Introduction: Thank you for being here this afternoon and welcome. I am Bob Bruce and I am the chair of the USMS Coach’s Committee and it is my distinct pleasure today to introduce our next speaker. Kris has a really great career going right now. She is the head coach of Indy Swim Fit and has been the head coach for five and there for at least eight years. She has a Masters Degree from Ball State and is going to fill our brain with a very detailed presentation. If you took a look at the handouts so take your notes and welcome, Kris Houchins, please.
Coach Houchins: Thank you. I work most of the time with swimmers and I am really out of my elements so just bear with me. I am in a dress, not on a pool deck and you all have clothes on so here we go. There wasn’t enough handouts but my email address is here and if you email me and just let me know who you are, I can email the file to you with the handout. I would be more than happy to do that.
I do have a Masters Degree in Biomechanics and part of this talk is going to be a little bit of science and I really don’t like talking science so much so hopefully, I am taking for granted, that some of you know the basics of what I am going to talk about. If we have a lot of questions or if you have more detailed questions or you want to know more about it after the talk. I would be more than happy to get into it with you. I am afraid of getting off on some tangents so I want to make sure that we get to the good stuff, which is the second half of the talk.
The purpose of this talk is to understand how to train aging athletes for growth retention and the well being of Masters Programs. Not really going to get really detailed about age group coaching. I haven’t done it in ten years. I do know the general methods, I have talked to the age group coaches and I got some generalities about age group training that I want to compare with Masters training. Most of us, as coaches, have been through age group training and we know what that is or are currently coaching age group, but a lot of us do not understand that Masters swimmers can be different. I have done some research and as far back or as late as 1993 and I think as late as yesterday. Most of us have trained our 35+ swimmers like with senior swimmers, or with senior age group or training them in the same way and in recent years you are going to Oh, I am sorry.
In recent years USMS has grown and there has been more prevalence of USMS Clubs like we are exclusive Masters Swimming. The team that I train with, YMCA Indy Swim Fit, is an exclusive Masters swim team which means we have 18 and older and we don’t have any age group. Over the last eight years of training adults I have learned a lot about what helps them reach optimal performance. So basically, the talk that I am going to go over with you today is the things that I have learned over the last eight years. It is a work in progress. Every year just like you, I assess. I don’t know everything, but this is the path I am going down and I will share with you what I have discovered and hopefully something here will help you.
The topics of discussion
I have broken the talk into three parts, age group and masters swimmers by comparing the training. What you need to know about aging athletes and general guidelines for training Masters. That is a good overview isn’t it? OK, right. These are the things that I am comparing. There are nine I think; training volumes, consistency, times, dry-land technique, taper, life stress, recovery and social.
Training volume: In my research and in talking to friends of mine that coach age group, generally speaking, they will go about 50,000 – 70,000 yards and I am going to kind of read off of this, because I do not know. the senior distance group will go about 80-85,000 a week and these are weekly takes here. The middle distance is 60-70,000 and sprint group will be 40-50,000.
Their consistency in workouts will range between seven and eleven water workouts and that is different club to club and age group, like as they get older. The time that they are in the water with actual water workouts are 13 ½ to 20 hours, with the longest workout being 3 ½ hours.
Their dry-land is more sport specific with weight training, medicine ball stretches, power rack and body core exercises and swim bench. Where am I at?
Their technique, and this is kind of just a gauge. They go about 5-30% of total workout and some clubs do more and some clubs do less and some clubs do all their technique one week. You know at the beginning of their season and then it lowers so that is just generally speaking.
The next thing was stress; life stress of age groupers. Their major life stresses can lead to injury or lack of participation in their sport. They are good stress in that it is just stress release from you know tests or their boy friend breaking up with them or something like that.
Social, their social aspect of age group is pretty prevalent when they are younger and a lot of things and you guys probably know this too is when they are small and they join the team for social reasons. As they start to age up and the practices get a little more intense they seem to have a lot of attrition in age group swimming.
So, moving on to the masters and this is kind of an overview and I am kind of rushing through it because we will get to the meat of the talk later. In masters training and this is kind of shocking for some of you, but go ahead and bring that up. These are representative of our team and I think our team is a good cross-section to learn from. We have over 370 members citywide and we have all kinds of reasons, you know. We have the multi-sport tri-athlete, the fitness swimmer and the competitive master of the people that I have collected information from. I collected mostly from competitive masters because they had times. They knew what their times were and they do a better job of tracking their training of the ones that I have talked to. They go about 7,500 to 18,500. They do max out as they get closer to competition. Some of them add in a little more training so that is why that is in parentheses.
The consistency is 3-5 practices. Our practices are an hour and 15 minutes so weekly they are getting at most – six hours and 15 minutes.
Not all their dry-land activities are related and that was kind of interesting. They all seem to do some kind of other activity other than swimming so fitness is a lifestyle for them regardless of being in sport swimming, but they will do biking, aqua aerobics, walking, spin class, tennis, and biking and running and weight training.
Technique is, I call it a learning frontier for adults and in our own program. Even though I am head coach, I cannot gauge how much technique that we do. How much that I write for in practice may be 15-20%. it seems like we always have a kind of drill set worked in that day, but for certain athletes we might work one lane drill all day you know? And so – their ability so it is hard for me to put a specific number on that.
Our taper is unique from age group. We do what we call a drop taper. It is not really a taper because we just cut the distance in half so we go about 34-36 at practice and we will drop down to 16-1800 right at the start and then we keep the intensity though. As an example of intensity a week out from competition we will do a set of ten 75’s on 1:30 hold your best average, you know so 80% or better maximum and that kind of stuff and they are like “I thought we were tapering”, but they want to keep intensity, but rest is important with masters swimmers and we will get more into that.
Life stress – life stress for adults can lead to disease, insomnia and lack of overall performance and injury, and injury is not on there, but it should be.
Recovery is more important to help fatigue, injury and sickness, and it is more important to masters than age group
And the social aspect provides motivation and friendship and people, like if you saw Kerry’s talk, tend to join Masters swimming for the social aspect more than the competition aspect.
What I found interesting in collecting this information; I had to give a call to a girl on our team. Her name is Amy Krause and she is absolutely fabulous and she trains open water. She has a lot of accomplishments. For the last five years she has done the swim around Key West in Florida. It is a 12 ½ mile swim and I called her up and I asked her if she had any kind of things she could give me about her training and she gave me a data base of the last four years of her training so when I put it on here I know. What I found that was interesting, because I have talked to her many times, is she has never gone over 50,000 yards a week in her training. So if you go back to the age group training and the numbers that I sounded off for the sprint group are 40-50,000 a week and she is not going over what a senior swimmer goes for sprinting. If you saw Paul’s talk about specificity of training and that was one of the reasons why, time has another reason why, but this is a graph and just to understand the graph for you; this is 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, this is the 50,000 a week and she did try that like those two years, but she called a lady and you have to forgive me for forgetting this, the lady who wrote “Crossing Dover Swim,” Marsha Cleveland, thank you very much, she emailed Marsha Cleveland and Marsha Cleveland said, “what the heck are you doing that much yardage for?” so she cut back down to 44,000 and I have her performance times. She is very happy with her swim this year, but it is a 12 ½ mile ocean swim and you cannot really compare year to year, but she placed better than she has in the past.
Q. How old is she? A. She is 38 now.
The other little peak down there was her long swim and this year, she does one at practice and she had in the information that she gave me and she will do one practice that was 14,000 yards in one practice session. She does train with us, but she does not do all of our practices. She tries to coincide those heavy weeks of training with a practice so she gets some motivation and is around a group, but then when we get out she is still plugging away and she has helped a lot of people on our team get into open water and long distance training so you can look out for her name because she is just fabulous. I enjoy her a lot.
Okay! Aging athletes and you have probably heard a little bit about this today. That slide kind of came out light. A stat that you can write down to remember is that 88% of people older than 65 have at least one chronic health condition. That is up here and in many cases this can impair their function or well being. Exercise and I don’t know how to say this so I am just going to read it because it seems to come out pretty good and I wrote it down the one time, but it says “accumulating evidence indicates that these risk factors are potentially avoidable, rather than inevitable and can be modified through lifestyle, including exercise. The only one that I have highlighted is osteoporosis because we talked about that and it has come across in many studies. Swimming is not a weight-bearing sport so for women two things happen. We lose muscle mass faster than men and then if we are swimming and we don’t have that weight-bearing exercise we can be candidates for osteoporosis. So if you have a swimmer that is interested in preventing that, an older lady, you might encourage them to take a yoga or Pilates or weight training and I don’t know if I have it on this slide, but even women in their 80’s have responded to resistance training like weight training so that is just an important fact to remember.
You are doing way better than I do, I apologize. How aging affects physical performance and I broke this down into, I don’t know how many, eight, eight different areas: Lungs, heart, muscle recovery, mental attitude and I compared this a little bit to age group swimmers and just for my talk, like mostly I am talking about probably 18 and younger and when I talk about masters, just for this talk, I am talking about 30 and over. There is that cross-over section that kind of just depends on their experience whether or not you know whether they have college training. They might respond to the senior group or they might respond to the masters kind of training. If they have no competitive experience they might be more comfortable in a masters setting. So, just you know a little clarification there.
Children are less economical in aerobic capacity than adults when comparing body surface area and body mass. When comparing body length children are equal to adults. Basically what I am saying is that kids grow faster than sometimes their lungs do and so their aerobic capacity is always trying to catch up. Once they hit puberty they start to fill out and everything starts to even out so that is the important thing to remember there. For adults, in men, the aerobic capacity declines 1% per year after age 25 until 70. You have heard some people say maybe 30, but the studies I looked at were saying 25. Women hold their aerobic capacity a little bit better and they only decline 7% per decade until age 40 and then they start their 1% decline until age 70.
The next slide, this slide, aerobic capacity is the same as we measure it with VO2 MAX and I am assuming everyone kind of has an idea what that is. The endurance training, this is for women, but the men’s look similar to this. I mean they are about the exact same. You have your endurance trained athletes and then you have your untrained people, because I guess they wouldn’t be athletes and what you see is that the athletes have a higher aerobic capacity than the non-athletic, but they have the same rate of decline and the men’s graph looks just the same. What is really interesting that you read in a lot of studies is this, if you are an endurance trained athlete and you stop training, you will start a sharper decline towards this line and then continue out with this group. And so, if you have people that have stopped training for a while, they will feel that effect. Personally, I am going through that myself. I just had a second child and I had stopped swimming for a while and I, you know, six months ago I fell up here, but now I have had a sharp decline down and that is what happens when you get over 30, so the men’s look similar. Some other things I wanted to point out on this were these people out there; these are the ages down here. You go up to the 50 year old and carry her across to compare her to like a 20 year old that doesn’t work out and their capacity is way higher. It is a very positive thing. Now also, this study. The other thing that I wanted to point out was that these trained athletes were athletes when they were younger so they were really athletes younger and then they are continuing to process. If one of these people start training, I couldn’t find any studies, but it is my opinion that they start to go up to this. I have a sister that just started competitive bicycling in her 40’s and she is unbelievable and she never swam or did anything, any kind of athletics. So I tend to think that it would be interesting to see some studies on these people and get them swimming and see what happened.
Heart: I didn’t have a lot of time to find pictures. I used to coach a high school team and these are the boys that are age group kids. They have great hearts and they are, this study says they have better cardiac fat volumes than non-athletic kids and they respond. Well I guess aerobic training does not alter their VO2 MAX. It is like I was saying before. Their lungs are small, but they do respond to aerobic training and they will get better. We all know that but they are not altered.
The heart in masters. As people get older their resting heart rate will stay the same and it is unaffected by exercise and also it is unaffected. Their maximal heart rate will decline. There are 5-10 beats per decade, but you can’t help the decline. You could workout more, but your maximal heart rate as you age will get lower.
Go ahead and put all of those up there. Your blood pressure increases, as you get older. The adults that do not workout are two times more likely to develop coronary heart disease and hypertension. What you come to find, at least on our team, and you may start asking some of your older athletes if they are on any medications. If you don’t know that already because what you will find is a lot of people have hypertension and they are taking beta-blockers for high blood pressure and that can affect their performance. A lot of doctors, if they know they work out, can prescribe them something that hopefully will not inhibit their performance, but for the most part their optimal performance is going to be affected by that. This is another tid-bit I put up there. Like if you were active as a child and then you stop and it is not going to help prevent against heart disease. You have to continue on as an adult and I think we all kind of know that, but.
Q. You just mentioned about, you just mentioned about asking older adults if they are on any kind of medication. Although it is not part of the registration process, but maybe we should start asking anybody over the age of 50?
A. Well, I think it is an assumption, when they sign the waiver that they have like a doctor’s permission to do so and so said it is in your court responsibly – it may be important for us as coaches – when you just said that. Well yeah, I would agree. When I first started, on deck with me, the big guy who is a surgeon and has had bypass surgery, I don’t know how many times, he has the chris-cross scars. He is a big guy and he is getting in the water and when he finishes a hard set he breathes so hard that I am like don’t die, breathe, breathe, but yeah, I think it is important for them I mean if you know. If you find out they have a condition it is more important for them to know how that drug is going to affect their performance. We have had women go through menopause that had to go through different kinds of drugs so they could still be fit and get through that process and stuff so there are all kinds of
Go ahead George. Q. I thought you might mention when you talk about beta blockers, but beta blockers are also used for people who have glaucoma and a lot of people over the age of 40 have glaucoma. Maybe 3% of your population as you get up to the age of in your 80’s, it is 80%. So that is even put in the eye and to keep the heart rate from going up.
OK. We had another question. The point that I was going to make here is that actually addressing what Hap was talking about. I think that on the very first day that a Masters swimmer walks into your program that you need to ask him in a general way, “Do you have any medical conditions that might affect the way that you train?” That is a really great question. It is really important to do, to include in your introduction because otherwise you cannot do the job that you are paid to do as a coach.
Just along that line is there some type of a resource that has been put together to kind of depending on what the conditions and medications that they know are? Not to my knowledge; but, you know, that would be a really good resource for USMS to get into. We are working on that project. There you go. There is the guy that will take care of it.
Age group muscles. The child’s ability to perform anaerobic activities is limited. The reason why is young kids do not really develop a lot of muscle. The good side for a kid means that they do not build as much lactic acid until they reach puberty. They start to develop and then that is when it starts to kick in. They do respond to that kind of training and they respond to it in other ways like the reaction time or your neurological system. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with neurological training, but just the synapse you know, if you ever had a kid on sugar then, need I say more?
So, the studies have masters decrease in muscle strength and the talk earlier. Charlie? Is that his name? He talked about the decrease in muscle strength and it is similar to the VO2 MAX. It is generally about 1% a year. The peak years for muscle strength are 25-35 and usually you can maintain it until 35 and then the decline starts like the 1% a year until age 70. This is a relatively small amount of muscle loss, but for women it is a little bit faster and theirs start between, I think between, 30 and 40. Women have a sharper decline of muscle mass, especially in our upper body. I don’t know really why that is other than when I got married my husband started hauling the salt bag down to the basement not me so I figured it is probably just related to if you use it early kind of thing. Use it or lose it kind of thing. So the important thing that I have collected or what I have learned putting this together is that women need to strength train and they need to strength train a little sooner than men do. Generally, men enjoy that kind of training and maybe they do it more and that is why their muscle loss is slower? I don’t know. I don’t know what is behind it, but I know that I have recommended that to our swimmers in the past and I am going to make more of a point to find out what a lot of my ladies are doing.
And when you talk about muscle you have to talk about lactate. Is everyone pretty familiar with the lactate acid process? Ok. This is Genadijus Sokolovas From USA Swimming and he is awesome. He is their physiology director there and they do all kinds of studies and that is him taking lactate from Michael Phelps and you can go to the next one and this is him at the USMS training camp taking lactate from a masters swimmer. See, same kind of stuff for us and then I got the chart and I just want to touch on a lot of his research. Right now he is dealing with active recovery and they have it down to a pretty good science over there and I think it goes across. Anybody who has muscles has lactic acid and no matter how old they are or how much weight training they do. If they have muscles and they are trying for optimal performance they will have lactic acid so this graph here just depicts active recovery which is swimming easy after, like a you know, you guys all probably know this and passive recovery. Getting swimmers in the water after they race isn’t always that easy because they love the social ness of the meet and a lot of times they do not swim like two events they swim like ten like in a dual meet, like all in a row and they don’t maybe have time. But if you can get them in the water their rate of decline is less and they will perform better on their next event and that is the jist of this which leads me into recovery.
Recovery on race day and I came up with these general guidelines. Like after a sprint race of 50’s, the sprinters are producing more lactic acid because they are using more muscle so they need a longer cool-down after their race, 25-30 minutes. Middle distance swimmers do not produce as much so 20-25 minutes. Distance swimmers, 15-20 minutes. What they gauge that by is that they have a normal, the way they measure it, is it returns down to a normal level. The lactate clears out of their system, returns down to a normal level. That is how long it takes and these are mostly elite swimmers, but what else do they say about that? Oh, the other thing is that it is not just swimming easy. You have to maintain about 60% of your velocity so it is not like a piddle around in the water. They actually have to be moving and all it is the blood circulation picks up and helps clear out the lactic acid in their system.
So that was one type of recovery and the second type of recovery is recovery during a workout and this is just based on a study. If you have lactate days or you have hard swim days. I found this fascinating for some reason, the pre-pubescent boy, you know, pre-adolescent boys, they did this sprint test with 10 second sprints and they did like ten of them in a row and for them to recover, because they do not have that muscle mass that we talked about. It only took them 30 seconds. When they did adolescents and they did men it took them 5 minutes to recover and that is pretty substantial. So if you are one of those coaches that are coaching 8 and unders and then you are going to coach masters and you are kind of curious about what is going on you know? That is an important thing to remember when you are doing this type of sets and it doesn’t have to be a race you know, it can just be like sprints 25’s off the deck or you know what I am saying.
And then we have recovery. I don’t know if you can see these pictures but I ran out of our team of them competing. I had all these pictures of them on the beach and at the bar. That is how they recover so you know Indy Swim Fit. I guess that is how we recover. It is one way.
The recovery during the week. Adults need more than younger swimmers and as they get older they need more and more. I think Kerry did a great job illustrating his 60, 70 and 80 year olds. How those 80 year olds aren’t even on intervals, they just rest at the edge until they are ready to go again. That becomes more important as we get older. Adaptation is another reason why you need rest. Even though there are some people I know, there are some Masters swimmers that think they have to swim every day of the week and they really need a day off. If you have multi-sport tri-athletes, they are the best at just spending every day of the week. They have to do something. They have to allow their body time to adapt. The way the body works is if it is always applying energy to performance, it never has time to apply energy to build up you know. You need to back off to let your body rebuild.
Mental attitude for age groupers mostly. You can put the whole thing up there and hopefully you can read that on our side. They are externally motivated for the most part. They are motivated by parents and coaches. For the coaching friends that I have, age group kids do not necessarily appreciate the time they have in the water which I think is why they are in the water so much because apparently, if you keep them in there long enough you are going to get something out of them that is going to benefit them.
If you go to the next slide, for the most part, masters athletes are self-motivated and I wonder if I have shown that slide yet? We will get to it here in a second. Masters are self-motivated and there is a drop in performance that happens after 70 years old. If you notice all the declines of the studies as I have said you know after 30 you decline 1% until 70. Well, what happens after 70? Everything kind of goes haywire, but one of the studies that I read, the author hypothesized that when they hit 70 for whatever reason they are not so self-motivated any more. Maybe they have gotten an injury and they just don’t have that much more motivation to overcome it. Maybe they are on medication that is hampering their optimal performance and they are just having a hard time adjusting to that. You know, Kerry was saying in his talk that his older men have a harder time adjusting than maybe women do and there may be some truth to that I think, you know? The part of that study being that we need to assume Masters swimmers are self-motivated up to 70 like you said, but after 70 we need to be an external motivation to help them. I think that would be one term or to try to find. They want to live a healthy lifestyle and so to find other means to do that or to take. I mean it has got to be an individual thing, but to keep an eye out on that to see.
Q. Are your comments directed that decline after 70 to 70 year olds or 70 year old swimmers? Because my experience is those folks who are 70+ who are in the water do not have the motivation problem, it is folks who are you know. There is an old t-shirt that says “You don’t get old because you quit swimming, you get old. You know how it works. Those folks who are in the water are motivated. A. Right, well that is what we were saying, but I think that was what this author was hypothesizing that and it was swimmers and runners and it was they were just trying to think of a reason why that happens and she thought maybe it was because their self-motivation starts to decline.
Well runners can have breakdowns or injury. It happens by far more in running than it does in swimming. What we share with age groupers though is that we all are motivated by personal best times. I think as your athletes get older and I don’t know if I have heard this yet today, but to start to not compare your lifetime best, but your age group best and switch their focus from maybe their lifetime best to how are you going to stack up in your age group? And what is the norm for your age group over the last two years? I think that could help with the motivation too.
Q. Tri-athletes rest. Do you have any good analogy, something I could hit them over the head with to get them to back off? A. We always use taper as an example. There are some great studies out on getting maximal performance out of an athlete. They rested. I don’t think that I have that information in the talk, but that when you rest there are some studies out there that you can look up to help prove your point. In swimming it has always been that way. We were lucky that when five years ago one of our prominent, two of our prominent tri-athletes in our area swim on our team and we talked them into doing rest and then they bought into it after they kind of saw, I mean we had one that was injured every year and he would miss training time because of that. So one year he decided to take a rest day and it was so successful that he just kept doing it. On the flip side of that and what made me chuckle a little bit was that we had a guy that we talked into resting and it worked so well for him that the next season he rested for every triathlon. I mean he was doing like these two weeks out, I am going to taper for this race. He never got in shape so he finally like figured out the combination the third year. He kind of took the idea overboard. This is great – how come no one ever told me about this before.
So – Flexibility: that is how masters do their stretches in the hot tub. That was at the Colorado Training Center. Their flexibility declines and I only have one slide. I didn’t break this up between kids because what they found out is that flexibility works a little bit independently of age. People can start losing flexibility as early as their 20’s. Some things do happen because of age. You get more elastic, your muscles, connective tissues and tendons get a little bit more stretched out, but everybody improves their flexibility through exercise. I love those things that Charlie Hoolihan was doing. I mean he got me to stand up straight today so you could see me over the chairs. I have a quote from Doc Councilman and it is what he knows about men. I thought that I would include this because we were talking about that 70 year old thing and we are going to touch on that a little more, but he says as you get older you tend to get out of shape due to our social structure. You have to work and you neglect your body. You do not have two or three or four hours a day to devote to exercise. Older athletes have a tremendous amount of potential and I am talking about people my age. I am 58. We have so much potential in our body and we have lost it due to lack of exercise. It has taken me a year and a half to train for the channel and I am swimming times now that I never swam in college, but I personally feel that in the next 100 years we will see men 50 years and older running under four minutes in the mile and I think that we will see 50 year old men swimming under four minutes in the 400 meters. That is just how convinced I am that there is untapped physical potential in older people. I think in the records there is still a 41 year old man who has already broken 4 minutes in the four minute mile so there you go.
Q. A 70 year old man swam the English Channel this year. Is that right? A. So there you go and this is what I know about women. I thought I would class myself right up there with Doc. A 70 year old woman that was born in 1935 and she would have entered college in 1953. Title 9 – that law allows for equal opportunity for women didn’t get passed until 1974 and the social acceptance of athletically minded women did not occur in our society until 1990. I grew up in that phase in the 80’s and even though I competed college we still were not accepted that much as athletes until more recently. As a proof of point, athletic women’s apparel which this guy upstairs told me at TYR is 60% of their market, they just started making women’s sport clothing in the late 90’s and some of that stuff is just coming out. If you coach then you know if you are a woman to get a woman’s cut polo shirt.
Thank God, sorry, but my conclusion is that masters national age group records for women in all sports will improve over the next 30 years, just because of people like myself. I can swim in college and I can continue on now and Masters swimming was only started in 1970 so you have that process happening through 1970. Another gentleman I talked to upstairs was saying that you can look at the qualifying times for USMS Nationals and see that trend. They are all getting faster and there is like a little cut-off, it is just going to creep up like that so that is what I know about women, but we should be pretty excited about that. I think these studies are current, but they do not take our society into consideration all the time so the next thing and this is the graph that you kind of see. This is performance so these graphs were made at the time. The men and women 15 meters is here and then that is the sprint and you just kind of see they hit 70 and then things, but I think over time, because of those reasons I stated this is going to keep moving out and I am pretty optimistic about that. Why that goes up that drastically right at that age, you know, we have talked about. I don’t think that it is more physical as maybe mental and medical. Well I guess medical is physical.
But let me see if I have any other thing. I think, now this is an interesting study that they did based on times is they started to notice the trend. There is a big difference between the women’s sprints and men, but in distance women are creeping up on men and what you have got here is the 50 free and the difference in percentage between a woman’s time and a man’s time in the 100, the 200, the 400, the 800, the 1500. Women have a smaller percentage of time difference in a 1500 and this author, I love this, this is their little tid bit to write down. Oh, next line? Yes, this same lady that put together that graph. She just thought that she would go ahead and carry out the thing to see where women will surpass men and it is 25 kilometers which is my theory why they do not swim the 1500 meters at the Olympics for women? I don’t think the women are catching men in distance, I think the men are pulling away from the women in sprints. Well, she went ahead, you can hold it here for a second, she went on to say that she had some facts to back her up and she said in 2003 the difference in women and men swimming in the Ironman in Hawaii was 1%, but in running and cycling it was 10%. The differences, I will get to you in a second there, and the fastest time to be swum in the English channel was held by a woman for many years and Guinness Book of World Records for the longest non-stop ocean swim is currently owned by an Australian female who went 196 Kilometers in 38 hours and 33 minutes. I still think that is easier than childbirth, by the way.
Q. When I taught Exercise Physiology I ran a regression line with the sprints to the distance and I told my clients, now, the women, by the time they get to two miles swimming that they are going to surpass the men. The regression line was catching and crossing the line and I said be sure to not tell the women about that.
A. I might say that the women are more adapted to the endurance factor and this is too bad for instance in America. The women were not allowed to be in the marathons because that was too hard for them. It was the other way around, but this has been a part of our society all the years, protect the women, right. I know in the long jump that in the elementary schools the girls had to do their jumping onto a mat. They were not allowed to just jump on the floor or jump on because they were supposed to be protected, but these things are going away. Yeah, thank you for that input.
Well is the real life one of the case studies that they did was on a 50 year old man that did his best times as a collegiate swimmer, but then ended up doing a swimming best at 50. On our own team, we had a 49 year old woman which was very exciting, she broke the minute in the 100 free for the first time in her life at 49 years old of age and it is interesting to note that the only difference that she had in her training was that she added weights that year and she lifted one or two times a week with her husband. She only swam three or four times a week. So that should make you happy.
This is the survey that I took from some of our athletes that I thought I would just share with you. It is females and men. I have their age and height and weight. On one I got their height twice. That must be a typo on my part, okay. Well anyway, some of that makes sense. Basically, just to look at their yardage. I found it interesting just to find out how old they were when they began to swim and how many years they have been swimming and how long of a break that they have taken and our oldest guy.
I put this in here, even though I like to look at the best part about Masters swimming. This is an individual, he swam at a Division III college, Wabash College which is pretty good in that Division. I have his hours that he was taking in school, his freshman, sophomore and junior year and the amount of yardage that he did per week and he threw in like he had a meet and his best times. When he graduated, I think he took like just a year off. He went to Med School and then he came back and he has taken 24 credit hours doing four or five practices at much, much less yardage and the first year he was training for a marathon so he has a 20 mile run. The second year he was, or the third year he was in MED School, the second year he swam with us, he was doing residency 50 or 60 hours, but his times, I mean this is an endurance event and I find his times amazing. They are not his best times, but he was able to maintain that kind of performance on that kind of training and he was so excited he wanted me to go and coach his college, “you should come back and coach at my college”. I won’t have to do as much and I can swim just as fast. It is interesting to know.
We are on IUPUI Campus. There are three hospitals there. They have IU Med School is there. We get a lot of these people that swam in college. They do these residencies and they run in and swim for an hour and run out the door in their scrubs. They got that much time to come and train and they come and do it and again. Just a reminder, the difference between age group is that the age groups take for granted the amount of time they have to train and Masters do not. I mean, they have this limited time and if they are any type of serious about it, they are going to get the most out of that time. And we have had all kinds. I am sure all of you had different kinds and we have had people swim Division I colleges and come and swim at our program and come and do best times and a lot of that may be they didn’t get to swim their favorite event in college and some of it may be that they were not that serious about their training, but it happens and it is very exciting when it does.
This is something – when I was passing out the questionnaire and I asked for comments from some of our swimmers, this gentleman here, he says the thing he appreciated most about our program is we treat him like an athlete and you know I thought about that. I thought that is an important thing to share with you today. I think to not take for granted that every person no matter their age they like to feel like they are working hard. They like to feel like an athlete.
Just some other topics. Get to know your members’ goals and learn how to motivate them. Don’t allow your athletes to be negative and you get that a lot with older athletes. Everybody likes to compare themselves to Lane 4. You know what I am saying? And I take time to appreciate the people that they are ahead of on that VO2 graph I showed you earlier. they are ahead of all those sedentary people way younger than they are. They are ahead of the game and sometimes you need to remind them and not let them slip into negative. Some of them are born negative and you can’t help at all, but anyway. And another point I had about that last one is that a lot of your athletes that do cross-train swimming and if you get to know them you can be excited for them and proud of them in other things they do. One thing that some of our swimmers just got back from was a 100 mile relay race and they do that in Oregon and it is some kind of relay, there are 12 of them. The shortest leg is 17 miles long. It is fascinating. They have to find that many people that can run that far to begin with, but your swimmers are doing fascinating things out side of the water too so some conclusions
Stroke technique innovations over the last 10 or 15 years. A lot of masters haven’t got that strength training, flexibility training, recovery training and what I wrote there at the bottom. Just many older athletes are not familiar with these types of training regimens and to be honest with you, I have just discovered that for myself. Some of your 50+ athletes have never been in a weight room. They do not know what to do and so, especially with older women who have never been. They have swum laps or been on a club team, but the structure of dry-land could all be new to them so do not take those things for granted. Find out what they do and encourage them to try those new things.
The recovery you know, and then another one that I always quote on the busy days in swimming, there was a rat study done about over-crowding and what they noticed. They put all these rats in a little fish tank and they saw how many rats they could put in there and once they got to too many they started to attack each other and kill each other and eat each other. So when we have over-crowded lanes, I always tell people that they have done a study on this. You go crazy today, they did a study on this. You had better swim faster. I had an email from one of my swimmers and she said she was complaining about somebody in her lane that just wasn’t getting it. She writes,” … is this lane rage?”, and I almost died laughing and I said okay, we will mix these lanes up here a little bit before somebody get hurt.
Well, I am not going to touch too much on adaptation, but the most severe symptoms are achy muscles, exhaustion, inability to sleep and weight loss so if you have some people coming to swim practice that you can tell are tired you just check on them and make sure that they are getting enough rest so they can adapt and then I put some motivational things in for your older athletes.
USMS has tons of events and they are all different styles; open water. They are not all competitive. We love to get our fitness swimmers to do the one hour postal championship and you can get a lot of your tri-athletes to do that that are training for Ironman because a lot of them can do the two miles in an hour. A cable swim is an open water event where they lay down a cable that is ¼ of a mile and you swim around it 8 times.
Is it in Oregon? Yes and if you have swimmers that need to know where the end of the event is that is a great one to do. If you have open water people that just have never done it and they have to go out in that massiveness and the cable one is a lot better one to start out on I think. That is for all those folks who do not have oceans around you. Well you know, we don’t have an ocean. Yeah – there are big buoys.
I copied this. Goals and Objectives of Masters Swimming. We can skip over that though because you guys are good. I will go through the last one. I am almost out of time, but just the things to remember: Masters are self-motivated. They like to live a healthy lifestyle. They are motivated by personal bests, but sometimes you have to adjust that to their age group. Lifestyle stress release, protection against sickness and disability and there is no change in their ability to learn and alertness. This deals with their anxiousness.
I coached college for three years and then Mel hired me and the thing I loved about Masters right away is that they paid us to swim and it wasn’t the other way around and they all wanted to be there and they all want to get better. It doesn’t matter if they are fitness or tri-athletes or competitive. They all want to be faster. They all want to do something so it is a coach’s dream and you feel like you get a lot done and then this is a quote out of a book called, “Successful Aging” by John Rowe. Physical fitness is perhaps the single most important thing an older person can do to remain healthy. Physical activity is the crux of successful aging, regardless of other factors.
So if you take away one thing from this talk, you can click on the next thing and the next thing. If you take away one thing from that, I think that is the important thing. They show up and they are doing something to better their lifestyle. All your masters swimmers are doing that and that is something they should be proud of I think.
Q. What is that book? A. That book is is Mel Goldstein’s book. He wrote with Dave Tanner. It is called “Swimming over 50” and you know, this is the best part. I found this train going down the track, you remember he said that at the panel, that is what our program is. We are a year round program so people come in and out of the program, but we are a train going down the track, but that is a great resource even if you are coaching senior athletes. There are lots of stuff in the book and they break down all the physiology real simply and they have a whole chapter on weight training for seniors. So if you have some people that are interested in that and don’t know anything, you can recommend that book. Any other questions?
Q. Do you think we could get it autographed? Yeah, for 5 bucks. I’m only kidding, he is not like that. He would autograph the book for you.
Q. I was wondering the percentage of your swimmers that do not compete or do compete and what would you say overall? A. A third. When we designed our training program we counted it up. A third of them are fitness, a third of them are tri-athletes and a third of them compete and what is interesting is the competitive ones. They do not all go to Nationals. Now the fitness ones, we talked some of them into going to meets and competing, you know because of money they can’t. There are other factors involved in the reasons why they do or do not go.
Q. About the lactate. You said warm-down after the race for sprinters was more than others. You said 25-30 minutes. Do you mean within 25 or 30 minutes. You have to warm down or are you saying warm down for 25-30 minutes? A: The duration of that cool down if they can start immediately after their race and a lot of Olympians if you watch them, they don’t go right to their coach. They go right to cool down first. To get their levels back. Now sprinters have a lot more muscle and they are producing a lot more lactate so they do the measurements by I call it like mini-mole, but two mini-moles is like what you are resting is acceptable. I was helping them once at a Senior National Meet. I was helping them take lactates on the Olympians and one guy got as high as like 14 or 18 mili-moles and it took him over a half hour to come back down to two. In fact he never made it back down to 2. He wanted to go and eat dinner so he swam for about 45 minutes and he left. Just drink a lot of water or something, but yeah it takes that long. Distance people do not generate that much. If you want more information on that go to USA Swimming website and he has written some papers on that and it is in the physiology part. I think it may be called science, but you will find it on the menu. I recommend that. He is a genius. He loves what he does too. He is awesome.
Q. And the same on the warm-up? Sprinters need a lot of warmup. A. Yes – I didn’t go over that too much, but that is very true.
Q. When you are talking about open water swimming and the women catching up to the men in marathon swimming? So there should be some information then? A. Well, I think that author was just goofing around, but I think there is some validity in that. No, I think that they are going to have another study come out on that. I imagine because they had a whole part of one of the studies I read and a whole half of a page talking about it. I will talk to Kerry a little bit about that afterwards. Okay? He looked a little nervous about it too. It starts with the 1500 and then we work our way down to 200 fly.
You know, just my observations on our team. Our guys like to race each other more than our women do. When we do sprints and stuff, they like to do that. Women do not necessarily like to sprint race, but they like the descend sets and they like the aerobic one and is that physiology or just what they seem to like to do. I don’t know, but that is what I have observed.
Q. Most men are driven by competition and they want to prove themselves. A. That is true. Prove themselves as, well there are competitive women out there too, one nurturing and two they are gatherers. We all ought to look at that and see how it works on our team Our women are competitive. I wouldn’t say they aren’t, but when they train and I will tell you this is the same as when I coached a year at Kansas University which is considered a very high mileage type of program. When I was there and the men sprinters would sprint year round, we had them in a sprint group and they were a seven month long season and they started to finish in the sprint group. Our women sprinters did not join the sprint group until two months out. They liked to train middle distance and it was a preference that they had and it was also getting them to sprint that much. They just weren’t, they just didn’t buy into that for their confidence. So that is just an interesting little thing I will share for food for thought.
Q. Just to give example to my point. If i lined up six men across the pool and i said we are going to do 25. They would look at each other and try, let me see how i can beat the next guy, but if you lined up six women across the pool. They would say i would go if you would. A. I think maybe in your experience maybe women are more subtle about their competition but you go in a woman’s locker room later and you will hear, I can’t believe she beat me. But, there is good competition anyway. There we go – we are all done, Yeah.
Selected PowerPoint Slides:
Masters Training vs. Age Group Training
How to bring out the BEST in Masters Swimmers
YMCA Indy SwimFit
The purpose of this talk is to understand how to train aging athletes, for the growth, retention and well being of masters programs.
Topics of Discussion
Age Groupers and Masters Swimmers
What you need to know about Aging Athletes
General Guidelines for Training Masters
For the purposes of this talk, age group swimmers will be considered 6 to 18 yrs of age and masters swimmers will be considered 30 yrs and older.
From 18 to 29 the physiological training capacity is generally determined by experience.
Age Group vs. Masters
Age Group Training
Training Volume: 50,000 to 70,000 yards
Consistency: 7 – 11 water workouts
Time: 13.5 – 20 hrs in the water (3 hrs and 30 minutes)
Dry-land: Sport Specific
5 – 30% of workout: Technique
2-4 weeks, 30%-70% decrease in yardage: Taper
Bad stress and Good Stress: Life Stress
One practice session off and Sunday: Recovery
Many group activities: Social
Training Volume: 7,500 to 18,500 (12,000 to 24,000).
Consistency: 3 – 5 practices.
Time: 3.75 to 6.25hrs a week (1 hour and 15 minutes).
Dry-land: Not all activities relate.
Technique: Learning frontier for adults.
Taper: Drop Taper 50%, 2-4 weeks, intensity 70-80%
Life stress: Leads to disease, insomnia and overall lack of performance.
Recovery: To prevent fatigue, injury and sickness.
Social: Provides motivation and friendship.
Open Water Training
YMCA Indy SwimFit
St. Croix – 12.5 mile
16 wk training plan
The highest weekly yardage 44,000 in 2005.
Common Diseases of Older Adults
Congestive Heart Failure
Coronary Artery Disease
How Aging Effects Physical Performance
Children are less economical in aerobic capacity than adults when comparing Body Surface Area and Body Mass, when comparing Body Length children are equal to adults.
In men , aerobic capacity only declines 1 % per year after age 25 until age 70.
In women, aerobic capacity declines only 7% per decade until age 40, 1% there after until age 70.
Age group – Superior Cardiac Capacity.
In a ten-year study in a group of young swimmers, cardiac volume and chamber size exceeded those of non-athletic children. The effects of sub-maximal exercise on cardiac function are similar in children and adults.
Aerobic training in preadolescents does not alter vo2max as much as would be expected for the training stimulus, possibly because vo2max is dependent on heart size.
Endurance performance does improve with aerobic training.
Masters – Little change in resting heart rate.
Decrease in maximal heart rate by 5 to 10 beats per decade in both men and women, independent of activity level.
Training does not change maximal heart rate.
Increase in resting/exercising blood pressure, fluid retention and bruising
Sedentary adults are about 2 times as likely to develop coronary heart disease and hypertension as active adults.
The use of Beta-blockers can affect maximal Heart rate and thereby affect optimal performance.
An active childhood, without continued activity into adulthood will not protect adults from heart disease.
Age group – The child’s ability to perform anaerobic activities is limited.
Anaerobic power increases with growth and development. Strength gains achieved from resistance training in preadolescents result primarily from: improved motor skill coordination, increased motor unit activation and other neurological adaptations.
Unlike adults, preadolescents experience little change in muscle size due to resistance training.
A child’s anaerobic capacity is increased with anaerobic training. In general, the ability to perform increases as children approach physical maturity.
Masters decrease in muscle strength, muscle mass, and blood flow and increase in muscle cramping.
The peak years for muscular strength are from 25 to 35. Peak swimming performance times were maintained until 35 yrs of age, then performance declines progressively until age 70, suggesting a relatively smaller loss of anaerobic muscular power with age compared with cardiovascular endurance.
In more recent studies, there appears to be a significant decrease in muscular strength and power, particularly in upper extremities in women compared to that in men that begins between 30 –40 years of age.
In my opinion, this indicates a possibility of increasing muscle strength in women by recommending a weight training program to supplement their swim training. Studies have shown even women in their 80s respond to weight training.
Recovery in the Workout
In a recent 2002 study that studied the effects of age and recovery on the time course of cycling peak power and blood lactate concentration during repeated bouts of short-term high-intensity exercise. In conclusion, the prepubescent boys sustained their Peak Power Output during ten 10second sprint exercises with only 30-second recovery intervals. In contrast, the pubescent boys and the men needed 5-minute recovery intervals.
Recovery during the Week
Adults need more rest than a younger swimmer.
The importance of recovery often is overlooked when training most young athletes because have the capacity to recovery quickly.
Learning to rest is essential to allow extra time for adaptation.
Although the body loses some adaptations for training fairly quickly, 48 hours without exercise is certainly not long enough to detect any changes
Considerable research has been done with anxiety and stress that affect children who engage in competitive sports.
Anecdotal reports suggest risks of “burnout” from physical and emotional stress, missed social and educational opportunities, and disruptions of family life. Unrealistic parental expectations and/or exploitation of young athletes for extrinsic gain can contribute to negative psychological consequences for elite athletes.
Studies hypothesize that exercise can deteriorate with a lack of self-motivation, and is thought to occur in the early 70’s contributing the performance decline.
Lifestyle Stress Release
Protection against sickness and disability
No change in ability to learn and alertness
The fact that flexibility declines at a very early age (middle 20s) suggests this decline may be attributed more to a lack of activity than to aging.
There is, however, a decrease in flexibility with age due to increased rigidity of the muscle connective tissue and tendons.
Exercise improves flexibility, however. Women swimmers in their 70s have been shown to have greater flexibility than less active women of the same age, and were within the range one would expect for much younger women.
Flexibility deceases due to changes in connective tissue in muscle, ligaments, joint capsules and tendons, significantly more is lost by disuse and inactivity.
What He knows about Men
“As you get older you tend to get out of shape due to our social structure. You have to work. You neglect your body. You don’t have 2,3,4 hours a day to devote to exercise. Older athletes have a tremendous amount of potential. I’m talking about people my age. I’m 58. We have so much potential in our body and we’ve lost it due to lack of exercise. It’s taken me a year and a half to train for the channel and I’m swimming times now that I never swam in college. But I personally feel that in the next 100 years we will see men 50 years and older running under 4 minutes in the mile and I think we’ll see 50 year old men swimming under 4 minutes for the 400 meters. That’s how convinced I am that there’s just untapped physical potential in older people.” – Doc Counsilman
What I know about woman
A 70 year old women in 2005 was born in 1935. She would have entered college in 1953. Title IX, the law that allowed for equal opportunities for women in High School and College athletics (for schools that were given Federal money) was passed in 1974. Social acceptance of athletic minded women didn’t occur in our society until the 1990’s. Women’s Athletic apparel wasn’t recognized as a target market by Wall Street until the late 1990’s. Conclusion: Masters National Age Group records for Women in all sports will improve over the next 30 years. Likewise, USMS was not founded until 1970. And a similar conclusion could be surmised that records will continue to fall in the next 30 plus years as social acceptance, consistency in lifestyle and improved training technique reach the aging population.
Young Masters swimmers (under 30)
Division 3 College – Pre Med
Freshman year [18hrs](94)
5 practices (6,000-7,000yds) + one meet a week
400IM 4:12.82, 200Fly 1:59.05
Sophomore year [18hrs](95)
5 practices (6,000-7,000yds) + one meet a week
400IM 4:12.19, 200Fly 1:56.02
Junior Year [18hrs](96)
6 practices (6,000-7,000yds) + one meet a week + 3x’s wt. (1.5)
400IM 4:07.57, 200Fly 1:53.33
Senior Year [18hrs](97)
6 practices (6,000-7,000yds) + one meet a week + 3x’s wt. (1.5)
400IM 4:09.40, 200 Fly 1:54.52
Med. School Masters [24 credit hrs](99)
4-5 practices (3500-4000yds) + 20mi. run/wk
400IM 4:14.84, 200Fly 1:56.66
Med. School residency [50-60hrs] Masters (01)
4-5 practices (3500-4000) + 2-3x’s wt.(1)
400IM 4:14.43, 200 Fly 1:57.65
Treat all your swimmers like athletes regardless of age.
Training Masters Conclusion
Many older athletes are not familiar with these types of training regimens. They simple did not exists to a great extent at the times these people were involved in any type of organized programs in the 1930s, 40s 50s 60s 70s and early80s depending how long they participated in this sport at an organized level.
How Rats are like People
On a study of mice depicted by Dr. Selye in a 1956 book called The Stress of Life. Dr. Selye demonstrated that if he placed too much stress on mice they became ill or died. They failed to adapt. Likewise, if the human body cannot adapt to the stress of training, exhaustion occurs, resulting in poor performance, injury, or illness. The goal in training is to apply sufficient stimulus to elicit the desired training response without creating so much stress that the body fails to adapt. Signs of failed adaptation can be physical and mental. Some of the mild symptoms include poor performance, elevated resting heart rate, irritability, and loss of appetite. More severe symptoms include aching muscles, exhaustion, inability to sleep, and weight loss. The earliest indicators of impending failure are mood disturbances and a lack of interest in training.
Adaptation occurs if the body is capable of resisting stress. The organism becomes stronger. Furthermore, it adapts to specific stresses in specific ways. Herein lies the science of designing a training program. Each training stress, or stimulus, is designed to elicit a specific response. The key to a successful program is to apply the stimulus that will result in the desired adaptation. For example, if you want to be a better sprinter, the training stimulus should be of the sprint type. An over-distance stimulus will not result in better sprint performance.
At ISF we train all energy systems by use of test sets. Personal Journal.
Based on a study of USMS Championship swimmers (321 women, 319 men) over a 12-year period. Five major new findings were uncovered about overall performance of Masters swimmer’s from the 50m free to the 1500m free.
First, The age at which a more rapid decline in performance begins to occur later with swimming (-70yr) compared with running at (-60yr).
Second, compared with 1,500-m swimming, the 50-m freestyle declined more modestly and slowly with age. The rate of decline in swimming performance with age were greater in women than in men in the 50-m freestyle; such sex-related differences were not observed in the 1,500-m freestyle.
Third, a reduction in lactate threshold appears to contribute to the decline in endurance performance from young adulthood to early middle age, whereas reductions in vo2max appear to contribute most to the further decline in performance from early to later middle age.
Finally, gender differences in swimming performance throughout the adult age range are greatest in the short-duration events and least in endurance events.
Reasons for Understanding Energy Zones
Different energy sources supply each energy system
Improvement of one energy system doesn’t influence another one
The same swimming set can be swum in different energy zones
Preparation of competitive swimmers requires evaluation of individual swimming intensity in each energy zone
Energy delivery rate dependent upon the duration of event
Annual USMS National Championship Events
January One Hour Postal Championship
May Short Course Nationals
May-September 5 & 10 K Postal Championship
July 2 Mile Cable Championship
July 1 Mile Open Water Championship
August 2 Mile Open Water Championship
August Long Course Nationals
Sept – Oct 3,000 & 6,000 Yard Postal Championship
September 6+ Mile Open Water Championship
September 5K Open Water Championship
Goals and Objectives of Masters Swimming.
To encourage and promote improved fitness and health in adults.
To offer adults the opportunity to participate in a lifelong fitness and/or competitive swimming program.
To encourage organizations and communities to establish and sponsor masters Swimming programs.
To enhance fellowship and camaraderie among Masters swimmers.
To stimulate research in the sociology, psychology, and physiology of Masters Swimming.
Goals and Objectives of Masters Swimming
To encourage and promote improved fitness and health in adults.
To offer adults the opportunity to participate in a lifelong fitness and/or competitive swimming program.
To encourage organizations and communities to establish and sponsor masters Swimming programs.
To enhance fellowship and camaraderie among Masters swimmers.
To stimulate research in the sociology, psychology, and physiology of Masters Swimming.
Lifestyle Stress Release
Protection against sickness and disability
No change in ability to learn and alertness
“…physical fitness [is] perhaps the single most important thing an older adult person can do to remain healthy. Physical activity is the crux of successful aging regardless of other factors.”
-Successful Aging, by John Rowe, MD and Robert Kahn, PhD, 1998
1. Training Techniques to Improve Endurance Exercise Performances
Kubukeli Z.N., Noakes T.D.; Dennis S.C.
Sports Medicine, Volume 32, Number 8, 1 August 2002, pp.489-509(21), Adis International
2. Physical Activity for Older Adults, Section 2: Physical Activity and the Older Adult; Minnesota Department of Health 1998
3. Invited Review: Dynamic exercise performance in Masters athletes: insight into the effects of primary human aging on physiological functional capacity. Hirofumi Tanaka, Douglas R. Seals; Journal of Applied Physiology 95:2152-2162, 2003.
Lactate Clearance after the race by Genadijus Sokolovas, Ph.D., USA Swimming Physiology Director, and National Team Technical Support. Check out USA Swimming’s website for more information of the latest research in this area.