Thanks for coming in this morning, especially those of you that just came in from Bourbon Street just a couple hours ago. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. My name is Rob Mirande and I coach at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park Florida. It is just outside of Orlando, and I began coaching in 1985 at a small southern California program called Saddleback Valley Aquatics, and it still exists now. Vick and Renee Riggs are there doing a good job. It is called Nellygale Saddleback now, but it is the same club and I was there quite a while ago and I was named head coach of that club in 1990.
I had a young 11th grade junior national swimmer named Chad Carvin, and neither he nor I were ready for what was about to happen to the both of us. But we managed to work together and get it done and Chad’s time in the 500 free dropped from 4:40 to 4:21 over those 2 years and his 400-meter free time dropped from 4:15 to 3:54. His mile long course time dropped from 17:00 to 15:34, so he did a nice job and he obviously continued his success over the years. He overcame an incredible number of obstacles and made the Olympic team this last year, swimming for the Matadors and coach Bill Rose, which was a goal that we set for him 10 years earlier.
In 1992, I moved to Palm Springs California to be with my wife, to be with Tracy McFarland, and we worked together there coaching the Palm Springs Piranhas and I had a couple of good distance kids there, but no one at the world class level. We mostly had breaststrokers following in Tracy’s footsteps and then four years later I moved to Ventura California to be head coach of Buenaventura Swim Club. That is where I really felt like I got some things accomplished. I had quite a hand full of national level kids and two of the more recognizable names are Mark Workington and Ian Preshard. Mark came to me from Santa Barbara after his coach left and took another position and he decided he wanted to come and give our distance program a go. He was already a national level swimmer, but he managed to take it to another level over the next 3 ½ years. His 500 freestyle time dropped to 4:21 also by his senior year and his 400-meter free went from 3:59 to 3:53. His 800 free time went from 8:12 to 8:00 and his long course mile went to 15:29.
Ian Preshard was a lifelong Buena kid who grew up through the age group program at Buena and he actually didn’t swim for me until halfway through his sophomore year in high school. He was unwilling to give up water polo and one of the prerequisites to swim in our senior group was that you had to be 100% committed to swimming, so he stayed in our age group program for awhile and he made it to the junior national level in our age group program in the 200 IM and the 200 breast. But, I always knew that he was better suited for the long stuff and he finally decided to give up water polo and he moved into the senior program. Three months after that, he made his first national cut in the 1000 and he went 8:19 three months after moving into the senior program. That was the beginning of a so far successful career for Ian and he became the third of my swimmers to go 4:21 in the 500 free, his junior year in high school. Then he got a little bit faster than that the next year going 4:19, his 800 free time dropped to 8:09, and he was 15:34 in his long course mile, before he went off to Virginia where he is doing very well. And he still swims for me in the summer times in Florida.
So before I get started with the type of training that I do, I want to go over a couple of other things that I think are sometimes equally as important to producing distance swimmers, the necessary ingredients for producing world class distance swimmers. Some of these ingredients include the right team. Now, “Is your team going to support you and the demands you put on your swimmers to be world class distance swimmers?” That is something that you need to consider and that is something that you need to work on. Another thing is that you need to have the right athletes. Obviously, you need to have athletes with talent but you also need athletes that are willing to make some pretty serious sacrifices to be world-class distance swimmers. Going from that age group status to world class status is something that is not an easy thing to do and you need to have athletes willing to make some sacrifices.
You, as a coach, need to have the right coaching attitude. You need to make sure that you are planning ahead properly, you are creating daily, weekly and seasonal plans, as well as coming on the pool deck everyday prepared to do a good job, just like you ask your swimmers to do. And the fourth thing I would like to mention is patience, and that is something that Coach Block was nice enough to mention. This is something I drill into my kids all the time. You know, I see talented 11 year old girls or 12 year old boys and the last thing I want to do with them is beat them to death so that they’re not going to be capable of swimming fast later on. And you can do that and you can get some fast results and you can probably get a 12 year old girl to seniors or a 14 year boy to seniors, but the long term effects are usually disastrous. So, I try to take my time and be careful with them and make sure that they are ready for swimming in college.
Alright, now for some of the demands of distance swimming. There are certain demands that you are going to have to place on these kids in order to get them from age group status to the world class status. The first obvious thing is time. It is going to take a lot more time for these kids to train for distance events than it will for other kids to train for maybe sprint events or other stroke events. Maybe it means more training sessions or more hours in the pool or just more volume, but regardless, you are going to prepare your athletes to sacrifice more time to become a good distance swimmer.
The second thing is training. My opinion is distance swimmers need to be the most fit athletes in your training group. I think that most people would agree with that because they have to swim longer and harder than everyone else. And especially if you are trying to get someone to that world-class level, they are really going to have to take some time and get fit and be ready to put in some pretty painful sessions. More yardage will probably be necessary, but I’ll mention later more time in intense training situations is something that I really stress. The social aspect is something that we all have deal with as coaches and distance swimmers trying to make that transition aren’t going to be able to miss practice to go to that movie with their friends. And they are not going to be able to get out of the water early to go to the 5:00 school dance. These are things that these kids are going to have to give up and you’re going to work with them and you’re going to have to remind them and reinforce your policies and goals for those athletes so that those kids can understand that they can’t miss those training sessions.
They also have to remain focused all the time. I remember one time when I did a poor job at this a couple of years back. It was when Ian Preshard just made the transition from juniors to seniors and he came in the meeting and he wanted to go snowboarding over the weekend, and I sat down with him and I told him why I was concerned about this. But, I gave in at the end and let him go, and of course he came back the next day with a broken arm in two places. So, he was out of the water for a week until we could get a waterproof cast on him and he could start training with that. But it wasn’t the same obviously, and now I take a pretty hard stand when it comes to these types of activities. You know you have to make a decision, if someone is really going to get to that upper echelon of distance swimming they are going to have to give up some of these social activities.
The next thing is school, and this is pretty unpopular with some parents and some club executives. In our site, our school is number one and nothing is going to change that, and in most cases it is probably good that school is number one, but every once in a while you are going to get a distance kid that is going to have to put in some more time than maybe they would like. They’re going to have to manage their time in a way, and they might have to give up some things including school. And you’re going to need to be very careful about how you deal with that. Now I work for a school and sometimes I have to be real careful about what I say. But, the simple matter is whether the athletes are managing their time properly so that they can do everything in their lives and still be successful.
Summer school is the number one thing that I have to deal with yearly and probably you guys too. School counselors are always trying to get kids to go to summer school, and maybe it is to get done earlier or whatever it is, but it always conflicts with my morning practice. Even though I work for that school, my policy is pretty clear, and if you want to swim in our senior program then you can’t go to summer school. You just can’t miss workouts and that is just the way it is. You may or may not have the luxury of doing that in your program, but regardless, if you have someone that you think can be a pretty good swimmer, you are going to need to sit down with them and explain to them that they may have to give something like this up, in order to get to that level.
Advance placement classes, are another thing that you have to deal with. You know advance placement classes take a lot more time and that means more studying and if that means interfering with workout times, well then maybe that’s something that they might have to give up. Now that is a touchy area you are going to have to be careful with. Once again, sit down with the swimmers and be honest with yourself and be honest with the kids. Are the kids going to get enough out of swimming that they can sacrifice something like this? And my basic philosophy is a simple- you can’t miss practice for any reason. And it was tough in the beginning, and I had a lot of boards come after me, and I had a lot of parents come after me, but over the time I guess people have come to accept that, and I’ve trained myself to think kind of like a stop watch. A stopwatch doesn’t care why you’re slow; it only tells you that you are slow. So missing a workout for a final is the same to me as missing a workout to go out with your friends. It’s just not acceptable if you want to truly be a top- level swimmer.
O.K. what type of team do you need? I’ve worked for four different teams and they have all been vastly different. The one I work for now has been the best for me so far. I don’t have a board and I have my own pool, as long as I keep the head master of the school happy then I have no worries. But having worked for several teams with parent boards I know that that’s not always going to happen. So, what you need to do is I think you need to educate your parents and you need to educate your board on what it’s going to take to get these kids from age group status to world ranking status.
You need a team that is going to support the extremes of distance swimming. If you need 24 hours of pool time in order to run your program the way you want it to, is your team going to go out and purchase that time for you? And maybe that means you’re only going to have a couple of kids swimming in a couple of hours in those time slots and that can be pretty expensive for your club to do. Are they going to support that? Once again, educating your employers on what you want to do is something that will probably help with this area. You need the team that is going to back your tough decisions. You know if a parent comes to your board and demands that you back off on the rules and regulations that you put on your distance swimmers, are they going to support you with that? Are they going to support you when someone leaves your team because of these rules and regulations? That is something that you are going to need to consider and something that you need to work on as a coach in trying to prepare everyone for what you want to get accomplished.
You also need a team that is going to allow you to constantly change the group’s rules and guidelines. As you start growing your team and as your team starts getting better you are going to need to change the guidelines of your group. One thing that comes to mind with me is every time I’m at a new club the guidelines might be pretty low for swimmers to get into the senior group, but as we get better and better, in order to keep the group at a manageable size we have to change the guidelines. Now, is your team going to support you with that or is it going to cause a lot of problems for you? For example, maybe it takes JO times to get into your senior group and you have kids working for that, and then all of the sudden you say, “Well, I’m going to have to change it to sectional times in order to get in the senior group.” Is that going to cause a problem for you and are they going to back you up during those times? What type of athlete do you need? We’ve all been there and if you haven’t, you will. You see a kid that you think could be the next great one, but what exactly should you look for when you’re looking for distance swimmers? Next, I’ll share a few things that I found my best distance swimmers all have in common. Natural ability of course is something that you need to look for. Nice feel for the water, proper balance, good core stability, and distance per stroke, are all things that you can look for for distance swimmers. I also look for someone who can go from a 2 beat kick to a 6 beat kick with ease. You know, having someone that you know that can kick in a last 100 when they need to is an advantage that you can have, but I don’t think one thing about natural ability. I don’t think that this is the most important thing. The most important thing I think is the one I used to train, which I’ll talk about in a couple of seconds.
The second thing is coachability. I’m not sure that coachability is a word but I’m sure you have all used it at one time or another. Is your potential Olympian willing to listen and try the things that you want them to do in order to become successful? It is very important for the development of a youngster and the one thing that I’ve learned over the past 11 years is that there are many ways of getting a kid fast but the only thing that is going to work for my team is my way. And the minute you lose the confidence of your kids you’re in trouble. So, you need to take the time and make sure that those kids are coachable and make sure that they are willing to accept what you are trying to do. Make sure each swimmer has faith in your program because if they lose that you are in big trouble.
Are they competitors? Racing is one of the most important things to me and we work on it every single day in practice. Somewhere along the line they are going to have to learn how to win and I think that winning is a learned skill. It is a learned skill that needs to become a habit and I stress it in every set on every swim. It is something that if you have a kid that likes to go out and race and likes to win and gets upset maybe a little bit when they don’t win, you need to certainly take that into account and take advantage of that trait that that athlete has.
And the most important aspect I think is the willingness to train. Does it seem like the young swimmers are willing to take the time and effort necessary to grind out those yards to put in that work to do everything that they need to do to become great? You need to be willing to endure long and painful training sessions and those things can kind of wear on the athlete and one of the things that I do is I look for youngsters to show an interest in distance swimming. Maybe I’ll overhear some age group kids talking about some of the great distance swimmers of their time. I was just on the pool deck the other day and they were talking about Ian Thorpe and I was thinking that it was kind of neat that those kids are following distance swimming and maybe they’ll be willing to do those sort of things. Maybe it is as simple as a youngster asking if they can do more yardage. Or whatever it is you see in a kid that kind of points out at the fact that they are interested in distance swimming, you need to take advantage of that.
Alright, coaching attitude. One of the things I always try to do everyday, well not always try to do, one of the things I always do everyday is walk on the pool deck with a written workout. I never allow myself to wing it on the pool deck and what this does is this forces me to consider all the factors that go in to preparing for a session. You know I have to plan, and I have to put some thought into what I’m trying to get accomplished. I have to consider the seasonal plan and I have to consider the fatigue levels of the group. All of those things will help me prepare the proper workout for the session that is coming up. I feel I owe it to the kids to come in prepared after all I demand it of them. I keep thinking, I’m always telling them it’s not O.K. to have a bad day and I can try to do the same thing. You know, I don’t want my kids to have a bad day so I try not to have a bad either. I try to come in and do the best coaching job that I can, whether it is calling out repeat times accurately, or motivating someone that is struggling, or getting on someone that is not doing the job, or rewarding the athlete for solid efforts. That is what I want to do when I come in for every session. I demand excellence.
In our program, excellence is not a goal, it is a lifestyle, and it something that I talk about all the time in practice. You know, is your athlete willing to train at an acceptable level? What do you do if your athlete is not willing to train at an acceptable level? You know it is a problem that we all have to face and in the beginning of my career I had your typical money lane where I threw all the slackers and non-believers just to get their parents money. I found that it created nothing but problems for me and so I decided one day that I was going to change, and it created animosity in the group. Here I had kids that were doing the work and trying to be good swimmers and I had that lane of people over there that weren’t doing the job and they were questioning why they were in the group. You know this was a group that I was promoting and here I was having kids that were never going to get to nationals and everyone knew it.
And so one day, early in my career at Buena, I sent a letter to the Board of Directors saying I was changing the policy of the senior group, so they would be aware of what was coming. And I sat the kids down and I told them that there were three rules that they were going to have to follow in order to swim for me. The first rule was they had to get along with one another. The second rule was they had to come to practice everyday no matter what. And the third rule was they had to train like national level athletes, even if they weren’t. And that was it. Two months later I had four kids that I had to give an ultimatum. Two of them were senior national qualifiers and two of them were junior national qualifiers. I told them they had to swim in our age group program or they had to find another team. It was a tough thing for me to do because these were four of my best kids, but they just weren’t willing to do the things that I wanted them to do and the things that I felt needed to be done to be successful; not just that year but in the years to come.
So, three of those kids decided to go somewhere else and one tried to challenge the system and the parents went after the Board. Luckily, the president backed me and she said to work it out with me or go somewhere else and he went somewhere else. So, those three rules allowed me to create the group that I wanted. They all trained hard, they came everyday, and they got behind one another rather than under each other’s skin.
The next thing that I try to do all the time as a coach is I try to expect athletes to perform well, everyday. It doesn’t matter if it’s practice or a mid season meet, or a championship meet, I expect those kids to come in and perform well. And I think that kids kind of figure that out with coaches, whether you tell them or not. If you are going to the big meet and you’re hoping that they are going to do well, the chances are that they are going to figure that out. If they think that you’ve got second thoughts then maybe they won’t do as well as you would like them to do or if you allow them to make excuses in practice, you’re just telling them that its O.K. that they are not doing well. So, one of the things that I try to do is I take a pretty hard stance, especially when it comes to training. I tell them that it is not O.K. to have a bad day, just like I said before, and I stand by it day after day, and year after year. Swimmers who don’t get the job done in practice hear about it and it doesn’t matter if they are my best swimmer or my worst swimmer. If they are not doing the job that day they are going to hear about it. I also try to reward them when they are doing the job just to make sure that I don’t get down on them too much.
Alright, seasonal training for our program. This is a typical example of a high school season in Florida and probably high school season anywhere. Our high school season lasts 13 weeks and I go through four phases in each season. The first phase is the skill phase. That lasts about two weeks and this is where you kind of break in for the upcoming season. I’m not a hell week type of guy and I don’t come in and pound them right off the bat. I kind of build them into the season and we’ll come in and loosen up with maybe 1000 or 1500 yards or meters and then we will work on the basic skills. We will do 2000 to 3000 of 50’s a lot of times, working on stroke work, mechanics, turns, starts, finishes and all those sort of things; basically reliving my days as a age group coach. This is the only time in the season however, that I spend a majority of my time working on skills. I have to be honest with you that the rest of the time it is mostly training. So, I emphasize to the kids that they need to work diligently over this phase and work on their skills. The total volumes for these workouts are 3000 to 4000 yards in the beginning. Maybe the first week we’ll go 3000 to 4000 yards at practice and I’ll bump that up to 5000 to 6000 yards towards the end, as we get ready for the second phase.
The second phase is the endurance phase during the high school season. The endurance lasts about six weeks and the workouts will range from 6500 to 11000 yards a session, although, I honestly don’t go many 5 figure workouts with my distance groups. This is the foundation of the season and we do a lot of threshold training and a lot of max 302 training. Basically, we are trying to get as fit as we possibly can during that phase of the season. I do some lactate training also during this phase, even with the distance swimmers; although, I refuse to do lactate training until I’m happy with the fitness of the group. I don’t think it does any good to do lactate training if the kids aren’t fit enough to perform. During this phase I need to be very careful not to beat the swimmers into oblivion and I try to cycle my training carefully. I have set recovery points throughout the week, but if it just looks to me like the kids are getting too tired, I’m not afraid to give them another day of rest, where maybe we won’t do anything other than aerobic swimming just to make sure they have time to recover before the championship meet.
The next phase is the racing phase. The racing phase is a time where I emphasize speed. I remember when I was coaching Ian in high school and we were trying to figure out a way for him to break 4:20. Actually, our goal was to go 4:16 and that was the national high school record. We didn’t quite get there but we were trying to get him under 4:20. We figured that he was going to have to be out in 48 or 49 seconds in the first hundred in order to accomplish this goal. Well, his best time was 48.5 so this presented a problem for us. He just doesn’t have any speed. So, I spent some time working on his speed and we did a lot of it during this phase. It lasted about three weeks and we did a lot of 50’s and a lot of 25’s, on a two to one work to rest ratio, and it seemed to work pretty good. When he went 4:19 he was out in 48.5 and he was able to finish O.K. He was a little slow at the end but he managed to get it done. The weekly volume drops a little bit during this phase; I drop it down to about 5000 to 8000 yards a session. It’s sort tapering for the taper so to speak and so then that leads us in to the taper.
The taper is actually something I stole from a buddy of mine, Larry Liebowitz who coaches a U.S. Senior. The taper lasts for around 2 weeks for this 13 week season and it begins at a 11,000 yards a day and tapers down to 2500 to 2000 yards a day, depending on how they are looking. I have the distance swimmers go doubles during the first part of the taper until we get down to about 4500 yards and then we go singles for the rest of the time. During the taper we go through a variety of different types of sets. The main thing of course is rest, but we do do brokens. We’ll do broken 200’s, pace 50’s and pace 100’s during this time. I do the standard broken 200 where we will break for 10 seconds at the 50 and get a total time, although I’m not too concerned about the total time during these. During the taper, it really doesn’t matter. I’m more concerned about lactate production unless of them pops off a good one and then you can tell them how great they are or whatever. We will also do pace 50’s and pace 100’s and maybe we’ll go four sets of 350’s during the taper, one easy, one build, and one pace. Something I do a lot is trying to hit goals with pace times. We’ll also do 8 100’s on 1:30 trying to hit goal pace times for the distance events. So, that is the summary of the short season.
The next thing I’ll talk about is the longer season. This is probably a more typical season for the club coaches, about 18 weeks. We have two of them in Florida and the way our schedule is broken up I have two longer seasons. One is from early December to the spring championship meet, and the second one is from early April to the summer championship meet. The four phases remain the same, but I spread out the time a little bit more. The skill phase remains the same; I guess I could probably make it a little bit longer. I’m always antsy about getting to work, so I put the bulk of the extra time in the endurance phase. I bump it up from 6 weeks to 10 weeks. This helps the distance swimmers now that they are out of the high school season.
During the high school season they don’t swim the mile and I think they need to be more fit now that they are in a USA Swimming sort of season and they need to swim the mile. Once again during this phase I need to be careful not to crush the kids. I try to cycle the training a lot, which is something I didn’t do last year, unfortunately. I had Ian when he was trying to go 4:20; we shaved in May for the California high school meet with the understanding that we were going to get to work and pound pretty good in preparation for the trials. Well, I over did it and he ended up not doing as well as we would have liked at the trials and he only went 15:45 in the mile. We were both pretty disappointed with that and he actually took four more weeks to recover after that. He was ready to swim pretty fast at the first college dual meet, and he went 8:58 in the 1000 in his first college dual meet. I guess I did a good job training wise, I just didn’t give him enough time to recover.
The racing phase I bump up just a couple days to get just a little bit more time to work on some speed and to prepare for the taper. We get away from the daily grind of the endurance phase. Then, with the taper I add a couple more days, too. I bump it up from 12 to 14 days to 16 to 20 days, and just spread out the yardage a little bit more; once again, depending on how they look I’ll adjust the taper.
Alright, this is the training basics that I use. During a season it is directly related to the school year. During the school year we go nine sessions a week. We go three mornings, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and that will last for one and three quarter hours. We go from 5:15 to 7:00 a.m. in the morning and then we will go for 2 to 21/2 hours Monday through Friday afternoon with a single session on Saturday morning that lasts two hours. The average volume for these sessions is 60000 to 75000 per week. When I was in California we were constantly battling for pool time there. We had guy’s water polo, girl’s water polo, and rec problems just like most of you guys probably have. So, I had to try and figure out a way to get kids to world ranking status with limited pool time. So, we managed to do that by increasing the intensity, which is something that I’m going to talk about later. But, 60,000 to 75,000 per week has worked for me during the school year.
When school is out, during the summer time we will bump up to ten sessions per week. This year when I was in Florida, for those of you that have been to Florida, you know that you have to deal with lightning in the summer times, so we went five mornings for 2 to 21/2 hours and we did four afternoons. I gave them Friday afternoon off and we also had one Saturday morning workout. Training sessions were about the same and we went for about two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon and two and half hours on Saturday because I gave them Friday afternoon off. The volume for these bumped up just a tad but not as much as I would have thought when I actually sat down and did the research for this talk. We averaged 60,000 to 75,000 meters per week so it was a little bit more, but not too much more. And, I honestly am not sure that I could do much more without sacrificing on the intensity on the training, which is something that I’m not willing to do, so that’s that.
Now I’m going to talk about individual workout breakdown and how I design the typical workout. First off, I try to be creative with the workouts. A lot of times they are a little bit crazy. I use the Hy-Tech Workout Manager, and a lot of time I use all forty lines that I’m allotted. I’ll mix it up and do different things during the set, unless it is something that needs to be uniform like a test set or a lactate set or something like that. Then I’ll do something like a lucid swim. This is the first thing that we do everyday- it is 500 to 1000 yards and I tell them to jump in and go 5 100’s, 10 100’s, and 1 1000, whatever it is it is at their own pace. And I give them plenty of time to make sure that they have loosened up and they do it with the understanding that we’re going to get right to work after this. So they take it pretty seriously and they make sure that they get in what they are supposed to get in.
The first set is the next thing that I do. I hesitate to call it a warm-up- I used to, but warm-up seems to be a key for people to float and that is not what I want to get accomplished, so I started calling it the first set. It is always aerobic but I demand that it’s not at a moderate level. One of the things that I do with my distance freestylers is we do a 3000 for time, like most of you probably do, and I take that average per hundred and I make them swim at T30 plus two seconds during all freestyle phases of that first set. It is something that they don’t like at first but they get used to it. And as I check heart rates, they are usually in the 150-range or so, which is right about where I want them to be; a 145 to 150 heart rate is usually good. I try to do something that is going to accomplish things and fitness is what I’m trying accomplish here in this first set, even though it is early in the workout. It doesn’t matter how long the swim is, they still need to hold that T30 plus two pace.
For example, Ian’s 3000 yard for time was 29 10’s, 58.3 per hundred, so he had to hold a minute on everything that he did in the first set, and he was able to do that. In fact, he usually was a little bit better than that. He would hold under a minute most of the time. It doesn’t matter if it’s 25’s or 1000. If it’s a 25 he has to go 15 seconds and if it’s a 1000 he has to go 10:00 minutes, and that is just the way it was and he was willing to do that, as it was everyone else in the group. The first set is usually a 1200 to 2000 meters and it is directly related to the loosen up. I try to have the kids at the 2500-yard or meter range before we start the main set and it always includes all four strokes and drills, and every single one of my kids does all four strokes every day. My distance kids usually do at least one IM main set a week, but that is it, and I’ve had a lot of kids that are pretty good IM’ers that were also distance swimmers. So, this is an opportunity for them to get some of their strokes in and also do some drills or go at least 400 meters of drills every day. I’ve mentioned before that we spend a lot of time at the beginning of the season doing skill work, but this is the time when we get some drills in and work on the drills.
The next thing that I must do is I must target and monitor a heart rate going back to the T30 plus two. Not only must they do that on freestyle, but they must do that on everything that they do. I don’t have training paces for the strokes but if I do check their heart rates throughout the first set, I do want them at that 150 heart rate range. And I also include kicking sometimes. We usually kick at a moderate to hard level, so this is a good place to throw kicking in, especially if you’re squeezed for time. I’ll talk a little bit more about kicking later on.
The next thing is the main set. My main set ranges from 600 to 6000 meters. The 600 ones, probably really not 600 meters, would be like a lactate set where we go 6 100’s on 8 minutes, but there is some warm down in that, so it’s really not 600. The ones around 6000 are your good old-fashioned butt kickers that we all like to do every once in a while. But most of my main sets usually are from 4000 to 5000 meters and they last for around an hour. 90% of the time they include multiple energy systems. My main sets usually have peaks and valleys and maybe I’ll do some descending stuff where the beginning swims are all aerobic and they’ll descend down to a max 302 level. Or, we’ll do some best average stuff with some recovery in between. Whatever it is, I try to change speed and change paces a lot of times.
Swimmers are constantly reminded of their goal paces. While they are training everyone knows how fast they have to swim at the end of the year and they are reminded of that constantly. If they are descending 100’s, then they need to descend down to that goal pace at least, or if they are doing best average swims they need to try and think about that pace that they need to be holding later on in the season. I think that the more that they can swim at that speed the more confidence they are going to gain and the better off they are going to be at the end of the season.
I use drills during the recovery points in these sets a lot of times. Rather than have someone float after a good afternoon, I’d rather have them think about what they are doing and think about having good skills when they are tired. So, I’ll use drills as a recovery point in main sets, a lot of times. Here is an example of a main set. This is one of the main sets, and I put this one in here first because this is one of the main sets where we only focus on one energy system. This is a set that Ian did February 2, 2000; it was short course yards. It was 4 100’s on 1:05, 2 or 3 200’s on 2:05 and one 400 on 4:05 and he had to repeat that cycle for 60 minutes. One of the tools that I used, that I got a long time ago, was a computer program from an old boss, Lucky Foreman. And you throw in the 3000 for time results and it spits out training paces and intervals for any distance that you want to swim in a practice. So, what Ian would have to do on a set like this was he would have to hold 57 seconds on the 100’s and 1:54 on the 200’s and 3:48 on the 400’s, and he would have to hold those paces for an hour. It was pretty taxing training and I only did this once or twice a week with those guys, but they got fit doing this type of work and it worked pretty well for me.
Here is an example of another main set; 5 200’s free, descending on the 2:30. We did this this summer, and we did 5 100’s descending on the 1:05. We did about 2000 of descending work, always starting at a pretty good effort and descending to fast and then some recovery with the drills. Then I had a longer swim where they had to negative split, but they had to go at a pretty fast effort at 95%. That 95% is a term that I use and I’m not sure how really accurate that is. What I’m looking for is around 180 heart rate range, trying to simulate a race feeling as best I could. Then, I cut the set in half and then I went through it again. 500 descending twice of a recovery point and then a 500 even split this time at 95% on a little bit faster interval.
Here is another example, it should say example #3. This was November 15, 1999, and I don’t do this sort of thing very often but Ian did such a good job at this I decided I had to throw it in there. 3000 at 1:02 per 100, 2000 free at 1:02 per 100, and 1000 free at 1:02 per hundred. And he had to start at least T30 plus two, so he had to start at that minute per hundred and he had to get faster as he went. And the times that he went on this were, he went 29:47 on the 3000, he went 19:32 on the 2000, and he went 9:35 on the 1000. So, it was a pretty good set but I thought it was directly related to the type of work that I showed you on the first set. He was used to grinding out all of the time and he was able to turn in some times like that. At the time he did this, his best time in the 1000 was only 9:17, so he went 9:35 in practice and I knew he was ready for a pretty good upcoming season.
This is a set that we did over Christmas vacation. I threw this in here because it was not only Ian that did this, but Mark Workington was in town for Christmas and he did this set. 4 500’s on 5 minutes and they had to try to hold the same time on all four. And then they did a recovery point with some drills, and then 3 500’s holding a faster pace, pretty similar to the set I showed you before. Then they had to do 2 500’s holding an even faster pace, and then a good one at the end. Ian didn’t do as well as I would have liked, he was 4:55 on the first round, 4:49 on the second round, and 4:44 on the third round. And then on his fast one he got pretty tired and he only went 4:23 on the last one. I was kind of hoping for a little bit more, but he was a little bit more broken down than Mark was. This was a good week and a half into our Christmas training and we bump it up to about 100,000 during this week. So, he was a little bit more fatigued than Mark was, who had just come in a few days earlier.
Mark did a real nice job. His first round was 4:52 on the first set of 5, and then he was 4:48 on the second round, 4:41 on the third round, and then his fast round was 4:32, which I thought was pretty good because his best time was 4:20. It was only 22 seconds off his best in practice, and off a set like that I thought that was pretty good.
Alright, regarding pulling, we do a lot of it. I feel pretty strongly about it and I think that is a major key to the success that my kids have had. I try to pull about 6 to 7 times a week, so almost every practice- not quite, depending on where we are in the season. I want them to pull between 2500 and 5000 meters per set. We use paddles and the buoy unless they are dinged up or they have a shoulder problem, then I’ll take the paddles off. I used to use a PT tube back when I was coaching Chad Carven, but I found that the intensity of the training was too stressful on the shoulder, so I scraped the tube later on. My point sets always include at least one quality effort. Mark was just an incredible puller. I saw a lot of good things from him. We would finish off a pulling set with something pretty fast and some of the things that he did I remember that he pulled a 4:22 in practice for the 500 free one day, and he pulled an 8:10 800 free in practice one day. The season he pulled 8:10 in practice was also the year that he went 8:00 at the World University Games and he won the gold medal there at that meet. I’m always looking for pretty solid efforts during pulling and once again I like to get 6 to 7 times per week pulling.
Kicking, we will kick 800 to 1200 meters a workout, and I can’t stand it when people float during kicking. I just can’t stand it so I try to keep the intensity up during these times, whether it is going on tight intervals or doing some best average kicking sets. Whatever it is, I try and keep them focused and try to keep them going pretty fast during this phase. I also demand good mechanics. A lot of times you will see them up on the board bending their knees too much or something, and I try and emphasize with these distance kids that they need to kick with good mechanics. A lot of times you realize how much you need a sprinter to kick but I started thinking about how many times a distance kicker kicks, even though maybe they are not going 6 beats they are still kicking quite a few times during the mile. So, I try to emphasize kicking. I’m actually going to try to step it up a little bit more for my next season.
One of the things that I don’t do, is I don’t use fins. I never have used fins because I think that it changes the mechanics of your kick if you are not real careful about it, so I just scrap it. Although, I do use Zoomers with some of the more short distance kids, but for the distance kids I never let them use fins.
The final thing I’ll talk about is dryland, and this wasn’t a factor to be honest with you until this year. I didn’t do dryland at all the first ten years of my coaching career and that was mainly because I didn’t have the facilities or the time to do it. I wasn’t willing to sacrifice water time to do dryland training, but now that I’m at the position that I’m at, I’ve included dryland. We do light weights if any with our distance kids and we do a circuit that includes 11 exercises. It ranges from bench press to curls, with your basic exercises, too. We also do some shoulder stuff in there, some internal and external rotation exercises in our weight circuit to try and prevent shoulder injuries. We try to work on those back muscles, and try and balance out their shoulders. The weight circuit lasts 35 minutes and then we stress high reps and low weights. We are not trying to build people up to get them real strong, we are trying to keep them long and lean, just to improve their general fitness basically.
After the weight session we will do some abdominal work, working on course ability, just 10 to 15 minutes of sit ups and crunches and flutter kicking leg lifts. They are all examples of things that we do. And, I don’t run with my kids ever, I’m so afraid of having my kids lose upper body mass that I don’t have them do it. Unless I have someone that is over weight and they need to go out and shed a few pounds by running, but that is the only time that I do running.
So, in a nutshell, that is what I do. I’m hoping that some of you guys have questions. I would like to talk about anything that you guys want to talk about or anything that you guys want to hear.
(Question) Coach Schubert? Yes, during a high school season we go about 80% short course swimming and 20% long course. As soon as that high school season is over, we always go long course.
(Question) Yes, not really, other than I did start with Ian this year. As a matter of fact I started having him swim and during that transition, one of the things was his legs were only good enough. He can’t kick worth a lick but he can seem to swim pretty well with a 6 beat kick, so one of the things that we try to do with him is extend the period of time that he was swimming with a six beat kick in a practice. So, maybe I would give him a main set and his instructions would be in the first round of the set he would have a six feet kick in the last 25 and the second part of the set he would have to six feet kick a 50, all the way up to whatever, maybe a 100 with six feet kicks. But, that is how I work on that transition. A lot of times you will have a distance kid that just can’t do a six feet kick because they have a flaw in their stroke or something, and then you’re kind of up the creek or something.
When I was in California, we had a ton of time and it was kind of nice. There were advantages and disadvantages, but in California they got four weeks off at the end of the summer. And the reason that we were able to do that is because they didn’t have to swim fast until the spring national meet. Now that I’m in Florida and we have to shave in November for the high school meet, I give them their time off in the spring. They get about two weeks off in the spring and they get another week to two weeks off in the summer time, depending on what meet they are going to and when they are finished.
(Question) Yes, well as far as the guidelines go that I mentioned, they have to follow the rules right off the bat, but of course I don’t expect them to train at those higher levels. I kind of work them into it. I have them do the same basic types of sets, maybe a little bit less yardage, but on much slower intervals and much slower paces. One of the things I try, is I don’t let anyone in my group unless they are 13 at a minimum, and so we are not talking about real kids. But if I have a real up and comer that I think is going to be really good, I’m pretty careful with them not to kill them. One of the things that I want to do is I’m more concerned that they are going to go on and be successful later on down the line and I’m at a point in my career that I don’t necessarily have to have someone at world class status. You know, I’m O.K. with what I’m doing so I take my time with them. Sure, I found that it really depends on the athlete and it depends on how they respond to the training.
Now, someone like Mark Workington and Chad Carver, they were just unbelievable mid season. They would swim really well. Chad and Mark both had broken four minutes for me in the mid season 400 free and Mark did it when his best time was only 3:57, so he swam pretty well in mid season. But then again, someone like Ian, well he just gets beaten up so much that there comes a point and time where I have to decide, O.K. what’s better for him? Do I back off so much so he swims faster or do I keep up the kind of work so I know that he is going to be fast? And it is kind of hard with those kinds of kids because you have to ride that fine line with over training someone. Ian swam O.K. for me this summer. He came in a little out of shape, which I wasn’t happy with, but we swam at the Janet Evans Invitational and he was pretty trashed, like you said. He went 4:14 in the 400, which we were not happy with, but he was just broken down. And I tried as hard as I could to just cycle the training and not beat him up, but he was just someone that doesn’t take the work that well. He ended up going 3:56 four weeks later, so you know that was quite a drop. So, you just kind of have to play it by ear.
I try and make sure and look for some key things that I want to see, and if in that warm-up they are not able to hold those T30 plus 2 paces, then I know I’m in trouble and I know that I have to back off on them. Yes, sure in the racing phase we are doing mostly aerobic stuff until it comes time to work on that speed stuff and then I’ll give them 20 25’s on 45 all fast, as fast as they can go. I tell them they have to go 110% of their 100 speed, so if their best 100 time is a 1:00, then they need to be faster than 15 seconds you know. Or, I’ll have them do 50’s build or race pace a lot of times, anything to try and work on that speed so that they can have easy speed.
Easy speed, it is a term that I use a lot with my kids. My distance kids need to have easy speed so that they can get out at a pretty good rate but stay comfortable throughout the race. Then, I transition that into taper. We’ll go wherever I’m at yardage wise, I have the taper on paper that I want to do, and we’ll just start at 1100 to 5500 at practice. And each day has its, emphasis, whether I want to do a broken set or whether it’s all aerobic, just resting. But then I go through the taper that way.
(Question) Yes. Actually, I did that in the beginning and recently I’ve kind of backed off that a little bit. Ian and Mark and people like that, they can train long course at 1:10 or 1:07 per 100 probably, and do everything that they needed to do. But, I’ve kind of backed off of that a little bit and now I’m giving them a little bit more rest and asking for more quality swims in practice. Ian trains at 1:15 per hundred and I have some girls that train at 1:20 per hundred, but the girls will go 1:06 long course in practice and Ian will go a minute in practice long course.
(Question) Yes, I do. For the long course mile I try and have them negative split the 500’s. I descend the 500’s 1 to 3, the same with the 1650. I try to have them descend, obviously that doesn’t always happen but that is what we work for. For the 1000 I try and have them even split it the best they can, and then for the 500 I try and have them get out a little bit faster. You know, not necessarily even split but fairly close to even splitting the 200’s. I don’t want them going out too fast but I want them putting themselves in a position to be successful in that race. Anything else? Alright, well thank you for your time and thanks for coming in.