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Tip of the Month - 2008

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--Importance of Rest
Last month, I wrote about how to judge how hard you are training.  Now, I'm telling you to rest.  What's up with this?  Sound like an oxymoron?  Well, not quite.  Rest is an important part of your preparation.  This applies to competitive swimmers, but the same principles apply, even if you  only swim for your health and fitness.
     Elite swimmers will often “swim through a meet,” without being concerned about their times.  They train for one big meet a year.  In Masters swimming, you never know how your body will be working, especially in the older age groups.  Whether or not you go to Nationals, local meets are an excellent opportunity to get your best times.  As I've said before, planning ahead is important.  Here are a few suggestions to help you in your quest for rest.
Before swim meets:

  • Think of a preliminary SPECIFIC goal (or goals) for each meet.  It could be a new event, a specific technique or legal swim or a record time, ranging anywhere from a personal best to a Maverick or World record.
  • Work on the pace for your events, a couple of weeks earlier.
  • The week before, do broken swims for all of your events.
  • The week before, focus on mental practice for your events.
  • Taper the week before.  Cut down on your total yardage.
  • Take two days off before a weekend meet.
Warmup at the meet, to maximize your previous rest:
  • In cold water, such as Clearwater, shorten your warmup and do a couple of lengths in the warm pool.
  • At the very least, 50 yards of each of your strokes.
  • Each of you should personalize your own routine, so you are on automatic.
  • Do short sprints for the shorter events and pace work for distance events.
  • Starts, to make sure your goggles stay on.
  • Turns, for your specific events.
Cool down, after each event:
  • At LEAST 100 easy yards, to eliminate the lactic acid in your muscles.
  • You could use it as a warmup for next event, concentrating on stroke technique and turns
Training isn't always about how much you do, but how well you recover from it.  As your body ages, recovery becomes more important.  You will perform better, if you listen to your body and give it ample time to recover.

Tip of the Month--Finish Your Race!
The technique of finishing your race is crucial, and can be the difference in out touching your opponent for the win, or coming in a close second.  In your workouts, eliminate bad habits of sloppy and careless finishes, and be specific with each of your strokes.  Practice these basic techniques to give you an advantage at the end of each of your races.    

FREE - As you near the wall, rotate your shoulders by rolling onto your side for the touch.  You will gain from the extra stretch.

BACK - COUNT, COUNT, COUNT your strokes when your head goes under the flags.  Drop your head back for your last stroke.  You must touch the wall while on your back.

BREAST - By the time you reach the flags, adjust the number of strokes to the wall, so you are not too short or too long for the finish.  You must take a COMPLETE STROKE (arms and legs) on your finish.  Swimmers can be DQ'd for taking a short, extra arm pull at the wall, without the kick.  Drop your head and stretch with your fingers underwater.

FLY - Put your head down and don't breathe from the flags to the wall (if possible).  You must take a COMPLETE STROKE (arms and legs) on your finish.  If you are too far from the wall to complete a full stroke, put your head down, stretch your arms and KICK HARD.

IM's - When you change strokes, you must use the correct finish for each stroke.

ALL - Keep your kick strong until you finish.   A lways touchout underwater , especially where a timing pad is used.   NEVER grab the top of the pad or wall.  This could be a whole second slower than a finger tip touch under water.

WARM UP AT MEETS - Always practice your finishes, with your body stretched out, as stated above.

     I remember several exciting finishes, when swimmers followed my advice.   Gladys Olsen was slightly behind her opponent at the flags in the 200 m fly, at a LCM Nationals.  She was victorious!.   Brud Cleaveland was in a similar situation in the 100 m free, at Worlds, in Stanford.  He was victorious!   I won a 50 m back at Nationals by knowing where the wall was, even though my opponent was ahead of me, at the flags.  


Tip of the Month--How the Champions Train
CORRECTION FROM LAST ISSUE: BREAST - You will NOT be DQ'd for taking a short, arm pull at the wall.  If you are too far from the wall for a full arm stroke, you CAN take a short arm stroke, NEVER an extra kick.
     After the 2008 SCY Nationals, I was looking at the USMS home page, which had comments about the meet.  For the first time at a USMS Nationals meet, webcasts were made available from Floswimming.com throughout the meet.  There were over a dozen interviews available to watch.  I wrote down some of their training suggestions, and would like to share them with you.  Their times are from the SCY National meet, in Austin, TX.
     As in many of my articles, I am presenting a principle of training.  We don't have any swimmers on our club that are capable of swimming the times these swimmers did.  I think it's worth your while to appreciate their training techniques, and apply them to your personal training, whatever your level.
RICH ABRAHAMS - 62 - He was an outstanding college swimmer, but didn't qualify for the 1964 Olympic team.  He didn't train from NCAA finals until trials.  “I thought it was enough to just show up and swim.  I was clueless.”  He didn't swim for over ten years after college and was a smoker.  Now, in the 60-64 age group, he feels it is important to “maintain your speed; use your race pace; swim smart; train smart.”  In his age group, he holds records in the 50 Y free (22.3); 100 Y free (49.14); 50 Y fly (24.46) and 100 Y fly (54.92).  He trains four days a week in the pool.  He does race pace 25's and 10 x 100's @2:00, once a week.  Every two weeks, he does 5 x broken 100's (with 25's) @10:00.  (That's not a typo.)  You need a rest component to train for lactate tolerance.  The other days, he cross trains with weights, biking, running, climbing stairs, etc.  Often, with his grandchildren.  He really enjoys the social aspect and meeting new friends.
JOSH DAVIS - 35 - His 50 Y free was 20.1 and his 100 Y IM, 50:06.  His only training is one hour each week, with a PULLEY SYSTEM!  “I eat right, I live right, I stretch the best I can, and I lift a little bit.”
SUE WALSH - 46 - She set a National Record in the 50 Y free, 24.00 and her 50 Y fly was 26.75.  She only trains half of the yardage she did while in college at North Carolina.  She says, “It is important to keep it fun and live a healthy life style.”
     These complete interviews, and more, can be found at:   http://swimming.flocasts.org/videos/coverage/view/258-2008-usms-short-course-nationals  (Click on “interviews.”)
No matter what your age or ability, the general principle you can glean from these champion swimmers, is to be able to adjust your workouts to your current needs.  Do the best you with what you got!

Tip of the Month--Legal Blood Doping
Blood doping is not legal, but the average swimmer can enhance his/her blood parameters, legally, by working with your doctor.  I've learned that the kidneys diminish in function, as part of the aging process, so I'm doing what I can, to maximize my kidneys.  
     The production of EPO (Erythropoietin) regulates the production and release of RBC (red blood cells from the bone marrow.  Creatinine is a renal function test used to estimate GFR (glomerular filtration rate.  The BUN (blood urea nitrogen) is a test on the health and function of kidneys which in turn will increase the RBC, % of RBC, HCT (hematocrit), and HGB (hemoglobin).  These values need to be in the norm range for health and the high norm range to deliver oxygen to the body as you exercise.  Putting your body in high intensity training will elicit a greater response.
     When I was on the faculty of Western Illinois University, I had my blood parameters checked at the medical lab, every week for six weeks to coordinate swim training with them.  Healthy kidneys will respond positively.
     Below is a chart showing when my kidneys were not working very well, (my GFR was a low of 48).  They needed to be >60, to be normal.  In 1998, when I had my best kidney functions, it highly correlated to my best swimming performances.  

GFB <48 (Below norm)
RBC - 4.01
HCT - 40.1
HEMO - 12.8

GFB >60 (Norm)

Best, 1998

Men's Normal Ranges
4.20-5.80 - RBC
38.5-50.0 - HCT
13.2-17.1 - HEMO

         Supplements may enhance absorption, especially for the over 70 age group:  Vitamin C, 500-1000; iron (for women) men can be at risk; vitamin B-12 injections or sub-lingual; folic acid and B-6, 50 mg.      Be sure to check with your own physician , before implementing any changes.
         Another test the doctor gave me was for total testosterone (men), to see if I needed a testosterone patch, to bring me up to normal.  Mine was 869 (top of the scale is 827).  This may indicate that my thirty years of high intensity swim training (10 x 50 @ 2 minutes) may enhance hormones.  I didn't need the patch!
     Even if your swimming doesn't improve, you will be healthier and have more energy.

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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