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Tip of the Month - 2007

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.

Tip of the Month--Broken Swims
Prepare for meets and your events with broken swims. I know I sound like a broken record, but I firmly believe that these swims will enhance your training and lead to faster meet times. I have followed these examples for 37 years, and I owe my many successes to this type of training.
The following is an example for the 200 Free: Estimate your goal time for the next meet--3:00, or :45 per 50. Swim 4 x 50 @ 1:00, and pace your 50’s for :45. This will give you :15 sec rest after each 50. To be more specific for your race, do a dive in (if it’s permitted at your pool) on your first 50, giving you :40.
A more involved set would be:
1. 4 x 50 with 10 sec rest - rest 1 min
2. 4 x 50 with 20 sec rest - rest 1 min
3. 4 x 50 with 30 sec rest - rest 1 min
Try to hold your pace on all sets, taking several minutes between sets. You will have more rest as you do each set, to enable you to keep your pace. This will work for ALL strokes, distances and
the IM’s. If your times are faster, keep the same intervals, but decrease your pace; if you are slower, increase your pace, with the same intervals.
I’ve included some principles for you to follow, so you can design your own training program.
1. Train close to race speed. Use 1/4 to 1/2 your race distance. Ex: For your 200’s, use 4 x 50s.
2. Specificity of training develops the energy system needed for your event. This important performance system is NOT developed in long, slow distance swimming.
3. Stroke timing and efficiency is enhanced and developed by quality work. Stroke timing and coordination change at different velocities.
4. The percent effort for each 50 of a 200 is about 80%, so training showed approximate this level of effort.
5. Distance per stroke can be maintained in a race if the training is similar to the racing speed.
Follow these principles and you will have a highly designed and productive training program.
You need to train at RACE SPEED in practice. You can best accomplish this with broken swims. Using a variety of rest intervals will help you train the different energy systems, which will enable you to have good meet performances.
This is an example of pace from the recent Clearwater meet. Jean Troy swam her 200 Free in 3:04. This was six seconds faster than the National Record in the 80-84 age group, which she will age up to, this year. Her splits were 42- 45 (1:27 for the 100)then 48-49 for her final 3:04 time. Her broken swim training would enable her to drop a few seconds on her 3rd and 4th 50’s. When you can do this in a race, each 50 will feel faster.

Tip of the Month--Know Your Goals & Objectives
Many of my articles over the years have stressed the importance of specific goals and objectives, beyond the generalities we all have of a continuing healthy and active lifestyle. In this month's tip, I have written about three Mavericks, and how they have been successful with their efforts.

Peter Brooks, 57, has a long range goal of qualifying for the National Senior Games, 2009. "It is not so much about winning that motivates me. It is better health and achieving excellence in spirit." In order to reach this goal, he has broken down his goals into six-week increments, starting with weight loss of 2 lb per week, swimming 6000 yd/wk in six days and two distance swims/week. He will analyze his goal at the end of each six week period.

Brooks recently sent me his progress report on the 1st six weeks. His overall assessment is that his swimming keeps getting stronger. Fins and paddles were an important part of getting back into swimming shape, again, and he averaged 6300 yd/wk. He lost 15 pounds and is down to 240. "My weight loss has been disappointing. I cheat on weekends and it has slowed down my progress." His 2nd six week goals include a diet with 1500 calories/day and increasing his weekly yardage to 14,000 yds. His objectives include sets of 10 x 100 @ 2:00 and for his long distance, to start with 500's, move upward to 1000 yds, and finally, to a mile swim.

Jean Troy, 80, is an example of a swimmer who wasn't content to loaf through the last year in her age group. She had World Records on her mind. First, she looked up the times, then, she trained for reaching those times. I gave her workouts which included sprints with long rest for her short events, broken swims for the middle distances and pace work for the 800 and 1500. Her toughest record to break will be the 1500 LCM, of 29:39, set in 2002. Her keys to success are planning ahead, specificity of training (including training in a 50 m pool) and "working my butt off!"

Gregory Rotole, 53, had a conversation with Margie, in the spring. She suggested that he should train more on distance freestyle, so he could enter all five postal swims (One Hour, 3000 & 600 Yds, 5K & 10K) and achieve the prestigious Leather Lungs Award. The immediate look on his face was of shock and distress. The following week, he greeted Margie with a huge smile, which replaced the tense muscles, and said, "I can do that." By accepting this challenge, he revised his workouts. He decreased his usual stroke event sets and increased his distance freestyle yardage, to work on his aerobic base and endurance. For 2008, he will revert back to his stroke workouts, as his next goal is to accomplish a different Leather Lungs Award, which is to swim each of the 18 individual events in SCY and/or 17 in LCM.

These three vastly different examples present a clear picture of not only having specific goals and objectives, but finding the means to make them a reality. This technique gives Masters swimmers a positive direction to work towards, and also applies to everyday life. Research has demonstrated that this practical approach can keep stress and depression at a workable mental level, as well as improve the cardiovascular system.

Tip of the Month - Make A Friend

Last weekend, I was at the YMCA Nationals, in Indianapolis, IN. One of the highlights at any National meet, is talking to my long time friend and former teammate from Illinois, Bill Mulliken, bill mulliken68. He always has intriguing stories to relate and this meet was no exception. As a youngster, he swam on an age group team. Before the team left for a meet, they got the usual commentary about warmups, eating junk food, don’t run around, etc. The main thing Bill still remembers (sixty years later) was that they were to “make a friend.” At the first practice after the meet, when the team was sitting on deck, the coach’s first comment to a swimmer was, “Tell me about your new friend.” One by one, they recounted their stories.
Bill swam for Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, and was the surprise gold medalist in the 200 m Breaststroke at the 1960 Olympics, in Rome. When Bill joined Masters, over 30 years ago, one of his goal was to “make a new friend at each meet.” He is an elite athlete, and his friends include swimmers of ALL abilities. Bill says, “It’s getting harder to meet new swimmers at meets. I know so many swimmers and I don’t have that much in common with the younger age groups any more.” While I was sitting in the balcony, I made friends with a 50 year old woman, Pam Allen, from Ohio. She had a good 100 IM swim, but was touched out by a tenth of a second in her heat.
I sat close to Mike Freshley, one of the top swimmers in the 65-69 age group. I had only said, “Hello,” to him before. When he was swimming his breaststroke, I noticed that his head was too high in the water. After his race, we talked about his swim and I mentioned his head position. He accepted my advice, and looked better in his next event. When Margie talked to him, he said, “I have a new coach for this meet.” Yoshi Oyakawa, 73, is another former Olympian. Margie has made friends with him and Bill. She is an average swimmer, but every time she talks to either of these two top two swimmers, she mentions their comment, “How was your swim?” For most of the Masters swimmers, ablility is immaterial to friendships. Perhaps you weren’t part of an age group program (many of you weren’t), and you didn’t hear this from your age group coach. I don’t think you’re ever too old to learn, so this is my tip, as your Masters coach, “When you go to a meet, make a friend.” I hope this will encourage you to expand your horizons, make the meet more meaningful as well as relieve the doldrums from sitting around the pool all day. I will ask you sometime to, “Tell me about your friend.”

Tip of the Month--High Blood Pressure & Performance
High blood pressure (HBP) and unusual stress can cause a Hemorrhage Stroke, not usually as devastating as an Ischemic Stroke, the most common type of stroke, caused by a clot or other blockage within an artery leading to the brain.
My hemorrhage stroke occurred eight years ago, while I was doing a set of 10 x 25 no-breathers @ 1:00. During these high intensity sprints, my left arm went numb. I got out of the pool, the life guards called 911 and I had an ambulance ride to the Emergency Room. I had no residual effects and I was back in the water within two weeks. It was a wake-up call to me, to be aware of my BP and always keep it under control.
Another long-term effect is more complicated. It can affect the kidneys and lead to renal dysfunction. It will show up on your annual blood test.
Your personal physician will interpret this as a creatine clearance that falls below <45 ml/min. These test results may well be within the normal range, but your doctor should compare them to previous tests to see if they show a decline, which would probably show up first with the creatine clearance results.
The kidneys produce a hormone called erythropoietin that parallels the excretory function. This decrease in erythropoietin can result in a decrease in red blood cell production. This will decrease the hemoglobin and hematocrit that carries oxygen. This can lead to a decrease in your aerobic capacity and performance.
As you get older, it becomes more important to include a blood test with your annual physical. This will provide important information for your long term health and swim performance, in addition to a check that your blood pressure is within your normal range.
Another caution to be aware of, is that some BP medications can negatively affect your normal heart rate, by limiting your max heart rate.
This could make you feel tired and worn out, with a feeling of fatigue.
Always tell your doctor that you are an athlete who trains regularly, so he/she is aware of your potential, and can prescribe alternative medications to prevent this problem.
Stress that you may not even be aware of can increase your BP, but swimming and other aerobic exercises can moderate it. I recommend having a personal BP unit at home and monitor it daily. It can also be used as a biofeedback control, using relaxation to reduce your BP, which could help you avoid, or lessen your medication.
Weatherbee shared one of his goals with me, "I want to be on the first 400+ relay (sum of ages)." To reach the age 100 milestone, we must continually be aware of how our body is working, and adjust, accordingly.

Tip of the Month--Breathing More Effectively
Excerpts from SWIMMING WORLD, magazine, October, 2007, by Karlyn Pipes-Neilsen.  She was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame, September, 2007, and holds the World Record in the 100 m Free (LCM), 59.79, as a 45 year old.

�Your goal should be to breathe as comfortably in the water as you do on land.�
Most of us never give breathing a second thought as we walk through a park, on the beach, or even in a shopping mall.  However, in the pool, breathe at the wrong time, and you end up guzzling unwanted water.  Also, you may feel like you lack the endurance to keep swimming, as you may feel like you just don't have enough air.  Your technique can also suffer, as you turn your head too much, overreach, and end up swimming out of balance.
Some common breathing mistakes include:

  • too often or not often enough
  • holding your breath
  • too deeply or too forcefully
  • exhaling too fully or too late
  • rotating head too far to ceiling or sky
  • exhale & inhale with face out of the water
��� Pipes-Neilsen lives in Hawaii and runs many swim camps for Masters.  She estimates, �At least 50% of all swimmers have breathing issues.�  We all need to be aware of how we breathe in the water, so we can swim more efficiently.
Five components to effective breathing:
TIMING - Let out just a little air, right away, to allow space for the expansion of air/gas in your lungs.  Don't hold your air too long, and wait until the last minute to let it out.
VELOCITY - Exhale softly and without a lot of force through your nose and mouth.  Not hard and fast, as in a �panic mode.�  Use your energy to swim fast and not just to breathe.
VOLUME - Protect your lungs by leaving some air in them, just in case your next breath is water, and not, air.  Volumes may vary, depending on your effort.
VARIETY - Sometimes you need more air and sometimes you need less.  �Go with the flow.�  Don't get stuck in a rut, but mix it up when you need to.
RELAXATION - It may sound silly, but breathe with your mouth open.  It does work, as your jaw is more relaxed and with the constant pressure, it is easier to regulate the amount of air exhaled and keep out the water.

Tip of the Month--How Hard am I Training?   
Your heart rate (HR) and recovery HR is a key to the science of training.  Your maximum HR is 220 minus your age.  For instance, a 70 year old would have a 150 max HR.  If you are 50, your max HR would be 170.  This is the physiological aspects of training, and applies to all ages.    
     It is important to know what your basal HR (lowest HR when awake) is.  Check your HR in the morning, before getting out of bed.  Time your heart beats for a full 60 seconds.  Do several of these  each morning, for three to five days.  This will give you an accurate reading.  Record your basal HR.
     In the pool, warm up with 200 yards.  Check your HR.  Do a set of 10 x 100 Free.  Check your HR for six seconds and add a zero.  This gives you your HR per minute.  Work towards a 120 or 130 HR with a 30 second rest interval between 100's.  After your set of 10 x 100's, check your recovery HR each minute, until you have an 80, or close to your starting HR.  Record this each work out.  You will become more efficient as you train your aerobic system, and you may notice a drop in your basal HR.  
     There are important differences, depending on your age, in using these principles     
     The older age groups, 65 and above, need to apply common sense before the scientific.  If you are in this category, and are extremely tired working out six days a week, cut back to five, or even four days.
     June Reynolds, 85, finds that once a week keeps here at a high level for competition.  In LCM, she had six first places in the USMS Top Ten.    
     A 78 year old worked out with an age group coach, who didn't understand the stress effect on the older swimmers.  Several weeks into high intensive training, this swimmer was running a high heart rate, which wouldn't return to normal, within a reasonable time.  The coach quickly modified the workouts, and the swimmer recovered with a more sensible approach, for his age.
     If you are seeing a cardiologist about heart problems, make sure you tell him you are a trained athlete (if that fits your description).  Some doctors don't understand a low basal HR in the older Masters swimmer, and if they suggest a pace maker, may set the max HR too low for you to maintain your active life style.
     If you are younger than 65, you could work at a 150 HR for a set of 10 x 100's, if you are trained.  As you train your cardiovascular system, you may find your BR is lower.  A non-trained basal HR may be 70 BPM and with training, go down to 50 BPM, which would give you a greater efficiency for your body.
         I have included the scientific approach, but for most of us, common sense may work just as well.  If you feel tired when you wake up, and your basal rate is 10 or more beats higher than normal, you may need a day off, so roll over and pull up the covers.  Or, do an easy swim, that day.

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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