Our Workouts

In response to a question posed by Betsy Durrant, this updated article appeared in the January 2009 Virginia LMSC newsletter:

 "Let me preface my remarks with some comments on our program. We are small, with about 20 swimmers, and over the years have attracted folks of very different abilities and experiences. Many are older, but we have gradually added youngsters in their 20's and 30's. We are blessed with a facility without the usage press of many in metropolitan areas, so we have the luxury of exclusive pool time, and some buffer for finishing up. Practices are 90 minutes three times weekly, but some folks are in the water two hours.

Our season begins in September and runs until the end of July. I have a general blueprint which focuses on endurance and basic skills early, builds toward scheduled meets, and takes swimmers as far as they are willing and able to go toward meeting their individual goals by season’s end.

Our workouts per session are the same for everyone in terms of skills and focus, but there are four levels with different distances and repetitions, sometimes skill readiness (i.e., dolphin for fly), and individual limits. 

We begin with deck warm up, very individual, with some cords, shakers, stretching, walking around pool deck. The advanced level swim workout averages about 3800 - 4000+ yards, the advanced 2 is about 3000 yards, the level I is about 2500 yards, and the level II is from 1500-1800 yards. I try to keep yardage from being the goal, stressing rather the learning, skills and opportunities for success.

There is an easy warm up series which repeats, until everyone is in, or for 15 minutes, whichever comes first. I stop folks (blow my "dreaded whistle"),  and with all eyes front, do a skill set, which is teaching and practice for about 5 minutes with a particular workout-related focus. In the early season I may do 1-2 weeks spotlighting one stroke, its drills, turns, etc., then move on to another stroke. Later the skill sets are more competition-oriented, i.e., finishes, starts, finer points. 

We use drills throughout the workout, even on intervals; some practices have more drills than others. Kicks and pulls, sometimes on intervals are also incorporated.

Because I have a low tolerance for boredom, I make every workout different and do not have one single format other than warm up, skill set, main set, and cool down. The main set is the "guts" of the workout, usually increasing in intensity and well into the anaerobic energy zone. This is where intervals, usually comprise the bulk of the yardage. With a particularly challenging set, I add some purposeful recovery swims, then notch it back up again. I also like ladder swims and broken distance swims for variety. Regular sprints are important, especially in meet readiness; they may either be at beginning of the main set or, more often, after building up to them with some challenges. 

The cool down is where I encourage drills and "mindful" or "aware" swimming. It is a time not only to bring pulse and breathing rate down, but to savor the lessons learned in practice, repeating emphasis skills or drills.  I like "water feel" at the beginning and end of a workout.”

Kathryn Gregory
Da Coach