[Introduction] My name is Pete Malone and I have the pleasure to introduce Ray Benecki this morning to you and it is a real pleasure. We are just sitting up here interacting because both of us, in many ways, have been coaching club programs and have coached some females that have done extremely well. Obviously his swimmer set a world record and been the most dominant distance swimmer we have had over the last four years. He has done a phenomenal job in bringing her to this level. I had the pleasure of working with Kate twice early in her career, both on the junior team and then I had her on the short course worlds right after the last Olympics. I just will never forget dealing with Ray in the 4-6 weeks leading into that and the October meet in Indianapolis. The workouts he discussed with me because he had a vision for this year and where he wanted her to go over the next four years and work that needed to be done and it was so down and specific. He wasn’t being short-sighted and it extremely impressed me, so I think he is going to give a great talk for us this morning and I want to thank him for taking the time to present to us and share his knowledge and understanding. He has done a phenomenal job. I want to thank Speedo for giving all of our speakers a gift and I cannot do what Mark presented last night on the MP3’s, I just know that I probably need this myself so that when I am running workouts and I am enjoying what my swimmers are trying to tell me I should be doing, I could just tune it up and that way I’ll keep my focus on where I need to go. But Ray, thanks a lot and we appreciate you coming and speaking to us this morning.
[Coach Benecki] I guess this works, can you hear me in the back? I was asked to give two talks and I thought I would break it down into what happened last year or up to Mission Viejo in 2007 and then my second talk would be what happened this year going into the Olympics. Those are two completely different perspectives, two completely different talks, so today we are going to talk about 2006 going into 2007 and how, what led up to the tremendous swim in the 1500 at the Mission Viejo meet. We will go to the first slide. One of the biggest things that I think happened that contributed to Kate’s success was what we did at altitude. Now, we had done altitude a year before that and it was two weeks. That was the first time that she had spent at altitude for that extent of time. One thing that we learned from the summer of 2006 was that we needed to spend more time at altitude because they say that the benefit is after three weeks, 3 ½ to 4 weeks is optimal. Two weeks was not quite enough, so really, the summer of 2006 was the preparation for 2007, to see how she would adjust. Because of that, we also chose to do our altitude when we could do 3 ½ weeks, which was the middle of May when college got out for her. If we waited until summer and did it as her club team it would not have worked, because we only had two weeks like we were forced into the schedule the previous year. So when we had 3 ½ weeks to play with the USA Swimming staff forwarded and they said, well, how about doing a national distance altitude camp and so that was fantastic and that is one of the slides that we have coming up. But the biggest thing I think and probably because it was right before the Mission meet, was the altitude training that we did. We came down from altitude on Tuesday, her first event was Thursday and she hit the 1500 perfectly on Sunday so that also told me that she needed to be down about five days to hit her peak, even though when she started the meet she was doing best times, alright?
So the physiological benefits from altitude, and USA Swimming will tell you this too, but we will go to the next slide for the physiological, Monica, can you go back to that one? There are three things that I thought the benefits were from altitude training. One was the physiological benefits, one was the training environment that she had up there which was the national distance altitude camp, alright? Then the support from USA Swimming. We will go into each of those in detail, starting with the physiological benefits. And also, if you have any questions, you do not have to wait until the very end and ask them because sometimes it just lends itself better to answering the questions as they are popping up. We will just list all the four benefits on this slide, I think that is it for this slide. The increased release of hormone EPO from the kidney which stimulates bone marrow for new red blood cells. That is one of the biggest benefits, is the increase in the red blood cells. Increased oxygen carrying capacity because of the red blood cells, higher number of mitochondria, and that might also explain why Kate has had her best 100’s and 200’s come right after altitude.
Increased VO2 MAX and that is also attributable to the red blood cells and the altitude itself. Next two, increased anaerobic lactate threshold and improved muscle capillarization. What we found at altitude was that Kate was having better practices than she was having at sea level and that is really rare. What helped was that she was being pushed in practice by her training partners, but she just adapts to altitude or that summer she adapted to altitude really well. She was, from the first day, after kind of an introduction swim, a warm-up swim and I have slides prepared for the practice that we did. We had a surprise timed 100 freestyle and it was below a minute and she was shocked and everybody swam fast that first day and we gradually increased the amount of fast swimming we did, but it was unbelievable how fast she was swimming at altitude. Next slide, the training environment, and I spoke about that a little bit, was the training partners being part of the national distance camp, the focus on the training and recovery. When you are at altitude and you are at the Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs, if you have been there you know that there are dorms, there is a cafeteria and there is the pool. And we worked really hard to try to find other distractions like we would go up to the amusement park in Denver and we went on a couple of hikes, but really, you would have a really hard time being in Colorado Springs not focusing on your training and recovery so it is an ideal training environment with limited distractions, that is part of the training environment and the ability to recover.
The support, some of the support that we got from USA Swimming, in addition to just a lot of conversations and talks with the staff and I tried to get Kate as much of the stories about Worlds or Olympics or swims that had gone on in the past that the staff at USA Swimming had been part of, kind of like sharing the experience so that she would feel a little related to it. There was Genadijus Sokolovas, everybody calls him “G”, had the swim power machine where you could be hooked up to it and it analyzes every single part of your stroke. We made some corrections to Kate’s stroke right before Mission and she was swimming a little bit more efficiently and definitely a lot stronger. Lactate testing, what we did was we had probably four practices out of the 3+ weeks that we were there where they did lactate tests, whether she put on her FS, I am bad at these names, but her full body length suit which she was very resistant to use at that time. She had never worn one before and so the other benefit of altitude was I was able to get her there and say to the whole group, “we are going to put on a racing suit and we are going to do some sprints today off the blocks for time,” so she actually got in the suit twice up at altitude and she decided to wear it for the 1500 free for the very first time and that helped considerably too. So we would have lactate testing after main sets or we would have it after sprints. We were able to analyze it and find out how she was recovering and adjust the practices accordingly or compare it to a similar practice that we had done a week or two later to the results and see that she was recovering fairly well and she was adapting. That made a huge deal psychologically and physically for her too.
Excellent nutrition, it is very hard not to eat well when you are at Colorado Springs with the dining hall that they have there and the tremendous nutrition that they have, plus just being at altitude you get exposed, probably twice, whether it is formally or informally, with the talks about nutrition that USA Swimming puts on and also the other talks that they give. I was able to set aside probably once or twice a week where Jonty Skinner would work with Kate on her starts and the group in general. We were hoping that she might make, might maybe be on the 4 X 200 relay so we had a chance to work on relay starts too. Starts also included filming, video taping and working on that. The starts tied in very closely with the turns that I think comes up next because one of the common things between the starts and the turns that Kate got very good at was the streamlining and the connection and the body position coming off the walls.
That played big time into her start so her start might not have gotten a lot better, but her turns got tremendously better from all the work that Jonty did with her at altitude and from a lot of the work that she got from the coaches on staff at Worlds, the two World trips that she was on and at all the training camps that she was at. Stroke analysis using Dart-fish, whether it was tied into the swim power machine analysis because that happens at that same time or whether it was separate, just to see the angle of her hand and when she was accelerating through the end of her stroke and that was crucial too. We could basically be taped anytime we wanted to be, she was probably taped, probably twice a week. It was not part of the practice. It was like a third practice so she was actually having a morning practice, an evening practice and sometimes coming in for a half hour or 45 minutes in the middle of the day to do this, and one of the other things I don’t have on here, which I was just thinking about, her typical schedule at altitude camp was that she also had access to the vibrating machine. If you have ever seen one of those vibrating machines where you lay over and if your shoulders are sore you can massage your shoulders with it and increase the blood flow and recover easier that way so she would go in sometimes before practice if she was tired and sore or every day after practice and use a vibrating machine to recover and she also used that to get stronger to increase her strength because Genadijus had two different routines for her, three actually, flexibility also, and he would have a set program for her to follow and she did one or the other or two of them every day.
Other Support: This is really huge for female athletes, especially with high training volumes or with a lot of stress in their life. We discovered two years ago, one year prior to this, that she was prone to having low iron. If you know anything about iron levels and iron count, it should be at a minimum in the 20’s and preferably in the 30’s. We went to the Speedo Grand Challenge in 2006 and she swam miserably and she had a really rough spring. She was under a lot of stress with the decision to go pro over that winter or not to, and which company to go with, and where she was going to go to college. And just the drama of being a senior in high school and that is it for your high school years and you are not going to see some of these friends again so as the spring went, as it turned out, her iron dropped and right after the Speedo Grand Challenge at Irvine on Memorial Day weekend, her iron came out to be 8. USA Swimming got on top of that and we put her on an iron supplement and by the time trials for the PAN-PACS and the World Team rolled around, by the end of that summer, well actually by the time camp ended she, was up at 16. By the time Nationals were in Irvine that summer she was back up to 24, so we knew that we had to keep track of this and there were ups and downs. She would go back down to maybe 16 or 17 in the fall and then we might increase it to two iron pills a day and she would go back up to 20 something. Every time she went out to altitude we had a blood draw done, and Charlene, who drew at USA Swimming, was fantastic for that, so that is some of the support that she got from USA Swimming.
Now, these are specific practices that she did and as I said, this first one, we went on a Sunday. We didn’t go right after a meet. We went right after she had moved out of her dorm at college so we went on a Sunday and it was just mainly a recovery practice. Like …. 2 – 4 – 6 – 4 – 2 – 15 seconds rest – eight 200’s – play with the speed – last five were negative split – eight 100’s later on in the practice – the last five were descend – 1- 2 – 3 – 2 – 1 – easy – just stretch it out. Then, I got her up on the blocks and that is when she went a 59, the first day at altitude, not even adjusted so she believed that she could swim fast and a lot of the other swimmers that were there, same thing, they went amazing times and they believed that they could swim fast and they didn’t need five days of sluggish swimming to adjust. This next one was Monday morning and it was basically just get used to altitude, some 50’s with some speed play, but it wasn’t anything. We were asking her to go 30.99 or faster for her 50’s and it was #2, #4 and #5, #7, #9 and #10, and # 12 and she did those without any problem, but that was a relatively easy practice. Next one, what we tried to do is we tried to go long course in the morning and short course in the evening. If it was hard to switch the pool around and they had other commitments like synchronized swimming then we would go short course in the morning, long course in the evening. What also helped was the fact that the outdoor pool at Colorado Springs was opened for the first time that year and she was able to pick up some short course practices in the outdoor pool and we believe strongly that she can’t do long course, long course, long course, long course, she loses her speed. It tears her down too much. It takes her way too long to recover.
We were able to stay on top of her shoulder soreness and tightness by using the vibrating machine too. So, it was just a speed play. When we do their afternoon practice it is more like 5,000 yards or 5,000 short course meters, depending on what pool we are using and the morning was 7 – 8 to maybe 9,000 long course meters and the afternoon was spent with just trying to develop speed and a lot of stroke work and stroke drills, so the hardest thing of that practice was eight 100’s free and this was short course meters so it was the first one on a minute 45, second one a minute 40, third one a minute 45, fourth one a minute 50 and then you go around it again because what I liked doing with her was with the increased amount of rest, if she holds her times the same she is getting a lot of rest or barely any rest and I think that kind of a set really stresses a whole bunch of different energy systems. And so she is very consistent with her times all the way across, whether they are on the minute 50 or the minute 40 and then later in the practice, after some stroke work and drill work, we went it just four times.
This was probably the first hard practice that she did at altitude and this was on Tuesday morning so she was up there for a day and a half and it really helped that she had a whole bunch of training partners to swim with so she would be in the middle of the pack. Michael Kleigh and some of the other guys would be killing her and there would be other guys that she would really be struggling to stay ahead of, but it was six 300’s on 3:45, and we tied in some colors into that, if you are familiar with Jon Urbanchek’s rainbow system, The first two were white, the next two were pink, the next two were red. Whether you used that or something similar where you might say, let’s do the first two at maybe 5 seconds slower than pace, the next two may be at three seconds slower than pace and the last two as fast as you can go. That would serve the same purpose, but we really liked the rainbow system because you can plug it in and get specific times out that they should try for and even though this was altitude, she was hitting those times really well. Then we had a little recovery, working on lifting her leg up from her hip onto her toes so that she could have a really high body position because that is one of the keys with Kate is how high she rides in the water.
So we worked on a lot of that and then we would come back and we did nine 100’s on 1:20, six 100’s on 1:15, and three 100’s on 1:10 and it was a 7800 total practice long course and we would follow that up with a day, an afternoon off. What I tried to do is every 5th practice I would give her off and I would try to stagger it between short course one day, and then the next time she had off of practice it would be long course, so the next morning we came back and we just had a pretty much grind it out kind of a set. One 800 on 9:20 negative split, two 600’s on 7:15 negative split, the second one faster, three 400’s, four 300’s, and five 100’s and that was the bulk of that set for that morning. A short course meters practice, the bulk of this practice was fourteen 100’s, one cruise, one sprint. I define cruise with Kate as terminology that we have, cruise for Kate is 3 ½ seconds slower than her 1650 yards pace or 4 to 4 ½ seconds slower than her 1500 long course meters pace, and so that is the target that we try to do as much of our base swimming as possible with challenges to go faster than that at times. So, one was the cruise, one sprint, one cruise, two sprint, one cruise, three in a row sprint, one cruise, two sprint and one cruise, one sprint. That was the hardest part of that practice. YES? For her, her best time in the 1500 before that point was 15:52 so that is about a 3.5 average so her cruise would have been defined as 4 or 4 ½ seconds slower.
Q. Did you do any lactate testing, how did you determine?
A. No, just by feel. It is just something that made sense so 7.5 or 8 and then because this was short course meters we take two seconds off so she was asked to go a 6.5 or 7 and then the sprint was as fast as she could go and once again that is very similar to the set that we did the other day where it was hundreds or hundred fifties with varying amounts of rest because you are kind of going at a threshold, then you have to sprint. Then you go threshold and don’t let that heart rate or pulse drop too much and then you go at sprint again.
Another kind of a grind it out set I picked, you know, most of what I get is borrowed. A lot is borrowed from Jon Urbanchek. This was borrowed from Erika Hansen at UCLA. It was six 200’s, this first time was done long course because we had always done it short course before. Six 200’s on 2:35 one 300 negative split, four 200’s on 2:30 one 300 negative split, two 200’s on 2:15 and then one 300 negative split, six 100’s on 1:15 one 200 negative split, four 100’s 1:10 one 200 negative split, two 100’s on 1:05 and one 200 on 2:40 and this was all long course. I liked that set when we went out to UCLA on our way out to Worlds. We try to go out a day early to breakup the trip because it is 5 hours plus from Dulles to LA and then to wait in the airport for four or five hours and then go to Australia is just, I thought it would be too much so we like to go out to LA a day before, have a practice, have another practice and then go to the airport that evening to catch the flight to Australia.
So then we follow that up with a recovery practice. It was long course again, but it was in the evening and this was one that I had come up with in Australia in the middle of the meet because I had seen what was happening in the 800 and I had seen what was happening in the World in the 200 free where the first big drop, considerable drop in the 200 free for women was at Worlds, I think in 2007, where the world record was broken in prelims and then I think it was broken again in semi-finals and I think it was broken again in finals and so there were a lot of girls in the 200 free that were also going to be in the 400 free. So we were trying to come up with, I was trying to identify ways that we could maybe get Kate some of that speed so this was just kind of like a stroke-work type of practice to recover and what we did was, I was convinced that Kate has a really good two-beat kick and she has a really strong six-beat kick. If you have seen her last length of some of her swims, it is incredible, but the trick was always how to get her to kick more so I thought, another gear might be an easy six-beat kick so we started playing with that.
A long course practice, the bulk of this was three times through, 200 free negative split, a 400 under 5 minutes, a 400 on 4:45, and 400 on 4:30, three times through and it was really nice. The benefit of the training partners was really nice because Kate was going 4:22 – 4:21. I think even 4:19 on one of them, on the last one of each round when they were under 4:30 because she had guys pushing her. Alright? Afternoon off. Jonty worked with Kate on turns. The next day we came back in the morning and it was just basically a long type of swim again to get back in the groove with four 400’s on 5 minutes and ten 200’s on 2:40, some were descends, some were negative split and the last four were descend again with a lot of, with some kicking and warm-up and IM work in there. Kate was not training too much IM at that time because by that time we were starting to really specialize on the freestyle. We did the IM just for cross-training a little bit and to keep things interesting. This was the first time they put their suits on. This was the evening, on Saturday, May 26th and “G” also lactate tested them at certain parts of this so after a 2400 warm-up they put their suits on, then they might have to warm-up a little bit again and we went: 150 race and 100 easy and that was on the 5 minutes, 100 race and a 200 easy on 10 minutes, and a 150 race and a 300 easy on 15 minutes.
After the 300’s they got lactate tested, just once, to see how high it was. This set was really good because a lot of the distance swimmers were, if they, let’s say they went 27 on their 50 free or 28 on their 50 free, they were maybe a second slower on their split going out on their hundred, and if their hundred was 1:00 or 59 high, then they were within a second or a second and a half going out on their 150 so everything was really in line, but we are dealing with distance swimmers. They are not going to save up and they are not going to fade or they are not going to back off on a 100 or a 150 because to them a 100 or a 150 is a sprint. The reason I point that out is I won’t be talking about this tomorrow morning because it is not in the slides and I probably won’t remember it, but the big difference in this is when we did altitude again this year Kate wasn’t able to do that. She could go 28+ in her 50 free, but she would be going out 30 low in her hundred and if her hundred was 1:01+ or 1:02 she would be going out in 3+ or 4 on her 150.
The next morning was a very tough practice if it is done right and I like doing this because this came around about three years prior to this where she would get to a point in her races, whether it was an 800 or a 1500 where her splits would drop off and so I consider that the breakthrough or the wall, so I try to identify that in practice. So, you will get the idea of this set here; there was a 600 free on 8 minutes where it was 400 cruise, so 400 cruise for her would be 4:30, 4:32, 10 seconds rest, or no, 5 seconds rest, two 100’s at 1500 pace. So, if that was the point where she fell apart then we are asking her to go that at an honest effort and then really sprint two 100’s to try to get over that wall. 600 again where it was a 400 cruise and two 100’s pace with 10 seconds rest and it was at 800 pace and the last one was 400 cruise, two 100’s at 400 pace with 15 seconds rest and then we would do some drill swims, play with the speed, try to recover and get ready for the next round which was the same thing again, alright? Because, she struggled on this, as did a lot of the others, the rest of the camp, so it was nice that they did it again because they had a chance to do better than the first round and even though they had a really hard time going the pace, it was better than the first time. Just some kicking and some speed play, three 100’s at the end, pace work with 10 seconds rest.
Next slide: Monday morning off, Monday afternoon, one 300, three 100’s, six 50’s, at varying intervals, three 100’s, one 300 and six 50’s, varying intervals and six 50’s, one 300 and three 100’s and what I tried to do is vary the intervals on those, one time it would be really hard, like the six 50’s might be under 35, just make it. Then the hundreds might be on a moderate interval and the 150’s or the 300 might be on an easier interval. The next time around, just switch completely where the 300 might be the challenge and the 50’s might be easy and the next time through switch them around again where something else was hard.
And the next morning the main set was very similar to what we had done earlier in camp, but it was a little bit different with one 400 negative split, one 400 cruise and two 200’s pace on 3 minutes, four times through. Just more sprint work in the afternoon that day, four 75’s on the 50 short course meters, a minute and a half rest or a minute rest and then four 75’s under 55 with a lot of stroke work and drill work. 5 seconds rest the first 600 when I wanted her going 1500 pace. 10 seconds rest on the second round where I wanted her going 800 pace. 15 seconds rest on the third one of that set when I wanted her 400 pace. It was, I think they were on like the 10 minutes or 9 minutes or, plenty of time to recover. They had about a half a minute or 45 seconds to recover and discuss their times a little bit to get into the next round.
We are really going to have to really step through these slides quickly, but I think we have gone the first week and a half. It was very similar to that the following week and a half. Let’s go, probably to June. This was a good one that I threw in because I figured they really, one more, no, go forward now this one here, the whole camp loved. They were pretty beat up and they were struggling a little bit at this time so what we did was we did an 800 negative split on 10 minutes, eight 100’s at whatever pace on the minute 30, 600 negative split on 8 minutes, six 100’s whatever pace on a minute 30, 400 negative split, four 100’s on a minute 30 whatever pace, 200 negative split, two 100’s. So, what I did, I said you score 21 points your set is done. You can go and start your cool down. They scored a point for each 100 they did at 1500 pace, 2 points for each 100 they did at 800 pace, 3 points for each 100 they did at 400 pace and 4 points for each 100 they did at 200 pace. Just about everybody in the group was done before they hit the last 200. They didn’t have to do the last 200 and the two 100’s and some of them were done in the middle of the six 100’s because they really embraced it and they really challenged themselves to do this and it was also a way to get them to figure out, I want to score at least a point so I am going to go this at least 1500 pace, but now I am going to really challenge myself and bust it and go a 400 pace or see how fast I can go and get as many points as possible and then if you are into that and you are into trying to score those points then you are not going to foul-up a tremendous 400 or a 100 at 400 pace with some slow 100’s or you would have been better off just doing four 100’s more at 1500 pace and got the same amount of points, so they really pushed themselves to the limit on that set.
Now lets go ahead about a week. When we got to Mission on Tuesday we had had an altitude practice for about an hour and 15 minutes before we left. We got to the pool and I believe in getting to the pool and swimming a little bit so she got to the pool and we did maybe 5,000. it was very similar to the practice that we did at altitude, but with some 200’s negative split and some 100’s descend with a warm-up, some kicking and some drill work thrown in and then the next morning we did a little bit more of a practice, similar to what we did at altitude on one of the harder days, but it was only about 5,000 or 5,500. When we travel on meets I try to do something special, especially the last couple of years so we went to a beach at San Clemente and it was just fantastic and they were having so much fun that I figured, you know what? We will just skip the evening practice. So the next morning we came in and we did a variation of what I call an active recovery practice, but it wasn’t really the way this was set up. It was basically a 400 free, negative split, any pace you wanted to go and a 100 easy and what I wanted her to do was on the second 200 of her last 400 of those two 400’s, was I wanted it to be a cruise. Then we did a 300 free followed by a hundred easy and the 300 was negative split, but I wanted her first 300, her second 300 total and still negative split at cruise. And then what we went is 200 free and a hundred easy and the 200 was negative split and this time I wanted the last 200, the first 100 at cruise and the second 100 faster so we were progressively getting faster as the set went down, but it wasn’t too intense. It wasn’t too hard so she basically had some altitude to her first day of the meet. She had about a 2 ½ day taper and then she tapered a little bit more as the meet went on because we had made a real effort to get her out of there as soon as she was done swimming. We did something different too which is really neat. We rented a beach house because we had about six or seven kids there so we rented a beach house and the ones who didn’t do finals had to cook dinner and make everything ready for everybody who did. She had a birthday at that meet, no, she didn’t have a birthday at that meet, but we try to make everything special for that meet and if she had a later event in the morning she went maybe for the last little bit of the warm-up so we really were very conscious about how much rest she was getting.
Now, one of the big things that contributed to Kate’s success too was the difference between what she did the previous year and what she did two years ago. What she did 2005-2006 as compared to 2006 and 2007 so when she was a senior in high school, just put this whole slide up. What she was doing as a senior in high school was on Monday she was doing Pilates. We had given up that Monday evening practice about two years before that so that she could do Pilates and maybe start working on some dry-land because she wasn’t doing much dry-land in her freshman and sophomore years. Tuesday morning would be 6,000 long course meters. Tuesday evening would be 8,000 yards in the winter and 10,000 yards in the fall and in the spring. We would have the pool for 2 ½ hours in the fall and the spring in the evening, but only two hours in the winter. Wednesday evening would be 5,000 yards. Thursday morning and Thursday evening would be the same as Tuesday. Friday would be a day off. Saturday would be 10,000 yards and Sunday would be 12-13,000 yards and I think maybe one time she went up to about 14,000 yards because we had the pool for three hours. So, that was a total of 56+ to 61+ total yardage.
Now, when she went to Mason, her first year, her freshman year in college, which is right down the road from where she, well not right down the road, 20 minutes from where she lives and she lives on campus now. We had all these extra practices that we could take advantage of so we picked up a Monday morning practice, 5,500 yards, Monday evening practice 6,000 yards. Tuesday was the same. Tuesday she would swim with us. Monday she would swim with Mason and I was working at Mason so I was able to work with Kate. Wednesday was the same as Monday, Kate would be at Mason and I would be at Mason. Thursday was the same as Tuesday where she was swimming with the Fish (club team). Friday was the same as Monday and Wednesday at Mason and her weekend schedule was the same so these were what we had available to us. She didn’t do this every week, week by week by week, but go ahead, the maximum she could have gone was 85,700 to 90,000+ which was a big jump up for her. Now, also what we did, where we were able to, we were able to vary that, which we couldn’t do when she was in her senior year in high school. So we put spikes into her program and one week our target would be 80-83,000 yards. Followed by 75,000 yards because she couldn’t handle 82-83 on a regular basis and then followed by a week of about 67,000 yards.
Now that last week of about 67,000 yards was modified a little bit if she had meets and had to rest a little bit. But what we would try to do is we would try to have every third or fourth week, she would try to hit 83,000 yards and the first time she did it she really struggled. The second time she did it, it worked a lot better. The third time, a lot better and the fourth time, not much of a problem at all. So, we found out that we could get that 82+ in. If the schedule did not line up right and we had a meet four weeks away then we could go 82+, 75, 75 and then 67. If it was an important meet we could go 82, 75, 67 and maybe less for the meet if we were tapering. We were able to get 82.5 in and she could still skip a practice, one practice, Monday or Wednesday morning or Friday morning, whichever worked best into her schedule. We were able to get in 75,000 and skip two morning practices, Monday and Friday or Wednesday and Friday or Monday and Wednesday. Whatever she needed, so she was getting a break or a practice off and she really appreciated that. And that was significant. When we went our 67 or 65, we were able to skip every morning, Monday, Wednesday, Friday or maybe even Friday completely, along with Monday morning. So, we had a lot of give in our practices. We had a lot of flexibility and those are compared side by side what she was able to do which I just discussed.
So that is pretty much it in a nutshell and that is what led up to Kate’s 1500 at Mission Viejo and I attribute altitude as a #1 reason. Also, one of the other big things was the fact that Kate was a lot happier in her freshman year in college than she was in her senior year in high school. First of all, because the pressure and the stress was not there of her senior year of going pro, of deciding what she was going to do about college. Second of all, it made a big difference not only that she had new training partners at George Mason, because she lived in a dorm with swimmers and she went to their practices Monday, Wednesday and Friday and she would go to classes with a lot of them so the social aspect really exploded. She really embraced and enjoyed it and that was a huge deal for her to help get her through that year, trying to go 83 every third or fourth week so I think the change in her schedule and the ability to have the spikes, the fluctuation and the altitude and the changes in her life between her senior and her freshman year were all the factors that went into the 1500.
Q/A: That set was, you had to score 21 points and I have since learned that I need to up it to 25 because they were getting done too early in that set, if they went a hundred at 800 pace it was 2 points, 400 pace 3 points, and 200 pace 4 points and believe it or not, there were some that were going 200 pace because they wanted that 4 points. That would usually happen on the first one, after the 800 negative split or the 600 negative split or the 400 negative split. I did that same set at the camp I did this year which was the national team camp. It wasn’t the national distance camp. It was the national team camp and there were some swimmers in that camp that didn’t know what 1500 pace was or 800 pace. So, that set really loaned itself very well to the group that I had.
Q/A: One of the other great benefits of going to Mason was the fact that her fall season, she was going to take ballet for her legs, which we thought was going to be really beneficial, but she didn’t like having to memorize all the terms and all of that so she took modern dance instead and that really helped her legs considerably. Also, she did a lot of the dry-land on her own before practice because it was easy just to roll out of your dorm room, go over 20 minutes, 30 minutes early, especially when George Mason was running, when the team was running on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Kate does not run because of her knees and her ankles so she would go on elliptical or she would go and use the vibrating machine for strength. Because what we did was I bought her a vibrating machine that she takes to Mason and it sits in the pool area and then she takes it home in her basement when she is not at Mason, and so she was able to use that and she was also doing some of her Pilates, but some core exercises too so she was doing it on her own. In the springtime she took another class that was very beneficial to her and I don’t know if it was, I think it might have been modern dance too so she was doing more dry-land also in addition to being able to swim that much. But there is a big difference between college life and high school life where you get on the bus or you get to school and you are there between 8 and 2:30 and you don’t have much time during the day to take your nap or to do other things to fill in the classes. She did take 12 credits, her fall season and I think she took 9 her spring season, 6 or 9, so she was taking a lot of, she was taking a fair amount of classes in the fall, but because of the way it is structured, she had a lot of time to do the things that she needed to do. The other thing that is also very crucial to Kate’s success is that she has been very fortunate to have a physical therapist who knows Kate’s body better than Kate even does and so you know, Kate has tendonitis sometimes in her ankles, or her shoulders will be sore or her upper back or whatever is sore; she goes in about once a week and Karen Walker works on her and she comes back, I mean, one time she came right back from therapy, hopped in the water and had a totally amazing time. I mean, really fast; she said it was the easiest it had ever felt. She swam faster than she ever did in practice and it was almost like a life experience.
Q/A: Hand paddles and equipment? We did a little bit of snorkels back in that season, not as much as we did this year, but we did a little bit that season. She doesn’t use fins much because it hurts her ankles. She uses paddles, but only for feel, not main sets, not to do high volume, just for feel and stroke work. She will use a pull buoy, but the way she uses it is she will put it between her ankles and pull and that works on her core and works on her alignment and that is one of the things that really helps her. If she uses it, she will kick with the kickboard. She got a lot better at kicking, and that year her tendonitis did not flare up nearly as much and I think it was because of what she was doing with her modern dance in her legs, but if she uses a kickboard, she uses a kickboard to kick, I think maybe if she does a 1200 yard kicking set, that is a little bit far for her, but she was kicking a little bit every day and also what she will use a kickboard for is she will put it between her knees and rotate and to try to snap the board over, snap the board over to help her rotation so that is the equipment she uses and that is about it.
Q. How successful have you been getting her to transition to a six beat kick? A. Hard, hard. The easy 6 never worked. What I found out was that the easy 6 would be no faster than two beat and then when she went to the hard 6 she didn’t have it. So that lasted about, we probably did not abandon that soon enough. That was still going on at that time, but she didn’t use any of it in her race. One of the big things that, one of the big improvements I think, from her 1500 at Mission and her 1500 at Worlds in Australia in 2007 was that she was stronger coming off the walls, maybe not further because she had pretty good turns in Australia too, maybe not faster, but she was stronger. She was lined up and she might have been kicking a little bit more coming off the walls. I think her turns on average were a lot more solid and better than her turns in Australia. I mean, maybe Australia she had 70% good turns. I think it was, in Mission, she had 100% good turns. That was a little bit better and I think that also was from her increased kicking and also from her modern dance.
Q. Are you doing heart rate monitoring and if so, what have you learned from it? A. We do not do too much of that. I will, I incorporated a set that might start out like, tries to go through five different energy zones, that I borrowed from USA Swimming which came about two or three years ago or we might do like four 400’s with ten seconds rest and I will figure out what Kate’s intervals should be, but if she is not making the interval I will just give her ten seconds rest. I think the target on that is supposed to be 150. And that is supposed to be aerobic. Then we will go maybe four 300’s with 15 seconds rest or 20 seconds rest and the target there is 160-170 and then we will go down to maybe some 200’s with 20 seconds rest and that is supposed to be about 170-175 and we will go to some hundreds or some fifties sprint with a lot of rest and that is supposed to be 180 or higher and then we might even go some 12 ½’s, but the heart rate is just there so that they, kind of educational, so that they realize. The purpose of this set, if my heart rate is at this rate I am training at this level and that is basically how we use it. I didn’t really compare it year to year.
Q. You obviously spend a lot of time on race pace, but do you use race stroke rates of the guys during their practices? A. The question was, we do a lot of race pace on time, do I do a lot of stroke rate, do I do a lot of tempo training? That kind of snuck in as the years have gone by and the reason that snuck in was when we started going with the easy 6 beat I wanted to be sure that she was training it properly, and basically we do 50’s that way, like a 50 two beat, 50 easy six, 50 hard six and switch it around. I also learned from the race analysis that USA Swimming provides that Kate is about 1.3. Whether she is doing her 2 beat or her hard 6 so I figured the easy 6 should be somewhere in between and sure enough, when she started training her easy 6, she was like 1.45 or 1.5. So I was able to call her on it and say, look, you are not training that. You are not practicing it the right way. You need to be 1.3. So then we really got involved and concerned about when you are doing your 2 beat, when you are doing your 6 hard and when you are doing your easy 6 on this specific set, 1.3, 1.3, 1.3 and sometimes she would be 1.25 or 1.3, but that is fine for her. But, she has been very consistent on her good swims. She has been very consistent on being 1.3, beginning, middle, or end of the race, whether she picks it up to hard 6 at the end or whatever, so we have not been too involved or concerned with that. I just used that, if she looks like she is struggling in practice then I will, instead of getting times, I will get her stroke rate and point out to her, maybe you get a little bit quicker or maybe you need to get a little bit stronger and quicker, but that is about all we use it for.
Q. A couple of years ago you were working on double, triple, descend, did you ever do five of these? A. The question is, a couple of years ago we used to go double and triple descend where if we did an 800 I would want each 200 to get faster throughout the whole swim or 600 in practice, each 150 might get faster and we would do that four times because the first time they are going to go real slow. Just to get faster at the end, but they had to get faster each time or they had to start the first 150 of a 600 at whatever they did on the second one or the previous one so that you get an honest effort from them at the end, we got away from that. That was pulling teeth. That was really hard. We did it occasionally, but I figured there were different ways to get that. Any other questions?
Q/A: Well, how do I balance my time with Kate with the rest of the athletes? The answer is probably not as well as I should have. It probably didn’t help when I went to Mason on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays and I couldn’t work with the other athletes on Monday and Wednesday because they still have Fridays off. So I would be missing the Monday afternoon and the Wednesday afternoon practice, I would be missing two out of the 8 or 9 practices that they had a week. When Kate is at their practice the practices didn’t change, they are still the same. There are different intervals for the different groups or the same amount of rest or the same intervals, but they just get less rest so their practices are very similar to Kate’s. The travel is a huge killer, when you are gone for a month, or when I was gone for 3 ½ weeks with Kate at altitude, that is a killer because you are away from your team. You are away from your group for 3 ½ weeks, you are away from your team for 3 ½ weeks and then you have a follow-up meet that lasts about another, I was gone for 4+ weeks. When I went to Beijing I was gone for 8 weeks or 9 weeks so that is tough.
Q/A: They were based on current swims that she had done. Let’s say that she swam a 1650 in November and went half a minute slower, we did not change the cruise, we did not re-define the cruise to be two seconds slower — they were based off of what her best time was. And she didn’t like, one of the things that she didn’t like was the fact that her cruise got almost one second faster after Mission Viejo. She was still negotiating to try and say oh you know, how about 5 seconds slower?