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Training of Top US

Distance
Swimmers

Genadijus Sokolovas,
Ph.D.
www.globsport.org

Successful Distance Clubs in


US
Mission Viejo (Chad Carvin, Larsen
Jensen, Chad LaTourette, Chloe Sutton,
Ashley Twichell, etc.)
Nations Capital (Katie Ledecky)
Fish Club (Kate Ziegler)
University of Michigan (Chris Thompson,
Peter Vanderkaay, Jaeger)
University Southern California (Eric
Vendt, Ous Mellouli, Haley Anderson)

Reasons for Success in


Distance Swimming
High volumes training
Attention to swimming
technique
Competitive training
environment
Early competitive success
Opportunities to train in
college

Number of Swim Workouts


Number of swim workouts a week:
Mission Viejo 11 (1.5 hours in the mornings, 3
hours in the afternoons, 3.5 hours on weekends)
Fish Club 11 (2 hours in the mornings, 2.5 hour
in the afternoons, 3 hours on weekends)
University of Michigan 10 (2 hours)
Nations Capital 10 (2 hours in the mornings,
2:15 in the afternoons)
University Southern California 8 (1.5 hours in
the mornings, 2 hours in the afternoons)

Weekly Training Volumes


Mission Viejo 80-85000 yd a week (peak
90000 yd a week)
Nations Capital 60-65000 yd a week (peak
75000 yd a week)
Fish Club 70-75000 yd a week (peak 90000
yd a week)
University of Michigan 55-60000 yd a week
(peak 70000 yd a week)
University Southern California 5-8000 yd per
workout (they dont track swim volumes)

Speed for
Distance
Swimmers
Distance swimmers need to have
easy speed to be able to change
gears and finish when racing.
If distance swimmers dont have
speed, they will burn tank faster.
Building speed gradually during the
season.

Speed Development for


Distance Swimmers
Resistance training, normally twice a week
(Power Racks, Power Towers, stretch cords,
paddles, etc.)
Speed training in the water from the
beginning of the season (15 m blasts, dives,
turns)
Increase distance of speed work over 50s
and 100s later in the season
Incorporate fast sprints in aerobic sets
Sprint sets at the end of the workout

Speed Training for Distance


Swimmers at USC
Lower volumes and lower number of workouts, but
higher intensity
Anything can be done fast at race speed and
above (kicking, pulling, drills)
Communication with swimmers what kind of speed
they, creating competitive environment every day
Non standard swimming sets (125s, 175s, mixed
aerobic and fast speed sets)
Rarely repeat the sets
Options for swimmers what workout/sets to swim

Speed Training for


Katie Ledecky
Easy speed training from the beginning of the
season
More speed sets at the end of the workout,
especially if there has been a long workout
Speed sets at the end of the workout: 25s
and 50s on tight interval, 16 x 25 descending
Swimming sets using race tempo
Over kicking sets
Swimming with resistance (paddles, chutes)

Speed Training
for Kate
Ziegler

Something fast every


practice
Negative split sets for longer sets (200s, 300s, 400s)
Many sets include descending rest intervals
Emphasis on distance per cycle
Mimicking race over shorter distances with active
rest between
Focus on race tempo in fast sets

Kicking in Distance
Swimming
In the past, many distance swimmers swam
2-beat kick, especially women
Kicking has huge potential to improve swim
times
Better kicking improves distance per stroke
It also improves swimming technique by
keeping body more horizontal and higher on
the surface
Good kickers are winning the end of the race

Kicking Training for Distance


Swimmers
If you dont train kicking, you will drain
your kick energy very fast
Normally, two practices a week
devoted for kicking
Distance swimmers can improve in
college by doing more kicking
Kicking after hard race pace sets to
include larger muscles to promote
lactate use a fuel

Kicking Sets
for Distance
Swimmers

Vertical kicking with weight belts


Long kick sets with fins
Short kick sets without fins
Kick on Power Racks
Kick against cords
Emphasizing strong kick during swim
sets:
200s with 1st 50s 2-beat kick, 2nd 50s with 4beat kick, then 6-beat kick, then 8-beat kick

Kicking Sets for Distance


Swimmers at USC

Kicking with fins


Kicking against the wall
Underwater Kicking
Over kick catch-up stroke
More kick at the end of the practice:
10 x 100 kick at the end of the practice

Katie Ledeckys
Kicking Training

She was 2-beat kicker in the past


No one kicks with a board during the race
Increase speeds with the same stroke count
Instead of going 15-16 strokes per lap, she had to
learn how to swim 12 strokes per lap
Limiting stroke count forces to use more legs
Legs have to be used during the second half of the
race
Kicking set:
800 swim first 400 pull, then drop the buoy and go
with strong kick

Technique vs. Training for


Distance Swimmers
Technique is in jeopardy when train long
dist swimmers
At the peak volume and high intensity set
coach isnt going to stop a swimmer to
correct technique, set is more important
Technique is constant dialog with
swimmers, especially distance per stroke
A lot of video work
15-20 min of skill work at the beginning of
each workout

Talking to
Swimmers about
Technique
Coach has short cues words to fix
technique during the set
Focus just on most important things of
technique during the set
If a swimmer doesnt correct the stroke, we
will talk about it after the practice
Another way to deal with that start the
set over again! You hold swimmers
accountable to the standards.

Talking to Distance
Swimmers about Technique
Coach has short cues words to fix
technique during the set
Focus just on most important things of
technique during the set
If a swimmer doesnt correct the stroke, we
will talk about it after the practice
Another way to deal with that
start the set over again!
You hold swimmers accountable
to the standards.

Working on Swimming
Technique

More experimentation of technique at the


beginning of the season
More technique repetition phase in the middle of
the season
Very little work on technique during the highintensity training
Using towing machine
Swimming with parachutes
Drills to lower head position, especially for Open
Water swimmers
Using a snorkel

Working with Katie Ledecky


on Swimming Technique
Fast high-elbow catch is very important
All good distance swimmers have 90 degree
angle catch at the beginning of the stroke
Combine high-elbow catch with a nice
torque of the hip
Dont break a body line
Dont cross over with hands
Swimming against cord to feel better
driving from the hips rotation

Working with Katie Ledecky


on Swimming Technique
Fast high-elbow catch is very important
All good distance swimmers have 90 degree
angle catch at the beginning of the stroke
Combine high-elbow catch with a nice
torque of the hip
Dont break a body line
Dont cross over with hands
Swimming against cord to feel better
driving from the hips rotation

Weekly Training for Distance


Swimmers (Michigan
Monday morningUniversity)
2000-3000 kick set + aerobic

training
Monday afternoon threshold: 10 x 200 :20-30 sec
with the best effort or 4 x 1000 on 11:00
Tuesday and Friday mornings speed changing,
descending and ascending sets (fartlek)
Tuesday afternoon and Saturday morning race pace
Wed high volume practice, how much can get in
two hours (max is 11,200)
Fri afternoon second big kick set of the week,
interval set

Weekly Training for Distance


Swimmers (USC)
Monday and Friday swimmers are in the
weight room
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday mornings
swim
In the afternoons, a lot of odd distance 175s,
the last 75 fast. Creating an environment for
swimmers racing each other.
It is important that swimmers would buy into
training, everybody will do something
different. Swimmers have to believe what they
do.

Weekly Training for


Katie Ledecky
Three-day cycle building toward really good
Wednesday afternoon or really good
Saturday, , when swimmers swim really fast
Between those days IM on Tuesday and
Friday, change strokes
One practice a week swimmers go high volume
up 9000 yd, when average is 6500 yd
High yardage is good mentally and physically
Be proud swimming a lot and the last finishing
long workout

Swimming Sets for Distance


Swimmers
Broken 10000
5 x 100 on 1:40, 5 x 100 on 1:30, and 5 x 100 on 1:20
5 x 100 on 1:20, 5 x 100 on 1:30, and 5 x 100 on 1:40 (at
the end of the season)
9 x 300: first 100 over kick with catch-up, 2 nd 100
smooth, 3rd 100 strong kick
4 x (300 free + 100 DPS) on 5:30
4 x (200 free + 100 DPS) on 4:10
4 x (100 free + 100 DPS) on 2:50
4 x (50 free + 50 DPS) on 1:30
8 x 200 on 2:45 (odd negative split, even descending)
3 x (400 negative split + 3 x 300)

Physical and Mental


Toughness for Distance
Swimmers

Every workout has to be tough and challenging


A lot of race pace training (USC)
Negative split, descending sets (Ledecky, Mission
Viejo, Ziegler)
Long sets with maximum effort
Broken sets: 1500, 1650, 3000, 5000, and 10000
Lactate sets: 6 x 100 on 5:00 or 6 x 200 on 6:00
Maximum possible volume in one practice (2
hours)

Weight Training for Distance


Swimmers
In College, each athlete dryland is individualized,
based on school schedule, weaknesses
Swimmers are in the weight room twice a week
More general strength and flexibility
Low weights, resistance (med balls, swim
benches, Vertical Swim Trainer, vibration
machine)
Strength training after swim practices to keep
good quality in the water
Reps increase over the week of training

Dryland Training
for Katie Ledecky
Dynamic warm up before going in the water:
jumps, squats, push ups, lunges around the pool

Shoulder exercises
Shoulders stability especially for young swimmers
Injury prevention
Preventative training before doing strength
training
Stretch cords, body core muscles, abdominal, lower
back

Six Weeks
before the Race
(University of
Tennessee)

Mastery of pace
Efficiency of stroke (long DPS, strong kick)
Swimmers have to be in control when they
are under stress
4 x 500 + 4 x 400 + 4 x 300 + 4 x 200 + 4 x
100 on 1:10 long course descending, pace on
#1 has to be higher than pace on #4 of
previous distance
If swimmers can descend 20 times, they are
in control

Six Weeks before the Race


(University of Michigan and
USC)

Michigan:
1650 add up or 1500 add up
11 x 150 or 3 x (200+150+100+50) holding 1500
pace
Long mile threshold sets bringing distance shorter
down to 4-5 x 550 with the last at mile pace
USC:
Generally dont repeat the same sets
12 x 100 with odds at mile pace and even ones at
pace +5 sec holding good technique and stroke
count

Six Weeks before the Race


(Katie Ledecky)
3 x (4 x 100 desc 1-4 + 200 fast with the same
50s)
2 x 800 :20 sec + 100 ez + 2 x 400 :20 sec + 100
ez + 2 x 200 :20 sec in the morning and the same
the next day in the evening (mimic race schedule)
First repeat from a dive, but second repeat has to
be faster
Be better the next day in the same set
They did it 3 times leading trials in 2012 (January
May)

IM Swimming for
Distance Swimmers
Most of distance swimmers swim 400 IM
IM helps for distance swimmers mentally
Every practice swimmers do some set that has
an IM component
Age groupers have to swim IM to be a more
skilled swimmer
IM will keep swimmers in the sport longer,
keep them healthier
IM develops good capacity for collegiate
swimmers

Altitude Training for


Distance Swimmers
A training center created
for Olympic athletes to
come and prepare for the
Olympics.
It was built in Colorado
Springs due to the high
elevation level
Elevation at Olympic
Training Center in
Colorado Springs is 1868
m

Adaptation to the Altitude


Potential physiological changes of aerobic
capacity:

Release of erythropoietin (EPO)


Increased number of red blood cells (RBC)
Increased hemoglobin and hematocrit
Increased number of mitochondria in the muscle
cells
Higher capillary density (Hoppeler, Vogt, 2001)
Improved anaerobic/ lactate threshold
Faster recovery
Improvement of movement economy (Gore et al.,
2001, Katayama et al, 2003, 2004, Saunders et al,
2004, 2005)
Maximized aerobic capacity

Responders vs. NonResponders

Responders to altitude training experience


a significant increase in their erythropoietin
(EPO) concentration in their blood after
about 30 hours at altitude

This initial EPO response may lead to an


increase in total red cell volume and VO2
max
Non-responders have a smaller increase in
their erythropoietin (EPO) (Chapman 1998)

Pre Altitude Camp Testing


Blood tests should be done prior to
an altitude training camp to verify
adequate serum ferritin levels:
30 ug/L or higher for women
35 ug/L or higher for men

A blood test should be completed 6-8


weeks prior to altitude to assess all
of the components of the blood (total
iron, iron binding capacity, etc)

Nutrition at
Altitude
The body uses more
carbohydrates at altitude. It
requires increased intake of
carbohydrates (Dyck et al,
2000).
Dehydration may occur because
of low humidity at altitude. To
prevent dehydration more water
and energy drinks should be
used (Armstrong, 2000).
Initial adaptation to the altitude
may be improved by intake of
vitamin C (Subudhi, 2006).

Optimal Altitude
The optimal training altitude is from
2,000 to 2,500 meters
Less oxygen is bound to hemoglobin
and delivered to the muscles at
higher elevations
Training at too high an altitude may
reduce the athletes ability to train at
high intensities

Timing and Duration of


the Altitude Camp
Timing of the altitude camp depends on the
competition schedule and goals of the
training plan
Altitude camps may improve aerobic
conditioning and recovery between seasons
and after competitions
Altitude camps may be designed between
seasons, in early season, and before the
taper
To ensure the desired physiological
reactions, the duration of the altitude camp
should be about three to four weeks long

Timing between the Altitude


Camp and Major Competition
The time between the altitude camp and
major competition should be shorter if the
athlete is to compete in long distance events
The improvements in VO2max are the
highest up to 14 days after the cessation of
administration of rhEPO (altitude training)
Altitude training effects are very individual
and may last up to 5 weeks after returning to
sea level

Duration of Altitude Training


Effects
The duration of these effects depend on
factors such as:
Elevation of the altitude camp
Duration of the altitude camp
Workload volumes and intensities of practices
during and after the camp

Sprinters should compete 5 to 6 weeks after


altitude training
Distance athletes should compete 1 to 3 weeks
after altitude training (depending on event)

Training
Volumes and
Intensities at
the Altitude
Camp
High stress on the cardio-respiratory system of

athletes during the initial stage of adaptation:


the first five to seven days at altitude
Aerobic work may be supplemented with some
sprint work during the first week of altitude
training
Workouts with higher volumes and intensities
may be designed during the second week at
altitude
More experienced athletes adapt to the altitude
faster

Number of Daily Workouts


at Altitude
Conservative training:
2-1 for sprint and middle distance
2-2-1 for middle distance and distance

Intensive training:
2-3-1 for middle distance and distance
3-2-3-0 for middle distance and distance
3-2-3-2-0 for middle distance and
distance

Aerobic Weekly Training


Cycle for Kate Ziegler (FISH
Club)
at Thu
Altitude
Mon
Tue
Wed
Fri
Sat
Sun
Morning

Aerobic
Techniqu
e
Threshol
d
Alternati
ng speed
7.5 km

Threshol
d
Negative
split
Shorteni
ng rest
interval
7.8 km

Negative
split
Distance
per
stroke
Drills
8.1 km

Threshol
d
Shorteni
ng
distance
drills
7.9 km

VO2 max
Drills
7.6 km

Negative
split
Descendi
ng
Distance
per
stroke
7.7 km

Threshol
d
Race
pace
7.8 km

Afternoo
n

Anaerobi
c with
speed
bursts
5.0 km

Off or
work on
techniqu
e/filming/
turns/div
es

Anaerobi
c sprint
Alternati
ng speed
Kick
5.0 km

Anaerobi
c
Race
pace
4.8 km

Off or
turns,
techniqu
e

Drills
Anaerobi
c
Race
pace
4.8 km

Pull
Distance
per
stroke
5.0 km

THANK YOU FOR YOUR


ATTENTION!