Guppy Challenge: Week 10

Can I tell you a secret? The drills, the stroke tips, the basic workouts here are not that much different than what you'd probably get at any stage of swimming. Not that I would know! Just, most of the time it doesn't seem to me swim coaches give a lot more swim instruction than what you've gotten here.

What makes most kids fast is just swimming. Yards in the pool. Time spent. Time invested. In these workouts there are three main set yardage totals, depending on whether you're a Guppy, a Tarpon or a Tuna. I'm usually swimming Tarpon or Tuna yards. I like to swim straight sets of around 2000 yards. When I think my stroke is suffering I go back to the very same drills you've been given here.

Not that I'm a super swimmer. This series is about you not me, but I'll give you my experience for reference. I didn't start to take swimming seriously until I was in my 30s. I just got tired of coming out of the water 3 minutes behind after 1,500 meters. What cured me was 3 things: swimming in a Masters program; fixing my posture in the water via the drills contained herein; and just the decision to do it.

What progress did I make? I went from a slightly better than average triathlon swimmer to a good triathlon swimmer, never to a really good or great swimmer. When I decided to become a good swimmer I would swim 1000 yards in a short course pool in just under 14 minutes. After 8 months of intensive swim focus that had improved to just under 12:30 (short course yards). That amortizes out to about 2 minutes, or just over, of that 3 minutes in savings I was looking for. But I often got all 3 of the minutes because I was just fast enough to draft the pack of swimmers that I wanted to exit with.

I'm hearing from a number of you that you've gotten yourself from 18 minutes for that 1000-yard pool swim to 16 or 15 minutes. Great! If you keep going you'll go from there to 14 minutes and if you keep going more you'll get to where I got to. Go further yet you'll be faster than I ever was. Many or most of you have at least the physical ability I had, so that's quite attainable. It's mostly the will to do it.

What are the limiters? Age. I'm 60. I find I can swim farther at a given speed now than faster at a shorter distance. A couple of months ago I swam a 3000 yard straight swim in just under 45 minutes, and that was a more comfortable effort than trying to swim fast for 500 or 1000 yards. I'm going to double down this year now that I've aged up. Aging up is great. We'll see!

Here's what I won't do: hypoxic sets. Anecdotally, a number of people I know my age who've been hard at it for 40 years, gas pedal to the floor, have heart arrhythmias. I had to deal with some atrial fibrillation 10 years ago. As a result I live like I should (sleep 8 hours), I don't drink, I don't worry (that's a trained skill), I don't go all-out ever, and I don't asphyxiate myself with hypoxic sets. I breathe every second arm stroke and sometimes immediately, left to right, or right to left. (See Gary Hall, Sr. on this, or forum threads on 2:3 breathing.) I don't think anything hypoxic done when in your 20s is good for you when you're in your 50s (and by hypoxic I mean holding your breath or restricting your breathing). My Ameo Powerbreather has 3 caps, and I use the easiest-to-breathe cap.

I'm still a horrible kicker. It's depressing. But if you're like me, this never slowed me down that much. It didn't keep me from being a serviceable triathlon swimmer.

Arm strength, and overall body strength? Not a big deal. Not for distance swimming. Yes, you can work on this and I'm going to specifically work on it this year. I've got a VASA Ergometer, and a little weight set, so, we'll see. I've always been a runner, a beanpole, the lack of upper arm strength is not an excuse.

Nor is morphology! "I'm a sinker." Boulderdash. Nobody is a sinker to the point where it's an excuse for not swimming fast. Look at Olympic swimmers, especially sprinters. See a lot of body fat there? If you sink it's a technical rather than a morphological problem.

That's it! That's all I got! You're out of the nest!

Guppy Challenge, Week-9, Workout-1

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, 10sec rest between each 50.
Style set:
=> 10x50yd: first 25 Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 25 regular freestyle.
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set:
GUPPIES => 6x200yd, on your interval
TARPONS => 8x200yd, on your interval
TUNAS => 10x200yd, on your interval
=> 200yd, easy freestyle

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500



Guppy Challenge, Week-9, Workout-2

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd
Style set:
=> 6x50yd: 2-beat kick first 25, natural kick pattern back.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Main set: repeat through the following sequence twice (or more if you're above Guppy):
GUPPIES => 1000yd, for time. See how much progress you’ve made since the last time you did this.
TARPONS => 1500yd for time.
TUNAS => 2000yd for time.
Warm-down:
=> 200yd, easy, alternate freestyle and stroke.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2100



Guppy Challenge, Week-9, Workout-3

Warm-up:
=> 2x50yd, 2x100yd, 2x150yd
Style set:
=> 3x100yd: Swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set: 50s party:
GUPPIES => 30x50yd
TARPONS => 8x200yd
TUNAS => 10x200yd
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 3100



Guppy Challenge, Week-9 Workout-4 Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd
Style set:
=> 3x100yd: Swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set:
GUPPIES => 12x100yd swim
TARPONS => 16x100yd swim
TUNAS => 20x100yd swim
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and “stroke”.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500



Guppy Challenge, Week-9, Workout-5 Double Extra Credit!

Warm-up:
=> 6x50yd freestyle, easy, slow, establish a leave interval that gives you 10sec rest between each 50.
Style set:
=> 3x100yd: Swimming with banded ankles, with or without snorkel. Or, 1-arm pulls, as previously described.
=> 3x100yd: first 50, Slow arm recovering with hesitation; second 50 regular freestyle
Kick set:
=> 6x50yd, with or without zoomers, but the last 2 should be without zoomers.
Main set:
GUPPIES => 8x150yd, on your interval (5sec to 10sec rest between each)
TARPONS => 10x150yd, on your interval
TUNAS => 12x150yd, on your interval
Warm-down:
=> 100yd, easy, alternate freestyle and stroke.

Total Guppy yards this workout: 2500



Total weekly GUPPY yardage

If you do the first 3 workouts: 8,7800yd
These plus the 4th workout: 11,200yd
All 5 workouts: 13,700yd