Grinding It Out

Garrett Weber-Gale prepares to swim at 2011 Nationals.By Garrett Weber-Gale//Olympian

No matter where you swim, no matter who your coach is, there are always going to be times of the season that are particularly grinding.


The months of October and November at the University of Texas under coaches Eddie Reese and Kris Kubik are especially rough. We’re all pushing our bodies extremely hard, six days a week, in an effort to gain a level of fitness we’ve never reached before.


Reaching new heights is not an easy road, but requires a lot of discipline and grit. As former Texas swimmer and U.S. Olympian Nate Dusing used to say, “The longest road taken is the shortest road home.” Nate’s mantra is exactly what we’re working towards.


Eddie Reese’s philosophy is that we must work our muscles and nervous systems to a point where they are forced to adapt to heavy strain. When we finally allow our body to rest, it is stronger and faster than ever before.


Currently, I’m in my eighth training season at the University of Texas. I can attest with great confidence that this mode of training does give great results. The important thing is to be consistent and dedicated every day in pursuing our goals.


Recently we did a set that really racked both our major muscle groups and our nervous system at the same time:


Five 300s on 4:00

  • 100 swim, 100 kick, 100 swim.
  • Descend 1 to 3. #4 is moderate. #5 is all out. I got down to 2:59 on the last 300 and was hurting.
  • Four 50’s easy on 1:00.

Five 200’s on 2:50

  • 50 swim, 100 kick, 50 swim.
  • Descend 1 to 3. #4 is moderate. #5 is all out. For some reason I thought my times on the 200 would be relatively faster than the 300’s but I was wrong. My fastest 200 was 2:04.

Eddie’s Insight: Combining hard swimming and kicking back-to-back allows us to tap into both muscle groups at the same time. This more heavily affects our nervous system and causes us to learn to adapt to the training. In addition, kicking in between swimming allows us to try and elevate our heart rates even higher, causing the swim at the end to be more strenuous.

There’s no question we all got a good workout from that set. Transitioning from hard kick to hard swim can be rough, and takes a bit of practice. I’d be interested to see how the set felt if we did all the kick at the beginning or end, instead of in the middle? Maybe the times would be similar? Maybe they would be much different?
Definitely talk to your coach about trying this workout. If you’re working it right you should start to get a good burn in your stomach and legs. Don’t be afraid to push through the pain. It’ll be over before you know it. Adjusting the intervals to what makes sense for you is perfectly all right. The important part is that you’re working hard and making your bodies stress a bit.

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