High Intensity Training

By Garrett Weber-Gale//Olympian

Every training group has its unique idiosyncrasies.

I’ve been on teams that get really fired up and are very vocal during practice, teams that will band together as thick as thieves, and others that push the pace on basically everything they’re given.

Sometimes these components, along with others, get all mixed into one, and create an environment that truly harbors intensity, extremely fast swimming, and a lot of fun. While this may sound great in theory, and it generally is, this type of training group can be the cause of a great deal of physical pain.

In the training group here at Texas, one of our idiosyncrasies is that when one swimmer starts going fast, every swimmer is forced to go fast. There is no stopping the pain until the end of the set. This environment can be a recipe for some major hurt.

On a recent workout, Coach Eddie Reese gave us a set that at first thought, didn’t sound too hard. As most swimmers can attest, our minds sometimes misjudge the intensity and/or potential difficulty of certain sets. There are times when a set will sound easy, and half way through working it, I’m questioning how it ever became so hard.

The set:

  • 400 free on 5:00
  • 200 stroke on 3:00
  • 100 free on 2:00 
  • 400 stroke on 6:00 
  • 200 free on 3:00
  • 100 stroke on 2:00

At the level we train at here at the University of Texas, this set could technically be completed with ease. The intervals are not very fast for the normal training we do. (Don’t be discouraged if these intervals may be too fast for you…we are probably much older and more experienced than many of you. Keep working hard and you will get there.) However, when we get more moderate intervals, like this set, we’re expected to really push the pace.

Eddie Reese’s idea behind this set is to really have our muscles be pushed at a high intensity, while still getting ample rest. Also, switching to different strokes helps us work all the muscles in our body.

The group started off at a pretty fast speed. Sometimes it takes the first rep to really get into your grove, but before long we were really racing fast.

On the first 400, most of us were in the 3:50-4:00 range. As the set wore on, we went faster and faster. My backstroke was feeling particularly good and I was 3:56 on the 400 back, a 1:54 on the 200 back and a :53 on the 100 back. I love doing different strokes because it allows me to work on something other than just freestyle.

Work with your coach to figure out intervals that will make sense for you. You should tweak the intervals so that you are getting at least a minute rest on every effort. Don’t be afraid to push yourself from the beginning. Find some teammates to race and have fun!

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