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Tip of the Month - 2005

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.

Challenges for the Hour Swim

Itís that time of year, again. Time to step up your training so youíll be ready for the annual One Hour Postal swim, in January. In past years, the Mavericks have always had excellent participation in this event, from our youngest swimmers in the 25-29 age group up to our oldest 90-95. After looking at our roster, that would include everyone on our team, whatever your age. Art Holden, 92, swam it to show that ďjust because youíre old, doesnít mean you have to be a couch potato.Ē

You all have a copy of my Hour Swim Pace Chart and training tips. (If you need one, I will send it to you.) Use this to determine what pace you can swim for the hour and follow my specific tips.

What? You say you canít swim for a whole hour? Not to worry. The ultimate goal is to swim the entire hour, however, not all of us are capable of that feat and here are some alternatives. Since Holden was 89, he swam 50 to 150 yards and rested until he was ready to push off, again. After Margie recovered from her broken neck, she lacked the endurance for continuous swimming. Her goal was to swim twenty 100ís, with 15 seconds rest between each one. She exceeded her goal by over 100 yards. After my shoulder surgery, I also was unable to swim continuously. My goal was to swim thirty times 100 back strokes. I reached my goal.

Some of you have goals of placing in the top ten or setting a record. For most of you, the swim isnít just about the yards. Itís about perseverance, an individual goal, a warm fuzzy just to do it, swimming it in a stroke other than free or your tenacity to stretch your limits. Itís not about the destination, itís about the journey.

For those of you that are capable of swimming a continuous hour, I challenge you to set your goals to swim farther than last year. For those needing an extra nudge to even consider this challenge, I challenge you to find a way that will work for you. I also challenge the relay teams. We have several National Record relay possibilities. Never before has there been an 85+ womenís relay. The mavericks have Cichanski, Schimpf and Zint. They would make it a relay threepeat with the Maverick menís and mixed National Records. The 65+ womenís relay, Bond, Homans and Tullman, were only 315 yards shy of the National record, last year, and still have a good chance, this year. The 75+ mixed medley also has a record possibility, with an average of 3000 yards, with Blake, MacDonald, Troy, Carr, or others. If your name hasnít been mentioned for any of these relays, I still challenge you to swim the hour so we can enter a relay. Call me if you need help, or encouragement, in this decision.


What is Your Pulse Rate?

A recent conversation at the Ft Lauderdale meet with Lenny Silverstein, a Top Ten swimmer centered on training. He was proud that he was able to train with more yardage. The down side was that he felt tired and his times were not very good. I reminded him that as a 73 year old he could be training too hard. I gave him a simple test, which was to use to check his recovery with his pulse rate.

First, you need to establish your base line pulse rate. Check your pulse for one minute when you first wake up. Do this for five days to get an average resting heart rate. Use this rate in the future when you begin a higher training level. Example: if your pulse rate base is 60 beats per minute and one morning you have a rate of 70, you have not recovered from your workout the day before. You should plan for an easy day or take the day off, especially if you feel tired.

Your pulse rate can be also be an indicator of overall stress. Do an overall analysis of stress factors in your life and try to work on a system to control them. The basic stress reliever is your swim training. Other methods would include other exercise, massage, relaxation, meditation and bio-feedback. Since stress factors are cumulative, work on all of them and use your pulse rate to analyze if you are successful in reducing them.

If you are on any medications, read over the list of side effects. Many of them raise your heart rate. I have been on many throughout the years, and my goal is to reduce them to a level that I can tolerate without experiencing the harmful side effects.

Alex Ramiriz-Miller, 80, could not swim one of his favorite events, the 1650, after having a heart rate monitor implanted. His clinic had set the upper limits for 110 bpm and he was not getting enough cardiac output at this rate. I suggested he check with his doctor about raising his limit to 130 pbm. His doctor agreed, and Ramiriz-Miller was able to complete the 1650 at his next meet.
Brud Cleaveland, 87, had a heart rate monitor implanted last summer. He has a trained heart with a low pulse of 40. His clinic felt that 60 bpm would be better for someone his age, but Cleaveland reached a compromise and had them readjust it to 50. The Clermont meet, 3/19 & 20, was his first competition wearing his monitor. He took his pulse after his events and had recordings of 112 and 120. He feels that 130 bpm would be more appropriate for his level of performance and will request a change during his next appointment.

The above examples use older athletes, but the same principle applies to everyone. Max HR is 220 minus your age. As you age, your max HR will decline. As you encounter different stress and health challenges in your life, it is important that you are aware of your basic heart rate, so you can monitor these changes.


Develop Your Core Strength

Core strength means strong abdominal muscles, better posture and long, lean muscles. Working on balance and torso strength allows you to incorporate all your muscles into your swimming program. Many swimming programs concentrate on core strength and stability in their dryland training.

The balance, exercise or stability ball, is an intriguing way for swimmers to use to develop core strength. You can buy a ball at stores like Target or Walmart for about $30 or Kiefer catalog for about $20. I recommend this purchase as a worthwhile investment for swimmers of all abilities. Be sure to follow the directions about what size you need, which is determined by your height. When sitting on the ball, your knees and hips should be at a 90 degree angle. Included with the ball is a set of exercises and a DVD, to give you visual directions.

The exercises on the ball will increase your core strength, which will carry over to the total strength of your body. This strength can improve your swimming performance better than some of the older weight training programs. A strong core will increase the amount of power transferred from the core to the extremities, which increases the amount of propulsion during the stroke. Hip and shoulder rotation is a key component of both freestyle and backstroke, and can be developed with the ball. A strong core will also allow the swimmer to maintain proper body position in the water.

No matter how strong the arms, chest, shoulders and legs look and feel, if the "core" (stomach and lower back) is weak, the swimmer won't function properly. As you perform explosive motions like starts, pushoffs and sprinting, the upper and lower body must move in unison to generate maximum force. The muscles in the core tie the upper and lower body together and help coordinate these motions. Swimmers that possess a strong core will be able to better manage their body's motions as they train to perform their strokes at higher speeds.

This ball is one of the most versatile pieces of equipment you can own.
You can work every part of your body while improving strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. In addition to improving your swimming, core strength has also been incorporated into many rehabilitation programs to prevent and alleviate back problems.


Fine Tune Your Technique

When you are at a meet, work on the starts, turns and finishes for each of your different strokes. If you train at a pool that has no starting blocks or backstroke flags, it is even more important to work on these basic techniques.

STARTS - After your regular warmup, go to the sprint lane and do several starts for each of your different strokes. Concentrate on clean entries, streamlines with arms tight to your head, power kicks (other than breaststroke) with fast, short kicks and good pull outs. Keep your chin tucked to your chest on your entry to keep your goggles on, or wear them under your cap. Sprint at least halfway to get into the groove of swimming fast.

TURNS - work on turns at race pace. You need to practice fast turns so you develop good habits in timing your strokes from the flags to the wall.
Free - open or flip turns are your option. A good open turn may be more efficient in your longer events. As you get older, you will appreciate the extra time you have for a quick breath on the turns.
Back - Especially important to work on turns, open or roll over, so you know your exact stroke count from the flags to the wall. Remember, you need to add at least one more stroke on meter courses.
Breast & Fly - timing is crucial from the flags to the wall. You touch the wall on a complete stroke, with two hands. Swimmers have been disqualified for taking partial strokes at the wall.

FINISHES - How many of you have ever worked on finishes? Each stroke has important, specific techniques, similar to those used in turns. Whether you need a one or two hand touch, use your finger tips to touch the pad or wall. You can gain over a second by a finger tip touch out instead of grabbing or slapping at the top of the pad. On your last backstroke pull, drop your head back under water and kick in hard for your finger tip finish.

COOL DOWN - swim at least an easy 100 after each race to aid in eliminating the lactic acid from your body. This is also a good time to work on your turns and finishes for your next event.

NO LONG COURSE POOL TO TRAIN IN? Years ago, when I swam in Illinois, I had no local 50 m pool. Several times I drove 50 miles to train in a 50 m pool or joined the local age group team on their 50 m training. At a LC Masters meet, I would do extra warm up yardage and stay after the meet to do a set of 10 or 20 x 50¹s (select an interval that works for you) for additional long course training. You may find other options to get to a 50 m pool every couple of weeks.
These ideas for specificity of training will help your program, whatever your competitive level. In addition, include these suggestions in your training at your own pool, and you will be farther ahead when you do your meet warmup.

Hydration Revisited

Coach Paul has been under the weather all week, due to a bout with the stomach flu. In his absence, we have a guest columnist, Jani Sutherland.
She lives in Bend, OR, and is the Chair of the USMS Fitness Committee, and Fitness Chair of Oregon Masters Swimming. Reprinted with permission.
Originally published as the USMS Fitness Article of the Month, January, 2005, www.usms.org, at the Fitness Article of Month link.

In 2004 the Food And Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine released new Dietary Reference Intakes for water, sodium and other electrolytes. The recommendations are for the average adult, who could be sedentary or just mildly active. For athletes training regularly it may be necessary to modify these guidelines.

The Institute of Medicine recommends that adult males consume 3.7 liters of fluid daily, while female adults should consume 2.7 liters. The Institute of Medicine advises that fluid intake be driven by thirst and by consuming beverages at mealtimes. This recommendation does not benefit athletes who should rely on more than thirst to maintain adequate hydration.
Body fluid levels are already low when you feel thirsty.

Sodium recommendation focuses on the prevention of high blood pressure, with sodium intake being limited to 1500 mg daily. Research indicates that reducing sodium intake along with a high potassium intake can help prevent the increase in blood pressure that comes with aging.

As an athlete, hydrating before training and rehydrating after training is a top nutritional priority. Make it a daily habit to carry a water bottle to encourage steady fluid intake. Remember that juices, milk, yogurt and fresh fruit are hydrating. Clear urine during the day is a sign of adequate hydration (urine is more concentrated in the morning so check it during the day).

The Institute of Medicine acknowledges that it¹s sodium guidelines cannot be applied to most athletes. Daily sodium loss through urine is about 25 mg daily in a sedentary person but can range from 460-1800 mg in an active person. How much sodium an individual loses is a product of your sweat rate and sodium loss. Sodium can be replaced with a sports drink containing sodium or with the sodium in your daily diet. You do not need to replace all the sodium you lose during training; consume just enough to prevent sodium levels from dropping too low. If you are being treated for hypertension check with your doctor regarding sodium intake.

And don¹t just take that water bottle to practice!! Keep it full and with you all day long.


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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