Middle Distance Training by Jon Urbanchek (2003)


I am delighted to be here. Great speakers, and “” is probably still here. I can smell that manure up here, which reminded me of a story I heard many years ago as a young coach and a young teacher. The story is about the pessimist and the optimist – two kids. It’s Christmas time, and they go into the pessimist’s room and open up the presents, huge boxes with beautiful presents. He opens them up, and throws them away. He just can’t wait to open up the next one and goes through all the boxes, but nothing satisfies him. Then he goes next door to the optimist’s room and opens the door, and all he sees is a big pile of manure. The optimist says, “if there is manure, there’s got to be a pony.”

So, that reminds me of what “” said. It relates to young coaches and the do’s and don’ts of coaching. I’m going to tell you this first because we might run out of time later. Don’t miss the birth of your first child. It will carry you for the rest of your life. And another recommendation: create the time in your busy schedule to find a hobby between you and your spouse. Now I am not talking about the two minutes in bed at night – where is my buddy Shoulburg? He extended it another 2 minutes with Viagra. He got me last year, so you know, what comes around goes around. Create some kind of a bonding between you and your spouse – which brings me back to manure again; see, “” is pretty sharp. We aren’t giving him enough credit. The reason I brought up the manure again is because my wife and I share a couple of horses; thoroughbreds – that is a kind of show horse. These aren’t the kinds of horses “” lost his shirt with – racehorses. These are just plain pleasure horses. Some of you might even have seen them out in Ann Arbor. What really made a big difference in my life and how I get along with my wife is that we share this hobby together. After workout we go out there and we shovel up manure. We work the horses and it gives us some quality time together not that quality time in bed is too short or anything. You need something more meaningful. After all, in bed you are only satisfying an instinct. Everybody’s got it – animals got it too you know that is no big deal. When you share a hobby, something you can do together, it is really something special, something I recommend, if you can find it.

It doesn’t have to be horses. It could be something else. But if nothing else, find some time, because this is the biggest problem we have in our sport. For 43 years now I have been getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning and usually get home somewhere around 7 or 8 o’clock at night, so you have to have some time devoted to your family. It makes your job a lot more enjoyable.

I am here today to talk to you more about the process. My topic is middle distance freestyle, and tomorrow I’ll follow this up with distance freestyle. I was just wondering why John (Leanord) stuck me with these two topics. Maybe because he feels like we have got to catch the Aussies somehow. The way I look at middle distance freestyle is in Dr. Salo’s continuum, which “” talked about…for those of you who paid attention. It lies somewhere between the 50 and the 1500, so we are talking about those kids who swim the 200 and the 400. That was the basic topic that John wanted me to talk about, so we are going to focus in on that.

My wife is a physiologist. More specifically, she is a muscle specialist who does nerve regeneration, so I have learned quite a bit about muscle fibers from her. I am going to use laymen’s terms as far as physiology goes. I never passed beyond physiology 101 at Michigan. We all have fast-twitch fibers, mostly used by the 50m swimmers, though interestingly, not necessarily in swimming. The real fast-twitch fibers are probably used more by the people who run the 100 yard dash in about 10 seconds.

Now there are also the slow-twitch fibers. Those are the two main categories, but according to my wife we also have ultra fast-twitch fibers. The ultra fast-twitch fiber probably contracts about ten times faster than the slow-twitch. I created another fiber, that is a no twitch, and I am not talking about Dick Shoulberg after two and a half minutes in bed with his wife – he didn’t know that I was going to get back with him. We cannot really make a muscle fiber contract any faster than God made it to. That’s just the way it is. We are born with a certain number of muscle fibers and we will die with the same number. All we can do is alter them and make them thicker and heavier; we are not going to have any less or any more. It’s pretty much determined that about 55 – 60% of the people have a proper mixture of fast- and slow-twitch. If you can picture a bell curve then way down at one end of the continuum we have the really fast-twitch fiber type people and on the other end we have the very slow twitch. These slow-twitch people would be the marathon runners, or marathon swimmers. We will talk about this group.

What makes it fun to coach this group is that we have a variety of training opportunities, so we can throw just about anything at them. As a mater of fact, these are the guys none of us can ruin, so we can give them a continuum of workouts anywhere from a 50 to the 1500. As a young student of physiology at the University of Michigan, which I attended in the 50s, interval training was brand new. Basically, interval training gives you everything you want – how far, how often, and how fast. That is the principle of training that we all have used for the last 50 years. It gave us a wide variety of ways we can make swimming more fun.

We are looking at the 100, 200, 400, 500m swimmers, guys like Ian Thorpe or Michael Phelps. This would not work for a guy like Clete Keller because Clete can’t sprint. I tried one summer to put him into more of a sprint-oriented program and it didn’t make a bit of difference. This last summer, I put him into the 1500, and that didn’t make a bit of difference either.

We still have another 340-some days until we face the Aussies again. Of course there is another big power emerging in Europe, as most of you have heard. The British are coming! They definitely showed their presence at the last three major meets this summer and Bill (Sweetenham) is definitely responsible for making that change. So not only do we have to look out for their team, but for the other Europeans too. There is no such thing as standing still in this sport. We have got to be working constantly. We need to be working out today, tomorrow, and the next day. There are no “makeups” between now and the remaining 307 days before our trials. You cannot make up any lost time.

One characteristic of middle distance guys is, obviously, that they like to train. They have a good sense of pace and nice stroke rate. Some of the people you see on this chart here are the ones who came out of our program, especially the yard swimmers. Dan Ketchum is at the top here. Until last year or so Dan wasn’t very good. He went a 15:04 for 1500 yards so no big deal. Gustava Borges was probably the highest caliber athlete that ever walked on the deck at the University of Michigan. He improved some. I don’t know if I helped him that much or whether I hurt him that much. If I didn’t put him into the middle distance group I think he would have done better in the sprints. Of course this is in hind site. John Piersma made the Olympic team for the United States in the 200-yard freestyle. Grant Lang was another great sprinter who walked through my door. He was not a sprinter. He was a backstroker, an IMer, and a butterflyer. Let me tell you a good story about this Grant Lang and then I am going to move on.

When Grant Lang walked on my deck he was a “49” swimmer. He had actually gone to Junior Nationals and his coach forgot to scratch him from one of the events. Both the 100 back and the 100 fly were on the same day. For those of you who remember Junior Nationals back in the 80s, it’s coming back, don’t laugh. But anyway, he went 49.5 in both and I was able to land him at Michigan. Training camp his freshman year happened to be in Boca Raton, Florida. The West German Team was there with Michael Gross and we had to swim a dual meet against them. We had a good 4 x 100 freestyle relay with a pretty good group of sprinters, but all the older guys kind of chickened out when I told them that Michael Gross was going to lead off the relay. Everybody got tight sphincters, tummy aches, so on and so forth. So I turned to this young guy, Grant Lang. I said, hey Grant I think somebody should lead off this relay. He replied “Put me on it coach – no big deal.” He was so naïve – he didn’t know crap about swimming or anything. He probably didn’t even know what was going on, so I put him on the relay and he held his own. They both went 45 low, and this was at the end of an Urbanchek training camp, which is not easy. It was pretty good to see 45 something. His best time was 45.8 and he just went a little bit under. So I ended up putting him on the freestyle relay, and the next year he went 42.6 and made the NCAAs. He also made the Olympic team and was able to be on the relay. His one shot at it he only went 49.4 flat start. It was not a big deal, and I would like to have him back right now.

It was in a morning session of the Seoul Olympics so the point I am making here, some of these guys basically swam the 50, 100 and stretched it out to the 200. Matt Biondi was one of the guys who could go a 19.15 and a 41.8, 1:33.1. We don’t have those anymore. I think the reason we are struggling in America right now in the 200 freestyle is because we don’t really have those type of swimmers. We spoil our sprinters. Now they only go a 50 and maybe a 100. Some of them only want to do 100s. Many get by 200 yards in the collegiate program. Anybody can swim 200 yards. It’s no big deal but the biggest difference in yards and meters is the 200, you know? It is very tough. A lot of these kids now are saying that they don’t want to swim 200 meters. What we are doing is bringing people down who don’t have the initial speed. For instance we’ve got Michael (Phelps) right now and we are lucky that Michael can sprint. He goes out in 24.3 and comes home in a 24.7 — and goes 49.1. He does not have a great initial speed, but whatever Bob Bowman is doing, his swimmers are doing a good job and they know how to bring their races back home.

Now these are some of the kids I have had in the program. Clete Keller went a 1:32 on the relay for USC before he moved down to Michigan. I am not quite sure how fast he would have gone if he had really wanted to push it. Tom Dolan just announced his retirement. I am going to attend his retirement roast on the 27th of this month and I got all kinds of ammunition for that one. John Piersma and Tom Dolan made the Olympic team in foreign meets. Chris Thompson just did his lifetime best this summer at the PAN-American games. I am not sure where he pulled that one from. It was a smelly swim, but it was good for his mind because he is still a “kid.” He came to Michigan as a 1500 guy. He went around 15:30 or 15:27 and didn’t have any speed at all. I mean zero. The longer the race the more he likes it. I was very happy that he is still continuing to improve. Later on, for those of you who are willing to sit through tomorrow’s session on the distance freestyle, I will tell you a little bit more about Chris Thompson and his development and his progress.

Another person you will recognize is Marshal Lauder. Marshal is a Dutch boy and obviously I miscalculated him. His first year at Michigan he won the 1650 at 14:40. He also won the 500 free along with the 400 IM. That was ten years ago. Then he ended up being a really good 200 IMer and a 1:01 breaststroker so obviously I didn’t really help him. In fact, I probably hurt him in the long-run by putting him in all the longer events, but regardless, he was an NCAA champion and was an Olympian many times. This young guy, Peter VanderKay, just walked into my program this year. It looks like he has got the talent, the desire, and the ability to make major improvements. However, I don’t know if 308 days are enough; we are running out of time to make basic improvements. Malchow also went 1:49.1. He could be our second or third fastest 200 meter freestyler at Michigan, but I never put him in the 200 list because he could never break 1:37. As you probably know he has the most awkward and ugliest turns in the history of swimming, so he could never do anything at the collegiate level. He never won an NCAA championship. He never did a whole lot of short course, but certainly he is a factor in long course – much like Clete who just joined our team last year.

Alright, I don’t want to bore you with a whole lot, but I do want to tell you guys that there is some merit to training with a purpose. I am not really very good about subjective types of things. I like to do things just like my physiologist tells me. These three things again: how far, how often and how fast. I like the method. I am pretty much stuck in that groove until somebody tells me otherwise. Throughout this lecture, all you are going to get from me is the same as you are going to find on the Swim Camp site. The workout’s main objective is to determine what, from an aerobic training angle, the specific target times to train at are. If you don’t ask for it, chances are very minute that kids will ever give it to you. Even if you do ask for it, many times you don’t get it, but at least we know that we are trying. Especially with the younger kids, they like to please the coach. Even some of the college kids at times are that way, and that’s how I came up with this.

I am going to run through this pretty fast now. I like to use a continuous steady swim. What I am looking at is the critical point where you are crossing over from doing aerobic work to the anaerobic zone. Anybody can use this method I’ve created. It really doesn’t take a whole lot. You don’t have to be a scientist. I lies somewhere between 2000 and 3000 or sometimes even 4000 yards or meters, depending on the mood I am in. We can get a pretty good feeling what the threshold is. I use the word threshold and I am not sure how accurate it is, but I always express it in 100 yards or 100 meters. That is the point of origin at which we start our training. We start either at threshold, just below, or right above it. That is the only kind of training we have. We don’t have to go through all that energy system stuff, which is very confusing. You can also get a pretty good estimate out of a good 200 meter or yard effort. If you have some real slackers who are simply not going to put out for you, you can use any of the long sets or any other of the long swims. You can kind of con them into it. I think that special training has been overdone and the only people that need it and should use it are the people that swim a 400 and up. I don’t think you really need it for the 200 and lower, but if you are dealing with somebody who is swimming 24’s in a 50, I think they should have some ways to determine how to do that and I will give you an example. Some of the names you might be able to recognize here.

Early in the season, about October 4th, three to four weeks into our training, I gave the team an interval test and I believe that interval test was ten 400s – in meters. We do quite a bit of meter swimming at our university, especially in the Fall. Those were the thresholds I got out of the interval test and that I matched up with a straight 3000 swim on the next Monday. Both of those are on Monday and you can see how closely they correlate. It is really so basic. I don’t think you really need to swim far but if you have somebody who focuses on a 400 and a 1500 I recommend they go to the straight 3000 or 4000. Like Eddie Reese said, Michael went 46-something for a 5000, averaged 55.8. Now I have only had two people who can go that fast in my program and we specialize in distance. That is one good way to arrive at a threshold. From there I came up with this color-coding that is plain John Charles Urbanchek. I just looked at some kid who was floating in the pool in the warm-up, and their face is white. If you give them a free set of something and you push it a little bit, they get rosy cheeks. If you give them a real heavy set, there is some guy who is going to be red in the face and neck and shoulder. That means it is red, and more like what I call another threshold. If they turn blue they have gone way over to the anaerobic range.

I did this as a joke and the newest swimmers liked it, but I don’t want to take credit for it. That was just a way to trick the kids into not worrying about time as much as the color. Now based upon the threshold they come up with, actually, this is Tom ‘s (Malchow) profile, if I just want him to do some easy recovery type of swimming and I want him to go hundreds meters at 1:06 or 200s at 2:14 or if I want to go 400 – he is going to go 4:33, but around 15, 20 seconds rest – anywhere between 10-20 seconds rest and it is more like a recovery swim. I don’t think it is optimal for improvement with a distance swimmer but I think it is very optimal for a sprint type of guy. A 100 or 200 guy should get his aerobic training at this level. I don’t think he needs to go higher than that so he is able to do some of the faster swims later on in the week when you call on him. For example, we always do this type of training every Monday and Thursday. If you want to come back on Tuesday and Wednesday and do something real fast with a 100 or 200 guy you definitely don’t want to give them a very heavy threshold set.

Now this is what I consider the optimal state for training – the red and blue colors. I like to create the red and blue with my distance swimmers.

Now if you take a look at Tom, 1:06 is okay. If I wanted him to go a good 3000-4000 sets, he is going to have to use 1:06 as a base for his training for optimal special training. This means that he is going to have to get his hundreds down to 1:03. Now he needs his 200s to be a 2:08. Also, what I do is I record every one of my swimmer’s times for the ten 400s. Sometimes I would throw one out if the first one was real crappy. For example if one started out at about 4:31 and then drops down to a 4:21 I just throw one out. It is no big deal. You can still average it out. All you need is about 20 minutes worth of good steady state swimming and that is the threshold. I don’t care what the scientists tell me, including my wife. I don’t give a damn. There is no way you can determine the threshold better than the continuous swim. If you do the “step test” you have still got to go on the curve and then you got to bring it down to the velocity line. I had my guys tested numerous times. Every time we would go up to Colorado Springs – and to be honest, it worked for the mediocre kids or sprint-oriented guys, but for distance guys – no. My distance guys can hold 1:06 for 3000 at a 200 altitude. Then we tested them and got 1:09. Now where the hell did that come from? So I trust myself, like “” said, you have got to believe in what you are doing, not what hypothetical ideal situation comes out of a lab – when most of the work was done on rats. I trust my horses more than I trust the rats.

And you know what you learn from the horses? You learn to be patient. You tell your athletes fifteen times to learn a skill. You have to tell the horse a thousand times. They still don’t learn. They don’t have the ability to reason. They have a big head but a tiny brain. Now that teaches you. When I go to see the horses and I come back, that’s therapy. I don’t think you can stay in a sport that long if you don’t have something else to do. Some guys go fishing like Eddie. Eddie tells the biggest fishing stories. I have not seen a picture of Eddie holding a fish up. Sometimes you have to bring your shovel along when he tells you about fish stories.

Now there is a great idea for a good Monday PM training. I am going to use Tom Machow and the 1:06 based upon his 1:06 threshold. Tom, you are going to go six 200s on 2:30 – obviously this is meters. Give me three whites which are about 2:14, give me three reds 2:08s and get your heart rate. The Aussies are counting backwards from maximum to twenty beats down or thirty beats down. That is their method, and it works for them so I say keep using it. And then we follow that up with a three 800s on 9:30 even split at 400 so he looks up his time like he has got to go 4:32, 4:32 and then the next one 4:29. The last one should be 4:18. So it gives you what? An 8:36. The pulse would rise up and would get up to 28, 29 or even get up to 30. I mean, anytime you work between 150 to 180 (BPM) you are doing good for your body. Anything below a 1:40, like Bill said, stay home in bed under the covers, as long as you don’t have your girlfriend with you, but that is only two minutes so that is no big deal. With the younger guys maybe three.

Now go back to Malchow again and you will want to use that 1:06 that we determined from his continuous swim. If I want Tom to give me an optimal training for VO2Max improvement, or just to continue staying in shape, I ask him to give me hundreds. Now if you look at it, you go anywhere between 30 seconds and a minute and thirty seconds rest. That is a little bit more than you are going to give on a normal threshold test. I like to be around one minute. I try to run a minute flat if I can arrange that but anywhere from 30 seconds. The rest in between that interval kind of determines how fast they can swim. You can ask him to give me ten 100s on a 1:10 and to hold 59, but he will not be able to give it to you. Grant Hackett is going to do it or somebody who is specifically training for the 1500 can give it to you, but some of these guys, especially a 200/ 400 type of guy can’t to do it.

So for Tom, if I ask him to give me 200s he is going to have to do it pretty fast. By the way, I would not recommend for you guys to do anything beyond the 200 if you are doing VO2Max. That would be way too fast. 200m and even in yards is where I get the best results. Sometimes I do 100s and 150s. To me this is probably the most important determining factor: how fast one can swim 1500 meters. You can use the threshold results to determine how fast one can swim 1500 meters or 1650 yards.

Obviously Tom Malchow – if I ever made him swim a 1650 in college the best he would have given me about 15:06, which I think he could have done. Anybody who can go a 4:17 should be able to go around 15 minutes if they have any desire to swim it. Chris Thompson is about 55.6 – 55.7 and so it means each 550 will have to hold about 4:48 – and that is exactly what he did. He has the 1650 American Record 14:26, so you can actually project that. Now, you don’t have to tell this to the kids. You know I don’t believe in tests for one reason. These are not tests. This is training. We are just training for a purpose. I don’t want to tell them because then you put them in a box. “This is the best you can ever do. If you can’t go a 54 flat you are never going to go 14:20.” Obviously, some kid might just believe in that, and they’ll wonder “why bother to try?” I, for one, am not going to do that.

If you American local coaches have a kid that goes a minute flat threshold for you, whatever method you determine it at, probably the best that kid could do is probably around 15-15:30 for a 1650. This is about right for most of my guys are in that neighborhood, but you can also swim the threshold for the distance-oriented people. You can also determine how fast they can swim 400 meters or the 500 yards. So, for the distance people, it’s important to determine their threshold and for them to be able to swim the 2000 to 3000 hard, and you have to tell them that. If you do a test and never use the results for anything, they aren’t going to do it for you next time. What the hell – what am I doing it for? You should make it something meaningful and use it as a training tool.

I think I was very fortunate at Michigan. I am not as fortunate now. Back in the day I just had a lot of hunks. You should have seen a threshold set. There wasn’t an animal lane – it was an animal pool. Dog eat dog. Everybody is going at it. I didn’t have to do anything but stand on the deck and yell and cheer. It was fun to see people just beating up on each other. It pushed them to their limits and it was an honest effort. If you don’t get an honest effort out of these, don’t even use it. Don’t bother with it, because it is worthless. If a guy is going to dog it so that he gets to train at a slower intensity, the coach should turn red and tell him that “you are one bad apple that brings the other ones down.”

Basically, if you look at the 100s based upon the threshold and what we got for VO2Max from the threshold, a typical 55-something guy like Dolan was 55.7 or 55.5 I think for a continuous swim while he was at Michigan. Then I said, Tom – I think you should be able to hold about 49.5 per 100 yards, and by God he did do that, it’s in his record as 4:08.5. But somebody goes 58 flat in yards and he is more likely to be a 4:20 for you. I don’t want the Aussies to get upset in here – the majority of the people here understand yards. We can also do the same thing in meters so for example: a guy – like Chris Thompson goes – his special is about 1:04 on a good day and about 3:51 I think. That is what he had up there so he is about right there and I would say. I don’t know what some of the Aussies are doing but I suspect that Hackett is pretty close to a 1:02. Bill, do you know what he is? Yeah – they don’t use exact – that was my gut feeling, but it is easy for him to probably about a 1:02 so he can hold. Basically, that is what he is pretty much – 55s because he did go a 42 – 3:42 so that would be my gut feeling. I mean, if you look at where he is for the 1500, just off of 1:02 he should be able to do every 500 at 4:53 which is 7 seconds under 5 minutes so if it were 30 something that would be 14:30 something so that is my gut feeling. If you are a 1:10 threshold, you are going 16:30 but these are just one man’s opinion. We have 52 guys on the Olympic team and about 30 some coaches who put them there and we all approach everything differently. This is my angle approach. It generally works for me, at least most of the time, but when the chips are down we always come through.

For the VO2Max training this would be excellent. This would again be for the American audience. If you are training for a 500 freestyle using VO2Max I highly recommend this. I did this with all of my 500 people. You go four 500s and the first one you died on 3 minutes. He tried to rehearse his 200 going out place – this will be for someone around 4:20 or 4:24 type of guy – this would not be probably Dolan who is significantly faster than that. He would probably go out at 1:38 maybe on that one – actually it was at 1:37. That was the way to the record so then you have got to push 150 at VO2Max and then you can look it up on the VO2Max chart how fast you had to go. 1:17, 1:19 and then you go a dive. You don’t have to go a dive. I like to interject a dive in here. On the first one not a problem, but on the #3 and #4 you know, after you finish – you know he has done 350, climbing out of the pool and getting up on the block and springing off the block. It is stressful so it is painful and I think they get more out of it. If you don’t have any blocks you can just do all push stuff; it’s fortunate to have the facility to be able to get out of the pool.

We are talking about technique. We are talking about breathing pattern. We are talking about stroke rate to make sure it is not a sprint. Anyone can go a 1:37 if you hustle, but could you continue on at that type of stroke rate and so on so that is important to emphasize for the 200 guys. If you want to create the VO2Max and I can – this is my favorite one – I love this. The kids don’t like it as much as I do, but I love it. You can do anywhere from 4-8. Early season you can probably do more than that. Some of these things I showed you today would be probably close to taper time you know and maybe four or five weeks out. You can do this just before you jump into your taper, so if you have someone training for the 200 freestyle, I think this is freestyle – you go a dive 50 on 1:30 so you are going to go about a minute rest or a minute and five seconds maybe going out pace. Going out pace means controlled – not over-kicking, not over-stroking, etc. You do that and then you go a push 100 and try to hit your mid hundred of your 200 time. For this particular person it was probably 54 flat would be ideal. And then climb up on the block and then begin. Your legs were shaking and get up there and bring it home. You know that is a great set if you want to work on 200s. I have been kind of lucky to have a lot of real good 200 people in the program, mainly because we don’t have 100 and 200 to be honest. Everybody trains for the 200. Some can swim a good 100, 150 along the way. Pretty much 200 is probably really the lowest one we are really concentrating on and that is why so many people, especially 2000 people don’t want to come to Michigan because John Mason swam the 200 and I am not going to do that. Many of those probably never make it for the 100 meters or 200 meters when it counts in the big time.

Now, this is another good set for you guys, because if you are training, this is a great training set again, not really testing. I think we should drop the word testing – the only thing it is good for is when the kids come to me and say “Jon what do you think I can do at the end of the season?” I can be a genius by figuring – saying “yeah, I think you can go a 1:50 flat or 1:52,” based upon what I see in the results of the test. Don’t necessarily use it as a test because that puts the kids in the box for the 200. If you do, it’s a standard test and I think, “I developed this test.” Why do you think I picked 92% to hold? Because I looked at all the hundred people and 200 people and looked at what percentage of your 100 effort can you hold for the 200. And I went all the way back to the Biondi days – back because in that situation we had lots of numbers and for scientists you would need all the ends – more ends – I mean. If you only had two or three it doesn’t mean anything. They want to see the number of ends so I went through the NCAAs. All the guys are swimming 50 and other guys are swimming 100 and all the guys swim the 200 which used to be a lot in those days. Not anymore. Anthony Ervin will not go a 200, though that was his first national cut, as I think Eddie told you yesterday. So who I look at is Matt Biondi who is 19.15. He went for a 50 yard freestyle at 91.7% of his 100 effort which is a 41.8 or something like that. Then I took the hundred into the two hundred, which is 1:48.

Those were the numbers I came up with, so I said, how should we train? What is our goal? Well, let’s just go a little bit faster than what the percentage is so I came up with 92% and for those in training for the 400 I think six 200s on 8 minutes is shooting for somewhere 94-96. The mean is 95.2 – something like that. I said there is a great correlation in what your goal times are and actually we did some studies on it. I got R’s .95 and .96, which are unbelievable numbers. Now, if you look at somebody training for the 200 and you want to give them one of these tests, not just go by feel, tell them that it is not a descending set, I want you to hold steady, I do not want more than half a second deviation between fastest to slowest. It is not the guy who goes fast in the first one and slower and slower and he is in the locker room puking by #4. I picked Malchow again here; his best time is 53 flat. We don’t know, he has done 54s unshaved before – we guessed it. But Tom, I think when we do these hard nosed sets and get up there, I would like you to average about 57 – 57.6. That was his goal. He is one of these obedient kids, he likes to please the coach and he is pretty much right on that. Now, if I can get him down to that – Michael is 51 – he is going to be the first guy to go under a 1:50, although I don’t think it is going to happen. Tom doesn’t have that initial speed, though we are going to work on it. We are going to try and get him, because I think there is a correlation there. Obviously there would be some people above it and some people below that, so a typical Michael Phelps is the 51 flat and Michael is not even 92% off of 51 flat. His 200 is lousy. Bowman, you are not doing something right. If I had that kid going 51 flat I would guarantee you he will go 1:50.86 – I am just kidding Bob – he is super.

None of us are ever going to get to that level. Well I shouldn’t say that. Some of you young people out there have got something to shoot for. For some of us old farts I think it won’t happen. Alright, I am going to give you another example in here. If you are Thorpe and go a 1:44 flat and you want to know how fast you should go. Thorpe should go 3:39.9 or something like that. He’s almost there so you can use that, but a 1:50 guy can’t. Another example right here is Eric Vent. Eric’s best time is 1:50 for the 200 free and he is absolutely higher than 95. He is about 96%, exactly what he can hold for. Many of the Americans are not able to do that – they don’t have a lot of initial speed. They do not have that critical velocity – what I call it – to build on. Chris Thompson, Larson Jansen and all these guys. We are already six seconds behind the Aussies. If we can’t improve our 200 there is no way we are going to go fast on the 400. It can’t be physiologically – you can’t hold 1:50 and 1:50. If 1:50 is your best time you know the best you can do physiologically is about 5 seconds over. So what the moral of the story is – we got to have more power and more speed or we aren’t going to catch them, but maybe Michael can do it – I don’t know.

I will talk to you about this overhead – broken something here. He didn’t get all of this here – I am going to run through this. You don’t need any of this – this isn’t, typical collegiate season. What is important to you right now – we are about to begin our training right now – sometime today maybe at Michigan and what we like to do the first six weeks is do a lot of aerobic training and skill development. Okay? Heart rate less than 150 which is 26 if you use the digital method which I use in Michigan – of two digits, you know two fingers right there and that is about as good as anything you can find on the market. I bought this stuff from the Aussies a year ago – you know it takes 10 seconds before you can read a pulse well, pardon me, in 10 seconds you made the biggest drop so it is not really accurate so Bob can do whatever he wants with that stuff. I am just kidding. I am not picking on the Aussies. Basically, we will just move along in here. Then, this takes us after Christmas break for our college kids and then by that time we hit all the zones, all the areas of training. VO2Max, lactate—was it “” that said lactate production isn’t good? Well, I mean, you are right. The more lactate you can produce the better swimmer you are going to be because it tells you that you are creating a lot more energy. You are burning more if your technique is right. High lactates are good—lactates are good. I tell all my kids that lactates are not bad—that is good because much of it could be reconverted if you go back to your biology class you know in a Kreb cycle we will bring that thing back again so we can use some of the lactate, we just can’t use too much of it and I don’t know if buffering helps. I don’t know – I never studied stuff like that. The body usually builds its own buffering.

Now, just before the NCAA’s we do a lot of short course work, but at least two workouts out of ten we go long course. Long course is never out. Our guys have always been trained in Michigan to think long course. At the beginning we are predominantly long course, but as we are getting closer to the championship season, I have to meet the need of some of the kids who are never going to see Speedo on paychecks. We only have a few swimmers make it to the Olympics, but you still have to plan. You have to meet the need of the best of your kids. If your program is geared to a mediocre type of kid you get a mediocre team. You have always got to shoot for the top and then let the other ones rise. If they are not rising, well, you know what happens. If you don’t rise you sink. I am just going to run through this. This is a typical distance taper. Again, taper is so specific to every kid, so this would be what I would say on average and I usually present this to the kids, and then we will tell them, “some of you want more, some of you want less. Not everybody can be in a 20 day taper.” They are losing it or they can only handle 10 so you figure this out as you go along. Sometimes you make mistakes and I have to take the blame for that. But I believe that there is no such a thing as bad taper. You never miss your taper. I think usually my response to that is I think you missed your training – that is more appropriate.

This is just roughly what we do on three day cycle – a three day cycle of 5 workouts – I usually have one Wednesday morning off. This summer I experimented on something different. We gave them Wednesday afternoon off. I felt like in the morning they were not willing to give me the effort I wanted because they already had four tough workouts and didn’t have a chance. My reasoning was just like Teri – if you give them Wednesday morning off with college boys and girls you know what happens. You don’t know whose house you have to call and who is going to answer the phone if they don’t show up for workout and those are some of the things we have to deal with on the college level, and I think it might be permeating down to the high school level, too. So this is a kind of a rough break down. I haven’t said anything about it yet, I just talked to you about main sets. Well, we do more than main sets. Some of those main sets will run anywhere from 3000 to 4000 for the middle distance type of people. In the mornings we do a lot of technique work. I do a lot of pulling on a Monday morning – Monday is a heavy pulling set for us. I also have endurance kicking on that. A heavy pulling set means we might have to do interval pulling, you know 200s, 300s, 400s, and 800s and then we do endurance kick. One of the things I changed from my program from previous years, we do a lot more kicking and not socialized kicking. If I see somebody socializing while they are kicking – it is not as often happening with the men but more often with the women. Kicking became a talking and gossip session so we get rid of the kickboards. But I spend a lot more time on kicking now and do a lot of hypoxic swimming regardless; is it good or bad? The merits of hypoxic swimming have something to do with it, and especially if you do bilateral breathing, it helps work on symmetry. We will do fins and IM sets. We will do some other stuff to fill in – the fillers for the 7000 or whatever we try to get in an AM workout and I already showed you a Monday PM workout. Tuesday these types of people we do a lot of drill work. Speed kick and that is like 25s, 50s, 75s and they got to go real hard and hurt the muscles. I don’t use the buckets any more. _______ told me for years to use the buckets because so many of my guys, especially my middle distance and distance guys, are really weak.

Let me tell you a sad story. The Olympic gold medalist, the Olympic silver medalist and the Olympic bronze medalist on my team are currently swimming. Between the three of them they cannot do ten pull-ups. My grandmother can do ten pull-ups. They are all tall and lanky and I admit that the levers are not favorable for them. They all have just extremely long arms. They are humorous – they are just long and for that reason you know, they cannot do that. Don’t laugh, because I had the fortune to coach Gary Hall Senior when he was about 12 or 13. This was my very first year of coaching in 1962 in Anaheim, California with ________, Gary Hall was the wimpiest guy until he went to Indiana for college. Gary couldn’t do one pull-up. He would hang there – it was just nothing. But he had a great feel for the water, so I don’t think it is really that important to be that strong. The guy that can do the most pull-ups and dips on my team is a great athlete out of the water. He is best in basketball, football – whatever you do out of the water – Frisbee, Ultimate Frisbee – he is great, but he is a crappy swimmer. So, there has got to be how far you want to go with strength. I got 26 parachutes – arrived there before I left so we are going to use the parachutes where you can judge how wide you want to open, how much resistance you want. You want some of these guys to swim a little bit with the 5 gallon, and that was pretty tough to swim. You lose mechanics; there is not continuous motion on it, and it doesn’t work with the laws of physics. There’s too much stop and go, so Sir Isaac Newton was right, most of the time.

I am going to give you one more, I don’t know how much time we have but I think we got a late start because the meeting before us went 45 minutes too long so I know it was long, but sometimes we got to do those things. Every Tuesday and Friday I like to do more subjective things. Remember, I am very objective type of coach – how far, how fast, how often. Two workouts, two afternoon workouts, I like to relax a little bit. I try to make it a little bit less controlling. That is one of the negatives I have in my program at Michigan. What I hear from other athletes who talk to other coaches is that Urbanchek is very controlling and very rigid and very this and very that, but I am what I am and I cannot BS. I can’t shoot from the hip on the deck. I have to be prepared ahead of time. I’ve got to reason it out. Sometimes when I sit on the toilet for 20 minutes in the morning, just to make sure I figure out what my workout will be – actually I work one day ahead of time. I have a plan actually for the whole season, but with the variety of things you can do with a program. In our program there are so many different things that you can do from 50 to 500 so you can swim three 75s, two 50s and one 75 – you don’t have to do ten or twelve boring 400s – big joke on us here – every Monday joking us here, twelve 400s. Are you here Dick? I hope not. You can vary it a little bit. I mean monotony is the biggest killer in our sport. My daughter quit at age 9 – it’s boring. After all, we just go back and forth. Well let’s go back and finish this thing.

It doesn’t matter if you go yards or meters. That is a great set. A little bit too long, but you know you can cut it back. You can go less than that if you want to but so you go a 300 freestyle and you don’t tell them when – no ceiling. For some kids I have to give a ceiling because they are such and they might go four minutes instead of a 3:30 or a 3:45 if you are going yards. Sometimes you have got to create a ceiling; depending on what kind of group you are working with and then as soon as they come in, comes in at 3:30 then you go 100 easy at 1:30. That 1:30 is not set in stone, you know it is 1:25, but I like them to come in and as soon as you come in on the next zero you take off. We do have four big digital pace clocks on the walls. You come in at the hundred easy and you sit on the wall at what we call passive rest, less than 10 seconds you take off and I don’t have to time them because they are all going – especially if you have choo-choo train affect. If you’ve got ten guys, five guys in one lane going back and forth I usually throw in my tennis shoe and the tennis shoe keeps going with them you know because the water is already moving, and I brought a rubber duck in there one day and the rubber duck would go so you have to change leaders. One guy leads this lane this set and then the next guy, hopefully if they are nice guys. They always put somebody innocent to lead and they drag off of him. That bothers me because they take advantage of some of these younger kids who don’t know any better. They feel it is a pleasure and honor to lead the lane and then they find out later on in the season, whoops – they all swimming on my rear end. I am wondering why and they are not that kind of boys either. I don’t know. That doesn’t bother me – whatever. A little variety is important.

If you don’t want to do that other crap if you don’t want to do 300s, 200s, 400s I recommend you do this set and I kind of like it, and this is for the typical 200 type of guy. You go three rounds of four 100s with the first 50 just casual. It is kind of recovery swim. You go from a starting end. You swim down easy to the other end but as soon as the zero appears on the digital clock or Ron’s clock or whatever clock you use, then you swim back toward me and then I will take the time. An example would be probably a good 200 freestyler here around 1:50 or 1:48 type of guy. On the first round coming back toward me, he is going to go 27s, probably 27.5 average would be great. You can go all 27s coming back toward me. Okay the next round of four you cruise down easy and I want you to give me 26-something. Everything has got to be in the 26s then on the last round you come back and you give me, not your pace. If your pace is 26.5 I think you are going to go 1:45, 1:46 maybe something like that. On the last four I want you to give me one second under your goal pace. So if you wanted to have – if your goal pace is 26.5. I want to see 25.5 on an average on the last four. That is a damn good set. Now remember, this comes on the day that it was supposed to be subjective, but it is not always – not always subjective. I have some recommendations for them or otherwise if you don’t ask for it sometimes they just float through the whole thing and some days that is the best thing they can do and they have the prerogative on those days to go easier because they know that maybe the next day I might have to do something real fast. I have some guys who leave it in the pool on Tuesday night and they are worthless on Wednesday and I am not sure if it is because they spend the night with their girlfriend and have a heavy night or what, but with the college boys – you never know what happens. Their testosterone is definitely working.

I’ve got more. This is just a glance and again you are going to get all of this. This one I would like to talk to you about. I am honored to be here to talk to you about middle distance freestyle. We are known for being a distance program at Michigan, but for those of you who follow NCAA swimming you all will notice that for almost the last twenty years or so – if you look at the number of sprint events – I put the 200 in short course yards as a sprint event. It is a sprint event and if you look at it – Michigan and Cal tied – this is as of last year. I didn’t redo this, this year. I am sorry this slide is one year off. Cal just passed us with 14. One of their foreign guys – or one of their swimmers – no I am not knocking foreigners – I am a foreigner myself, but you know, we can make jokes about each other and be politically correct. Now they got 14 and this is with the great Biondi and Anthony Ervin and all that. There is Michigan with 13, but I had never been asked to talk to any group ever on sprinting. I would be honored if someday, somebody, somewhere – I mean look at Texas, Arizona – all these people think hot shot sprint coaches. Auburn – never matches us – ever – not during my time – sorry David. Arizona got one more this year. Somebody wanted another guy from Great Britain, who won the 200 freestyle and I think Auburn won the 50 free. I am not sure what the origin of that person was. It really doesn’t matter. We don’t differentiate between swimmers. They are all good so I just wanted you guys to have this. It makes me feel so good. Alright have a great lunch.

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