them to do better. In other Words, let’s say we start with our 10 50’s kicking. We normally go kicking, pulling and swimming, in that order. For one reason, after we kick, especially when doing a hard kick series or anything lasting a length of time, if you go right into swimming after that, the shoulders are tight and have a hard time. We like to go into some type of pull work immediately after kicking and then into some type of swimming series.
We’ll say then the swimmer averages kicking 43 seconds on these particular 50’s during the early part of the season. As we repeat this same type drill maybe two or three times a week, not every day, then I would like to see them working down to a 40 or 41 average later on and then try to get where they would maybe go 38 or 39 seconds average with those 10 50’s late in the season, They are putting out in the warm-up as they get into better condition.
I am not the type of coach that works a great deal on major scientific principle primarily because, first of all, I don’t have the necessary knowledge or facilities to continue testing these scientific principles so we have to depend, as most of you do, on practical methods. The practical methods, which still must have scientific basis, to me are the timing clock and timing these repeats. They are improving these over the weeks their average of the 10 – 50 kicks and I am assuming that they are getting in better condition. At least they are placing more stress on the body which we hope will adjust to this additional stress. This same stress then would apply to the pulling and swimming. Generally, they would start out kicking in the first two or three rounds a little easier and then a little harder as they finish up the 10 as they get warmed up. We think of the average. What do they average for that set of 10, not what they do in each individual one? I will vary this sometime by having them kick in different strokes pull in different strokes or swim them. Sometimes we might go 20 or so kicks and maybe only do five 100 pulls but generally we stick around the 1500 yard mark.
Next we would come to the series part of the training. Usually I would like this to be around 2,000 yards, again speaking about the high school situation, which would then give us a total of about 3,500. Hopefully, we would have for this 2,000 yards, another 45 minutes to accomplish it. This allows two minutes 15 seconds for each 100, depending upon how you are going to break the series down.
It might be that you would want to do 5 400’s, or you might want to do 300’s, or 200’s of broken work, depending upon whatever way you want to construct the series for that particular day. Usually allowing enough time to work the individual groups on whatever particular objective that you are working on that day.
Let’s say that you have three groups and these are divided primarily more by ability in a high school situation than particular strokes or distance groups since they are all primarily working for basically the same distance with a few people that will be a little more oriented toward the 400 distance. Most of them toward the 100 distance. Let’s say this would be most of the seniors, this might be the juniors, and might be the freshmen and the sophs as well.
With their series you might have the 2,000 yard series; You might have the seniors working in series of 5 400’s and you want to get a pretty good quality out of them, maybe they are going every seven minutes. In the junior group, besides the juniors you might also decide in this particular group that you wanted your backstroker. You want them to do a series on their back. You’re not particularly interested in their going 400’s. You are going to break this up and maybe they are going to go 50’s, or over distance 100’s, 150’s, and maybe they are going 10 rounds of 150’s. If you’re interested in good quality work, give them 150′ s on three and a half to four minutes to do them. This would bring you out at the same time, basically as the other group finishes.
We try to do a lot of work trying to disguise the actual series or distance that we are doing. By this I mean in doing 125 yard distances and breaking at the 75 to where they then get a hard 75, and rest a certain interval, and then a 50, Or switch it around and do a 50, and then 75 on top of it. The type of individuals that you would work 125’s for example doing the first 50 hard, rest, and then the 75, is a person a little weaker at the end of his race than you would like him to be. By doing 125’s you can strengthen their 100 yard race. This particular workout would be finished with somewhere around five to 800 yards of some type of sprint work.
Don Sonia always talks about motivation. I’m a great believer in this same thing. This is the kind of workout where I feel it can be best accomplished. You try to end a workout on a happy note. You like to see them walking out of the pool giving the guy a shove on the shoulder and slapping each other on the back or some thing like that, feeling good as they leave.
You hate to see them walk out of the pool drooping. They can be dead tired but if you do some thing that will snap them out of it, pick up their morale at the last minute so that when they go to the locker room, they’re joking, laughing and talking, there’s a pleasant atmosphere as they leave rather than doldrums or just thanking God they’re finally getting out of that workout and it will be 24 hours, or 12 hours at least before they have to come back into the torture chamber again.
I think this is the place then for the pick-me up part of the workout. Do something that will pick up the tempo and also be a morale building feature as well. This is very important. I believe the best time for this is toward the end of the workout. So, when they leave, they will be looking forward to coming back again for the social benefits they have at the work outs, forgetting all of the drudgery and torture they have gone through for the hour and 30 minutes previous.
Here are some of the various things that we might end up with. I’m not necessarily going into the motivation techniques but rather examples used at times. We might end up with 200 sprints, three -200 yard sprints, and consider them a sprint to where they could get a good rest interval at least a one to one situation. We might end up with 50’s, 25’s, or 75’s. Swim in 25’s ,where they start at about the backstroke flag sprint in, tumble turn, sprint 25 yards getting into another tumble turn so they can have two fast turns, move back out then to the backstroke flag in the deep end, swim in, tumble, swim down to the other end and tumble. Again getting in two fast tumbles with the 25 instead of just normal push 25’s or dive 25’s. Time these foot to foot and keep best records, We very seldom do any type of dive series until the taper period.
I’ve tried to throw in one end of the spectrum on the high school situation as I see it. Due to the lack of time, I’m not going to go through the junior college situation which encompasses primarily a situation where you have two years to build a team and that’s it. I am not going to go over the age group situation as this would probably take a half an hour on each one. I am going on to the senior program which would be somewhat similar to a college situation.
Let me tell you why I feel the senior AAU program is different from the college situation. Remember I am only in my third year now in the college situation but as I analyze it, you are fortunate to have good solid AAU swimmers or people that are really dedicated and want to be the best swimmer they possibly can be. You still have some swimmers that trained year round during high school grades but have since given up training summers and are now making compromises, they’re lifeguarding, and they’re missing practice for various things and still want to be a part of your team. They still are a part of your college team but they are only going to swim three or four months out of the year and a little weight training in the fall. In addition to that, perhaps you can salvage a few points from them except for the sprinters who happen to be blessed with speed.
In the AAU situation, by the time you get to the senior level, there aren’t many of these swimmers left. The only ones you have left are the ones that are dedicated and do want to achieve on the national-international level and are thinking of the foreign trips and the Pan American and Olympic Games. This is certainly the most pleasurable group to work with. The difference is like teaching physical education on the high school level where you have to keep swatting them on the behind to keep them in line.
In college, where they sign up for the activity class because it is an activity they want to take part in and are not forced into, there are no discipline problems and a lot better situation.
Our senior program in Long Beach is a combination of evolution in the past few years that I started at the City of Commerce and is based entirely on the incentive program, We fortunately have tremendous facilities. I know that most of you are aware of the Belmont Olympic Plaza 50 meter indoor pool by 25 yards that is available the year around. Near the Plaza is the Long Beach Wilson High School pool which is six lane 25 yard pool with a three lane 25 yard pool right beside and also indoors, We have these two facilities in which to work. At present, our AAU program in Long Beach is based on these two facilities. We have another 50 meter pool down in Orange County where Flip Darr is in charge, with another 70 to 80 age groupers, through seniors, giving us a broad base, which is important.
Our situation in Long Beach is based on an incentive situation. We have come up with a scoring system and I was very interested to hear Doc Counsilman’s program for this year. It is funny how sometimes you can be 2,000 miles apart and yet doing very similar things. In our basic scoring system we are using adding machines, not computers, but we time the 11 and unders periodically in a 100 of each stroke, 200 individual medley and the 500 free; and the older swimmers in 200 of each stroke, 100 I.M. and the 1650.
We simply added the times, considered the tenths of a second points and come up with a point score for them. We have set up scores for them to move from one team to another in these particular events, They not only move from one team to another, but from one pool to another, So there is a great deal of status moving from Long Beach Wilson High School pool a half a mile down the street to the Belmont Plaza. When they get to the Plaza, they find about 10 lanes of swimmers. They start in, at the deck we work at it would be the right-hand lane, lane one. They start in that lane and as they improve they move over. So our best swimmers then are in lanes 9 and 10. Through the years as they get older, better and faster and are carrying a heavier work load, they are allowed to move over and down the pool. To every time, theoretically, the people on the left of them are faster than they are, Whenever they can beat somebody in a series they are doing, on the left-hand side they feel so as to speak, they are catching up. Our workout is constructed on this viewpoint.
I have one assistant that works with the three or four lanes on the right-hand side as I work primarily, with my attention on the lanes that would be to the left, yet overseeing those on the right,
We have a very strong weight training program. We are fortunate enough now for the first time, last year, to have a universal gym sometimes referred to as a lat machine. It is a make-up of five or six weight training stations on one piece of equipment to supplement the Exer-Genie on the other exercise that ·we use.
We work for a half an hour every day before we go into the water for the first two or three months. This is cut to three days later on in the season and right up to the championships. We are still doing some type of deck work with in two weeks of the national championships. I feel very strongly that this is important and that you have to continue strength work even after you work these long hour to build up strength. I feel you can lose that strength if you don’t continue some type of exercise work to maintain it. Along with our weight work and exercises, we also do flexibility stretching. Many of the same exercises I heard Don Easterling discuss.
Our AAU group is based, first of all, on people that are dedicated. They come to swim; They have worked themselves in a situation to where they are training to become the best swimmers in the world. They have a tremendous facility and we feel we have a right to ask a lot of them and we do. Let me explain that generally when you talk to the swimming coach and ask them what type of mileage they do, usually the work out he gives you, or the mileage figure, will usually be their maximum, As you say, how many yards do you usually work a day? He says 10,000. I think that you can usually figure that the most they ever work is 10,000. They may hit that one or two or even three days a week maybe.
There are some swimmers that certainly can take more work load that others. The workout program that we have starting in December, we run 13 workout sessions a week. A lot of our swimmers of course are at a distance and are automatically cancelled out in the morning ones as they can’t make them. We have two workouts on Saturdays and one on Sundays as well, I very seldom ask a swimmer why they didn’t come to work out when they get to this level. If it is a malingerer, of course there are pressures that are put on him as to why he didn’t come to work out, Most of the swimmers that we have at this point generally are different from the college swimmer. They come to swim. They’re paying money to swim; their parents are paying for them to swim, their entry fees, etc., and will see that they come to work out. We run enough workouts so that if they miss one or two of the 13, we don’t feel there has been a great amount of harm done. Most swimmers need to miss some of them.
There are very few swimmers, only two that I can think of that probably made 90% of the workouts last year they are Hans Fassnacht and Cindy Plaisted. These two swimmers generally made the 13 workouts a week and very seldom missed. The mileage they approached last year would be up to 14 to 15 a day and probably averaged around 12,000 to 12,500 seven days a week. The rest of the squad maybe got up to 12,000 and averaged around 10,000. The ones that were on the lighter training program got up to about 10 and averaged 7-8,000. I believe you have to have a lot of flexibility and you must know as a coach ‘Who should be on what program. There are situations where, for example, an injury factor, like Andy Strenk, who trained with us last summer and has always been a pretty high binding swimmer. Since the summer before when he trained for the Olympic Games he came up with a bad shoulder condition. He worked two or three workouts with a distance group and then maybe he would have to miss a workout, or move over to a lighter training group for a day or two to allow his shoulder to recuperate. He just couldn’t carry the heavy mileage situation day after day without breaking down.
A person like Zac Zorn in his type of training program would have been on the lighter training program, probably 7-8,000 type, yet even with the 7-8,000, he would miss some workouts. He is one of the only two or three people I have ever trained or had the fortune to work with that had natural speed. As Jack Nelson would say, he is a horse, at least in his field, He couldn’t average the 4 x 400’s that Peter mentioned that Don Haven did with a 4:59 on the best day of his life, In fact, one day at the Olympic training camp, we went some 200’s and I think he went something like three or four descending 200’s starting about 2:30 down to 2:18. George was going through evaluating the workouts everybody did… fair, not so good, and excellent. He wrote down for Zac that it was very poor. I made him erase it and put excellent because it was the best he had ever done. He said “Well, if I am going to put excellent to that, you have to at least initial it.” This was true as he is not the type to get in and swim 400 and loosen up. He would tighten up every stroke of the 400. If he had to go another 100, he would get tighter and swim with less style arid less ease the further he went.
We use the fact that he has speed and we never want to lose that speed. We use a rule of thumb.
Whenever he couldn’t get out and rest four or five minutes and go 25 flat for 50 meters, then he would be allowed to miss one or two workouts.
This is the way we worked with him all the time. It worked out very well as he was interested enough in his training that he didn’t take advantage of it.
Now back to constructing this particular workout. It would go much the same as the high school workout except that the main difference would be in the warm-up, if any. We would do a lot of short interval type of warm-up work. We do stroke work warm-up, for example, sometime during the day’s workout they go 30 – 50’s of one type or another.. You can put this down and call it a broken 1500 which I never mention at our workout because I don’t do a lot of 1500’s.
Sometimes a distance swimmer will go a series of five 1650’s or something like that, but the sprinters never go 1500’s, they may go 30 – 50’s with five seconds rest, but they don’t do broken 1500’s, they do 50’s. They like it much better that way. The 30 – 50’s again, I don’t know why I arrived at this particular distance, maybe it’s because it is a round number or easier to figure out. We use it in different parts of our workout. Sometimes they might start with 10 – 100’s kick on a certain interval and might come back to five 200 pulls, one 500, one 800, one 1000 or what ever it might be. Then I might hit them with a series of 30 – 50’s and break the 30 – 50’s to 10 … 10 swim on 60 seconds, your choice of stroke. Most of them go freestyle and then the last 10 – 50’s on 40 seconds. Or, we might do it different ways where they go 10 on 55, 50, then 40, then increase the speed on each set of 10. Some might simply just do JO – 50’s with leading upon 50 seconds.
Two or three times a week at least they do a series of 30 50’s, not as a main series but just part of the warm-up. I gave up long ago as I heard one of the other coaches telling them to all get in and swim four of these, and then start work as it is just a waste of time, Half of them don’t do it. They stand up and walk around and it’s just about like loosening up at the end. I never say loosen up until it’s time to get out because they’ll get loosened up before they get out to go to the showers, You can start 10 minutes late and quit 10 minutes early everyday by having them warm-up and loosen down because there isn’t more than two out of the whole squad that will do it and do an intelligent job of it. I’m not saying that it wouldn’t help in both cases but practice tells me that won’t do it.
With the distance type swimmer, we use almost exclusively short rest interval work, something with very short rest, two to three seconds for 1 00 1s, Sometimes that short of rest a lot, 10 seconds, and some five. All different multiples of 50’s, 100’s, 150’s, 200’s, 300’s, 400’s and 500’s and not uncommon for us to do something like 20 x 100 1s, 10 seconds rest. In fact, Gary Hall was in and he and Hans Fassnacht finished a workout with 10 – 200’s, 10 seconds rest, and they were both going just under two minutes.
They finished around 1:53 and l:54 on the tenth round, I am sure that both of them were showing off a little bit, I like to once or twice a week double back to some type of quality work. With someone like Fassnacht, it really hurts him to take more rests and swim better quality, If you were to tell him let’s go 6 500’s with two minutes rest, and really go good. He might ask you, can I just go a hard 3000? He would rather do that than do 6 x 500’s. Generally, when we come to this quality work, it hurts him more muscularly than anything else. The reason I have to force him a little bit is that he would rather do the long stuff because this is his traditional background. A lot of time we work it into medley work because this is different to him and challenging as he never swam much of any thing but freestyle.
With the second group of people I mentioned, not particularly the distance swimmers, but people that might be on still the middle distance program for varying events, Not the 1650, but for anything else. I almost ruined a couple other distance swimmers last year by trying to make everybody stay on the same program that Fassnacht was on and it didn’t work. Nobody could do it but Cindy Plaisted, They would work one or two days with the distance people, one, two or three workouts and then back over in the middle distance group, Usually our middle distance group does a lot more individual medley work, a lot of butterfly work. They do things like a short rest butterfly work for the ones that can carry it. I agree completely with Don Easterling on not having people go butterfly any further than they can carry the butterfly stroke. As he said, there are better ways to punish them or to get them tired and not do harm to their butterfly,
We have a lot of swimmers that could go such things as 10 – 100’s on 1:30. In fact some of them this summer we set 10 of them on 1:30 for 100 meter butterfly, but this middle group then would do less distance, little more interval, and a lot of work in their own strokes. Then the lighter workout group would do work on a broken series. Everybody works broken series but they would work more broken work trying once again to get better multiples of what they are doing.
In other words, you’ve got somebody like Zorn who you can’t get 10 – 200’s out of, but you might get 10 broken 200’ s by allowing him to rest 10 seconds each 50, They would at least be done at a fast enough pace where he would get a little bit of speed or muscular work out of it, not all just aching pain.
Generally everybody at the end of workout works on 500 to a 1,000 of sprint type work. It all depends upon what part of the season we are talking about and how much it would be and what distance it would be. We finish a lot of time with 10 – 100’s for our sprints if we have been doing longer distances. Or, we could finish with 20 – 25’s or any varied multiples of sprints. The same basic pattern as the high school outline that I gave you with the forced warm-up type works first, then our series work, and then the sprint work toward the end.
All workouts start with the weight training exercises on the deck. Our evening workout usually lasts two hours during the school year.
Our morning workout most times is an hour, two days a week two hours, and then we have two hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and two hours on Saturday evenings. We give them Sunday evenings off.
Before someone asks the question, I might just go ahead and work a little bit towards taper workouts as I know this is always a question that is asked. The taper workout sometimes taking longer than regular workout. Maybe you had been going up to 7,000 in a two hour workout and then you’re tapering down to where they are only going 2,000 or less, Sometimes it takes you the full two hours. In fact, most often it takes the full two hours as you can’t stop to run your squad through a taper work- out at 2,000. Not because you are necessarily trying to give them much rest but because you are giving individuals that much attention.
Also, you’ve got to spend a lot of time warming up and getting ready to do the performance that they are going to do. Maybe they’re only going to do one or two 150’s, or something like this.
When we make our change from our short interval work to a longer rest interval, one to one or longer whatever it might be, we usually find there is about a four week period of when they are completely annihilated, They’re going to be worse during that four week period when they are in the rest of the year. I am not sure physiologically what happens. All I know is that it does happen and you’ve got a meet coming up within that four week period that you’re worried about losing. You better be very careful be cause you are going to get poor performances.
During the early part of the season, of course, the times are pretty good but they’re all split pretty evenly. They try to get out too fast, they tie up and don’t finish well, when you get to that four week period, when you start more quality work, you are going to come into a situation where they can’t get out and they can’t come back. I guess this is the way you explain it,
As you begin to rest more for your taper, and again it comes down to knowing the individuals, and how they are responding to the taper, usually, with an AAU team that is training very hard, I think around 10 days. But at the same time I’ve worked college swimmers that didn’t need more than a four day taper, or less, be cause they haven’t anything to taper from. If they worked out only 4,000 four days a week, and then a meet on Friday, what are you going to taper for? They have been tapering all sea son. Better not let them rest three days or they’ll be out of shape.