Throughout high school and college, a typical week’s worth of training included 50,000-70,000 yards and nearly twenty hours in the water. Now, with a family and a career, I consider 10,000 yards and four hours of swimming to be a good week. If a young swimmer reads this and thinks they’re training too much, think again. Trust your coaches and remember there are no shortcuts. I have no doubt that the work I put in during high school and college continues to pay off.
Due to my “real life” schedule constraints, I have to make the most out of every workout. I only swim the first 300-400 easy before I start to increase intensity. If wait until I feel good to start swimming fast I’ll waste the workout. After a warm out of a 1,000 I go right into the main set. Whether I’m working on speed or aerobic endurance, this is usually between 1,000-1,200. I’m always fatigued by the end. To finish up the swim, I’ll do some kicking and drills.
Outside of the pool I get four workouts in the weight room a week. Each workout is focused on specific muscle groups. For example, if I’m lifting legs I’ll only do leg exercises on that day. After forty five minutes I’ll feel like I can’t walk right and it’ll be three days before I don’t feel sore. By performing the lifts only once a week I’ll have enough time to keep myself from wearing down too much. The other muscle group workouts include chest, back, and shoulders/arms.
Just because I’m swimming 80% less now doesn’t mean it’s easier to train. When you’re on a team you have teammates and coaches to make sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to. When that goes away it becomes much easier to turn off the alarm in the morning or to head the car towards home in the afternoon. What keeps me going now is the love of the sport and the possibility, however small it may be, that I could make the Olympic team.