Fast Twitch -- Week 3 (Thursday, March 29)

Thursday a.m. with Ford Masters, long course meters

500 warmup

400 kick (200 dolphin on back, 100 breast no board, 100 flutter on side) on 8:10

200 swim on 3:00 (100 back, 100 free)

100 drill

2x300 free on 4:50 (very, very aerobic...held 1:30)

2x200 kick on 4:10 (200 IM)

2x100 on 1:40 (100 back, 100 free)

2x50 drill on 1:00 (skipped this to catch up to the guys who were using fins on the kick part)

300 free on 4:50

200 kick on 4:10

100 swim on 1:40 (50 back/50 breast, went about 90 percent effort: 1:18)

We were supposed to do a 50 drill then a warmdown, but the coach had to leave right at 7:00, so my warmdown was walking/swimming across the pool from lane 8 to lane 1.

The pain of yesterday's set didn't leave me until we were halfway through the workout. I didn't want to swim any breaststroke today because that hurt the most. Again, my body doesn't respond well to fast breaststroke in workout. But I felt better at the end, which is why I swam the last 100 faster than I initially expected to.

As I said Wednesday night, I'm not swimming tonight because I have to work. I'm going to do a fairly light workout tomorrow, with some short bursts of swimming thrown in. I decided to rest my body a little bit for this weekend's meet, because I'll be doing four events in a span of about three hours and I want to swim them well. Plus, I'm going to race the indominitable Paul Smith, who will help me figure out how to swim my freestyle races and force me to accentuate my turns, given that he's six inches taller than me.

Because I won't have computer access in Phoenix, my next post won't be until Monday. See you then!


Fast Twitch -- Week 3 (Wednesday, March 28)

Wednesday p.m. long course meters

500 warmup

8x50, two of each stroke :20 rest
#1 kick, #2 swim easy

6x100 :20 rest
#1-4: 15-meter back fast/35 easy/25 back build/25 easy
#5-6: breast

2x100 breast fast on 5:00
(1:14, 1:16)

400 easy

50 back from a push, timed froma watch

250 easy
I was supposed to do 3x100 breast, but I was in so much pain and agony after the second one that I opted out of it. I tried to keep my stroke long, but the pain still came.

I'm never good at sprinting repeats, as you might remember from the past two Wednesdays. Next week starts a new phase in the training, and I'm not sure if I'll continue to do 100s with long rest, or something that I can actually finish.

The 50 back was good, considering I didn't swim straight. I would have broken 29 if I hadn't grazed my right shoulder on the lane line. I think I was using the tops of the racks that lined the side of the pool as guides, and found myself drifting to the right. I should have swum it in another lane. In any case, my backstroke feels good. I'm not worried about failing hard on the breaststroke set.

I have to work Thursday evening, so I'll only do the a.m. workout with Ford.


Fast Twitch -- Week 3 (Tuesday, March 27)

Tuesday a.m. with Ford Masters...long course meters

400 warmup

3x100 on 1:50 -- 50 fly/50 free
3x100 on 1:50 -- 50 back/50 free
3x100 on 2:00 -- 50 breast/50 free
(Yes, this is similar to the set I did Monday night. I did all nine with the same effort, though the coach said each round was to be descended.)

Four rounds:
50 kick on 1:00
2x50 easy swim on 1:00
50 kick on 1:00

9x50 on 1:00
1-3: 25 fly/25 free
4-6: 25 back/25 free
7-9: 25 breast/25 free

200 easy
A few of the guys in my lane were tapering for this weekend's state meet. I haven't been there to see them for most of the taper process, but I wonder how much fast swimming they have been doing. The taper period should be the time when you simulate race conditions as much as possible, even if you are a distance swimmer. This could be a broken swim (a 100 fast with 30 seconds rest at the 50 or a 500 fast with rest after each 100) or some short swims from a dive.

If you're tapering for a meet soon, it's good to remember that even though you are technically resting, you should do some fast swimming to get your mind ready for racing, and keep your body from getting out of shape.

Here are two articles about tapering: One from elite athletes (two of whom are at worlds right now) and the other from my partner, Geoff Glaser. Some good advice here.
Tuesday p.m. long course meters

600 warmup

5x100 free with snorkel :20 rest

4x15 breakouts on 1:00

Four rounds:
2x50 kick fast on 2:00
50 easy on 1:00
#1 and 2: back kick with underwater dolphin kick to 15m
#3: breast with no board
#4: flutter kick

3x200 breast kick on 5:00
#1: 25fast/50 easy/25 fast
#2: 50 fast/50 easy (:48)
#3: 75 fast/25 easy (1:16)

200 easy


Fast Twitch -- Week 3 (Monday, March 26)

One of my former college teammates, Matt Hooper, swam a 1:56 in the 200 back at a meet in Houston last weekend. He has now thrown down the gauntlet for the event. Last year I went 1:55.2 and was the top-ranked swimmer in that event in the 30-34 age group, and he e-mailed me about it, saying that if he knew I had gone that fast, he would have swum his 200 back faster last year. It goes to show that you can't assume that the winning time at nationals is automatically the top time in your age group. Sometimes there's someone who swims in a small meet and the results don't get published and all of a sudden you're knocked down a place further than you thought.

I'm swimming the 200 back in the Arizona Masters State Championships at the Brophy College Prep pool this coming weekend. My focus for the meet was going to be the 100 free and 50 breast. Now it's the 100 free, 50 breast and 200 back. I thought a lot about the event during tonight's workout.

Also, Matt and I raced a 200 back my senior year at a meet at Texas A&M, before their new pool was built. He beat me by about a second, which I attribute to his ability to do proper dolphin kicks off every wall. (I went a 1:51, though, which I was extremely pleased about and was the topic of conversation for a couple of days after the meet.)

Monday p.m. long course

400 warmup

8x50 on 1:15 -- odds fly kick on back, evens fly drill

12x100 on 1:50
1-4: 25 fly drill/25 fly swim/50 free
5-8: 50 back/50 free
9-12: 25 fly drill/25 fly swim/50 back

50 easy

Rack work: 3 fly sprints, 3 back sprints
1&2 sprint to 15 meters, 3 sprint to 25 meters
(I didn't fill the buckets as high as usual.)

400 easy


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Fast Twitch -- Week 2 (Saturday, March 24)

Remember the 32.4 50m breast I did last week? Turns out I did a 34.4. The coach who timed me corrected me. Good thing. I was getting a big head about my extraordinary swim. I'm glad she told me today. You'll see why after you read today's workout.

Long course meters

600 warmup

8x100 IM on 1:50
1-5 drill
6-8 swim steady

6x15 breakouts on 1:00

4x50 swim IM order fast on 2:00
I did not have a coach timing me on these, so the times you see below are based on the number I saw on the digital clock about a beat after I touched the wall.
(31, 31, 35, 29 = 2:06 200 IM)

200 easy

4x25 free on :45 breathing no more than twice per 25
100 easy

4x25 back on :45 swimming straight (succeeded!)
100 easy

Five-minute break

50 breast fast from a dive
(32.03 timed from a watch and command start)

250 easy
The 4x50 fast felt good, even though I often have a hard time recovering from a fast fly swim. I was especially happy with the back and free legs, because I swam straight on backstroke and I was able to maintain a good kick on freestyle.

As for the 50 from a block: Last summer I did this every other week, and I was always under 32 seconds. The major difference this time was that I was wearing my drag suit, which obviously adds some time. I planned to bring a racing suit (not a suit I'd wear during taper, but one I'd wear at an unshaved meet), and I'll probably put one in my bag always, just in case I feel like reducing drag on more sprint sets.

All in all, this week was a rollercoaster. I spent three days adjusting to long course training, and by Friday I felt better. The pool will continue to be long course at least through all of next week as the team gets ready for USA Swimming nationals.

Are you online looking at results from World Championships? Go to http://omegatiming.com/livetiming/index.htm when the meet is running. We'll be asleep when finals are running, so go to the best swimming Web site, http://www.swimmingworldmagazine.com/, for updates. I think the sprint free races will be awesome to follow. Lots of pride on the line.

See ya Monday!


Fast Twitch -- Week 2 (Friday, March 23)

Friday p.m. long course meters

I only got four hours of sleep Thursday night and was hanging on by a thread by 6:30 p.m. I didn't want a major sprint workout to be affected, so I did the part of the workout I missed last night, with some additions.

600 warmup

400 breast kick

5x100 on 1:50
50 breast/50 free working on long strokes -- 15 breaststroke strokes per 50

4x15 breakouts breast and free

10x50 breast pull with Zoomers on 1:05

300 free swim with snorkel and Zoomers

3x100 free on 1:45 breathe every 5

100 easy
For the 10x50 breast pull set, it helps to use fins of some type to help your momentum (and give your core a hard workout). You should only do one kick per stroke cycle. Doing more than one kick is cheating. This helps with stroke efficiency.


Fast Twitch -- Week 2 (Thursday, March 22)

Thursday p.m. long course meters

600 warmup

10x100 free on 1:40
1-5 breathe every 5
6-10 descend (descended from 1:20 to 1:10)

Not one minute after I finished the set, we had to get out of the pool due to lightning. The protocol is to clear the pool for 20 minutes, so I sat in the office and waited. About six minutes in, another flash of lightning came, which prolonged the wait.

When the time was up we went out to the deck to check for lightning, only to find lots of lightning close by. That meant the rest of workout was canceled.

Here's the rest of what I planned to do:

10x50 breast pull :30 rest

400 breast kick

300 free with snorkel


Fast Twitch -- Week 2 (Wednesday, March 21)

Wednesday p.m. long course meters

600 warmup

4x100 IM descend on 1:45 (descended to 1:17)

2x100 back easy on 1:45

400 free with snorkel

6x15 breakouts on 1:00

100 breast fast, then 100 easy (1:12)
About one minute rest
75 breast fast, then 75 easy (55)
About one minute rest
50 breast fast, 50 breast easy (37)
About one minute rest
25 breast fast, 25 breast easy (16)

I found this set in a 2006 edition of Swimming World. I can't remember which month, but it was in the section where a week's worth of workouts are printed. This particular month had some good speed sets, and this was one of them. I thought it'd be fun to do, but it's not. It hurts, and the recovery isn't enough to be prepared for the next fast swim. But this set is another one that teaches you to swim correctly through the pain, and that's what I was thinking as I went through the set.

I'll be doing this set every two weeks as a way to judge progress. It's one of two or three sets I'll do regularly. Yesterday's kick set of 5x100 will also be repeated.

The first time I did this set was last summer, and the times I did today were the same as the times I did last summer, so I had a lot of confidence, even though I never felt good physically from the moment I dove in this evening.

I finished the workout with:
400 free, breathing every 3 for 100, every 5 for 100

I'm going to skip the mornig workout I planned to go to. Sleeping in will be my recovery. I haven't had a completely fulfilling workout since I started last week, but I'm not worried because there are eight weeks left in this training cycle. I just think my body is going into shock. Last summer my body felt the same way. I just keep thinking of the results from that training.



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Fast Twitch -- Week 2 (Tuesday, March 20)

Tuesday a.m. workout with Ford Masters; short course yards

400 warmup

4x25 fly on :30
3x50 fly/back on :55
2x75 fly/back/breast on 1:20
1x100 IM on 1:40 (1:08)

4x25 back on :30
3x50 back/breast on :55
2x75 back/breast/free on 1:20
1x100 IM on 1:40 (1:06)

4x200 kick on 3:00
This was supposed to be descending, but I did them all smooth and steady.

4x25 breast on :30
3x50 breast/free on :55
2x75 back/breast/free on 1:20
1x100 IM on 1:40 (1:06)

Tuesday p.m. long course meters

4x150 :15 rest
100 free/50 stroke

6x75 :15 rest
50 drill/25 swim

6x15 breakouts on 1:00

5x100 breast kick with board on 3:30
(1:40, 1:41, 1:42, 1:41, 1:42) I averaged about 35 kicks per 50

Two rounds of the following:
200 easy :20 rest
2x50 :20 rest, 25 underwater dolphin kick with Zoomers/25 easy swim
(I did a two-stroke breakout after the 25. The clock showed :17 for all of the 25s.)

200 easy
The age group/senior team is starting their long-course season, and the rest of the workouts this week will be long course. It's likely that the pool will be set up long course most of the time.


Fast Twitch -- Week 2 (Monday, March 19)

Monday p.m. - fly and back

600 warmup*

Two rounds of 5x50 on 1:00, 25 fly/25 free
Each round decreasing the number of breaths on fly down to a no breather on No. 5
Round 1 with Zoomers, round 2 without

300 back kick with Zoomers: 200 relaxed, 100 moderate

10x50back on :55
1-4: slightly slower than 200 pace (:32)
5: easy
6-9: one second faster per 50 than first round
(I held 30s on this round, thinking of steady stroke rate and good kick)

300 fly kick: 200 relaxed, 100 moderate

75 easy

Work on starts:
Three backstroke starts, sprinting to 15 meters
Two butterfly starts, sprinting to 15 meters
(My backstroke start is getting a complete overhaul. The start is too deep. Because of my bad ankles, I'm working on doing four dolphin kicks, as opposed to the six I was doing before. I realized that six kicks weren't helping me after watching video of my backstroke races at worlds. Four seem to be the right amount, if I can keep from going so deep.)

300 easy

* My 600 warmup usually consists of: 150 free/50 back/50 breast/50 free, then some sculling and drilling. Or: 200 free/100 back/50 breast/50 free, then sculling and drilling.

I'm sending in my entry for the AZ state meet in the morning. I usually do a 200 race during the season, just to keep a toe in that world. I was going to do a 200 free, but I remembered how much it hurt last year. The 200 back is much more forgiving to me, so I'll do that in addition to seven other races over two days. Of course, I fear slamming into the lane ropes, because I still have not been able to fix that. If I stay relatively in the middle of the lanes, my goal is to come close to the 1:55.9 I did last year.


Fast Twitch -- Week 1 (Saturday, March 17)

Swam at 11 a.m. A lot of sun.

1-5 free on 1:30
6-10 25 scull/50 drill/25 swim on 1:45

100 free on 1:30 aerobic
50 breast on :50 holding :34
100 free on 1:30 aerobic
50 breast on :50 holdint :33 (I felt I glided too much on the first 50, so I glided less and went :32)
100 easy

Rack work:*
4x25 back
100 easy
4x25 breast swimming with the rack (I didn't do a pullout, but I went :11 on #1 and 12s on the rest)
100 easy

Three times through the following:
50 breast from a dive, with 10 seconds rest after the first 25
50 easy
*If you don't know what a rack is, it looks like this. You put water in the buckets equal to the amount of opposing weight you want to use. Usually I fill the bucket about two-thirds full.

On the last set, I didn't have anyone timing me, so I don't know what my first 25 on each one was (I started myself). But the second 25 on all three were in the 14-second range.

I need the day off tomorrow. See ya Monday!

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In less than two weeks, Brophy will host the Short Course Yards State Championships. The meet will be held from March 30 – April 1, 2007 at the Dottie Boreyko / Brophy Sports Campus, located at 2902 East Campbell in Phoenix.

Reminder: Entries must be received by Monday, March 26th, 2007. Get yours in today!

For additional information, contact Brian Pursley via email or telephone (602) 380-7586. You can also go to the Brophy website or call 602-264-5291 ext 6450.


Fast Twitch -- Week 1 (Friday, March 16)

Friday p.m. (back to short course yards)

600 warmup

Three rounds of:
4x50 breast on 1:00, descending to :35
4x100 free on 1:30 with snorkel

500 kick, alternating 50 breast kick underwater, 50 free kick on sides

100 easy

Obviously, this was a recovery workout. After yesterday, I needed it.

On the main set, my mind wandered often. Before workout I saw results of part of Friday's NCAA finals, and I was delighted to see UA's Albert Subriats swim the fastest 100-yard fly in history (44.57), then come back about an hour later and win the 100 back with the second-fastest swim ever (44.89).

I thought of how excited Albert must have been to have this double win, but also to put himself at the top of the UA eschelon, which is crowded with some pretty big names (Schoeman, Neethling, Carvin, Ferns, Pepper, Burnett).

Also, Mike Alexandrov swam the fastest 100-yard breast ever, breaking Jeremy Linn's 10-year old record with a 51.56). Wow. When I was swimming in the NCAAs, we wondered who would be the second person after Steve Lundquist to break the 53-second barrier. It didn't happen until 1996, the year after my senior year.

I tried to imagine the fast swims. It was impossible. I felt a vicarious rush of excitement, and the 50s breast I did were a little faster than they should have been. I descended the last two rounds down to 33.

I've seen the UA men and women do some pretty intense sprint sets. I'll admit that my sets are not as hard as stuff they have done, but then again I'm not in my 20s anymore.


Fast Twitch -- Week 1 (Thursday, March 15)

Thursday a.m.
I slept through the alarm this morning and was almost 30 minutes late for workout.

Main set:
300 swim on 4:00 (missed this)
3x100 kick on 1:55 (missed this)
6x50 pull on :55 (swam this as warmup)

300 kick on 6:00
3x100 pull on 1:30 (I swam 50 back/50 free)
6x50 swim on :55 (I did 25 back/25 breast)

300 pull on 4:00 (I swam this)
3x100 swim on 1:30 (backstroke)
6x50 kick on 1:00

To make up for the part of the workout I missed, I did:
300 free pull on 4:00
3x100 back swim on 1:30

50 easy

The whole workout was aerobic, partly to recover from last night's kick set.
Thursday p.m., long course meters
500 warmup

12x50, three of each stroke :20 rest
#1 drill, #2 kick, #3 swim

6x100 on 2:00
15-meter sprint/35 easy/25 build/25 easy
1,2,4,6 free; 3,4 breast

3x100 free fast on 4:00
(1:00, 1:01, 1:06)

300 easy

My legs were extremely sore from the kick workout, which explains the last 100.
I was supposed to do 2x100 breast on 3:00, but I was certain I would drown. So I did:

50 breast fast from a push
(32.4) Colleen Kelley, the evening coach, timed me when my feet left the wall. This is the fastest I've gone in a workout swim in a very long time. The reason I did this despite the pain was to work on swimming through the last 15 meters of a 100 breast. Sets like this are very mental. You have to talk yourself through the last 10 strokes and accelerate to the wall. My stroke fell apart but my speed didn't.


Fast Twitch -- Week 1 (Wednesday, March 14)

Wednesday p.m.

600 warmup

6x50 on 1:00
25 kick, 25 drill

Two rounds:
100 kick moderate on 2:00
4x25 sprint kick on :35
1x50 kick fast on :50
100 easy swim on 2:00
(Round 1: back kick with zoomers; Round 2: free kick with zoomers)

4x75: 25 drill, 25 kick, 25 swim IM order :20 rest

3x100 IM on 1:30 moderate

3x300 kick breast 1:00 rest
1. 25 fast, 50 easy
2. 50 fast, 25 easy
3. 75 fast, 25 easy

200 easy

6x50 fly/back on 1:00
1-3 with Zoomers, 4-6 without

100 easy
I'm going to shift all my workouts down one day this week to make up for missing last night. This workout is 3,600 yards, and I added the 200 easy and 6x50 at the end to make up a little bit for Monday. With the added distance, it took 75 minutes.


Fast Twitch -- Week 1 (Tuesday, March 13)

Morning workout:
600 warmup

3x(3x100) on 1:40
Round 1: 75 stroke A, 25 stroke B
Round 2: 50 stroke A, 50 stroke B
Round 3: 25 stroke A, 75 stroke B
Did round 1 fly/back, round 2 back/breast, round 3 breast/free and descended each round

4x100 breast kick on 1:50, no board
2x(4x50) flutter kick with Zoomers on :50
2x(4x25) fly kick with Zoomers on :30
All done at about 90 percent effort

3x(3x50) on :55
It was supposed to be done similar to the first set, but I did it all 25 stroke A, 25 stroke B, working on transitions

50 easy

4x50 back with Zoomers on :50
I swam straight for the entire set, so my kick is the problem. However, having Zoomers on is very tiring and affects my stroke, so I won't do it all the time.

I had to work late tonight, so I will do tonight's speed kick set on Thursday night, which was originally to be somewhat of a recovery workout.


Fast Twitch -- Week 1 (Monday, March 12)

Uncork the champagne! We're off and running on 10 weeks of heavy-duty sprint training!

I taught a lesson during part of my workout time tonight, so I wasn't able to do the entire workout. I'm doing doubles tomorrow, so I might try to fit in what I missed after the morning workout. But, I do want to save some energy for the tough evening workout.

Today's workout: fly and back

600 warmup

8x100 back on 1:40
Odds: 50 drill, 50 build
Even: 100 swim descend

8x50 fly on 1:00
Odd: 3 left, 3 right, 3 regular
Even: two breaths per 50

5x100 on 1:40
50 fly build, 50 back build

8x50 on 1:00 fly with zoomers

100 easy
I made it through the 8x100 back, descending to 1:04, which is about 85 percent effort. Instead of trying to go all out, I worked on swimming straight, which has been a major problem for me since I moved to Arizona and started swimming outdoors two years ago. I'll swim one length perfectly in the middle of the lane, then crash into the lane line the next length.
This Web site offered up some good ideas, and I have tried those. But I think my problem is unique. I have a severe scissors kick in my backstroke, a holdover from years of breaststroke and bad ankles. I've done fine otherwise, but I am going to do a lot of backstroke sets with Zoomers to see if that helps. If it doesn't, at least my legs got a little stronger.

I also swam a meet in Tempe yesterday, so I'm a little sore. I was shocked that I swam a best unshaved 100 IM (52..76), given that the first half of all my races felt like I was doing a 200, when I was actually doing 100s. (And the fact that I swam five events in two hours.) So I learned that I sorely need to work on sprinting!

As I said above, tomorrow is a double workout, as all Tuesdays and Thursdays will be, barring any work obligations. I'll do an IM workout with Ford Masters in the morning, then a tough kicking workout in the evening.

That means I need to get my rest. See you tomorrow!


Welcome to Fast Twitch!

I've been a masters swimmer since summer 1999. Since then, I've been a member of three teams in three different states, and one thing is common among all of them: Everyone's a freakin' distance swimmer!

It can't be helped. Most swimmers come into the sport late in their adult lives, when their muscles are past their peak development and generally have problems gaining strength and power. Becoming a sprinter as an adult is a very difficult thing to do, but not impossible. It takes lots of work, just as much work as a distance swimmer (though not as much time in the pool).

My contribution to this site will be to help the few masters swimmers who can truly call themselves sprinters. They are those who shudder at the thought of anything over 100 yards or meters. They are the ones who struggle to finish the last 15 yards or meters of a race, instead of saying "I was just getting started!" They are the ones who like doing 50s for time on a three-minute interval. They are the ones who think "taper" is the best word in the English language.

I've been a sprinter all my life, despite attempts by my college coach to make me a 200 breaststroker. I got into masters when I found out there were 50s of the strokes and a 100 IM. What could be better than doing a 100 IM?

On Monday, March 12, I will start a training regimen geared specifically for sprinters. Anyone training for an event 200 yards and above should not follow these workouts. And I'll put the disclaimer in that you should consult your physician before starting a new rigorous training regimen. I started doing this series of workouts last summer in preparation for world championships, and I did it again to train for the zone meet last November in Tempe. I credit the workouts for the success at both meets: I won three events and set a new world record in the 50 breast at worlds, and broke the world records in the short-course-meters 50 and 100 breast events last November.

This time, I'm training for spring nationals in Federal Way (May 17-20) and then a long course USA Swimming meet here in Tucson the first weekend of June. That gives me 10 weeks before my first event at nationals. I will taper for only one week. If you do these workouts every day without any adjustments, you might need more rest, especially if your body gets very broken down. Listen to your body -- DO NOT overdo it. No record attempt or heated rivalry is worth a busted shoulder or knee.

I'll post every workout here, along with some comments and random thoughts.

Since the first week of January, I've been building my aerobic base by training with the Ford Aquatics team, and fine-tuning my strokes before I ask them to sprint for 10 weeks. Drills are important, and it's ideal to work on drills on recovery days.

In the week leading up to the start of the program, I'd suggest that you do lots of sprinting when you get the chance. That would mean a set or two of 25s and 50s with at least one minute rest, as well as some 15-meter breakouts to test your fast-twitch. Some sets will be done from the blocks, so if you have time to work on your starts, I strongly suggest it.

See you in six days!

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