Development of Creative Workouts for Masters Programs, as Well as Self-Coached Swimmers by Susan Ingraham (2008)


[Introduction] Former All American swimmer at the University of Arizona and she was a 1980 USA Olympic trials qualifier. She has been coaching Masters for about seven years and this year she was National USMS Coach of the Year. Please welcome Susan Ingraham.

[Coach Ingraham] Thank you very much for coming. I have been coaching Masters for about seven years, but I have a multi-age group background. I have coached summer league, 5 year olds, mommy andme classes, age group, and some of the top high school swimmers in San Antonio. I have also been the head swim coach for Modern Pentathlon from which I had three Olympians, so I have a large background. I am hoping that I am going to cover a lot of material for you today to give you different ideas on workouts. It might be that you are a Masters swimmer yourself and you don’t have a coach. Maybe you are the age group coach of a pool and you are trying to start up a Masters program. Maybe you have been doing Masters for 25 years and you need new ideas to deal with these people. How to handle triathletes in the water. How to deal with the 45 year old woman that has never swum before. You have a 92 year old in the water and you have a 21 year old that just got out of college and is burned out but would like to swim with you. So really I want to cover a lot of areas, but as far as what you would like to have me touch on and make sure I cover, I won’t answer that specific question right now, but if there are some needs or things that you hope to get out of today’s talk, I want to make sure that I do cover that today. No? Okay, so I am just going to go into it and cover as much as I can. I just wanted to make sure I get everyone the information they need.

With Masters swimming you have to keep the variety going. People are going to come in and out of your program and as much as you would love to say, Oh, I have had this person in my program for 7 years. People move…people have children…there is turnover in your program and do not take that personally. Get them really excited. Get them pumped up because word of mouth will grow your program.

I started with zero. I decided that I had been around a pool deck long enough that I wanted to help adults swim. I had watched them swim and I thought, Oh man, I can fix that for you. And so I just put out a little flyer that on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at noon, if you want to come for an hour, I will teach you to be a better swimmer. I would come out every day on the deck and look at the empty pool and hang out for about ten minutes and then I would go back in my office. One time this woman was on the deck and she goes, Excuse me, are you the aquatics director here? And I said, Yes, I am. She goes, Well, that woman wants to talk to you. I walked over and I said, Is there anything I can help you with? And she says Well, are you having a workout today or not? I am like OMG! My first person! I was so excited. It took two weeks and that is where I started. I started with one person, who brought her friends who brought a friend, who brought a friend. It starts slow and you be patient and it will grow. Now I have 140 people. I am very excited with that. I am at three pools. I do most of the coaching, but I am very fortunate to have a few assistant coaches that help me with that as well.

So, in doing Masters, swimmers are going to come to you for a variety of reasons. You have your fitness swimmers, that do not want to do any competitions. You have people that are very fierce about their competitions. You have a lot of people that are there for the party and you have a lot of triathletes. It is incorporating all that. You can’t really have these long-term plans that unfortunately that are like your high school program or college program. I kind of divide it in these six and eight week long session sets going on right here.

What we are doing right now, from mid-August to mid-September, we just finished up long course Nationals. I can’t really give people the time off like you would like to give most of the other swimmers because if I do they don’t come back. What I do is, I take this time and work on stroke drills. I advertise that for the people that are just swimming in the outside lanes. If you have a program you are utilizing, there are probably open lanes and maybe you can draw them over. One of my locations, I am at a Jewish Community Center, there are members there and so I advertise in the hallway. Hey, come on Friday. I will teach you how to swim butterfly. We will spend an entire hour of that and that sounds brutal, but it is really an hour. If you think of breaking down a stroke it probably takes that long. We start off…body position…head position…chest down…hips up…legs…going through the whole gamut. This is kind of a nice way to take a break from all the hard training. You are spending a whole day and breaking down strokes. Even the people that have been with you for 15 years, will get over in that lane. There are mirrors on the bottom of the pool and we work on body position for five minutes and work on arms and they are like, wow, you kept saying this and it just never registered. Take that as a coach too: there are twenty different ways to say the same thing and they will get it on the 21st. Just keep talking to them. We use this time for a whole hour of backstroke or just starts and turns, etc.

Follow that with having to set goals. You have competitions. There is a pentathlon meet in our area and in that, the 50 fly, 50 back, 50 breast, 50 free and the 100 IM, or you can do all 100’s and the 200 IM, or all 200’s and the 400 IM. So we use these stroke drills to take your basic swimmers, that maybe have never even swum before, and are going to go to this swim meet. They are going to swim these five events and we are going to get you to actually do a 50 fly. You can go that far and we will finally get those feet turned out and you will be legal in your breaststroke. This is kind of a nice little goal if you can get them to go to a first swim meet. No pressure, who cares what the time was? The point was participating in a meet and showing off what you just did in your four weeks of workouts. Obviously, the emphasis is technique in these four weeks.

Next session we are working on here is the fall months. Your triathletes are done for the most part with their main competitions and so it is time to get a step away from the pool. If you were here for the previous class, we were talking about Pilates, yoga, or weight rooms. You work on their strength building. They are going to get sore from doing something new. You might encourage them to start walking or doing some running. You need to do something outside of the pool. If you are just swimming for an hour a day, if swimming is your main point of exercise, you are not doing anything to strengthen those bones. You do have a responsibility to your athletes to think down the road. You are not just their coach for four years; you want to have them for the next 30 years. We do need to do something for our bones and make them stronger. If you get them in the weight room or encourage them to start walking you are going to complement (their swimming) so we put that in this time of year. There might be a short course zones meet or fall meet, but that is not as important. My emphasis here is doing something outside of the pool, their dry-land training. I put a lot of kicking in, they are not going to like you and the triathletes hate you for it. But if you put it in now and say hey, you are not doing your big competitions and look at this great cross training and you are going to get your legs stronger. You can sell it to them that you really want to put this space in there so when you back off and your yardage is not going to be that high at this point of the year and you can put that kicking in because you have the time to do so in your workouts.

I set up strength days. I know enough about Pilates to be dangerous. I take them in there and I show them the basic moves. I will pull in my Pilates instructor and my yoga instructor. I set up days in the evenings and say, I brought her in here, if you can come on Wednesday at 7 o’clock we will run through a basic class. Show you the point of how it works…why we want to do Pilates and yoga and introduce them to it. If they can’t do it at the site of where their pool is, remember: adults, their nights belong to family. Fitness 19 on the corner and they can sign up for that class then. I also set up days where I personally take them to the weight room and I show them how I use the weights that help me specifically with swimming. I am not just in there doing biceps curls because I see no point in doing that, but I show them how I can utilize the machines to work on my catch, the follow through, working on my shoulders and lats, and working on my triceps. You can take the leadership on that or you find someone that knows what they are talking about. Take that opportunity and expose them to it so they understand the benefits of having something outside of the pool.

In December through January, we start building our endurance and we start adding more and more yards. We start putting the idea of expanding how far they can swim. I have a lot of beginner swimmers. For them to do four lengths straight without gasping and holding on the wall is an event. We say, you can do a hundred and I will give you a minute’s rest and then we are going to do another hundred. Maybe I can get them to a 125 or shorten that rest, so you are trying to teach them.

Treat your athletes as very intelligent and tell them why you are doing that. Even though I have all these things going on, I always tell them what the purpose behind the main set is. You want them to be smarter, so they buy into what your workouts are all about. If I just say, today we are going to go four 500’s…ready go…30 seconds rest. They are like, OMG, this is so boring. Why am I doing this? Then they pull out their pulling gear out of the bag. They think that you don’t see it. But if you say, hey, I really want you to do it for “this” reason, they will stay with the set.

What we are doing here, is my goal of the One Hour Swim. If some of you know me, the One Hour Swim on my team is mandatory. I am very proud of the fact that we are one of the top swim programs in the country and we have won it as far as the National Postal for a large team. Everyone hates me for it. This is something that no one wants to do, this One Hour Swim, but I make it mandatory. I really end up getting about 75-80% of my swimmers participating in it.
When you think…what is going on here? Is this endurance training? It is a horrible month and it is cold. One of my facilities is outdoors. It is 32 degrees out and I have to keep them in the water. So if they know that I am going to make them do the One Hour Swim in January, they will be in the pool. They all need to do their holiday shopping. They got people coming into town, they are cleaning their house, their kids got parties, but they will get to practice because they know that I am going to make them do the one hour swim. Starting in January there are sign-up sheets so it is very easy for them to go, Hey, John, I don’t see your name. Thursday is looking good, alright?

I have got to get them out there and so the emphasis is just long aerobic pace sets. When we are talking about educating your swimmers, tell them when you are doing the pace sets. We are trying, our goal is pace for one hour. You are trying to introduce them. If I go out in 32 seconds and I get 10 seconds rest and then I do a 37…38…44, and then I can hold 50. You are trying to teach them, don’t go out in that 32. Go out in 45 and learn how to do a pace. We are trying to train them for that one hour so we are also educating them how to learn what pace is. If they can hold 48 seconds forever and ever…ok, let’s try to work on 45. Try and encourage a little faster pace.

In February and March, now I start bringing test sets in and I am going to talk a little bit later in more detail about that, but we are trying to introduce a little bit of speed and some challenges and make it exciting. And kind of vary up our workouts and those can be swim sets, they can be stroke sets, they can be distance, or they can be kick sets. I don’t ever do something one group against the other because I want their own personal challenge. Some of these things I track personally and I hold onto those results. Some things I ask them to track and write down, so that you don’t have to always do it all yourself. I am throwing a lot of things at you today, but when you are looking at your own program do what you can handle. Sometimes I don’t know why I have to have 20 pots flying in the air at all times, but that is the only way that I know how to coach. I got a lot of things going on, but make it simple for yourself so you enjoy it and you enjoy your job.

Okay, so March and April we got some big meets coming up. We got Zones. Now I am incorporating a lot of speed work in, and do that a couple of times during the week. It isn’t like Fridays will always be speed day. Throw it in the middle of a workout. Do some pace and then just throw this in to mix it up. Throw it in the middle of the practice. Then we start working on starts and turns and taper. I will tell you from experience that Masters swimmers never dive in the pool. They are using the ladder and they are creeping in and sitting down on the side. Don’t wait until two or three days before your major swim meets to introduce diving because they all throw their backs out. You have to do that like a week in advance. And warn them that because the next couple of weeks we are working on your core and strengthen those backs because we are going to be diving in the water. Everyone will just throw their hips and backs out so do a lot of that earlier on. You should always be working on your turns. Make sure you throw that in there. You might throw in a speed set. I want you streamline, or I don’t want you breathing your first three strokes or I say I want to see six dolphins. Always throw that in there because it has to be part of their swimming. You can’t just say it at the meet, it’s just too late. They are zoned out in their meet. They are like, I don’t know about that dolphining thing you told me about – yeah…right, right, right…I forgot all about that part. Introduce it all the time.

In May through June I introduce open water. We do open water training in the pool. I take out all the lane lines. I put up a triangle. I put three trash cans on the deck and they swim in a triangle in the big square. It is pretty exciting to see 24 people in a six lane pool doing that. They learn sighting. I show them the proper way to do sighting. We learn drafting. We learn to be sharing and to be nice, not swimming over our teammates. And then I take them out to the lake so we have open water swims and still have nationals in front of us, but there is a lake swim that we shoot for in June and July. For the swimmers we are starting to do some quality middle distance. I start taking them out to the lake and we do some lake swims which I don’t charge for. I just take them out there.

July and August: Championship season for just about anything so everyone: your triathletes and your swimmers are focusing on Zones and Nationals. We are just working on pure speed at that point. I have a secret for the triathletes, so if I had any of them in the room right now: they are a part of my program. They think, oh yeah, she really pays attention to us. I have no idea when these triathlons are. They are like, oh yeah, I am doing Coeur d’Alene. Good for you…I think that is Ironman isn’t it? It took me about a year to go, oh…its Olympic distance…yeah good, or Sprint…okay, that must be shorter than the Olympic, right? So I don’t keep track of that, but I always talk the talk so they think that I really care, but I don’t. I just try to keep them in the water.

I have a calling for socials because Masters are there to have fun. They tell you they want to work hard, but really, look at all the talking going on in the pool. Yes?

Q. I am laughing and I am sure all of us are going through this, but how are you getting all of your swimmers to do this ocean, or rather open water, like the triangle thing and you actually. A. That is the workout that day. Yeah, you have to.

Q. But what about…do you get them all to go with you to the lake? A. No, no. Probably on the lake I have like ten on a given Saturday. A lot of people have the “heebee jeebies” about anything that is green water. I want them exposed to it. There are some things that I make them do. I have a prior swimmer right here in the water that Elaine will speak up for me. I am pretty ruthless. I get people to do the craziest things. But, open water I do suspect, there is a fear factor. I am out there and I am with them. I usually let my stronger swimmers go, and I just sit there and really just do breaststroke. I am talking to them and talking to them because if they want to be out there, that is my job: to encourage them to do that. You and I want them to work through those fears. But I don’t make anyone do that. That is just optional.

So the social thing is there because you do need to have something fun. I had a gentleman who joined us. He joined us for a whole one day. He was from Indiana and he goes, “Now I want to know like, how often are you guys going to meet on Friday night for beer. And I was like, “Ah, I will have to check with the swim coach and he goes, well our team in Indiana, we met every Friday at Joe’s Pub. I go well, we really don’t do that. We do meet like every six weeks. We have a party at someone’s house. He goes, “See ya.” So, he had a different priority.

I do try and do things away from the pool. I mean, it is my chance to see the spouses and thank them for letting them have their swimmer with me. And then they can also see, oh these are the people you spend that whole time with. I have this beautiful woman that trains with me at 8:30 and her husband always goes, now wait a minute, you are in a pool with a wet suit on with all those men…he is not getting it. She is there to workout, but he doesn’t get it, but when we are at a party, when he sees everyone away from the pool he understands. This is important to her and you know I think that you will see that too. It is hard with families and they ask, you are getting up at 5:30 again? Or you have to go to that swim meet again? But when they see the enjoyment and the camaraderie of the friends, you will get the support of their family and the spouses. That is important for them. They need that too.

So, now on our test sets…I do an 800 timed swim on the last Friday of the month. Everybody knows it is coming. Most of my swimmers, I have to warn them. Don’t do any pop quizzes because it is hard on them. They have to eat and drink and rest and get ready for them, if they are going to do a quality set. We do the 800 swims the last Friday of every month. In September we do just a 500 timed trial. In December we do a 30 minute swim. Why???? Because we are doing one hour in January! That is right. I give them a 15 minute swim and we do a 30 minute swim because they can wrap their heads around having to swim that long. They get bored and cannot keep track of it, so we throw that in there.

Heart rate testing…I will cover. Fast Fridays: Brutal sets, but I do it about three or four times a year. It is six 100’s on 6 minutes…600 main set…no big deal. After the second one you figure out what is going to happen to your body. Lactic acid builds up and in the 6 minutes your body cannot clear that out fast enough and the third one hurts and then you are wondering, how am I going to get through those last three? That is a big cheerleading thing. We only have one person per lane at a time. Everyone else is on the deck or on the sides of the pool screaming for them. It is almost like a high school environment where they get pumped up and excited. They are killing themselves and their legs are on fire and their face and all the muscles on their back are exploding. But they get through it. Those are all out. All six of these are all out. So from the very beginning, you are trying to keep it tight. I cheer everyone in the lanes, hey, we are on our way…that is awesome! You have got to stay with it and then they do a 1:10 and you are like, hold it, hold it, hold it. You do not want them to lose anymore than about five seconds on that.

Outside of that on the fitness, are just things that are challenges that I put out there or things that we do outside of the pool. Some interests and varieties that I throw in there. Remember about 30 of your people do not want to swim in swim meets so we have our lake swims in the summer. I take them in the weight room. The 3000-6000 postal is an event that people that those who do not want to go to swim meets, can do. You can sell it to your triathletes. They are like ahh, I don’t want to register with you. I don’t want to do all that. I am like, you know what? 3000: you are in a pool…we can take your splits. You will learn pace. You will swim a great open water…oh, didn’t think about that?

We do underwater filming.

Brute Squad is a national competition. I happen to have been doing it myself, but for those that do not know about it, it is a 1500 swim (around a mile), 200 fly, 400 IM. I make them all do it in that one hour practice. We do that each year. There is a 30 minute swim challenge that we do.

In February I do an information clinic. It is at that time that they do not have to listen to my voice again. I get specialists to come in. I might get a Pilates person. I have had a massage therapist. I have had physical therapists coming in. I have had a cardiologist. I’ve had bone density testing. We had someone that specializes in vitamins and he came in and he took some tests and they could see from the blood…it was more like seeing how well your body was absorbing the vitamins that you take. Bring specialists in. They are interesting and you open it up and people are like wow, I heard about this from the Run Store. I didn’t even know there was a Masters program, so it is a little bit of exposure for your team.

Okay, in March: Danskin Training. I am the coach for San Antonio and I usually take on about 50 women and get them ready for Danskin, which is a women’s triathlon. Then I also offer a city-wide workout. Again, exposure for my team: helps it grow. Post it at all your pools. Say hey, at this pool in this location, anyone that wants to show up. We are going to do a one hour workout. Suppose you have a Masters team in there, it is good exposure for the pool, publicity for them. You can work out some cooperation. A lot of times I can get in there for free. You are just exposing swimmers to be better…even if they never see you again. At least they were swimming more comfortably with better technique as they went on. I do an open water clinic. It is 2 hours. I have to talk for an hour and then I take them in the water for a practical hands-on portion.

10K Postal is in June. I always throw new challenges out for my team and they always get worried when I get all excited, especially for my ladies. I have a couple of women on my team and they are all real strong swimmers and I usually title it “Next Year’s Challenge.” Oh, I don’t even want to know what Susan has created, because last year I said, “We can go for the 10K relay record – how’s that one? This year I got hooked in June, the butternut challenge: it is a 500 fly. Of course they were just about as quiet as this room is right now and then, OMG, Susan, what are you going to do? What I did was, for all these workouts we did fly-free-fly-free sets and a lot of dolphining. A lot of drills. Then I would add more and more sets, oh look…this fly set…lots of rest. Next time, shorter rest. Then I said, hey, I want to get ready for that 500 fly. If you do not want to do it straight…just to kind of get ready…why don’t we just do twenty 25’s on five seconds rest? So right now, I have had 27 people do the 500 fly in the last couple of months. They sent the entry for the Butternut Challenge. That guy does not know what is going on. He keeps sending me emails, “Susan, why are you sending all these people to me. You have more people than our own team.” So I am excited. That is another thing that I just love…that we have more than they do. Then there are lake swims and the 5 K postal is there. I think we will keep people interested in having the competition goals. Keeping your triathletes excited about what they are doing, that you are kind of following their races and then offering the fitness things outside of that.

What I do is after we have done the one hour, remember…everyone did it, now this is what I do is my heart rate testing. I know it is real complicated so I just want you to look at the person and the shaded area. Don’t worry about the rest because I just put these up as examples. In the shaded area, what I do…this is a set of ten 100’s on 40 second rest. Now what I did is, this is the goal for this person. How I came up with a goal is: that is what she averaged in the one hour swim. For an hour, she did somewhere at 4,000. Was averaging 1:30 per hundred pace and the first time she swims it…this is actually a 1:28. So she swam a 1:28 and what you are going to do for each of ten, you are supposed to go two seconds faster each time. You started off obviously at a very comfortable pace because this person was able to swim an hour at that pace and that is when they don’t usually know where to start. You just tell them, I want you to swim easy…long…kind of like for the one hour is my directive. They are very close and you can tell by the very first number, everyone was fairly close to that directive. I am there with a stop watch. You are asking them to take their own heart rate…what they do is just for six seconds. And if you have a digital clock you take your first beat on the red dot, you are going to say zero so when it comes up on the clock you are going to go zero – 1- 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 6 – whatever number they come up with and she came up with 15, in this six seconds. You just write it down. She did a 1:28 on her first 100 and she had 15 which is basically a 150 heart rate and then she is resting 40 seconds. They send themselves off and you just start the watch. Okay great…you did a 1:28…want to drop that down to :26? Okay, did another 28. Take another heart rate and so 123,123, 122, 119, 117. These are the hundreds that she did for those ten. Always on 40 seconds rest. Always telling me what the heart rate is.

Now what we are trying to do with the first six are comfortable. The next four are going to hurt. You are still trying to get that because we want to find out what is going to happen to this heart rate in here. This dropped down really good. Then what happened here is they couldn’t go any faster yet the heart rate went up. They are maxed out. Just like I said, this is really rough. Her max heart rate is going to be 210. So that is what happened here. This is a pretty good test. You are giving them feedback, they are dropping down every two seconds, they are taking their heart rate and this person did okay in here. What happened on this one is she was descending down pretty well. Heart rate was going up and then on the last one I am screaming at them, go as hard as you can…just everything that you have…leave it on the pool. Well, she went from 13 down to 8. She had too much left and if I was a really ruthless coach, which sometimes I am, I would make her do more. This is too much. She had too much, so this really isn’t her max because she still was not hitting her max. This person hit their max. You can tell by what happened here. She had too much left so I bumped it up to 190 because I really didn’t think that was her max there. What happened on this person is probably started him too fast, so my fault. Then in here his heart rate was getting higher and higher yet he really wasn’t going any faster and then it jumped up and then he went slower. I cut the test off. You do not have to do 10 here. To me he hit his max. We didn’t have to do all ten. Part of the issue was that he started too fast. If you see something like this, you would just end it a little sooner because you do not have to do all ten. Where Ann had to really do more, Todd was done.

Here…Brent was pretty interesting because we started here. Started a little too fast and then you can see that he hit here and then it hurt so he went slower and his heart rate went down. I said – no, no, no and he says oh no. I am getting tired and I go no, no, no and so he went here and went a little slower and his heart rate went down further. Then his coach got really mad at him and screamed at him and his heart rate went a little bit up, and what did he say to himself? That hurts. I don’t want to go it so he went back up. What was going on in here was that he couldn’t push himself to go walk through the door that a lot of us need to walk through to work on our conditioning. It was a good lesson for him, and me as a coach, to see what he probably doesn’t practice. On those days when you are screaming at your swimmers to kind of push it. He hadn’t learned how to do that, or he wasn’t quite willing to walk up there up. So that kind of alerts you as a coach and alerts him. Well, how are we going to teach him how to do this and encourage him to do that in the future? He was pretty interested to see that as well and he knew…all those days that I think I am working hard, maybe I am not. Maybe there is something else there. That is kind of how I used his heart rate testing so they can learn from themselves.

Here was another one. He just isn’t trying to push himself. He just couldn’t and then had too much left over. Now this person here did a really good test and so what I did on this box over here and explained that in pieces. So let’s just say that we determined that her max heart rate now is 190. And at that time she is maxed out then we say 122 is the fastest that she can go. Now just using a calculator to figure this out is really easy – 90% of 190 is a 171 heart rate. So I went over here…171 heart rate. For all these they ran a 124…I figured a 125. 80% of her max is this…70, 60 and so on. I went back into the chart of where they swam and then I figured out about what that time was.

This will help you set intervals. And what they should be doing in practice. If we are doing our Fast Friday: the six 100’s, on all that rest and you are going max out. I expect you to do this on all of them. That is max. That is the only time I expect that person to do that time…on Fast Friday. That is what I am expecting. If she does a 1:20 on our Fast Friday then I am on her. I am holding her accountable to that. She has shown me that she can do that. If you are doing a set on 90% effort, you have to give masters swimmers rest. They are probably going to need about 40 seconds rest if you are doing a set of those. If you decide, let’s do ten 100’s on something that is about 40 seconds rest, you expect her to do 1:25. I don’t usually use rest as my interval, I use a clock. Let’s just say for her…well then I expect you to do these on 2:05. And they are always surprised because they forget that I have all this stuff and I said, You, you are on 2:05 and I expect you to hold 1:25’s, like what? You know that sounds so hard, but you are giving them recovery because you know that they are capable of doing that.

If you are doing something that is easy-moderate-fast. Well, what did I expect her to do? She was going easy. I expected her to go the 1:32…going moderate 1:28…and then drop it down. This kind of teaches them, if you give them this chart, it is something that they can look at. They know what they should be doing. I don’t have to go to all 25 people at practice going, you are doing a 1:32…you are doing a 1:28. That if they have this at home they kind of know what is expected of them to do their repeats. If they are doing something with 20 seconds rest, we can do here, you can hold 80%. If you want them to hold, like you are doing an endurance set you are trying to fill in one hour at 70%, she can do this all day on 5 seconds rest. I shouldn’t say all day. She will be mad at me, but you can repeat this on 5 seconds rest.

I know it sounds really hard, but swimming is different than running and some other exercises. We are horizontal in the water. We are being cooled by the water. It is not as difficult for a heart rate, so you are looking at some of these huge heart rates and you are like, how old are these people? Most of these people on the screen are 45 years old or 55 years old. Some of my younger ones. My max heart rate now at my age, is almost 50, is the same as when I was in college. It hasn’t changed. It will change, but right now it is the same. I have a very high heart rate. But I am not killing these people. Do not think that these are all my 25 year olds. I am showing you really my older swimmers. I am not blasting them into having these high heart rates because of the position in the water you can do that. Any question on this?

Q. Did you do these separately? A: I do two at a time or I can use my assistant coaches, but I really can only manage two people, maybe a third. It is over a course of one or two weeks, but I try to get everybody done during practice.

Q. Kind of on that, so you are tracking the times and the heart rates? A. I am writing it down for them. I am tracking the times and I am writing it down. They are giving me the heart rate.

Q. I have a physiology background, so I could ask questions here all day. The only thing that you are using to base this math on is the performance in the test? You are not starting on a range based on their age. A. No because I believe that everyone is different. Like my max heart rate is 200 on this test. I know this is kind of a layman’s term. We are not using those heart rate monitors. These are not exact. His question was, What is going on here? For all I know it is a 170, and a 168 and a 171. It is just rough what you are feeling on that heart rate, but I don’t go by the old “pick your age and do all the math off of that.” I feel that everyone is a unique individual.

Q. I understand that it is probably wise that you don’t at least say that it is black and white because I know people that have gone to a gym and their knuckle-head personal trainer said that is your max heart rate and I am like, that is pretty lame. That shows that they do not have the education, but you are paying $50 an hour. I was just wondering if you used a range? But I will say an interesting thing. I remember asking my physiology professor, exercise physiology professor, about the relevance of max heart rate to age because I knew some people, I heard some people, talking about it and they were 45 years old and had a max heart rate of such and such and he thought absolutely that if they were having a high heart rate at a certain exercise level it means they are not as efficient. They are not as fit. And I was like this person seems pretty fit to me. I mean they are doing something that most people wouldn’t. They would die trying to do, but they are able to generate a high heart rate and swim fast at an older age. You think that only a kid can have a heart rate like that. A. Yeah, yeah, but I can regularly get mine up to 200. My assistant coach is 35. If I make her get to 130 she thinks she is going to die. Everyone is really different, alright?

Q. I am sorry, I am not understanding how you are getting the max heart rate.

A. Okay, so she is questioning why I got 190. Now here, I just felt that she really showed me that this was the most that she could do so this is…Remember, she took her heart rate for 6 seconds and so I just had to multiply X 10 to get to 190. Here I took some liberties…like I was looking at some guy. Yeah, is there one up there? Yeah…because I didn’t think that he got there. You know that was my personal opinion. I really felt that he hasn’t learned to push himself through that pain to max it out. I think he thought he was working hard, but I took the liberty of bumping it up.

Q. What do you do with swimmers that are considerably slower than these pace times? I mean I have got swimmers that are different.

A. I know, this is what I took off the one hour swim. Remember, this is what they went out in.

Q. I am talking about swimmers that are slower.

A. I have some that started at 2:20. They are swimming like 2000 maybe for the hour.

A. He is saying, What did you do with your slower swimmers? I knew that in the one hour they held 2:20’s so, we started out at a 2:20 pace and then we just progressed from there. It just takes a longer test.

Q. I have got a question being relative to what he just said. I was thinking the same thing. I know that I have swimmers that shouldn’t do ten 100’s descending. I mean, let alone just do ten 100’s. Do you modify this at all for maybe some of your fitness groups?

A. I am just saying the participant can’t just do ten 100’s. The concept of having to descend. Maybe just the concept of descending you mean? I am not asking them to start here. I am asking them to start where their level is. I took this first number off their one hour pace. I started with what they can handle.

Q. So if they can’t do one hour, then they can’t do this?

A. Well, I kind of know where they are. Like let’s just say, he didn’t swim the one hour, but you did, and you guys are the same. I see you at practice and I know that he can start at 2:35. So I will start him at 2:35. I base it kind of off who’s there to train with. They don’t necessarily have to have done the one hour, but I start with a number that is doable. This is doable but some people, I have no clue. Maybe they are a beginner. The swim is as easy as you want and that is kind of where they swim.

Q. Do you have any people that do the one hour swim that have to sit on the wall for a while and so then you base the pace off their full time?

A. Yeah, I just base it off the total. I don’t take into consideration that they sat there for ten seconds. This is just a starting point, something to start with. This is not exact because I don’t do all this during practice. I just say easy, moderate, fast, but they understand this part of it. I mean, look at the game of it and you look at the challenge of what this workout was even. I mean, don’t bother with the heart rate if you don’t want to do this. Just think what the challenge of the set was. Start with an easy pace, and I want to see if you can go two seconds faster each time, just the concept of the test. Some people fail the test because they couldn’t even do the test. They are like, I don’t even understand what you are asking me to do. I mean Sharon, my directive: Swim as easy as you can, 1:46. That is just a little off her pace, so alright, forget that one. Then she couldn’t figure this out. She says, I am going harder. No, you are not. She didn’t get it. So you do it again three or four months later and maybe they will get better at it.

Q. Do you give them all 40 seconds rest?

A. Yeah, every time they get 40 seconds rest. As I said, the first people, you are done in 20 minutes or some people are 50 minute tests.

Q. What do you do to get your new swimmers to have better relaxed breathing?

A. There are two things. One is, I find that some of them do not know to exhale completely under the water. They will not blow out at all. They will hold their breath, or they do not blow it out completely. So, what happens is, you have that mix of bad air-good air in your lungs and by the time you are 2/3 down the pool all you have is bad left in there. What you have to do is just make sure they are exhaling completely. If they do not get it on my simple instruction of that in ten seconds, then I pull them over to the side and we can literally do “bobs” or I have them do it with a kickboard. I can kind of watch them and they blow it out. They get it, but usually they are stressing and just holding onto their air and not exhaling completely.

Q. Don’t you think 100’s on 6 minutes…Do they swim down in between?
A. Yes. Some won’t. I think that is more brutal. I used to mandate: We are going to do six 100’s with an easy 50. And I found they were all sitting on the wall. Adults, they are a stubborn breed I’ll tell you! I will say, you will really feel better if you kind of move the lactic acid around and they are, Oh no, let me sit on the wall and let it accumulate in my legs. I had this one guy…we had a hot tub at one of pools. He went in the hot tub every time. I’m not sure, but I didn’t discourage it, but you know we had a clock and it was on the countdown and I am like, hurry, hurry and he hops out of the hot tub, puts on his goggles and dives in for his test swim. I am glad he is having fun today.

So another test that I give them are, “Happy 100’s.” You have to have a good name for it. Not, “The ones that hurt the most 100’s.” So my strongest swimmer will probably go about 16 of these. I do have two ex-college swimmers and I make them do 18. My stronger swimmers, or A level swimmers, do16, some go 14…12…10. And their directive is to do as many on the shortest interval possible that they can do. You want them to fail. You want to really push them to what they can’t do. Let’s just say, Annette: she would do a 10 on 2:10. This chart…I sit out by the pool, like in the hallway. When they are done with this test, have them write it down. You do not have to track this. Have them write it down for you and you can tack it up and make it look all pretty later. So, Annette did ten on 2:10. The next time we come back I have this information. I go, Annette, it looks like you did ten on 2:10, so let’s try for 2:05. Go as many as you can on 2:05. If you only get eight of them done, then do the last two on 2:10. Don’t let them do the same thing again. Challenge them. You have this information. Again, this person…she is going to have to go 16 of them. I don’t add a number, I just reduce the interval. She is going to have to start on 1:30. Now, I put this person up here because this isn’t really what I wanted to happen. He went way too fast: three on 1:30. And then he didn’t make it, so then he did the next two on 1:35, next three on 1:40, and finally finished up on 1:45. That is not what I wanted to happen. I want to keep it on one or two intervals. If you go to three then I don’t think you did the test correctly. Next time, I say this is what you did last time, Robert. Let’s start on 1:35. Start a little bit more comfortably and maybe we can shave off some of this and bring it in. Keep it on 1:35 and 1:40. Same thing with this person. If you only did one on that interval that is a clue you started way too fast here. Same with this person: 1:50…1:55…and then we went to two minutes…no, no, no. Let’s just start here and see if we can lose some this way. This person did a good test. Did 8 here and 7 here, so you tell them go on 1:40. Let’s see, last time you did 8, maybe you can do 10. You are challenging them to go a little bit faster…maybe it is on that next side. Now what happened here on this person and that looks odd, is the test before they did 16 on 1:30 and really…this person has gone as fast as they can go. To go to 1:25 would probably disintegrate into doing 1:35’s at the end of the test so what we did is, we just challenged him by one second. (1:29) And that was significant. This isn’t that hard to figure out because it is 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, when you are on the clock, when you are looking at it so you are able to do it so next time he has to go sixteen on the 1:28.

Q. What is the goal of the happy 100’s?

A. The goal is pushing a faster pace for longer. It is learning how to go a faster pace. I can sit here all day and do my hundreds on 1:40 and I am very comfortable.

Q. Would you call this like an endurance, to achieve like a 3 or something like that?

A. Yeah, I don’t use all the terms. I am trying to…but what I am trying to do is trying to create…Why am I making them do this? Other than my pure enjoyment of watching people do this, is to find a faster pace. To challenge yourself. For the one hour, when I do a 500, I can do this all day. Yeah, but you know what? I want you to learn how to swim here and so if you are trying to challenge yourself to stay with something a little bit longer, instead of being like maybe this…she gets…This is so comfortable for her, so I am trying to take her outside of her box to go on 1:30 or a little bit faster so you are training yourself at a faster speed for longer. Not just a sprint set, not with long rest, but trying to have a faster pace for more distance.

Q. When you first start this, where are you starting?

A. I just told them: I just made up numbers. There are some people I know pretty well that I know what I can challenge them with because I see them in practice all day. There are other people like here…I wouldn’t have started them here. My directive was on the fastest interval that you can “hold,” not the fastest interval that you can actually get to, but you think you can hold. I am telling them that it is a challenge, so yeah, it is probably something that I wouldn’t have wanted them to do but after the first time, you do it again. If you do this once a month, people get excited because it is a challenge. And that is what you need to do when you are creating workouts – finding something challenging for them and they will enjoy it…like WOW. Last time I went 4 and then I did 8, and this time I went 6 and 6. They see that improvement. They want to know that they are coming there to get better…to be stronger…to be faster swimmers.

Q. I think it would help really when you had it posted and then you know – then during that week people say – oh well mine stayed or you know Harry did and he said she is my lane partner – well surely I can do that pace or when I do my test set today I am going to ….

A. Yeah, that always helps. We are not competitive at all, are we? Someone will comment like, WHAT? She did what?? Okay…well I am going to show her. So if they missed last month’s cuts and they find out what someone did, yeah, they will step it up.

Q. Well then, now for example, starting with Brent: he did 8 on 1:40 – then 7 on 1:45. Did you do this for – like…we are going to do this for 15 minutes?

A. No, he just stopped at 15. I had just put out, because I kind of knew my lanes…you are going to do 16, 14, 12, 10. I didn’t tell him how many to do. If we were doing a set, that is probably the same amount of time for them to do 16 100’s…as the same amount of time it would take them to do ten.

Q. So everyone who was swimming that day, whatever their number was, they are all going to finish at about the same time.

A. Yes…her question was did they all finish about the same time and why did I choose that distance? I got 16 for some of my stronger ones which is long enough and I just tiered out down from that. When I write workouts I write them for my A swimmers and then I pare it down. I think it is important when we are training together, we do our kick set together and we do a drill every day. I am all technique. I do not need go and pound yardage. If they want to do yards they can come in before or after and I give them suggestions, but I like that time where I can talk. If I am trying to work on your high elbow, I want everyone to hear it because I don’t need to say it thirty times. You know, she told me that last month, but I forgot. So I want them to hear that correction. Whatever we are focusing on, hopefully they will take that drill into our main sets. I try to write the main sets that we finish together. I know I am doing 15 100’s on 1:30. I calculate that out that it is going to be 27 minutes or whatever. Then I know that if they are doing their 100’s on 2 minutes, they can get this amount done. I try and write our main set…we want to do some drills or pulling or something at the end…some no breathers…a little sprint. Then again we are back intact and we are together. I am on the deck, or I am in the water, but I want that continuity. I need to bring our swimmers together. I want that training together feeling even though, if I do a kick set…if I can do a straight 300 and lane one did a 150…at least we are all kicking for the same seven minutes. That is how I see it.

Q. How much rest do you have?

A. On this…just make it…probably 3 seconds, 3-5 seconds.

Q. You said that you designed this basically starting from the top down. Do you have a range or like I want them to go 25 minutes and that is it? Is there a time limit on this?

A. I will generalize the question. He wanted to know if we would go for 25 minutes. I really just pick the numbers that I thought were challenging. I could do ten 100’s and I don’t think I could get pushed. Once I get to 16 I think I really got something more out of the set. I might push myself into getting that “walking through the door” feeling, but my main sets…I usually write them down…about 30 minutes worth.

Q. The reason I am asking is that I see one person on there that says 18 and I was just wondering, did you think that is one hour long? I didn’t do the math on that.

A. Well, he could have done 20. I don’t know if Josh is in the room or not, but this is Josh Davis, he will probably be embarrassed, and can do it on 1:05. But I try and I was trying to have it like it was just major groups that I put it up there for. With him, he could have probably done 22 of them in the same amount of time we did 16. I mean…he is that much faster.

Q. I have some guys that are wild. I will give them a set and they will do 22 and you know, but I think they went on 1:22 the last time and so the next time they will try to go 1:21.

A. Yeah, yeah. It doesn’t have to be exact. Make it easier on yourself. I don’t want you to feel pressure like oh, I have to calculate it out exactly. You know sometimes my first group is all done and I know (another group) has another two 100’s. I mean, right now, I try for my main sets…I try to have 30 minutes. When I do it, like I want to do a set of 400’s and this is what I want to get out of it. I calculate for my first group…how long will it take them and then I just tier down from there.

Q. — aerobic threshold, when they can’t sustain it any more?

A. On this? Yeah, I mean his question was, was I trying to find their aerobic threshold? I want to just keep it a little bit more casual than that. It is just a challenge, but this is what you are going to get out of it.

Q. Do you have different send offs for the same lane? How many people do you have in a lane?

A. It does get complicated, but I have, on a set like this, if they are all going together, I have 5 people in a lane. On average on my sets and I try to group them together. Sometimes I will have like 6 people because they are all on 1:30. And I have this one person that is going to go on 1:35 and I might have one person on 1:45. I have them in the same lane splitting. They will split, so some lanes get really crowded because everyone is blowing up the water together and then I have these two people that they didn’t fit anywhere and they have to have their separate lanes…and sometimes it doesn’t work out. I mean, in all honesty…I got this one person…I don’t know what to do with him. I say, you are going to have to go on 1:30 as long as you can today. I would have 9 different lanes for 9 different things. We just try and make it work the best we can, but on average in a workout, I have like four or five in a lane and then the ones that are separate, I try to have then share in a lane. Like Josh, he split the lane with someone else. No one was going to do what he was doing, so the person that is splitting the lane with Josh could be going on 2:20. It didn’t matter because they have their side and he had his side, but there is no way we could have worked with Josh going that fast. We have to keep them separate.

Q: Do you use kickboards?

A: I don’t use a lot of kickboards because I feel that it kind of pulls the upper body out of alignment so I don’t like to. Most of the time, if I do kickboards, I might do…like for one of my test sets I do a straight 5 minute kick. Go as far as you can in five minutes and I am on the deck like a basketball countdown…2 minutes!…30 seconds! I will do that with the kickboard because I like their heads up and looking at the clock and they are racing it, but most of the time I am doing without them, and I am doing more streamline…level in the water. I work on all four positions. I am on my stomach. On my side and I am on my back. I feel that opens up your kick on the side and I like the versatility so we are doing a lot of flutter and dolphin kick. I make sure that as far as tempo, I don’t do it all hard. Sometimes I will just go full board sprint and easy recovery coming back. I do “no breathers” underwater kicking, with or without fins, which gets interesting; we’re in a 25 meter pool. I vary the speed up.

I feel that Masters need some more recovery to really hit them hard. If you say these are all hard, by the fourth one they will dog it on you and then they won’t give you that quality that you want. I think when you write stuff as Masters you have to have an easy/moderate/fast component or a little bit of recovery on some things. Yes, I hit them hard on this, but this is not an everyday thing. They need that active recovery. Don’t give them like 30 seconds…40 seconds to sit on the wall. Let’s do this hard or strong, and then something easy. I always explain why I am doing the set again. I am trying to make my swimmers intelligent and accountable to themselves. I don’t have to be on the deck standing on top of them screaming at them to get going. I want them to understand why we are doing this and that it has a purpose.

Q. How long are your workouts and what kind of yardage do you do?

A: I do an hour. My stronger swimmers go about 2800. I could do 3000, but I believe in doing drills so I back off on that. I really work on technique. I think if I work on one little aspect every day and I really do three to four hundred on that one drill, I am reminding them. I say when we do this main set we are working on our follow through. When you get tired I want you, thinking, am I doing that? Or, we are working on rotation or on our turns or something. I remind them going into the main set why I did the drill that I did. Hopefully by the time that we are all about 105 we will be beautiful…perfect swimmers. I just do one little aspect each day.

Q: Do you train your Masters with snorkels?

A: I do not, although that is some equipment that I am considering. I mean I see the benefits with it. It is just that there is only so much stuff that they can haul. A lot of them throwing it in their car and going to work or just the expense of it, but I will go that way, but I don’t do it now. Your previous question…how long do we go…we go an hour. We go an hour every workout.

Q. In terms of like your weekly plan…it looks like you are having your quality swimming on Friday. Do you have five workouts a week?

A: I actually have 7 workouts. I offer workout 7 days a week. We don’t train like that, and then this, through the day. It is all the same workouts. If you missed 6 o’clock you could come at noon and make up for it. You are normally a noon person and you have flight, etc. I am going to follow up with your question because I think what you are asking is what do I do through the course of the week.

Q: Right, if you were, your quality work would disappear.

A: I would probably do this either on a Friday or a Monday. Usually how I write my workouts is Monday is a quality day. I figure you have all weekend to recover, except for my triathletes who ran their 19 miles yesterday and I don’t really want to hear about it. So we do our quality on Monday because we are all fresh and rested. You are there on Monday and you are ready to work. We are not like the kids who probably had a swim meet and they need to recover. A lot of age group programs have their recovery distance days on Monday or they let them sleep in on Monday. I have got to get people up who are getting ready for work. We go, and we are going to do something quality, and I am all excited. They really don’t like me on Monday mornings because I am ready to go. So we have Mondays as usually a good quality day. Tuesday is IM. You know, we are still pretty fresh. I can really kind of hit them with a good IM set and all that fly. You know we are going to do quality swimming, but their strokes are not going to fall apart because of my IM sets. I really write them pretty difficult. I need them fresh and ready to hit those. Some of them don’t come. My triathletes know…don’t come on Tuesday. If I have a generic kind of week like that, then they know…they will come for sure on Wednesdays because I am working distance on Wednesdays. They want to get the distance sets. They don’t want to do all that fly. Thursdays, if they came in every day that week then they are tired, so Thursdays is more pace, recovery, a little longer. I throw some pulling in there. They get to use their fins a little bit longer. Then, because I was so nice on Thursday, I hit them really hard on Friday because look…they have all weekend to recover! I don’t really care about their two hour bike ride on Saturday. So, that is kind of how I do it. I do quality hard sets on Mondays and Fridays because they had that rest, that nice day to recover. I usually do more of my hard sets on Fridays and that is just kind of how we go through the week.

I used to do it like the kids, but what I found was that by Wednesday they are so tired they couldn’t give me a good quality set on Wednesdays. Be respectful that their bodies need more time to heal and educate them about their own bodies too. Your triathletes are trying to up their yardage. They are trying to go longer on their bikes or they have come in for the fourth week and they are like…I don’t get it…I am so tired. Well, yeah, you are tired. You pat them on the back…you did awesome on Tuesday, but your body needs more to recover. Drink more…eat more. I am sure you are educated enough you can tell them better nutrition on that.

Q: If you have an athlete that is coming by…maybe six days a week…lifting weights a couple of times a week…and they are going to Nationals…what are you going to do for taper?

A: For taper, I actually taper everybody together, even though they are not all going. To me, taper is fun. Taper hurts because you are doing some hard quality swimming, but I used to just pull those swimmers out. The triathletes go over here, they got their big thing coming up. We had zones and we had Nationals. I was running three different things. It wasn’t so much that I couldn’t manage it, but it was more exciting and I found, a better team atmosphere when we all taper together because even though you are not going, you are like them. You are screaming at me when I do my broken 200’s. You are there and you are telling me…you are giving me my send off…you are telling them my repeats. I like that atmosphere. Again, trying to bring in that little bit of high school spirit into it, even though they are not going. They are part of the atmosphere that you are trying to bring together. When I send emails home from Nationals, or if I didn’t go to Nationals, I try and find out how people are doing. They are like wow, it’s so cool today…she did that 200 that she was working on all week. Because everyone knew she was working on it all week and I like that support, so we taper together.

Q: So is it like a two week taper…a one week taper?

A: About ten days …ten days or so. We don’t really do enough yardage on a regular basis to taper for two weeks. I am barely doing 3000 so it is hard for me to come down. I have to rest them in between sets, so I can’t like hit them every day with some speed work, so my taper kind of goes like this as they go down. I am trying to keep some yardage…soft yardage up and hit some really good speed.

Q: It looks like that most of your swimmers are fairly experienced.

A: No, just what I am showing you.

Q: No, but what I am talking about is do you have a feeder program? I mean…you might get somebody who only does the free. They don’t even know the other strokes.

A: Yeah, his question was a feeder program and I know that I am running over, but I am happy to answer all of your questions. His question was what do you do with those people that aren’t really that strong of a swimmer? I take anyone. If you can put your face in the water and somehow get down on a 25. That is my criteria. I am on the deck and I help them. It is kind of a glorified lesson at that point, but do you know what? They are in lanes 101. (That is what we call it…it is lane 101.) Then they are so excited to graduate to lane 2 and then there is going to be someone else in lane 101. I have a gentleman that lives in lane 101. He is 68. But he is at that point where he is not…he cannot hold his same pace. He is going…he is progressively getting slower. He is a great swimmer, but I am saying that he is at that level, because it is perfect. He always feels like he got them going and sent them on their way. And I love it and there again…he is my assistant coach in that sense. He is the one that welcomes the people that aren’t that strong. I love it that he is there to help me out.

So another thing that you can do, even if you have age group kids, is to make a little variety. I do have my holiday workouts and I am famous, or infamous, for them. I think of some way to break up the workout and people will come just for them. If you can make a great workout, you will have everybody show up on that day. In fact, my Halloween workout that I think is so much fun, (often, on average, I probably have 24 people at a workout), I get like 38 because everybody wants to come on that day.

Then we have Labor Day: it is a day off, so they want to work out that day. Everybody comes and it is so fun with six and eight people to a lane and it is crowded. I only do 50’s on those days because they are like a choo-choo train, if you have that many people. What I encourage you to do is, take the theme of the holiday and do something off of that. It doesn’t have to be the whole workout. Now I have them do the whole workout under that theme, but if you just did one aspect. I wrote this drill or this set because of what the holiday is – like rodeo roundup. For some, rodeo might be a big day. Well, what is in rodeo? Calf roping: I have one person swimming and the other person grabs the calf. One is the arms and one is the legs. It is not just fun and games, that is a hard thing to do. Ever try to haul a guy weighing 220? He is kicking me. Although, I cracked up because one time he paired up with this other guy who is not that big. He probably weighed like 130 and I think the one guy was surfing because John is kicking so hard. The guy was on top of the water swimming like this and then he didn’t get to kick because when they reversed it John just hauled him through the water and he is coming up for air like this. You can do something like that.

Groundhog’s Day: they can go to the bottom of the pool and come up for air, so the groundhog can go back underground.

Texas Independence Day: I don’t know what it is about Texas colleges, but they love all their little hand signs. What I do to help get a feel for the water is, we can swim like Longhorns…we can be Texas A&M…we can be Texas Tech. SMU has their pony ears and you have to bend them “just right.” They have to swim using their hand signals. Something that we just do for 25’s, then you finally get to open up your hand and you get a better feel for the water. A different way to do that is to incorporate this little hand signal.

Passover: Now what I do is, we have to do a kick set, going in that direction. Going down the pool, you have to go underwater-flutter kick. Coming back you are doing dolphin on your back. The key is that going down is underwater…coming back is on top of the water and everyone must remain in the middle of the lane. There is no circle swimming. So you are passing over the other person. And it gets kind of fun because you have four people so you come up…you gotta go back down…there is the next person…you gotta go back underneath him and some people screw up. They kick the person in the head that they are trying to go underneath them. A little team bonding there.

The Triple Crown, or some call the Brute Squad Challenge, but we call it a triple crown because what is Triple Crown? It is horse racing…the three most prestigious races…200 fly…400 IM and the mile. That is our set. When they come in we warm-up and then we go. You start with the 200 fly. Get it over with.

Let’s see, for My Birthday: we always have to celebrate my birthday. I am not a modest person. We do different things…take off on like 6 and 21 which are my birthday numbers. We are going to do 100’s and for 25 minutes you are doing 100’s on your age in rest in seconds and my 70 year olds are like, Yes!, because they get 70 seconds rest. My 21 year olds are not very happy because they have got to do hundreds for the next 25 minutes on just 21 seconds rest, but you get your amount of rest on your age.

First Day of School: What is school about? School is following all the rules…walk in line…keep your hands to yourself…be quiet…put your backpack over here…write that ticket over there…get the key, etc. I will go 25’s of butterfly and I give them 25 rules they have to follow and it is not written down. You got to be an auditory learner, but I do demonstrate for the visuals, like when I say six dolphin kicks. I give them all the rules and I send them off and I watch everybody in the pool and if one person does not follow all 25 rules, we go again. If one person, messes up, I go, Nope! You were supposed to do six dolphins. Somebody only went four. And I send them off again, and I send them off again, and again, and again. And that is a great one for kids because kids at first will do it and they will purposely screw up and then the peer pressure starts coming on and then they try and get out of it. But adults like it because it makes them think about so many things at the same time. Oh yeah…high elbows. I remember high elbows. Did you remember to do high elbows but keep your chin down? Did you remember to do high elbows, your chin down, then do your streamline, squeeze your ears without looking out before you broke out? There is a lot, but it is only a 25 so it is a good one to do, kind of like the time of year when I was doing all that technique work because you have to think about so many things at the same time.

Halloween: I do things like kicking on our back looking like zombies with our arms. We put our kick boards upright so they are tombstones. We have to kick…here is our one kick set with boards and you have to have your head down and you have your tombstone going down the pool in front of you and it is so cool because…outdoors…6 a.m….in the dark and the steam is coming off the pool in October…all my tombstones are moving down the pool. We do ghost floats. I do trick or treat with candy. We just kind of mix it up. You will have a blast with that one, if you just kind of think about it.

Wimbledon: I throw tennis balls in the water. Everyone should have two and if you can think of kicking on your back. Then I can throw one ball with my left hand and one ball with my right…no fins. You think of what the core strength that is required to kick on your back with your hands above you and actually do something, but a swimmer has to involve a ball and coordination. That’s a new one. Most of them are swimming because they couldn’t do ball sports or anything and function on land. So here then here and then you make them throw it and catch with the opposite hand and then you make them juggle. I have them do breaststroke, going to put the ball underneath their chin. That is an easy one, well, maybe not an easy one. They are doing breaststroke and they have got to keep that ball there and they struggle the first three times and after they get half way, they get it. It is so cool then, to take the ball away and they are like, oh that is how we were supposed to do that all along…not this. I take the ball in backstroke and if you have a ball in your one hand and not in the opposite hand and you tell them to take the ball down and throw the ball. Not really releasing it, but pretending the throw the ball with top spin. Their hands come over like that and it goes really fast. You really develop a lot of fast hand speed here. They mimic it with their open hand, then they throw the ball, and then they go through with an open hand and you really see some really neat work in here instead of just falling through underneath them and all this other stuff that they do. They get that because they had something that they understood…how to throw a ball. Hopefully they didn’t throw like girls, but throw the right way. I made them do doggie paddle with the balls under the water so they are kicking…the heads are up. It goes about two feet and it bounces back up. They are using their core strength and coordination while they are doing their kicking sets. You can do it like that and it is like you can just kind of play with that for any holiday.

Best holiday ever, is in November: Day of the Dead: that is the second week. I guess you have to live in the South to appreciate the Mexican heritage on that one. So what do I do? An hour of butterfly. And it gets awesome! We warm-up a little bit because I have got to get their shoulders nice and loose. And what we will do is a 200 fly and then eight 25’s, and two 100’s of fly and eight 25’s and we just keep going and going and going the whole hour. Believe me, then, they celebrate the Day of the Dead when they get home.

Thanksgiving is great because you can have an appetizer piece, you can have vegetable medley. There is breast, there are drumsticks to use in your workouts and you can kind of play with that whole meal and dessert. What does everybody love for dessert? Fins! So you can finish up with the fin set.

The last one I will throw out there is Election Day. This is their one chance they get to pick their workouts. I am kind of a dictator so it’s one chance to actually have some vote in it. I have a panel over here and a panel over here: A & B. And we go through the whole set and I just take a vote…do you want to do A or B for a warm-up? The problem is that they are covered up. Everyone gets to vote, oh, look at you…we are doing 50 butterfly for 5 minutes. That is really good and the next one? Oh, you guys chose the ten 200’s of backstroke, we could have just done the 25’s, but this is what you wanted…you voted for it. And of course they say, well that’s not fair because you know what we are voting for and I said, you don’t know in the Presidential election either…you think you do, but you don’t know what you are getting until they are there.

Again, thank you very much. I had a blast! I appreciate it!

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