September is the month of new schedules, new habits, new routines. It is the perfect time to adopt the habits of the perfect fitness swimmers.
- First and foremost, you need to set up your weekly swimming schedule. It needs to be a minimum of three times a week. Once this is set and well-known by your family and friends, it will be so much easier to follow. Everybody will know they cannot schedule anything with you during those times. Unless there is an emergency, this is your time and you will stick with it.
- Secondly, you need to assess your current fitness level. This is the only way you will be able to recognize your improvements and celebrate them. At the beginning of the year, I recommended 3 tests. A distance test–how far can you go in 30 and/or 60 minutes. A pace set test such as 12 x 100 (or 50) at a set interval (about 10 sec over the time of your 1st 100 or 50), can you hold that interval for 12 and is it easy? A sprint and stroke test–how fast can you go in a 100, 50 or 25 of each stroke you currently can swim. If you did them, great. It is time to do them again and see your improvement! If not, it is a good time to start.
- Third, you need to work all your energy levels in your workouts. Most of the fitness swimmers have only one speed and mostly work on their endurance. How far can I swim? They are not interested in their time, as their primary goal is not competition. They do not realize that swimming at a faster tempo brings a lot of health benefits and will cut the time needed to get fit. It will challenge their body, increase their lung capacity, and improve their speed and stamina. Sets where you will swim from slow to fast should be challenging if done correctly. Most of the fitness swimmers hate to swim slowly but their body is never ready to swim fast enough. Do incorporate some sprints workouts from time to time.
- Fourth, you need to work on your technique. A lot of fitness swimmers do not like this because it involves swimming slowly, thinking and learning something new. They are in the pool to swim their usual number of laps and be done with it. Technique and/or learning a new stroke is very challenging, but so rewarding. Often it will prevent you for being injured. It will help you to be so much more efficient in the water and therefore so much faster with less effort. If you are willing to learn a new stroke, including butterfly, it will open the possibilities and variety during workouts, making them so much less boring!!!
- Fifth, you should keep working on your fitness and health out of the pool. It is not because you had a great workout, that you can eat anything you want. Make healthy choices and think recovery. You need to drink more water, cut out processed, greasy and sugary foods and replace them with higher fiber foods such as fruit and vegetables. (In the April, Aqua Master, I recommended the “spring cleaning” fitness challenge. It might be a good time to do it again before the holidays come around).
- Sixth, lift something heavy! Strength training slows down the loss of muscle mass. Work on your flexibility and core thru some easy dryland exercises such as plank, holding the streamline positions, etc. Get a good night sleep every night!
- Last but not least, try to attend one of the clinics Oregon Masters swimming will hold in the Fall. Currently two clinics, “Stroke clinic for fitness swimmers”, are scheduled, one in Corvallis on Sunday, October 15th, and one in Eugene on Sunday, October 22.
See you there, and keep swimming.