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Tip of the Month - 2003

The following "Tip of the Month" columns were written by Dr. Paul Hutinger and published in the Maverick Lane Lines newsletter. Our first edition of "Tip of the Month" was in 1997.


Many Masters swimmers are on long term drugs for heart problems, blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc., or temporary drugs for bacterial infections. These medications affect patients differently, and the Masters swimmer must be aware of the side effects that may interfere with their daily training. Be sure to read the leaflet that comes with your medication, so you are aware of them. Some of the common complaints are a too low heart rate, extreme fatigue, muscle weakness, dizziness, shortness of breath, cough, constipation, diarrhea, etc. If you have any unusual symptoms, check with your doctor immediately, as he may be able to prescribe a substitute that your body can handle more easily.

While working on my doctorate at Indiana University, we measured the amount of my blood, and I had 15%-20% greater than the predicted blood volume, which is based upon body size.

Research studies verify this. If you train year round, three or four days a week, for 30-60 minutes, you are in a special category of a trained athlete, no matter what your age, and have more total liters of blood. With approximately 15% more blood, it appears your hematocrit and hemoglobin are lower than normal. Most trained individuals do have a greater total body hemoglobin, due to the greater total blood volume. This person may be misdiagnosed as having anemia. Sometimes, it is known as marathoner's anemia. Some blood pressure medications are beta blockers, which can cause a decrease in your heart rate, which can effect your performance.

Roger Franks, a multi world record holder at age 75, recently experienced problems with the side effects of lipitor, a cholesterol lowering drug. He consulted with his doctor as he became progressively weaker and ended up unable to walk without a limp, climb stairs normally, lift himself out of a chair without help and occasionally collapsed on the floor. In addition, he experienced muscle aches, cramps and spasms, especially at night. Needless to say, this was a frightening experience and his swimming was adversely affected. Be sure to inform your personal physician if you are a trained athlete. If he has a background in sport¹s medicine or has knowledge of your regular training, he can more adequately advise you and your special needs. As competitive Masters swimmers, we want more out of life than to just sit around in our rocking chairs and watch the world go by.


Let’s work for more fun and fitness in our Masters swim program. The Mavericks are heading in the right direction. At our first awards dinner in Sarasota, Doris Prokopi provided hats and caps for everyone, from the silly to the exotic to the elegant. What a riot!

Swimming should be fun, whether you are in the program for the competition, fitness or camaraderie. In Jim Miller’s (USMS President) article in the May/June SWIM Magazine, he encourages us to “motivate more people to partake of the health-giving effect of Programs such as USMS.” For years, Margie and I ran a fitness program at our pool in St. Pete, FL. The object was to swim 200 miles to Key West, logging every lap in a pool.

Fitness articles have appeared in previous SWIM Magazines and the FL LMSC newsletter, describing three programs, to provide motivation, beyond the competitive aspect. We have many talented swimmers on our team and they are recognized for their outstanding achievements throughout the year, and also at our spring awards dinners. Another award we offer, which is just as significant, is the Fitness Award. This is given to a swimmer who doesn’t compete, or competes in very few meets, is an outstanding role model for fitness swimmers, desires to improve her/his strokes and is persistent in regular swim workouts.

The Mavericks have a diverse membership, which isn’t limited to swimmers “who are good enough.” To encourage Mavericks to participate in one or more of these programs, I have two special motivational plans for you. Read on to see how you can earn a FREE t-shirt.

Check Off Challenge--This is for a swimmer who is able to swim all four strokes. The t-shirt comes first. On the back, all 16 pool events are listed. When you swim an event, meet or practice, you check it off. Slowly swimming an event in practice, like the 200 fly or 400 IM, is a good way for the timid to undertake an intimidating event, that you don’t have enough nerve, as yet, to enter and race in a meet. The first Maverick who meets the stroke requirements, and CALLS me after they receive this newsletter, will receive this shirt, FREE.

Virtual Swims--These are swims in off beat locations, like Crater Lake, that you wouldn’t really swim. You log in your miles in your pool. Distances vary from 12 to 58 to 200 miles. This is for the noncompetitive swimmers or those who compete infrequently. If you don’t have access to a computer, I can send you a form for one of the eight swims. The first qualifying swimmer to CALL me and verify completion of a Virtual Swim, will receive a FREE t-shirt.

Either of these swims would give you a sense of accomplishment and goals for your training program.


One of the advantages of the Mavericks is that we are not limited to a group workout at a pool at one time. This uniqueness can be a disadvantage, when it comes to communicating news. Personal conversations, for most of the team, are limited to phone calls. Without a bulletin board to post entries and news, we must rely on our newsletter. In a good year, that means five issues.

Previously, I’ve suggested keeping a folder for your newsletters, entries, registration card, calendar, etc. Keep this where you can find it and refer to it, as needed. This message bears repeating. Margie and I would be lost without ours.

Margie spends many hours tracking down new meets and motels with good rates for our team. She tries to include everyone who has participated in swim meets, tris, open water swims and fitness events. Thanks to all of you who have taken your time to e-mail her or send her a hard copy of your results.

The May, 2003 issue included the names of those scheduled for the 2004 calendar, with a request for your landscape orientation photo. Thanks to P Hutinger, Kenner, Troy, Olsen and Williams for responding so promptly. We still need the seven other pictures (see article on page 6).

We include a calendar, so you can choose which team meets and others (if you compete) you are able to attend. For our team meets, we appreciate greatly hearing from members who have entered the meet. This is extremely helpful when putting relays together. Remember, our goal is to include everyone. ALL RELAYS are good relays--some are record possibilities, some are USMS Top Ten possibilities and some are swim throughs, just to score points for the team competition. I realize that emergencies do happen ( I sure didn’t plan on having a stroke, last year.). Even though you signed up for a meet, but now can’t make it, please let us know, as three other people on your relay are counting on you. Margie appreciates being able to have the relays made out ahead of time, as it is less frustrating for her to have to make changes at the meet.

In the newsletters, we include the Maverick USMS and World Top Ten lists for our team. Thanks to all of you who have noticed that you made the list. Sorry to hear if you were unaware that you had a ranking, especially an All American. Team records are also included for all three courses and postals. Check to see if you have a record.

Being a Maverick is a team effort. You send us information. We process it. You keep the latest newsletter as a reference, which will help you to be successful and reach your fitness or competition goals. By working together, we all will continue to reap the benefits of the mavericks. Keep on READING THE NEWSLETTER!

4. Distance Per Stroke (DPS

The importance of distance per stroke is a generally accepted principle. The big problem in my coaching is that swimmers will go slower, until they make adjustments. Many do not have the patience to continue working on DPS, until speed is introduced into their training techniques. Why change and what are the advantages?


Top swimmers, such as Popov, Biondi, Thorpe and Phelps all train using DPS.

Start by swimming 25 yds, and count each time your hand enters the water. Do a lot of 25’s on 1 minute intervals. Suggestions after each repeat: take one fewer stroke on next 25, work on streamline and drop your head, use more body roll to increase stroke length, reach more on recovery, don’t rush your stroke, try “riding off your kick.” Matt Watkins, FMM, is a good example of 12 strokes/25 yd, with flip turn. He maintained this DPS for his recent 6000 yd swim. Twelve strokes would be an ultimate DPS for most Masters swimmers.

After you have reduced your DPS, add speed, but maintain your DPS. Do a set of 4 x 50 on 2:00 (more if needed) and time each one with your lower stroke count. Keep a log on your progress. Include a set of 50’s in each training session.

At your next meet, concentrate on your DPS in warmup and in your swims. Keep a record of your best times with a swimmer or coach giving you a stroke count.

In practice, try to swim a 200 or 500 with the longer stroke. Remember, technique will improve your swim times along with good training.

This same principle can be applied to back, breast and fly strokes. Take fewer strokes and increase your efficiency with precise efforts in all your training, including fins.

As one world class swimmer, Scott Shake (my former grad student), Tucson, AZ, told me at SCY in Tempe, “In Masters swimming, there are 3 things by which we can measure our success. If you achieve one of the three, then you had a successful swim. If you achieve 2 of the 3, then you had a very good swim. If you are fortunate to achieve all 3, then you had a GREAT swim! The 3 Masters Swimming Objectives: 1. Look Good 2. Feel Good 3. Swim Fast.”

Workouts getting boring? Looking for new ideas? Needing suggestions on training for meets, tapering, open water swimming or stroke improvement? Tell me how many yards you swim, how often, your 50 yd. times on each stroke and daily workout yardage per week. -Coach Paul Hutinger

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