Saturday, February 13, 2010

SWEET Misery

I have to love it when one of my swimmers tells me a workout has made it into his "Top 10 hardest ever" list, and today's was just such a workout. I can't believe they were giving me grief for coming up with this workout and not being able to swim it with them. I know it's a toughie, but dang it I'd much rather be in the pool busting my ass than not.

Lately I've been working with my Masters on swimming straight, something that almost all swimmers from the slow lane to the smoking fast struggle with. Last week's drill was a Blind Swim. I had the swimmer start 10 seconds apart, just doing one length at a time. The idea is to swim as long as you can with your eyes closed and NOT crash into the lane lines. Swimmers were all over the place, it looked like the freeway at about 3 am on New Year's morn out there. Crazy! Watch someone swim blind and all the faults of the stroke become much more instantly apparent. When we have that lovely black line on the bottom of the pool to follow, we constantly self-correct without even knowing that we're doing it.

Today's drill was designed to piggy-back on top of that experience and help straighten everyone out. We started off with some Superman Kick, which is my name for kicking on your front with your arms extended straight out in front of your shoulders (head down) just like Superman.

Not like this Superman, that's more like a closed-fist drill, though I have to say the body alignment is nice and straight, even if the head is too high...

And not like this Superman either, I think he's doing the butterfly or something...

Here's the Superman I was looking for, though again ignore the closed fists and the head looking up. Nice straight body, arms straight out in front of the shoulders, and hands should be pointed just slightly down so fingers aren't poking out of the water.

From the Superman kick, we went on to Superman catch-up, which is just like the normal catch-up drill except with the arms in the Superman position. Why, you might ask? Well, often when we aim for having our hands meet in the middle or enter the water right on our centerline, what we actually do when swimming is to cross over that center line, often substantially. This gives a wiggle to the stroke that incurs monumental drag and wastes a lot of our energy. By practicing the catch-up drill with the hands meeting in the middle, we can inadvertently reinforce this poor hand entry position. So I've been working on catch-up in the Superman position and I think it's helpful to get that hand-entry more in line with the shoulders, especially because when you swim if you think your hands are in line with your shoulders, chances are they're closer to your center line. If you think they're at the center line, chances are that they're crossing over it.

Here's the rest of the workout, "SWEET 16" (I heard through the grumbling that the main set was a b*tch!) On the main set, every even 150 is timed. They are swum at 90% effort, and the idea is to keep the times within a few seconds of each other throughout the main set. Odds are described below. The interval should give plenty of time for rest.


Skill: Parallel Hand Entry
Drill: Superman Catch-up

Warm Up

2 x (200 Swim
6 x 75: Superman kick, Superman Catch-up, Swim by 25s)


Main Set



16 x 150, 90% effort @ 3:00

Evens: Timed
1 – 4 Easy
2 – 8 No Free IM by 25s
9 – 12 Pull
13 – 16 Dr/Swim by 25s


6 x 25 Dolphin kick to halfway, then swim
150 EZ

Total Yardage: 4000

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