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Ask the Swim Doctor: 2007

"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.

February, 2007:

Question: Is the power of positive thinking really all that it is cracked up to be? How does this relate to Masters swimming?

Answer: Absolutely! I have always believed in the power of positive thinking and owe my high level of success throughout my 35 years of Masters swimming to following this principle. The goals and objectives of my club, the Florida Maverick Masters, is to provide a positive environment for individual levels of achievement and the freedom to express ideas. This is my philosophy and I feel that it is important for each of you to think positive thoughts, whether they be for your next pool meet, postal event, triathlon, virtual swim, to increase your personal level of fitness or day to day survival.
Since Masters swimming is a lifelong fitness for you, what makes for longevity in one area, also applies to other areas. Several famous names come to mind, and you may also recognize them.
Art Linkletter, 94, uses swimming as his prime exercise. "Longevity is as much an act of will as a dedication to exercise and a healthy diet." He has been a dedicated swimmer most of his life. In his younger years, he worked as a life guard in California and was a Pacific Coast backstroke champion. "Swimming," according to Linkletter, "is the best exercise for seniors, as it is not an impact sport and does not harm your joints." While in his 90's, he has given 75 lectures a year and traveled 150,000 miles.
Phil Dodson, 53, from Chicago, is another well-known personality, as well as a Masters swimmer and survivor. In the past, he has had four bouts with cancer, starting as a 39 year old with testicular cancer. He has always used a positive approach in his life, which helps him in his training. This year, in the 50-54 age group, he had exceptional times in the 200 m Free, 2:08 and the 400 m free, 4:37. In this month's SWIMMING WORLD Magazine, he was featured in their article, "Survive and Thrive."
The oldest swimmers in the FL LMSC, are Carl Lindstrand and Art Holden, both 95 year olds. This year, we'll have at least four other nonagenarians.
In 2006, there were ten other swimmers 85 and older. Holden swam the Hour Swim when he was 93, to show others, "That just because you're old, doesn't mean you have to be a couch potato."
When you think positive thoughts, alienation gives way to involvement; enjoyment replaces boredom; helplessness turns into a feeling of control and psychic energy works to reinforce the sense of self, instead of being lost in the service of external goals. Concentration is so intense that there is no attention left over to think about anything irrelevant, or to worry about problems.
Positive thinking, as an act of will, can be improved by everyone. This subtle benefit is the key to longevity and better performance in your Masters swimming, no matter what your age. Take time to program your brain with psycho-cybernetics. Your self-image is the key to positive thinking, by not allowing negative thoughts. Program yourself for success and use mental pictures of success. Take some time every day to mentally prepare yourself for success. Set goals for yourself and take the steps towards achieving those goals. Clear out the cobwebs which lead to negative thoughts. Be positive!

May, 2007

QUESTION: I like to swim 200's and 500's at meets. My friends tell me I should "swim the event" in practice. What are your suggestions to optimize my training for these events?

ANSWER: 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 50¹s for :45. This will give you :15 sec rest after each 50. To be more specific for your race, do a dive in (if it¹s 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.
I¹ve 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. World Record holder, 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.

August 2007: Surviving Shoulder Pain

QUESTION: I’ve had several rotator cuff injuries. What can I do to keep training when I have
persistent pain in my shoulder?
ANSWER: You can verify rotator cuff injury with this simple test: stand, arm against your side;
bend forearm at 90 degrees; resist a force on your hand, inward and outward. A weakness in movement will indicate rotator cuff injury.
The most important muscles for the swimmer, and the most overused, involve the rotator
cuff. These are a group of muscles and tendons that help hold the head of the humerus (upper arm
bone) in the shallow socket in the scapula (shoulder blade). There are no strong ligaments to do the job. The tendons of the rotator cuff pass under the bony arch of the acromion (outer tip of the
shoulder). The muscles and tendons can get pinched under the acromion arch, especially with poor
stroke mechanics. Other swimming injuries can occur from overwork and old injuries to the shoulder and arm. The rotator cuff is primarily four muscles (subscapularis, infraspinatus, supraspinatus, and teres minor) and their tendons. It stabilizes the upper arm in the shoulder socket and allows a great range of motion. Rotator cuff pain is caused by an "impingement syndrome." This is because exertion or overuse causes a compression of tendons by the shoulder bone, resulting in tears and/or inflamation. Bursa are fluid-filled sacs that protect muscles and tendons from irritation by the bone. A shoulder problem of tendinitis or bursitis may be a result.
• 1. Use ice before and after practice. Invest in a commercial fabric bag or cold compress that
is reusable, and keep in the freezer (Check your local drug store.) Use 10 min on and 10 min
off, several times a day. Also, freeze water in small paper cups, or use ice cubes. Apply ice
directly to the site, by continuously moving it. Do this no longer than 5 minutes at a time.
• 2. Change the strokes you use in training or competition. At LC Nationals one year, I had to
change from my usual fly and IM events to the three breast strokes.
• 3. Use swim fins for all your training, and do more kicking. A national record holder used this
approach over ten years ago. Unable to do any training because of neck and shoulder problems,
she implemented fin training for the entire season. She made the switch to regular
swimming several weeks before Nationals and swam some of her best times. Use more
kicking-- do sets of repeats and TIME them. Heart rates of 150-160 or at the anaerobic
threshold and VO2 race speed, for your age, should be part of your kick training.
• 4. Use stretching and flexibility exercises to keep your range of motion.
• 5. Strengthen the rotator cuff with special exercises for the muscles involved. Since the rotator
cuff muscles are small, you only need to use 2# to 5# weights. The emphasis should be
on a high number of repeats, such as three sets of 25 repeats.
• 6. Use aspirin, ibuprofen, or naproxen as an anti-inflammatory.
• 7. If the pain persists, see your physician. He may refer you to an RPT. Extreme problems
may need surgery, as a last resort.
Anyone wanting more information or having personal questions, send a large SASE to:
Dr. Paul Hutinger;
1755 Georgia Ave. NE;
St. Petersburg, FL 33703 or e-mail phut@usms.org

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