Win­ter Work­outs

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - DEPARTMENTS - BY CLINT LIEN

Bor­ing train­ing makes good ath­letes.” That was the mantra of my old coach and, for the most part, I have found it to be true. But I’ve also found that a lit­tle spice, now and then, also helps make good ath­letes. Fri­days at a Mer­cury Ris­ing Swim are “Fun Fri­days!” The thing with “fun” swim sets is they in­evitably en­cour­age some in­tense ef­forts. Here are some of the ses­sions you might find on a Fri­day down at the Crys­tal pool.

Sui­cide 50s

This “to fail­ure” set is a sta­ple of any fun swim pro­gram. There are sev­eral ways to ex­e­cute this ses­sion, but one of the most ef­fec­tive ways is as fol­lows:

Swim­mers start on the 00 and then 10 sec­onds apart. They must fin­ish first the 50 by the time the clock is back to the 00 (or their start time). For the next 50 they leave on the 01, 11, 21, etc. BUT they must make it back by their start time. Then they leave on the 02 and al­ways they must to the wall by the 00. Once they fail to fin­ish the 50 by the time the clock re­turns to the orig­i­nal leave time they’re out. In­evitably you end up with al­most the en­tire group of swim­mers cheer­ing like mad for one or two re­main­ing swim­mers to make just one more.

This set is tough for swim­mers who can’t swim a 50 in less than 50 sec­onds. The math gets tough. For those swim­mers, I might give them a set that looks like this:

4 x 50 on a leave time of 75 sec­onds, 4 x 50 on a leave time of 70 sec­onds, 4 x 50 on a leave time of 65 sec­onds, etc. They con­tinue to de­scend the times un­til they can’t make the time.

Any “to fail­ure” set is al­ways fun.


I usu­ally save Swimopoly as a Christ­mas ses­sion. It’s a once or twice a year deal, be­cause it’s a bit of work for the coach:

I draw a gi­ant square – com­prised of 25 smaller squares (like a chess board) – on a white board. In­side each of the squares is a 200- to 400-me­tre set. Some ex­am­ples in­clude: 4 x 100 pro­gres­sive (in­crease the ef­fort) with 15 sec­onds rest, 4 x 50 kick with 10 sec­onds rest, or 200 fly or a 400 IM (typ­i­cally chal­leng­ing ones for triath­letes). There’s also a few “go back 3 squares” (which lands you on the 400 IM).

Each lane gets a dice to roll. The ses­sion starts with a roll of the dice, and the coach counts the num­ber of squares from the start, marks the space and then the lane has to do the set. Once they fin­ish, they roll again. The first lane to get to the end of the 25 squares wins.

I’ve seen coaches who have writ­ten dif­fer­ent sets on Pop­si­cle sticks then start with each lane draw­ing a stick. They roll a dice af­ter com­plet­ing the set on the stick, which ad­vances their “piece.” The board is left blank and only used to mark progress. This makes it eas­ier for the coach if they want to do this ses­sion with any kind of fre­quency.

Ei­ther way, the en­ergy gets pretty amped up for this one.

The Up­side-down Pyra­mid

Swim­ming solo? The Up­side­down Pyra­mid is a “chal­lenge” set, as op­posed to a “to fail­ure” set. Here’s how it looks: 15 x 200 (or 100) bro­ken down as fol­lows: 5 x 200 on a leave time that gives you about 20 sec­onds rest. (So, if you’re swim­ming your 200s at around 3:30 at a mod­er­ate ef­fort, then you would do the first 5 x 200 on a leave time of 3:50.) Then you do: 4 x 200 on 3:45, 3 x 200 on 3:40, 2 x 200 on 3:35, 200 on 3:30. There are no breaks be­tween sets. Ad­just ac­cord­ingly for 100s. By the time you hit those last few 200s (or 100s), you should be test­ing your lim­its, which is al­ways fun.

Re­lays and Rac­ing

Coaches should do more of this in train­ing, be­cause swim­mers al­ways leave ev­ery­thing in the pool. It’s great team build­ing – there’s noth­ing like hav­ing the pres­sure of lane mates look­ing for the win to get that last bit of en­ergy out of a swimmer. To min­i­mize the stand­ing around, I usu­ally keep the dis­tances to 50s and 25s, but do­ing a 3 or 4 x 100 re­lay is a nice way to trick swim­mers into setting 100 PBs. Mix it up with kick or med­ley and nov­elty ideas, like car­ry­ing two golf balls to be used as a ba­ton.

These swims cre­ate pos­i­tive en­ergy within your club and they also en­cour­age high-level swim­ming. The dis­tance of the work­out usu­ally takes a hit, but the ef­forts are cer­tainly in­ten­si­fied. And, above all, they’re fun.

If you have a fun swim work­out, I would love to hear about it. Reach out to me at [email protected]­curyris­ing­

Clint Lien is the head coach of Vic­to­ria’s Mer­cury Ris­ing Triathlon, mer­curyris­ing­

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$35 Those who are fans of an in­ner-eye fit (as many com­pet­i­tive swim­mers are) will love the Speed Socket 2.0, which of­fers the socket fit com­bined with in­creased pe­riph­eral vi­sion – al­ways a plus for open wa­ter swims. The sleek, low pro­file makes this a speedy gog­gle that will serve you well in the pool, or while train­ing or rac­ing in open wa­ter, too. The hy­poal­ler­genic com­fort seals keep the gog­gles firmly and com­fort­ably on your face, while the anti-fog lens of­fers UV pro­tec­tion, too, so you’ll re­main com­fort­able as the sun comes up on race morn­ing.

Swans SR81 $55–$65 (REG­U­LAR, MIR­ROR OR MIT)

The new SR81 gog­gles are slightly big­ger than other Swans mod­els, mak­ing them a great op­tion for triath­letes look­ing for a gog­gle that eas­ily moves from pool to open wa­ter. The SR81 is ex­tremely com­fort­able, but the big fea­ture that sep­a­rates these gog­gles from oth­ers is the vi­sion. The anti-fog prop­er­ties are ex­cel­lent and the MIT tech­nol­ogy, which sand­wiches the mir­ror coat­ing be­tween two lenses, en­sures you won’t have to deal with scratches to mar your vi­sion come race day. De­spite the larger size, the SR81 re­mains very sleek, so you’ll get the best of all worlds with these gog­gles – com­fort, great vi­sion and speed.

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$TBD Yeah, we know we said go and try on all the dif­fer­ent gog­gles in a store to en­sure you’ll get the right fit. You should do that, for sure, but if there’s a gog­gle that’s more than likely go­ing to work, it’ll be this new model from Blue­sev­enty. The Flow has a very se­cure TPR gas­ket that will com­fort­ably stay on your face with­out any leak­ing. The poly­car­bon­ate an­ti­s­cratch and anti-fog lenses are durable and pro­vide ex­cel­lent vi­sion, while the flex­i­ble frame ma­te­rial and nose­piece fits al­most ev­ery face. It’s re­ally hard to go wrong with these gog­gles that sim­ply get things done.—KM

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