[introduction, by Joel Shinofield]
Alright good afternoon, welcome back. We have got another excellent presentation in store for you with Jack Fabian from Keene State College. Jack has transformed Keene State Swimming in his time that he has been there. He has, I think, been coaching for eight years at Keene State, and he has developed it into one of the top programs in New England, if not all of Division III. In fact before Jack’s arrival, most of us did not realize the potential that was there at Keene State College. But since his arrival he has produced over 50 All Americans from this team, athletes who are competing for national titles, in all events, but he has also seen tremendous success specifically in the distance events. And some longer events that we do not have in college, including his daughter’s success—who has made the US National Open Water Team and was a silver medalist this summer. So please welcome up someone with unique ideas and great perspective in Jack Fabian.
Well, I want to thank Joel and John Leonard for inviting me to come and talk to you. Joel asked me if I would come and give this talk as part of the College track at [the] ASCA [World Clinic], and I am grateful that you are here.
My entry into Division III coaching is probably not very normal. I started out as a research scientist; my Ph.D. is not in Exercise Phys. [Physiology] but Molecular Biology. I transitioned into teaching pretty much because of family reasons: my wife found a good job in Keene, New Hampshire, and at that time I was struggling to survive as a research scientist. So we moved to Keene and I started teaching. I had worked a little bit as a coach in graduate school, when I was competing as… I was competing triathlons, so I coached some Swimming.
And when I came to Keene, I started-out coaching an Age Group program at the college—and my kids were also in that—and then I helped out with the college team as an assistant coach. Age Group coaching took up most of my time at that point. My job with the college team was basically to run the electronics and also to train a small group of distance swimmers in the morning. And really the only reason why they had me do that was because no one else would wake up at that to come.
I noticed there are not a lot of Division III presentations, but I actually do recognize a lot of Division III people here—and so I thank you. For those of you that are maybe not familiar with Division III, I thought I would present some of the perimeters we have to work with in Division III. We have a short season, it is 19 weeks; and a horribly-long break, which can be up-to three weeks—over the Holidays. And for us that is—and I will show you in our season plan—that is because of… that has to do with a combination of finals and going home for the Holidays. On the up-side: there are no hourly limits to training; you just have to get them one day off [per week]. On the down-side: there is no money, for recruiting and little money for staff. Which means if you want to run a lot of practices, you are going to be on deck a lot.
In some ways not having money to deal with is nice; I feel like there is less pressure—at least in my position. I think it has allowed me a chance to sort of experiment and be creative. And I think you will see that some of my stuff is a little bit different and so hopefully… it seems to work and hopefully it is okay for me to show to you and if you try it.
Alright, just a glance at Division III. Division III is actually a very big division [of the NCAA]—you see down here, it is the biggest. There are 4,000 men, 4,000 women; 236 schools that participate [in Division III Swimming]. (I just pulled this off of online.)
I will talk to you a little bit about seven aspects of our program.
1. First thing we will talk about is the program progression. And Joel mentioned a little bit of this, about how we kind of came out of nowhere and ended up having some kids doing very well at Nationals.
2. I will give you a little bit of an overview of how we look at the season—and just in a general form.
3. My attempt at periodizing a very-short season.
4. And then a big issue for us is programming; and that means just trying to get people into the pool and not swim on top of each other. We have a lot of… we have 23 men, 23 women in a 6-lane pool. Coach Shoulberg is really good at doing this; I have to schedule it differently—I am not that good at that.
5. I will show you what our distance micro-cycle looks like.
6. Joel also asked me to give some examples of sets. I ended-up putting a lot in there, so hopefully that will not be too much.
7. And then I am going to talk a little bit about some dryland things that we do
And then we will have time for questions. But feel free to ask your questions anytime during the talk.
1. Program Progression
Okay the first thing we are looking at: program progression. In 2009, I had some women do fairly well at NCAAs and somebody actually asked me if I had a men’s team; and so I thought I really should focus on this. And, well, it has been a work-in-progress, but the key thing was getting the right people. We had our first male at NCAAs in 2010, and he was a sprinter. Did not have the best meet, but he was really happy to be there and we were happy that we had somebody there.
The next year, he was actually part of that group of 5 that qualified and we had our first distance swimmer. And we ended-up placing; we were scoring points. And really the point of this slide is to show you that… you know I think a lot of times we think in college Swimming that all the points are for sprinting, but just to show you the impact a really-good distance swimmer or two can have on your scoring. Out of 36 teams points, 16 of them were scored by a distance swimmer alone.
In 2012 we had 4 that qualified, we made 17th. And this time the distance kid had to be on all the relays, even the 400 Free Relay; and he scored 39 points—if you include his relay points—out of those 55. And then we have had 7 the last two years. And you can see that out of 109 points, he is scoring 32 individually; out of 149, 43 individually. We obviously would not have placed as well as we did, if we did not have focus and put a lot of time and effort into distance swimming. I used to kind of think, with Age Group Swimming, you could use distance swimming just to get a kid to a big meet; but, here, you actually really can have an impact at NCAAs with a fast distance kid.
I will just show you a little bit about how this worked, in terms of our times. In 2011, he placed 3rd in the mile. I want to say I did a lot of really traditional distance work with him, and we realized that we really need to get better: he did not make top-16 in the 500, which we were pretty disappointed about. In 2012, he moved up; actually had quite a good drop and improved in the 500 and made top-8. The following year we got a partner for to train with, and Shahar from Israel ended-up learning how to swim short course and ended-up placing in top-8 in the mile. And Drew, our distance swimmer, improved a little bit in the 500. And then last year was our best year yet. They were right back-to-back in the mile; both of them placed in the top-8 in the mile. Times kind of moved up and down a little bit, but overall we have been pretty happy with that progression.
2. Season Overview
So now to get to our season overview. Our Fall season: I look at it as going up until Thanksgiving; we have 12 weeks. Then we have finals and a holiday break; we end losing them for three weeks. If they do not make NCAA cuts by the December meet—at the end of the Fall 12 weeks—they are pretty much going to be tapering for conference. So we have, when they come back, about 7 weeks left; which is not much time. If we do think they are going to make NCAAs, they have 7 weeks to the conference [meet] plus 5 weeks, so it gives them about 12 weeks, which is I think a pretty good amount of time to work with. I mean 12 weeks is not ideal for a distance cycle, but I feel like it is workable.
What I try to do is break-up the training cycles into themes. And I have a theme which I call like an endurance cycle, and then a theme where we really kind of focus on threshold, and then another theme where we work on power and pace. For the kids when they come back, if they are going to taper for the conference meet, we do not go back to the endurance. We maybe give them one or two days of some recovery work, when we get to Florida [for holiday training], but then we go right to threshold, power-pace and into their taper. For kids that we think will make NCAAs, we go through the full sequence again; so they will do some really nasty stuff when we are down in Florida, as part of their endurance training.
Look at periodization, here. I am going to go out on limb here: I try to do a thing I call block training. I feel that it actually works, but I am not sure if everything is real. But it seems to work as an effect for them. I will explain. I got it from looking at what they do… in weightlifting they do a lot of this and they are big proponents of it. But basically it is based on a concept of concentrated training blocks, and then a long-term delayed training effect. And basically if you are a weightlifter and you train strength, alone, they think that once you stop training strength you can actually still get some increases of strength—you certainly do not lose it—for about 30 days. That seems to be the same thing for aerobic endurance. Some of this would be more like threshold and lactate type of work—you are making pyruvate—that lasts about 18 days. And speed lasts the shortest: only about 5 days.
But basically we do these concentrated training loads. The idea is that if we train endurance for, you know, here we have like six weeks, theoretically your endurance can still improve, if you are working-out but not working-out on endurance, for another six weeks. If you work what I call threshold here, for about four weeks, at this point here when you stop working on that particular adaptation, you still get a little bit more threshold improvement over the next four weeks. And then we switch to power-pace work, which will last about two weeks. That will trickle over. And we do one week of this real-intense speed work.
The idea is that that all these things will sort of line-up right on the date when we want to kind of have a first meet: we will be the most fit, best threshold, best aerobic power, most speed and pace. And then, you know, it all lines up. It seems to work for powerlifting, and from what I can see, it works pretty well for us conceptually. They kind of feel like they are amazing at the end of 12 weeks because of that. Again, no physiological tests on this, but it seems to work for them conceptually and it is a good way for us to organize their training.
I will just show you, this [on slide] would be the full season, going down to Division III NCAAs. This would be our conference meet. This would be how we kind of look at volumes during that first part of the season. This is what we do for an NCAA qualifier. Again this can all vary, but it is… sometimes it is a little ambitious. During Winter Training it is a little easier for us to get up in volume; during the school year it is a bit of a challenge, but they do come in and do extra work. This is how it kind of lines-up with our blocks. And this is how it lines-up when we do the block work for the second 12 weeks of their season.
Alright, programming. This title should be: how do we get this to work? I think one of the reasons why we have been successful in distance swimming is because we really respect their training and we really try to make sure that they have special times that they are just working on distance sets. And they have, basically, the pool, and they will have two coaches that will be recording splits and getting them times.
So these are examples of three swimmers: the pink is distance, this would be a sprinter, [and] middle distance. We arrange their program such that sprint and middle distance will have a certain number of lifts, the distance are going to have certain drylands. And then these are the number of pool practices, not including Saturday. Actually, when we have Saturday practice and meets, there will be one more. But everybody has this set schedule, and what it allows us to do is free-up the pool (which I will show you in the next slide).
On Monday mornings, most of the sprinters and middle distance are lifting; some of them actually will come in if they are I.M.ers—will come in and do this. It allows us to free-up Thursday afternoon. And then Saturday morning, we make a big effort to just to have distance swimmers. These two afternoons, the whole team is in together. Really focus on just kicking—which I feel is good for distance swimmers—a lot of technique work, we will do work on starts, turns. And that will be with a ton of swimmers. Generally, it is broken-up between two practices, but generally the 2:00 practice is a mess. On Tuesday, we also have this all-team set: we will do more I.M., but we will have to do like 25s because we do not have much room. It is more aerobic; it is good for the sprinters. Again we will do some technique and start work on those days.
Tuesdays and Thursdays, we work with our power towers. We will do 45 minutes of dryland with everybody: we have 12 people per group, they will do 45 minutes of dryland. And then they come in the pool and they swim for just one hour, and will work with our power towers. We call Tuesday long power, because they will do a lot of 25s. Thursdays, they will just do mid-pool sprints. (I will talk a little bit about that during the training part.)
Friday, we just have the men’s team in for an hour in the afternoon and the women’s team in an hour—they are all separate. We take out all the lane lines; we just work widths. But I always figure it is good for the distance kid to have some speed work; it is guaranteed every week. Work underwater speed, and it is good for the… they do not feel like pariahs—they do not feel like they are just stuck somewhere in a lane by themselves, they are with the sprinters and they race them. Friday morning, actually, is pretty much distance-only but also some I.M.ers; we do a lot of work with tethers on those days. A lot of times they will do twenty minutes of tethers: just sprint down, no-breath back—something like that. It is good and it is good endurance work, for sure.
6. Training examples
Alright, we get to some training examples. This is some of the equipment I think is really important for us. They like these paddles: the agility paddles from FINIS. I have always had distance swimmers that were… some that loved paddles and some that were really scared of their shoulders. This seems to sort of bridge the gap, because they feel like it is a more technical pull and it does not really work there shoulders as much.
We always use short fins. Just so that… I feel like distance swimmers are not the greatest kickers. And we can do some sets where we really encourage them to try to drive their legs and get a kick that is more like a six beat type of kick. Usually beat-up pull buoys. Hydration/ recovery… some sort of recovery drink.
This is probably the most important piece of equipment: this yellow strap. We use it without a buoy, we just put their legs in it and we do a lot of pulling. Since we do not do, you know, big paddles; we will just pull no-paddles with a strap. And we will do long… get-up to long, long sets with this. But it is very hard; I think it works on their body position. It is something I actually learned with training Open Water. A big concern in Open Water is body position at the end of 10,000 meters, and I figure: it is probably the same thing at the end of the mile. When you start to get tired, your body position falls apart, your legs kind of drop. You are going to have more drag when you are actually tired. The strap you really… you will go nowhere if your legs drop, so you have to focus on using your core to keep your body position.
We also use these drag socks. With distance swimmers, in all-team kicking sets, they will put them on for kick sets. But a lot of times, I will just put them on for pulling. Just to give a little bit extra drag; I will pull them up to their knees and swim with them.
Talk about some sets. So during the endurance phase, we will do some things we call a density set. And basically, we will just try to see how many rounds they can do in 30-40 minutes of like a 300-200-150-100, all pulling. They have 10 seconds [rest] after the 300, 15 after the 200, 30 after the 150, and then 40 seconds after the 100. And basically the 100, with that 40 seconds, they should be really lighting-it-up.
So again… you know, one thing I think I saw with distance swimmers—when I was reading about them and also I had done some lactate testing—is if you give them a set and they are supposed to hold a pace, and you are kind of hoping their lactate level will be maybe at 4.0 or just below it. You will start-off a set and basically what will happen is: even if they are going the same speed and heart rate, their lactate is going to drop. So a lot of times we will try to put a little bit of extra speed at the end of sets, so that way we kind of stress the system and we probably get the lactate levels back-up to where we were hoping.
We do sets with long repeats, especially with the guys we think will make NCAAs. We will sort of modify this: for people that are really just conference, distance swimmers, it is probably just not appropriate and they would hate Swimming and quit. So we do not do that; we will modify and adjust their sets—unless they really want to try it. We also do a lot 200s, 300s, 400s, sometimes alternating easy/fast—and I will show you an example of that.
These are some of the endurance sets. This is the 3000s; this is one that I would only do with select people. But we will do 3×3000: first one, they have to go really-hard on the last 500; the second one they go fast the last 1000; and third one, they have got to 1500 really-fast. Again this is something we have done with Open Water swimmers. But these guys like challenges, and so, you know, they will ask me what Eva [Fabian] used to do on these and then I will let them try it. It used to be they would never close; now they actually do really well on it.
This is a set I got from Ray Benecki, who trained Kate Ziegler. And I have kind of really liked it. But it is 14×200, 14×400. This is a big, major set; this is an important week if we do this. (It is pretty funny when they see it on their kickboard.) But, basically, you are going to alternate a 200 on an easy interval and a 200 on a fast interval. And, you know, they get through the 200s and they are just like: This is nothing, coach; no problem. One minute rest: how awesome. Because you are going one , one easy, and then four on 2:15—not a problem. But the 400s get a little tougher. So 400, and then a 400 on 4:30, a 400 on 5:00, 2×400 on 4:30. It is a bit of a beast; they call it the Meat Grinder. It is fun, but it is something that we always do.
This is one of our easy/fast type of sets. So they might go: 200 pull, and then, on the same interval, 200 really fast; and then 2×200 pull and then 2×200 fast; 3×200 pull, 3×200 fast; 4×200 pull, and then 4×200 very fast. And they actually have gotten down to the 1:48 on those (these are actual times off the board). They take pride in this, and they really go fast on the fast. But, again, it is playing-around with intervals and playing-around with speed, in the context of a 4,000-yard set.
Okay. This is the way we make pacing charts for them. We will do 10×200 on 20 seconds rest. We just start a giant clock, and they will do 10×200, take 20 seconds rest between each one. We will subtract-out the rest, and then we have a time. We use that us our timed-2000. We do that [in] weeks 2, 6, 13 and 15. And, you know, some of these are actually not distance swimmers but they jump in—these were actually 400 I.M.ers that wanted to do it. They actually like doing it, sometimes. Again, we like to see them progress over the course of the season. This is October; this was a little rough, coming onto the training trip, after flying down to Florida; and then January, they were back down again.
I will show you what one of those charts look like. These are spreadsheets from Jon Urbanchek, who was nice enough to share them. We just put all their names in there, you type in their times, and these will come out with paces. And basically paces that we will go at different speeds, relative to the threshold. It is your basic color chart. But again, we can print this out, put it on a kickboard, and then you can run a large number of swimmers and all their practices are individualized.
Here is an example of sort of a mid-season, threshold set. They will do 4×200, one white, one pink, two red. We actually made more of a custom chart for these guys in this case.
You can see, we actually made two charts for our two top distance guys because one was based upon their test set—they probably should do more of a 2,000 straight—but some of those times were pretty hard for them to do—like pushing 1:49s and stuff like that. (Although at the end of the season, they could do that; mid-season it was a little hard.) So we let them bounce between these two charts.
Then they will go 4×150, two rounds of that; and then two rounds of 6×100. Again, we are just kind of sort of spicing it at the end by putting in the red colors. I think that is good because, you know, they start off… sometimes the red pace can be quite hard for our swimmers during this period.
We always record all the results. Like actually, this was this set; so you can see they ended-up pushing 1:49s on this set. But you can also see the wide range of talent that we have: we have got a lot… we have some really fast kids, and then more typical conference kids.
These will be sort of our late-season color sets. These would be, you know, here, they have to pull some at white pace, swim 3×100 at red, and then they are going to negative split some 200s, and then 4×50 at a blue pace. In the blue pace, we are trying to get them down to 24 (and that 34 should be a 24—that would be a real problem). But they are quite good at using these times: they like the charts and they like the structure to the practice.
This is another spreadsheet that Jon Urbanchek gave me—and I am sure it is out there, but I like it. It is a road map; he calls it the road map. Basically these are a bunch… if you picked your time you are hoping to go on the 1650—let’s say we are trying to go 15:15—you can look across at these colors and try to line them up with a set. So if we are trying to go 30… this is a set we do: 30x to 40×100. We usually do them on 1:30. They are going to have to hold 56.1, alright. And we are going to try to keep them to that.
I will show you a list of the ones that we do. These get really hard. Like the 4×500 can get real hard because you are going to want them to go like 4:37, in practice. We have actually done that, but it is… we are pretty psyched when that happens. But again, it shows them that when we are doing these real intense sets, this is what you should be doing to go this time; this has been tested and it works.
Here is how we break-up our goal sets. Week 4 and 6, we will do that 30×100, and they will have to hold that goal, 1650-red. That is different from their chart; that is off of that big chart I just showed you. And then we will do a set, around week 6, which we call our Larsen Jensen set—and I will show you that. Sometimes we will double it up: we will do another 30×100 and that set at the same time.
In week 8, we will do 4×500 on 12:00, and these will be broken. They do a 200 dive—or we have done it push—and then a 150 push, 100 dive/push, and then a 50. And basically, the 200 we are trying to get them under 1:50—if they really are in that NCAA group—the other times are purple. So this is a big set. You can actually get your broken-500 time, and it should be, you know hopefully, around five seconds better than your goal time—or somewhere in that range.
In week 10, we will do 12×100. This time the interval is bigger and the color is deeper: so instead of red we are trying to go purple. Again, we will do that Larsen Jensen set. The first time we do it is… and I will explain that set to you: it is a learning experience. It is a real self-directed set. But I think they kind of have to just learn how to do it. And here they should be better at it.
We do this Grant… I give them names, but this was sort of a Grant Hackett set. Week 11. And they will go like 3×100 on 1:30, 4×50 on 40. The goal on the 100s is not so bad: it is white, pink, red. But these 50s should be at 200 race pace, so they have to haul on these 50s. This is week 11; week 12, remember, we are going to be racing. This will be right before they go out the door to Thanksgiving.
Week 13. This would be an NCAA qualifier, but when we go down at Florida, we have done this almost every year: 100×100 long course on 1:15. We do have kids that go a different interval, but this would be our best interval. I thought we were so awesome that we did this, and then [the University of] Virginia was down there and they showed us their times: I was like woah, we’ve got some work. But they are good, it is a set of pride, and we track it every year and just try to see… it is something that they shoot for, coming back from break. So I think keeps them… they know it is coming, they know they want to do well in it; I think it helps them to train when they go home.
Week 15, we will do the set 10×150, trying to hold a 1650-blue color pace—from that chart. Week 17 we go back to those 500s, and we will do a Larsen Jensen set and this time it should be good—really good. For the NCAA group, we will do that Grant Hackett set. And then we end-up doing a lot of sets with 125s, where we are really focusing on… you know, we will do a couple of 125s very-short rest but trying to focus on holding 500 pace, with a lot of recovery between that.
We will take a look at that broken-500 set. This was, again like I said, weeks 8, 17 and 21. (This was… I think the one I am showing you is right after NCAAs.) But you can take a look at their… these were their December 500 free times. So they should sort of know what they need to sort of hold in terms of a 50 pace, and kind of what they are targeting in on. So this would be… they dive a 200. They should be going-out at their 500 pace, so they would be shooting to go 1:46, off the blocks. And then the 150s will be purple, and the 100s will be purple, and then the 50s will be: their best possible. And then, this is the chart we use for their purple times. So the 100s, they have got to sort of try to push/dive a 50.
And then these are some of the results. And I mean it is… (I do not have the best handwriting but) you can sort of see that we had a… actually had really good 200 there: 1:45. And we add-up the times, and that time added-up to like a 4:20 and a 4:21—this one was a 4:26. These were just the two swimmers and they are doing four rounds of this. So, first couple rounds they were both under 4:30—adding-up the times. But then they got down to low-4:20s, as a broken 500.
This is that 100×100 set, and, like I said, we actually record everything. So these are all their… like this is, you know, a 1:08, a 1:11, 1:10. We just… we do it, they like us to save it; and I save all the stuff in Evernote, and they have access to looking at it—they can go back to look at it.
This is the Larsen Jensen set, which I think is an awesome set—I do not know how many people do this. Dave Salo actually sent this (he is in the next room); sent this out to National Team coaches, maybe in 2008. But basically he challenged people to hit Larsen Jensen’s split in the 1650. Obviously we were nowhere near that, but I thought I could just adapt this to our swimmers. What you do is take actual race results and you put them into a spread sheet. You set a rolling clock: you just start the clock at zero, and then each round will last 20 minutes. So the first round, they are going to end up doing like 15×50 and a 100, that are really fast. And I will show you how this is sort of organized. But they are swimming the splits from the race.
Take a look here: these are all the results, these are all the splits. Basically, the highlighted (the dark splits) you do not need to swim; you just sit on the wall—that is your rest. But let us say the kid went out at a 24. The clock would be rolling and when it hits 24, you take off; but you try to get back at what he hit for the 100. And you do that all the way through, here. At the very end… (actually, I am sorry: the light is the rest, the dark is the swim). At the end, you swim 100.
Here, in the second round, you are going to rest for that first 50, but you are going to swim 100. You are going to rest a 50, swim 100; rest a 50, swim 100. Always trying to hit that pace… come in on the clock where that guy would come in at whatever part of the race. The last round, you rest a 50, you swim a 150; rest a 50, swim 150.
We actually took one of our competitors for our top swimmers, and we took his race from the 1650 where he went 15:04. So I did this for a couple of reasons. Not to, like, intimidate them, but just to kind of get them more familiar with their competitor. Like, take a look at your competitor. And every once in a while, they would be like: yeah, actually he’s pretty slow right around here, his hitting 28. Maybe that will be a place I can sort of make a move and try to get with him.
But you would rest for 24 seconds, then they will go and try to come in on 51—when the clock says 51. They will rest to the 1:18; they will try to come in on the 1:45. This [first] round is not so bad; this [third] round is really hard, because they are going at race pace for 150s in the mile and they are only resting like less than 30 seconds.
So this is usually a huge disaster if we give them their… if we put in their goal time, this does not work well in the Fall the first time. But we kind of just see how far we can get with that.
This [on slide] is actually from the later part of the season; we do this late in the season. We will take splits for every 50 for these guys, and this actually turned-out to be really helpful. When we first started doing this, they would split this 150s really poorly: they would just front-end the hell out of it, and then it would be terrible. But you can see actually, it is these are all 27s, high, and he is making his time. He is going a 1:23 (whatever that is up there). But they were very consistent towards the end, and after a couple of years of doing this, they like the set.
But you do not have to just do it… you do not give your conference swimmers weak times; you just make up… what you would do is you take like a… I take a mile time from somebody I want them to beat in a conference meet and then I just make the spreadsheet for that person. So for some of the girls, it might be an 18:00-thing that they are doing. But they are all in the pool together, they all have their sheets, and they all just go and leave at the right time. Again you cannot have too many people, because they could be swimming on top of each other. But it seems to work really well, and I think it is great set.
Like I mentioned, we do power works; we do two sessions per week, all season. Part of it is… you know, is it always the best thing for a distance swimmer to do this? I do not know. Sometimes we actually bring them in a little bit before the power session, and we might get 3,000-4,000 yards in, depending on the phase we are in. But, again, it is just a group of 12 kids and it is a way for me to work in small groups with the kids. They are pretty good sets, and I feel like… you know, we had to improve our 200, so maybe this would help us. So two weeks.
During our endurance phase, we do a lot of circuit work. So we do not use all the towers, we might just set-up one. And we might have some tethers, and we will have a Vasa Trainer and we will have all different types of power things.
We also put in a turn board; we will do timed turns, especially during this endurance phase. We will time them from their feet-to-the-wall to the minute they are mid-pool. We like to get their turn times and we like to get them to work on that. And they do that with sprinters, they do it with distance swimmers, and we keep track of those times. And they improve. I think in the mile, there are so many turns, it is probably a good time to work on that.
During the threshold phase, what we do is we will start off, we will do like a testing. When I got these things [power tower], I really did not know what to do with them. It was like awesome, we got these things, but I treat it more like using something in the weight room. And so my theory was: if we are doing 25s, I treat the 25 conceptually like a 50, right. So if I want them to go 23 seconds for a 50—be able to do that—we just keep putting weights in until they cannot go 23 seconds for a 50. And we call that their one-rep max. When we are doing things to mid-pool, I just keep throwing-in weight until they cannot go 9 seconds to mid-pool.
And then we just take values at 30% and 60%, because I feel like that is what they say is, on the power-velocity curve, the best way to develop power. And we will do sets at 30% and 60% of one-rep max. Tuesdays we will work 25s, Thursdays we work 12½s. They can also… some of the distance swimmers or I.M.ers, they can work stroke on those days. But they are tired, and it is a short practice and they are pretty happy about that. I like it, except for the fact that we have to do a lot of repair on these things (and I have to talk to them at this meeting about that).
This is just how I present it to the kids. Like performance: your performance is based upon the amount of ATP that you have in your muscles. And the way that you get ATP is through aerobic work and anaerobic work; endurance and power. And then we work speed and strength. I feel like this has to be balanced in a distance swimmer; I mean you cannot think like this. Because really, if you are thinking… even if the kid wants to be aerobic, he has got to make pyruvate. That step of making pyruvate is the first stages of ana-… if you want to build up those enzymes, that is power work. So, that is why I think it is alright to do physiologically.
So now, just talk a little bit about dryland. We do dryland with the whole team. We do this before those team practices in the afternoons. In preseason—when I am not allowed to work with them—we actually have some agility circuits that strength-and-condition coaches work. It is all voluntary in Division III, so I actually really do not know—I make it a point not to know because I am really not supposed to know who goes and does not, because I do cut people. But hopefully they go, because these are good.
When we go in-season, we will always do these core sets; you know, Monday or Tuesday. Wednesday, we will do that before the p.m. practice. So we will get at least three 20-minute core sessions in, which is, I think, really important for all of them. We will do a lot of med-ball circuit. A lot of time we will do position holds, like planks. We do this thing called streamline-pipe tuck—which I saw in an Auburn video once, where they almost look like divers—but we will do a number those. We will add some flutter kicking to that. And then we will do some dying bugs; and sometimes on dying bugs we will put towels under their backs and have somebody try to pull the towel back, so that they are working on pressing their back. A lot of these things are… I think there is a lot of learning involved and things that could be applied to our swimming, as well as being good for fitness.
We do distance-specific dryland Monday and Friday mornings before practice. During the endurance phase, if they can run, we run. So a lot of times, we will do 10 or 20 minutes of run, then we will do some Vasa Trainer. A lot of times, we will use Coach Shoulberg’s thing where you do 10 rounds of 12 pulls. Each time you do 12 pulls, you take the pin out and you make the thing steeper. And you just kind of try to climb up that ladder, and they get about 30 seconds rest. But you really work on trying to get them engaged, nice high elbows and pulling through. A lot of them try to pull with their elbows low, but we work on that.
We do this; this was pretty popular last year, this density set. Basically, we set-up like a sled in the middle of the gym and we have all these ropes coming off, like a big spider. And you set kids all around it. We give them 5 rope exercises to do, and they maybe have to do 10 reps of each exercise. We set a clock, and at the end of 12 minutes we try to see how may rounds, how many times they went through, that group of five exercises. It is ridiculously hard. And they are very competitive about it; we track all like, you know if they go 5 rounds, 5 1/5 rounds—we keep track of that.
Again, we will do a lot of core sets. We try to work in some of the stuff that I used to do with Eva; some of the stuff with bosu physio ball and TRX. Some gilder work, which I think is just… we end-up using towels not gliders. But it is a way to sort of make them do like inch-worm things along a gym floor. But, again, it is hard, they sweat a lot, and I think it is good for their swimming.
During the threshold phase, we try to change-it-up a little bit. We do some timed two-mile runs. We have a track that is 1/11th of a mile, so you have to run a lot of laps. But, again, it is pretty fun, they like it; they take their shirts off, just run around—good times. We also do straight sets; we start to work-in the Vasa ergometer. That is something I am going to show you in a little bit, where I think that has kind of evolved to something kind of cool.
And we also do some stretch-cord work. So in this, what we will do is eight rounds, 30 seconds of form and 30 seconds of tempo. We try to get them to do… what they all tend to do is really hunch-over and go like this. But we really try to get them to get nice flat back, kind of look-up at the connection point, and then we want them to sort of reach-up, pop an elbow and come down for the form. We actually start with their hands back here—they will reach up, pop an elbow and come down. They will do that, and then they try to do that at tempo for 30 seconds. It is actually hard; it is pretty hard stuff. Again, I just feel like it is very useful for technique, and also for their strength in the pool.
When we get to the power-pace phase we actually go back. We will do some pool-dryland combinations; so we will have some of the stuff on deck and they will do some of the work there. There will be shorter sets. We will also do things where they will sprint maybe 25 meters on the erg; and then they will jump-in/dive, swim down to the power tower, and swim on the power tower. But again, this is a phase where we are just really trying to change things up and get a different adaptation going.
During taper we do core exercises all the way up to the moment that they race—I am a firm believer in that. This just kind of shows you this; these would be those sort of blocks where we are doing these things.
This is the Vasa Trainer, and I feel like this is… this is what we will do some of those Shoulberg-style sets on. We have four of those, and we have four ergs. So, again, those have been invaluable to us—I believe.
During the threshold phase, we will do stuff like this: we will go a 20-minute spin and 20-minute erg. And one thing we have been working on with Rob Sleamaker at Vasa is, you know, I said, “I hate just getting average watts at the end of a 20 minute swim. I feel like it means nothing.” And so I said, “Is there any way to get a live tracing of this power.” And they came up with that. This is actually… this thing is actually tracking his heart rate and his power. And we built a little circuit for him. (This is actually in this case I think was a 3000 meter swim—if I look at that pattern. But I will show you an example of like a 20 minute thing.) But we do this with them; I do this with ah my daughter a lot. They like it because it is instant feedback.
One of the things we learned from doing it: at first we thought oh cool, I’ll give you a workout and then this blue stuff will tell you when to go harder and easier. What was really cool was they were finding ways to get power by not changing their stroke tempo. By not… because it is very easy on the erg, if you just do a ridiculous stroke tempo, the power is going to go way up. But one thing we wanted to work on, and they would sort of work on, generating… it turned out, when they try to generate more power, it is towards the end of their stroke. And so they could do these little focus things. And actually one time I was working with my daughter—I was kayaking, we were trying to get her to work on sprinting a little bit in open water—and I said, “Just imagine you’re on the erg, trying to get the power up.” And it worked: she was like oh my God, that’s unbelievable. So there’s a transfer to the water.
It is not… right now, basically, you have an erg meter and it is hooked-up to sort of like what you would have on your bicycle: it is an ANT+ connection. And then you would have a little dongle in your laptop, and it would just transmit; and then I just kind of project it on a big screen. But it is a way you can track their workouts. Right now, we only have one of these, so we kind of have to either be there a lot or just kind of work and sequence it.
So here [on slide] is an example of one of these sets. I think this is kind of cool, because basically we are just asking them to sort of increase the amount of watts they are producing, you know, five times during the set. This is around a 20-minute set. This white line is their stroke rate—the strokes per minute. The yellow line is watts. And the red line—is kind of cool—is a heart rate; it will track that as well.
And you can see, right here, he is able to get those watts up, and really not affect the stroke rate—it drops off a little bit. And then, it is just kind of coming-up but it is not in an unreasonable range. He has gotten much better at this; I mean, he was not able to do this to begin with, but he has gotten much better at it. And he… you know, these are all power things that we thought would be challenging at the level. And if you look, it is kind of interesting because, the power goes up so much faster than the heart rate. You know I used to kind of use heart rate a lot to sort of judge intensity, but it really—and I know the triathletes know this—but heart rate will lag, power is instantaneous. So I think it is good for doing these short, little sets. I know it helps in Open Water and I think it is going to help us a lot in the pool.
Just a little quote up there: If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking. And I try to take comfort in that. But, once again, I would like to thank you for this opportunity to talk about the program.
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