Wednesday, October 10, 2012

By request: Swim info

Vickie asked me to write about my swimming class.  It is really a club, a local Masters Swim group. The "master" part has to do with age rather than ability. Some of the swimmers in our group are beginners with only a very basic proficiency.  Our club has three workouts, sort of the A group, the B group, and the C group (the beginners).  I swim with the B group in one of the faster lanes (2-4 swimmers per lane).  I could probably be one of the slower swimmers in the A group, but they are very competitive and I prefer the time the B group works out.  They swim at 4, we swim at 5, and the C group swims at 6.

We pay dues to be in the club to pay a coach and rent pool time.  We meet at a local high school.  Our coach puts the workouts up on the whiteboard.  They are written in a kind of code:

4 x 150 Free
8 x 75 Free Drill: 25 RA/25LA/25 Fist  :20
8 x 50 Free Build :30
Kick 4 x 150 choice, Build within each 150  :30
Pull 3 x 150 breathe 3/5/3 by 100 :20
150 Easy stroke

T: 2800

One length of the pool (from one end to the other) is 25 yards. So 4 x 150 Free is four sets of 6 lengths, freestyle.  Usually you rest for 10-20 seconds between sets.  Choice means you can choose a stroke (usually not freestyle).  Kick uses a kickboard, pull uses a float between your legs so that you don't kick, you just use your arms.  And so on.

We don't always get all the way through a workout -- our coach purposely puts more on the board than he thinks we will get through. At about 5 until the hour we go into our cooldown set, because we need to be out of the pool so the next group can start.  The "T" number is how many yards the whole workout would be.  

There are Masters groups all over the country, and you can find one through their website.  Ours has its signups in late summer, and I don't think we are taking any new people now.  Different groups probably have different rules.

I love the group because we have a great coach and very friendly people. It gets me in the water at least once a week. I have not been good about swimming on any day but Sunday so far.  I really am motivated by a group setting more than I am by a solo workout.

Let me know if you have any questions. This is the kind of geeky stuff that I don't write about because I don't think people will be interested.  


  1. I like the geeky stuff just as much as the deeper stuff, it's all got your voice and life behind it :)

  2. RA and LA mean right and left for breathing? Fist mean closed fist?

    My husband said they used to swim one of the sets with paddles for higher arm workout because of the resistance. So that made him wonder about a closed fist.

    My husband swam team for years and years (some of his brothers had High School times which stood for years, until swimming changed so much and the times improved greatly)

    1. Right arm (only), left arm, closed fist. We haven't used paddles or fins -- maybe because the pool doesn't have them. Some of the A group people have them.

      I grew up playing in my grandmother's pool, but I never swam seriously until 2000, when I started training for my first Tri. I was 30. all this lingo still feels new to me.

      We don't have a lot of former competitive swimmers in my group. They are mostly in the A group. All three groups have some triathletes in them, many of whom aren't great swimmers.

  3. I left link (to this post) for two other bloggers who swim. One is just trying to get back in the water. Another is building distance.

  4. Thanks for this. I'm very interested in how folks are swimming for a workout, I'm just trying to get into this and anything helps. Obviously I'm behind on my jargon. I've never even heard of just using your fists. Four people in a lane, I can't imagine.

    1. Four in a lane is not as bad as it sounds -- swimmers "circle" by staying to the right, just like on a street, and staggering starts. So the first swimmer starts down the right side of the lane, and the second swimmer starts 10 seconds or so later, and then the third. They use the black line as a divider and stay on their side.

      Fist drill is just like regular swimming but with closed fists.

      I didn't know any of this before I started with a masters group, so don't worry. Your coach or the other swimmers will help you.


"Count your calories, work out when you can, and try to be good to yourself. All the rest is bulls**t." -- Jillian Michaels at BlogHer '07