Converting Age Group Swimmers into Productive Senior Swimmers by Coley Stickels (2010)



This is just really exciting to see these kind of turn out, this much enthusiasm, for the first day of talks.  I want to welcome everyone.  If you haven’t noticed this room has been filled to the brim for the last several hours.  So I just think you guys are hearing some great things and your next speaker will not disappoint.  Coley has been in the swimming world for many years, starting out first as a swimmer—very accomplished.  Was a member of the national team, had years at University of Arizona—very successful like I said, a member of the national team.  He moved up to Oregon and started with a team like Oswego 7 years ago.  I had the privilege and honor of speaking with him at a clinic as speakers at a clinic up in Oregon for the Oregon coaches, and just listening to him and his enthusiasm and his creativity was very inspiring.  And the results that he has had in such a short amount of time speaks to what he is doing, his creativity, his being a student of the sport and just loving what he is doing.  So just like to introduce you to Coach Coley Stickels.



[CS begins]

Thank you, thanks.  Alright thanks everyone for coming, thank you Jennifer.  The last speech she was talking about there was a big auditorium somewhere in the Pacific Northwest and I was expecting huge amount of people to turn out giving a speech similar to this one.  And I think there were about 12 people, 6 of them were my assistant coaches.  And so great turn out, thank you for coming.  Three reasons; I wanted to emphasis the speed and power development on dryland as swimmers move from the age group level to the senior level.  Number one plateau-ing at some point in your coaching career you are going to experience swimmer whether they are state-level swimmers, Junior or Senior National level swimmers; they are going to plateau.  Particularly if they are women and their age range is obviously 15, 16, 17 and there is a need for change and typically what coaches do when an athlete plateaus is more volume – higher intensity, more volume in the water.  And often times this leads to a variety of factors it leads to burn out, it leads to injury, it leads to – the immune system becomes compromised; a number of physiological effects and psychological effects.  So what we are trying to do here is when a swimmer hits a plateau we try to add on a new dynamic out of the water whether it be building an aerobic capacity out of the water or whether it’s building strength from limb segments.  We are trying to switch it up, keep it fresh, keep it new and keep it engaging.


The swimmers want a change when they hit a plateau often times as I know that you coaches can all relate the change sometimes is looking for another team that’s the quickest answer let’s switch teams.  I hit a plateau; I need to get out of the club where I’m at.  It’s my coach’s fault.  He was good while or she was good while it lasted and now let’s look for something bigger and better and often times if your approach is what we are just going to do more and work harder in the same manner you are going to get a one frustrated kid and coach.  So the plateau effect is number one.  Number two is the effectiveness that dry land and power development can have on an age group swimmer.  We… and that effectiveness not only gets this kids ready for college but in terms of the physiological response, the circulatory and respiratory systems, pulmonary diffusing capacity which is a fancy way of saying it increases oxygen delivery to muscles.  The size and the density of the mitochondria become increased as kids develop motor skills on land.  And then finally it offsets any muscle imbalances or weaknesses that they may have gotten from swimming or they may have developed from lack of dry land training.  And three and this one is probably most important is time.  We ask swimmers in age group swimming to give up time, right.  We always want our swimmers there every single day.  We want them there on time, we want them there leaving last, and we want them to commit to the sport at a relatively young age right.  And it’s true for most programs but in doing that we take away a lot of the motor skills that they are learning or if they would otherwise learn from being on a baseball team, playing soft ball, playing volleyball.  And I’ve noticed that some of the kids that come into my program at later ages are excellent athletes.  Their motor skills are enhances and I’ve noticed that some of the kids that have been swimming with me that started with my program back when they were 10, don’t have the same athleticism.


And so we are requiring all this time from the swimmers and they want something in return, they want something out of the water in return.  And I noticed this happening a few years ago when some of my swimmers… we weren’t doing as comprehensive dry land program as we are now and some of my swimmers were looking for an alternative.  They were going to Yoga classes Pilates classes, velocity sports, paying personal trainers and I’m thinking gees there is got to be something that I’m missing here.  We as coaches can provide that product as well as any personal trainer, as any as a yoga instructor, Pilates instructor if we take the time to learn it.  And so that’s basically what I did, I took my knowledge.  I was an Olympic weightlifter, after I retired from swimming.  I competed at a national level.  And I took some of the knowledge that I gained from being an Olympic weightlifter and then I’m back in school right now in grad school getting a PhD in Physiology.  So a lot of what I’m learning is new and it’s fresh and it’s much different than what we thought of maybe even 5, certainly what I was thinking, 5 years ago.  So that’s kind of why I segued into the speed and power development on dryland.  Plus as coaches we are getting a lot of information, we had flowswimming, we’ve got all different internet sites.  Coaches are very accessible these days.  We all are kind of doing the same thing, right.  We all are going 4,000-6,000 per practice.  Some coaches are going 10,000 a day, some are going 5,000 a day.  We all kind of… if I got up here and told you, ten of the drills we do I would say most of you would be doing at least probably 6 out of the 10.  So we are all kind of doing the same stuff I think in the water so I thought it was relevant to this topic to kind of take a look at what’s going on out of the water.  And so again speed and power development on dry land.


You have my bio; we broke 7 nag records in 4 different age groups in ‘08, ‘09.  We’ve had over 30 nationally like number one individuals in relays.  We have three swimmers qualify for 2008 trials one was the youngest ever, we are not sure if her birthday was the youngest ever but she was 12 which is the youngest ever.  And I was a swimmer at the University of Arizona and was on the National team which gave me again great learning opportunity as a coach.  My room mate was a Roland Schoeman.  I had the opportunity to coach the South African National team at Pan Pacs just a couple… about a week ago.  So I have been very fortunate to interact with some of the best coaches and swimmers in the world and learn from the best.  We are going to start off with athleticism and keen aesthetic awareness.  The goal is to shock the body by stimulating the central nervous system.  We allow for some adaptation and narrow muscular changes to occur and then create a new stress.  Despite what you may hear and again swimming fast is the best way to swim fast in a race but they are other ways to make your swimmer faster.  The ability to be explosive can improve performance in any event I don’t care if you are a miler or a 50 freestyler, if you are explosive you will be faster in any event.  The progression that we do alike as we go looks something like this, it’s obviously depending upon age when we get into weights and that type of thing obviously.  We are not going to have 12, 13 year olds lifting weights typically it’s meant for all the kids 15, 16 and up.  Physical maturity, training background we get kids in our program, like I’m sure many of you do that are actually pretty good swimmers but they have no formal training they just kind of flop into the water and they are fast for no reason just an eight feel.  Gender and when we warm up we start with a dynamic stretch.  We don’t do any static stretching.  This used to be new, I used to talk about this maybe 4 years ago and tell people we didn’t do any static stretching and it was literally like booed off stage.  Now I think it’s pretty common place most people know that static stretching hinders performance by up to 3% prior to a race.  This isn’t anything new I’m sure most of you read the Oscar news letters and articles and e-mails that type of thing and it’s been well documented time and time again.


Our dry land last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour and that’s five days a week except when we tapering.  A pre-season looks something like this, we do fartlek training, we also do this in the water and I can get to that in a minute.  The objective with fartlek training is and it’s an old term it’s a heart rate fluctuation.  We try to get the heart rate from 110 from maxed down to 110 over a 20 to 45 minute period.  We do this out doors, we do it on a track, we do it on stadiums; we do it on hills.  And basically it’s funny how it works, if it’s on a track typically the kids will have to stop, we’ll have to get them to stop at some point because running around in a circle is boring, right but when we add a new element such as running up a hill or run around a tree or throw a corn in the middle of the field for no reason, have them run around the corn all of a sudden that’s not boring for some reason.  I don’t know what it is but when you throw some visual queue as I call them or different element into the program all of a sudden swimmers wants to do it, they become engaged.  I don’t know why that is it’s just and that’s my anecdotal experience over time.  What we are trying to build obviously is athleticism.  We are trying to build endurance and this is a key point right here and in my Grad program I had a long discussion with a couple of Physiologists about this.  This is a fat burner and it’s 9 times more effective than low cardio training and there is the source.  I can quote 4 other different scientific double-blind placebo studies that all mimic this study.  I’ll try to give you this study as quickly as I can.  It was and this isn’t exact I’m just doing this out of memory.  The study was like a 15 week comparison on somebody training everyday I think for 40 minutes to an hour at heart rate whatever 130, 140 range and then three times… versus three times a week heart rate 180 to 190 for 20 minutes.  And at the end of all of these not only was the fat burning capability 9 times more effective, VO2 Max shot up, they were all types of things flying off the chats that really made me think, well this high intensity stuff is scientifically documented.  It’s not just something that you here kind rouge coaches doing once in a while; this is scientifically backed.  And so that study is online it’s available and they are very similar studies along with it if you take the time to look at it.  And again it’s constantly changing it keeps the athletes engaged.


We started applying metric phase kind of after we do the fartlek training, we do sub maximal loads.  I’d monitor everything by number of ground contacts that includes a push up, so anytime their foot hits the ground we do a bound, we do a plyometric; we do a dip jump that’s a ground contact.  I monitor the ground … when we do a push up, pull up that’s all considered a contact.  I monitor that total volume so that when we taper I have something to taper off.  I know exactly okay at our pick we have 300 ground contacts, when we are tapering we want to be I don’t know 50.  So that’s how I monitor volume in dry land.  Plyometrics everybody thinks it’s jumping on to a box right absolutely not.  Plyometrics involves a number of things; it involves a lot of arm movements pull ups of plyometrics.  For instance if I’m hanging on a pull up bar and I pull up past my chest and let go of the bar and then clap which about half of my swimmers can do and then come back down that becomes a plyometric component, right.  It’s explosively let go of the bar similar to what you do say on a clap push up okay.  And we do about 200 variations of push up, my favorite is I did not steal this from P90X everybody always says that when they watch.  It’s a push up where you’re shaped in an A position so your feet are spread your hands are wide you push up off the ground as hard as you can with your entire body so your feet are leaving the ground too.  And Sean talked about in his speech earlier about hard versus volume.  10 of these versus a hundred regular push ups.  The 10, I call them A push ups are much harder that doing a 100 push ups with that form.  So again what we are trying to build here is explosiveness and not necessarily muscular endurance.  This integrates with fartlek basic movements, when we do fartlek training single leg hops, corn shifts; combo hops upstairs with starter steps.  What I mean by that is if we are going up stadiums and it’s fairly narrow we’ll bound on our right leg only then we’ll switch to our left then we’ll switch to both, then we’ll go right left, right left all different… any combination you can imagine.


Sometimes we are skipping stairs sometimes we are skipping three stairs, sometimes we are skipping a tone of them, right it doesn’t.  Sometimes we are crawling up the stairs backwards sometimes we are running up the stairs with a medicine ball, sometimes we’ll skip every other stair and lunge with a med ball pressing up as we go up the stairs.  It’s pretty dynamic but it’s integrated with the plyometric component, light bounding, backwards running, skipping.  We tried running with parachutes.  Again we have a lot of athletes that are really fish out of water and when we put… they don’t want to run.  They don’t want to run 40 yard dashes they don’t want to run three miles but we put a parachute on them all of a sudden and they think they are Olympic 100 meter gold medalist because they are wearing a parachute, which is really cool and they know that elite runners wear parachutes.  So all of a sudden they are thinking this is going to make me a very efficient runner.  It doesn’t but it is a tool to get them to run faster, highly jumps up the stairs and then when we switch to plyometrics in the mid, now we are in the mid season as I mentioned upper body clap push ups.  We do dips, we do jump pull ups as I mentioned.  The dips sometimes we’ll put a heavy med ball on their hips.  Sometimes I’ll actually have them do the dips where they lift off it’s not a dip bar; we are usually on bleacher or on stairs or actually leaf.  Is this dangerous? I get asked that all the time.  Yeah a little bit but we get to that point we don’t just have swimmer show up one day and start doing this stuff.  We get to the point where you know they are bracing themselves with their leg in a dip position then they get to do the full dips, then they do dips with resistance, then they can do a plyometric dip.  So it’s usually progression but to be honest it doesn’t take that long.


The kids are extremely adaptable you look at Olympic gymnast they can do amazing things, amazing feet of strength with just their body weight and they are very adaptable.  They are usually doing you know double back flips by the time they are 11 and 12 years old.  So to have a twelve year old girl on my team be able to do 30 clap pull ups it’s not that great of a feet when compared to some of the what the gymnast are doing.  And then as we get… it’s a continuation.  Everything I do personally it’s on a micro cycle, it’s called the progressive linear microcycle, it’s two times a week we do the plyometrics, unlike P90X where those guys jump around for like 90 minutes or whatever jumping on stairs.  That’s not what plyometrics is, especially with the Olympic weight lifters, plyometrics is doing single bounds and dips jumps and double hops very explosive and limited, right.  When our swimmers are pushing off walls they are not doing it over and over they are trying to get three of four explosive jumps off a couple of walls so that is what we are training for.  And we do this we periodize this two times a week for three to four weeks and then we go one to two weeks off so that their body can adapt to the stress and then we repeat it, okay.  We increase the volume so instead of going four dip jumps now we go six.  They are not extreme jumps in volume.  We’ll increase intensity so instead of jumping onto a 22 inch plyometric box we’ll now jump on to a 26 inch plyometric box or we’ll add some resistance we’ll jump on a plyometric box with a weighted ball across the chest.  And duration, instead of going 35 seconds on an agility ladder will go a minute.  And before I go into core I want to talk a little bit about the agility ladder, I didn’t put on this.  It’s very similar and I’ll get to it in a second in somewhat.


An agility ladder how many of you know what an agility ladder is? You see a lot of tennis players use it, NFL Combine it’s for speed and quickness and limb mobility, they cost $20 they are just little boxes and you can do it amazing things out of them.  I did an experiment the other day for this presentation.  I told my kids one day to run two miles, like we are just going on the track run two miles I don’t know how you do it try to do it really hard though.  And so they run like ten minute miles and it was horrible and I just like fell asleep.  And then the next day I break out the agility ladders right.  These ridiculously looking pieces of plastic that I lay on a turf in the middle of the football field and I’m like okay we are going to go cutting in and out of these agility drills, which there is hundred of them and they are easy to find on line You Tube has got a million of them.  And we are going to do this for 20 minutes straight, and for 20 minutes I had these kids just burning in and out of these ladders, but when I asked them to do a two mile run fast I can’t get anything out of them.  But I break it up all of a sudden and I ask them to do 20 seconds burst and then they’ve got to run to the back of the line.  20 second burst run to the back of the line.  I don’t know how far we went but it was further than two miles and it was ten times more intense because I have a little plastic 20 yard ladder out.  So it makes a huge difference in terms of the intensity, in terms of what you want to get out of your athletes.


On the core I was huge into core because of the gymnastics [Inaudible] [0:21:56] type exercise that were interesting but I’m not sure I’m into core anymore some reason.  I think we can establish the core that’s sufficient to swim fast and I’m not sure what having a ridiculously strong core beyond that point does for performance.  I will leave it at that.  We do planks, we do variations as planks, we do egg roles which is basically… we do a push up we kick our knees up to our chest, we role back like an egg in a fetal position and then come up and do a jump.  Okay I can actually demonstrate a few of this at the end if you’d like, but they are pretty much all body movements.  Yoga Pilate type movements, we do hang raises in a V, we usually doing core on the days we’re not doing plyometrics.  That’s kind of a recovery day and we also do core on days we do lactate sets which is usually once or twice a week.  I just don’t like the limbs being affected before we do a very intense lactate set.  I don’t mind having a little bit of core work done.  We do a lot of push ups as I mentioned before, huge amount of variations.  We do some work on stability balls but just doing pushups on medicine balls there’s about 50 different varieties of that which are pretty amazing.  And again we’re not looking for 40 repetitions; we are looking for eight good once where we are kind of bouncing off the balls.  If the ball stays in the middle you have an athlete put their right hand on the ball, left hand on the ground, you push up then you switch sides ball doesn’t move at all okay.  You are just pushing it up and against it.  And again 14 year old girls, 16 year old girl should be able to do eight to ten reps of those, getting of the ball pretty high if they are in good shape.  Getting the core making sure it have solid core base and postural strength, lower back is critical internal adaptors, there’s a pretty high coloration to balance in the water.


I saw a great clip of Eamon Sullivan and Cesar Cielo and they were so many against each other I think it was the finals of the Olympics and their hands were extended in and you could see the internal oblique’s across the cross section of the oblique’s that a lot – again gymnast use and it was amazing to see that cross section.  And again in cooperating it in a dry land program you might do med ball slams overhead to the side.  You might do we call them golf throws against the wall where we release at a very low point against the wall and then we turn around this way and throw it from the opposite side.  So we are working on quickness getting to the ball, we are working on a plyometric component where we are releasing the ball and it remains very dynamic and relevant to swimming.  If you are into weights which I think at some point we should be looking at it especially as the age group swimmers get into the senior level.  Right now huge fad in weightlifting and I don’t think it’s a fad.  Fad’s fade with time I think this is here to stay is combining plyometrics with weight lifting.  And an example would be getting a squat bar and I’ve seen this first hand I worked out personally a few tennis players that are ranked top-50 in the world.  One guy was going squats the other day real like fast repetition 6-10 reps put the barbell up, then grabbed two dumbbells or actually they were kettle bells and then did 6 jumps with the kettle bells.  They each weigh probably 20 pounds.  Put the kettle bells down and then did 4 jumps; no weight.  That’s an example of adding plyometrics with weights.  Another way is say on a bench press, you do 10 reps whatever weight, you get off the bar have a somebody spotting you with a pretty heavy med ball and going right into 5 med-ball throws right after say 10 repetitions on the bench; something like that.  There’s a million ways you can do it.


Again when we are doing weights in the preseason, we are creating a base to build the lifts are not the Olympic lifts, we are not doing cleans we are not doing high poles.  We are not doing jerks or any of the real complicated movements.  That takes forever to learn but do I think it’s worth learning and do I think it’s worth coaches educating themselves on it absolutely.  I was a coach at Dartmouth right after I got out of college and I was dead-set on having the team learn the cleans and the jerks at a high level like an Olympic lifting level; I was obsessed with it.  And what I learnt was—I coached the ski team, the squash team, the swimmers, and the tennis team and—I was trying to get them all to do cleans.  And I failed miserably because I started with two heavier weight and its very technical, as technical as swimming.  Every component of the body is a system of interlocking parts is kind of the old cliché with Olympic lifters, and everything has to be perfect for a weight to move up.  But I still think its worth our time to educate ourselves on Olympic weight lifting cleans, jerks that type of thing because I think… well, I know in terms of power output you can… its ten fold over a bench press or a squat.  One clean with 45 pounds is in terms of wattage is ten times greater than a bench press with ten times for ten reps at 135.  We do presses, we do squats and do presses, front squat and then an overhead press; we try to combine full body movements.  The weights are usually very light.  I learnt from my mistake at Dark Myth going a little bit too heavy, the emphasis on technique and muscular endurance when we start the weight season.  In the mid season obviously we are going more anaerobic the plyometrics become more intense, they become more complex again on a periodization that has progressively linear increase speed, we increase intensity and we also increase the amount of rest which is pretty much compatible with what we are doing in the water that time as well.


Lower body movements as I mentioned before they’re very similar to what NFL players are doing in combine I love watching the combine.  NFL players by far are the most athletic.  They jump the highest, they run the fastest they do everything better.  They do everything better than basketball players.  They jump higher on average, they have better verticals, they have better long jump, and they are better athletes and watching what they do in combine will tell you why.  They are doing a tone of agility ladders they are bounding in and out cones.  Everything is fast, everything is dynamic, everything is very technical; pretty cools stuff.  We do some long jumps into a pit sometimes I’ll have them start down in a track position and I’ll put a cone that they’ll have to clear.  Again the cone makes it fun if they are just jumping into a pit of sand they can go do that at the beach.  But if you throw a cone in the middle of the sand well you’ve got something there.  We do time 40s and 100s not because there are their time is relevant but remember once they wear the parachutes on land, my swimmers then they think they are Olympic runners.  So they’ve got to get their 40 times because they are going to be going to NFL combined.  We do the complex bounding combos instead of just skipping on a right leg; we’ll do more complex bounding combos.  Sometimes will do those indoors sand pits where we will hope on our right leg for three hopes then switch to the left then go on both.  The pattern has just become more complex.  And I really just make those up there’s no real methodology to it I’m just kind of playing with patterns.  Corn and cutting drills those are great like I said before on the agility ladder, I got my kids to burn it up for 20 minutes straight high intensity sprints just because of the ladder on the ground.


Again the movements are dynamic, squat jumps with med balls when we’re doing lower body, we do overhead throws and squat combos, we do box jumps, step jumps a lot of this stuff that they show it on flow swimming.  We do… we put the med ball in between ankles, do a jump, catch the ball, squat then press.  One of the things I like to do, kid’s love to get wild and kids need an outlet to go nuts and so when we are doing dry land I never talk about gender or sex or anything.  There is… everybody is asexual really I mean we don’t talk about it at all because I don’t want the women coming in thinking, “well I need to be feminine today because I like a boy over here.” or the guys coming in saying, “well I’m a guy and I’m trying to impress somebody, I’m going to be overly masculine.” We don’t play any of that, there’s no gender and so everybody is considered to be ultra-aggressive.  And so what we do to kind of harness this aggressiveness is we put them out on a track and I’ll have them just chuck objects as far as they can.  Just balls and throws or we’ll do running throws just to build some aggressiveness so that they are not afraid to be aggressive once they get into the water to compete and I’ll usually pair them up side by side so that they… And sometimes it’s a boy against a girl and it’s great I mean it’s a good way to get a lot more out of your kids.  In terms of equipment we’ve got almost no budget, we’ve got the homemade plywood boxes that a kid on our team made they’re 12 to actually 24 inches.  We got like six of them.  I don’t know if they are dangerous or not, I wouldn’t jump on them but I weigh a lot more than my swimmers.  So we’ve got again the agility ladder which increases coordination, balance, timing, acceleration, heart rate stays up and then again where our neurons and our synapses are firing at a faster rate… I’ll get to that in a second.


We’re recruiting more muscle fibers.  Notice how I said we’re recruiting more muscle fibers, we’re not converting muscle fibers big difference, I’ll get to that in a second.  Again on the upper body movements we do the body A push- ups, the grip pull-ups we do about 50 variations on pull-ups, we do rope climbers, we do single arm pull-ups or we go left to right, we do I mean every variation imaginable.  Sometimes we’re trying to do muscle-ups where we pull up get them as high as they can, then I have them cheat with their feet if they can’t make it because there’s a wall next to the pull bar and then they pull their bodies up.  We do the same thing on Olympic rings.  We’ll hang Olympic rings on the pull-up bars, we’ll hang the TRX.  Again the TRX, I’m not a huge fan of it.  I was initially and when I brought it in of course my kids thought it was awesome because it’s TRX and Drew Breeze uses it and they’ve seen the info commercial it’s got to be the best because it’s TRX.  Its okay I like Olympic rings better they’re cheap, you can hang them off anything, you can hang them off door handles, they’re just as effective as the TRX, are you guys familiar with the TRX?  (No)


TRX is just a fancy Olympic ring, it has more pulleys and it’s easier to adjust but not really worth it in my opinion.  As we get into weights we maintain core exercises then we add the Olympic lifts.  The goal there is to just start with the broom stick, we literally start with the broom stick so we can get the movement right and then we go to the bar and then when start adding weight.  For the lead athletes, if you’ve got a swimmer who you think is a world class swimmer even at 15, 16 I think it’s important to incorporate the Olympic lifts; learn how to get them to know how to do this.  I just don’t see many programs doing it; I do see it at the cogent level.  I think it helps them prepare for the cogent level and they’re competing against cogent swimmers, I mean that’s the thing.  A lot of these age groupers moving into the senior program, people always ask me “what’s the rush?” Well the rush is they’re competing against 25, 26 year olds that are strong and taller and they want to be good now or we might loose them.  I mean that’s just the really of it.  If they want to be good when they’re 15 and 16 there’s nothing wrong with that and why not give them that opportunity and look what I did for Amanda Beard and careless other swimmers at a young age and she’s still swimming pretty well.  The lifts increase dynamic strength, they’re all total body movements, they recruit more bundles of muscle fibers, faster muscle fibers and it increases flexibility.  Examples include; high poles, poles of boxes, power clings, power snatches these are just Olympic lifts typically the weights are on and elevated platform and we’re pulling from higher positions so that they don’t have to go down in that dead lift position and blow up their lower backs.


This is somewhat interesting; dynamic squats which are considered 60% of your [Inaudible] [0:35:37] into the dumbbell split squats I already talked a little bit.  There’s this consensus that indicates that reps done at higher speeds maximize power output and then there is this other consensus that talks about the lower the rep, the heavier the weight.  We increased it, the number in size of type 2b fibers; both require an athlete quickly… What’s interesting is this I read a study the other day in one of my classes on muscle biopsies on peripheral ejects and they took a biopsy of their legs and they did a total analysis of type 2b fibers which is the fastest fiber.  And they found that peripheral ejects had more type 2b fibers than world class spinners track, which is amazing right.  And so when we’re doing this type of dry land my goal from it’s inception was, I want more type 2b fibers, I want as many as we can get, convert them all, let’s get them as fast as they can.  And the reality is if they can be converted which is still up for debate it can only be very small percentage two or three percent, but what happens after they taper is totally perplexing.  After it there was a study done, the athletes worked hard to convert one fiber to 2a fibers; they tried to get as many 2b fibers as they could with the intensity and the vigorousness of the exercises.  They weren’t able to get as many 2b fibers as the study thought it would.  They took ten days of complete rest nothing and ten days later 18 percent increase in type 2b fibers after doing nothing, which kind of explains what’s happening on a physiological level during a taper.  We are not doing nothing.  But we’re getting down to the point where we’re almost doing nothing some of us and that’s what happening with the body.  So the paraplegic example and doing nothing is very interesting from a physiological stand point in terms of muscle fiber recruitment.


[audience member]:  Is it long term?


[CS]:  It didn’t specify it just said it was immediate.


[audience member]:  What happens to the Type 2b after the recruitment?


[CS]:  It goes back to 2a.  On chords that’s the other element of our dry land, we do straight arm lap, pull-downs, we do bisect cross, back cross, some rehab movements some cores, somehow the cable rotations.  This is something that we kind of used to do and now we are doing something different.  Instead of straight arm lap, pull downs like we see them on most so many videos where the swimmer lays this way and just pulls straight down, we integrate the whole body.  So we’ll be on the chords like this we’ll do a lunge, we’ll step out in a way and then we’ll pull the thing to the ground.  So we’re engaging again there’s cross-sectional muscles or engaging quads, hamstrings, gluts we’re trying to make it more total, more dynamic; total body movement.  Okay so that’s an example of what we’re doing.  So again we’ll do a lunge if the chords were down from a pull-up bar, we’ll do a row then a curl and then pull out down to the ground or we’ll pull straight down then pull straight up or we’ll pull in and pull out.  Can you still hear me? So I get exited.  So we do a lot of again functional dynamic movements when we’re doing chords is not just your typical doing a bicep curl or doing a row.  We super set a lot with chords which is a term stolen from body building.  We pair different exercises; sometimes we’ll do a push pull movement.  So we’ll take chords and they’ll be behind me we’ll be doing lunges this way and may be doing fly’s and then we’ll turn around lunge, biceps that’s an example of a push pull opposing muscle groups and sometimes we’ll pair with the same muscle groups.  We’ll do again a lunge with a pull down and then immediately into straight arm overhead throws with the med ball or a pull up where they are actually hanging on to the cords.  We’ll do four pull ups but pop down, do four pulls and then do four med balls slumps.  So we are pairing the same latissimus dorsi muscles.


We keep all the movements fast it avoids stagnation and breaks up redundancy.  We usually do these in two weeks cycles as well.  I love this because it allows for lactic acid buffering capabilities, it’s very specific to what we are doing in the water; it’s very transferrable.  Pre taper and taper, the volume decreases gradually as the rest increases, nothing new there.  Incorporate full body movements only, so any auxiliary lifts which is bicep curl or a triceps kick back; not that we are doing many of those but all that stuff is taken out completely during a taper.  All movements are done at full speed or 100% intensity.  The lower more explosive reps are coupled with reps done for pure speed.  So for instance if we are doing just a med ball throw against the wall, we’ll do a couple of throws back really fast and then we’ll take 5 steps back and chuck the thing as hard as you can against the wall for three or four reps.  So we are just trying a couple and keeping it powerful and keeping it dynamic and keeping it fast.  We typically do that two to three times per week during a taper and it further reduces as the competition approaches.  I play with that all the time depends on who you ask.  I talked to David Mash a while ago and he said he had some of his top level sprinters in the wait room two to three days out of major meets.  Bowman has told me similar things.  I think it’s depending upon body type age again all that.


We keep the movements specific we don’t incorporate anything new during a taper ever with regard to dry land.  We keep the core works pretty much in a maintenance phase, once per week with stretching.  It’s similar to what we were doing when I was swimming at the University of Arizona.  Once or twice during a taper, we’d get out of the mats and some Yoga stuff and some of the ups, real basic stuff that never incorporating anything new.  I take the plyos out completely two weeks out I think that neurological taxation is just too stressful on the body, even only doing them two times a week, these really put take a toll on your kids; that’s just a word of caution.  The weights are usually taken out two weeks that’s from the studies I’ve read that’s seems to go with what science is saying.  We do them closer to competition, obviously the closer we get the lower the weight, lower the reps and we just go for pure speed and it’s slightly different from men and women.  Benefits of dry land obviously; increased strength equals increase propulsive force in the water.  Its fun, it keeps the athletes engaged.  It helps for self esteem.  One of the things the guys like to do after we do some of those lactic acid buffering sets, the guys walk around with their shirts off.  Shirts always have to be off.  The veins are popping out, they’re flexing they are looking at each other in the mirror they are grabbing each other it’s very interesting.  They overcome plateaus as I mentioned earlier.  Again I think this is a fresh way of approaching plateaus rather than just try to overwhelm a kid and saying, “look you are at plateau, you can’t go any faster.”  The first thing we want to do is automatically drill them in the water and get more yardage and get more race pace, take a step back and take a look at what you are doing on the land.  It’s relatively safe.  It increases power output using less energy during a race.  That’s a scientific fact.  It increases vertical jump and thrust off walls.  I know that when I talk to Bob Bowman about this before 2008 trials.  I know Michael was doing a lot more plyometrics and a lot more very dynamic jumping and weight lifting to increase his proportion off the wall and his dolphin kicks.  We are just basically trying to reprogram the body to call upon newly developed neuron path ways and more muscles fibers.  And again whether or not we are actually converting those fibers or whether or not we are actually recruiting them are two different things.  Most of the time we are just recruiting the muscle fibers, we can always recruit although slowly one to 2a and 2a’s are great for swimming 2d’s are tough to get; all without ever having to take a single stroke.  Thank you.  Yeah I will open up for questions.  Sure.


[audience member]:  Did you say [Inaudible] [0:45:14].


[CS]:  Hypotrophy.


[indiscernible question from the audience]


[CS]:  Great question.  The question was: what do I think the role of lactic acid in cooling down in between these sessions?  Unfortunately we are pressed for time during a practice so we don’t get any chance really to warm down although I would love to.  So our warm down is basically our swimming warm up, that’s the best we can do just because we are so crapped for time and lactic acid obviously is, you know, in terms of millimoles, I don’t know where we’d be at but we’d probably be pushing 17 millimoles during our dry land, probably as high or higher than what we are doing on a [Indiscernible] [0:46:05].


[audience member]:  You think its more [inaudible 46:07]


[CS]:  I think it’s before, absolutely before.


[audience member]:  Do you use [Inaudible] [0:46:14]


[CS]:  No, but we do, the stuff we do…


[indiscernible question from the audience]


[CS]:  Yeah, sure, sorry, do we use cross feet? Some of the movements for kids, some of the movements we are doing with the rings are similar to what cross feet, I don’t know, those of you who are familiar with it, but no, we don’t do any of the cross feet training per se.


[audience member]:  What do you do, you’ve talked a lot about jumps and everything and I got a swimmer that has a lot of join issues because he’s growing so fast, so much, how do you handle that?


[CS]:  The question was; what do you do with swimmers who have join issues for plyometrics? Typically, we have those kids either go on a lower platform where there’s not as much impact, depth jumps are terrible for kids with lumber or spine problems, knee problems that type of thing.  So usually we just we either have them land on a softer surface or lower the surface that they are jumping on.


[audience member]:  What do you say to girls who don’t want to work their upper body because they don’t want to look like a guy?


[CS]:  That’s a great question; what do I say to girls who don’t want to work their upper body because they don’t want to look like a guy? Tough, now I actually, it’s a very relevant question and I get girls in my program all the time that are afraid to put on any muscle mass whatsoever and I try to make it so that, again it’s asexual, we don’t look at it in terms of what it’s going to do for your looks at school, we just try to talk about performance and sell it that way and just share performance standpoint, we don’t try to get into the aesthetic value of it.


[audience member]:  Can you explain a clap pull up?


[CS]:  Yeah, a clap pull up is just we are hanging suspended on a bar, I make sure they are not moving they pull up as hard as they can on it, they get chest high, clap their hands, catch it and then come down.  If they can’t do that, we do a plyos, pull up which is basically the same thing, they’ll jump up onto the bar so as their bodies in motion upwards they’ll catch the bar, use that momentum, let go, clap, come back down.


[indiscernible question from the audience]


[CS]:  That’s a great question, the question was; what happens if this dry land stuff is more complex than what they are doing in college, do they plateau in college? And the answer unfortunately is yes.  I’ve had some of my best swimmers, I had a swimmer who was second at Junior Nationals in the 100 breast, I was really excited about her future in swimming, she went to college I mean very slow performances were bad, volume in the water increased and dry land really it went to real basic weight lifting stuff, she was kind of too advanced for it really.


[audience member]:  So obviously your 13, 14, 15 year old [Indiscernible] [0:49:31]


[CS]:  Yeah 13, 14 year olds that are fit when do they start kind of this progression? They start when they are about 11 or 12 when they are learning the basic movements and then it’s again the body adapts very quickly and so, you know, say within a three or four months period, most of this kids can go from say zero pull ups to three in say four months.  So the transition period happens very fast and again it’s pretty dynamic, if they can’t do a pull up we don’t want to sit there and make fun of them and make them feel like total failures so we get spotters in, hold their feet or hold their back and we have them do it that way, there is always a cheating mechanism, we are taught in weight lifting, right? When you are doing a bicep curl you are always taught to keep your chest upright, this is perfect movement, right? But for performance scans, you want to cheat, you want to get the heaviest weight possible and do it for the most amount of wraps so when I’m failing at number 6, I’m going to throw my back and my arm to get the weight up, I mean I overcompensate.  So in a lot of this exercises we cheat, we keep pull ups where we kind of swing on the bar and come up at different phases in the season and I encourage them to cheat, we do the same thing in the water, if we are doing a back stroke set with a high intensity interval for doing 50 back on the thirty or 35 you kids can only make 3 or 4 of them and say we are going to try for 4 or 5 pull on the weight line, I don’t care, flip on your back and take 4 flip on your stomach and take four freestyle strokes; do whatever you can to survive the set and keep up.


[audience member]:  What do you with your 9, 10, 11 year old swimmer, any other stuff?


[CS]:  Yeah, that was pretty much what he just asked, with our 9, 10, 11 year olds we are progressing to that point where we are learning the core movements, learning how to do  a V up, learning how to hang on a pull up bar, learning how to do a proper push up, that type of thing.


[audience member]:  For your senior level kids, the ground contact what’s your maximum [Indiscernible] [0:51:49] what’s your high point.


[CS]:  That’s a good question.  You know, it varies.  I think in terms of pure ground contact. when we are doing a plyometric phase I think we got up to like 360. And, again, it sounds like a lot, but every little step is a contact; and every time we do one hop up a step, that’s considered a ground contact, so it’s not as much as it seems.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Sponsorship & Partnerships

Official Sponsors and Partners of the American Swimming Coaches Association

Join Our Mailing List

Subscribe and get the latest Swimming Coach news