"Ask the Swim Doctor" is a popular column written by Dr. Paul Hutinger. This column appears regularly in the Florida LMSC quarterly newsletter, which is the recipient of the 1998 USMS Newsletter of the Year Award.
Question: What training program would help me with my 50, 100 and 200 events?
Answer: the type of training you do will dictate which energy source is developed. Distance training (short rest sets of 10x200 or 4x500 will increase the aerobic energy system, and sprint training (20x25 on 30-45 sec) would train the anaerobic energy system, as would sets of 5x100 @ 8 min (95% effort and recommended only once a week).
To develop a specific energy system, swimmers must train as close to the speed and intensity of swimming that he/she will do in their competitive events or little or no benefit will be derived.
Immediate energy stored in the muscles will last for 35 sec, or for anaerobic stores, from 40 sec to 1 1/2 minutes. Overdistance and short rest repeats can result in a lowering of the anaerobic system within the muscle, thus your 50 and 100 sprints could be slower. You cannot expect an Indy formula car to perform well in a race designed for a top fuel dragster.
Glenn Woodsum, 53, Tallahassee, is an example of a swimmer who changed the standard distance workout his Masters group was doing to one that specifically trains him for sprints. Best times SCY--50 free/23.94; 100 free/52.53; 200 free/1:58.71, SCM--50 free/26.25; 100 free/58.40; 200 free/2:15, LCM--50 free/26.95; 100 free/1:00.20
Some of these are life time bests, including a drop of 2.2 seconds on a 100 free. He maximizes his training for freestyle events of 50, 100 and 200's. His workouts have the following basic design, for 3000 yards:
warm up: 600 swim & 200 kick (4x50)
Woodsum doesn't check his heart rate but uses perceived exertion and pace times for intensity of effort. He does not use fins or zoomers. In the past, he has used weight training, but now, he feels his speed work maintains a good strength level. He does work on efficiency of strokes by swimming 25's with the fewest strokes he can, applying maximum strength on each stroke (very exhausting, but looks easy). He does as few as 10 strokes/25 yards. Elite swimmers such as Jon Olsen, Biondi and Popov (26 strokes/50m) maximize distance per stroke, which gives the appearance of swimming easy and relaxed.
In summary, if you swim 50, 100, and 200 events (lasting up to 3 minutes), maximize your performance with a program that gives your anaerobic energy system specific training.
Question: I have heard that diabetes is epidemic in the US. I train regularly in Masters swimming. Is that enough to prevent me from contacting this disease?
Answer: You are one step in the right direction
with exercise. Number two, is to lose weight, if overweight. A general principle
that must be followed is to have a planned nutrition program. The best is
to prevent overloading the bloodstream with glucose, causing an increase
Anyone wanting a copy of the glycemic index, please send a large SASE to: Dr. Paul Hutinger; 1755 Georgia Ave. NE; St. Petersburg, FL 33703.
Question: What are the components of a successful program for Masters swimmers?
Answer: The first answer by many, would be the training
program. Many highly competitive swimmers use their coach's own workouts
or computer generated workouts, like Hy Tek. Non competetive swimmers, will
modify these workouts or find another workout that applies to their goals
and time restraints. Scott Rabalais, 1996 Masters Coach of the Year and
Chair of the Masters Coach's Ass'n, lists an all inclusive combination of
nine items: cardiovascular conditioning, strength, technique, flexibility,
kinesthetic ability, nutrition, rest, knowledge of swimming and psychology
and motivation. Swimmers, such as Jean Troy, 74, says she uses every technique
available to beat highly talented swimmers, such as June Krauser. Troy has
frequently beaten Krauser in the 50, 100 and 200 free. Many Masters do not
have the time or motivation to follow Rabalais' guidelines. However, many
items can be part of a healthy lifestyle, like training (at whatever level
satisfies you), nutrition and rest. There are many benefits from these basic
principles, which are known by most who have been in the program. One area
unknown to many, is the benefit to the brain. Many of you know about endomorphs
and the runner or swimmer's high. Many sufferers of depression take drugs,
like prozac to normalize the serotonin in the
NOTE: I was pleased with the response to last months' topic, glycemic index. This is an important principle to follow, without making drastic changes to your regular nutrition.
Question: The pool where I train, doesn't have a pace clock. What are my options? My pool has pace clocks, but I can't see them without my glasses. What are my options?
Answer: Pace clocks are a valuable asset to your
total Masters program as it adds variety and motivation to your personal
training. Therefore, in both instances, the solution is a personal pace
clock. A commercial 15 inch pace clock can cost $130 and a programmable
one, $1275. My teammate, Elmer Luke, high school swim coach for 30 years,
came up with an inexpensive alternative, for under $10. Basic 9" black
and white kitchen clock, with second hand, at Target or
If you swim in an end lane, set it on the side of the pool, so you will be able to see it at each turn. Luke used this technique for his hour swim. He checked his 50 splits and knew he was on the pace he wanted.
If you set it at the end of your lane, use it for your intervals. With open turns, you can see the hands on each turn. If you do flip turns, do occasional open turns to check your pace on longer swims.
You now have the means to include timed pace swims and sprints in your
workouts, and evaluate your training progress throughout the season.