competitive swimmers

Mar 3, 2020
1,326
899
113
how do you train for 6 or 7 hours a day? its a constant theme when they interview coaches and swimmers almost seems impossible to swim run or lift weights for that long everyday. has anyone here ever swam at a high level that can explain what a typical day entails.
 

Crayfish57

Junior
Sep 18, 2013
1,344
1,416
113
how do you train for 6 or 7 hours a day? its a constant theme when they interview coaches and swimmers almost seems impossible to swim run or lift weights for that long everyday. has anyone here ever swam at a high level that can explain what a typical day entails.
I am sure it differs drastically from street skateboarders
 
  • Like
Reactions: hookyIU1990

Noodle

Hall of Famer
Jun 19, 2001
26,245
5,792
113
6-7 hours a day would be at the extreme. Typically, it is 1.5 - 2 hours in the morning (e.g., 6:00 - 7:30 AM) and another 2 hours in the afternoon (e.g., 3:00 - 5:00 PM), 6 days a week (although often Saturday might be one workout of 2-3 hours). Then you also have 3-4 days a week of weight training (e.g., T-Th-Sat), at about an hour each time. Almost everyone takes Sundays off. So it's more like 4-5 hours a day, even for the truly elite swimmers, but that's year round, with maybe a week off in the Spring and two weeks off at the end of summer.

In high school, I often left the house at 4:30 AM to make it to our 5:10 AM practice, and got home around 6:00 PM.

Now, during breaks, especially Christmas break, we would sometimes have three workouts a day. The middle one would be around noon and last for 1-1.5 hours. That one usually was a lot of sprint work and/or stroke drills.

In college there were two semesters when I had practice from 6:00 - 7:30 AM, organic chemistry lab from 7:30 - 11:30 AM, lunch, back to a couple of lectures, then afternoon practice from 3:00 - 5:00, followed by weights from 5:30 - 6:30, then dinner, studying, an entire Dominoes pepperoni pizza at 10:30, then in bed around 11:30.
 
Mar 3, 2020
1,326
899
113
6-7 hours a day would be at the extreme. Typically, it is 1.5 - 2 hours in the morning (e.g., 6:00 - 7:30 AM) and another 2 hours in the afternoon (e.g., 3:00 - 5:00 PM), 6 days a week (although often Saturday might be one workout of 2-3 hours). Then you also have 3-4 days a week of weight training (e.g., T-Th-Sat), at about an hour each time. Almost everyone takes Sundays off. So it's more like 4-5 hours a day, even for the truly elite swimmers, but that's year round, with maybe a week off in the Spring and two weeks off at the end of summer.

In high school, I often left the house at 4:30 AM to make it to our 5:10 AM practice, and got home around 6:00 PM.

Now, during breaks, especially Christmas break, we would sometimes have three workouts a day. The middle one would be around noon and last for 1-1.5 hours. That one usually was a lot of sprint work and/or stroke drills.

In college there were two semesters when I had practice from 6:00 - 7:30 AM, organic chemistry lab from 7:30 - 11:30 AM, lunch, back to a couple of lectures, then afternoon practice from 3:00 - 5:00, followed by weights from 5:30 - 6:30, then dinner, studying, an entire Dominoes pepperoni pizza at 10:30, then in bed around 11:30.
thanks that sounds grueling , some of these Olympic swimmers swim in multiple disciplines , does that increase practice times? I assume you received a scholarship to put yourself through that, in hindsight was it worth it?
 

Noodle

Hall of Famer
Jun 19, 2001
26,245
5,792
113
thanks that sounds grueling , some of these Olympic swimmers swim in multiple disciplines , does that increase practice times? I assume you received a scholarship to put yourself through that, in hindsight was it worth it?
No, the fact that they swim more than one stroke or event does not affect their practice time. (I suppose it might add a little time if someone is working on backstroke starts and standing starts, but even than probably not.) True sprinters will sometimes get off a little "easier" than others. It usually makes little sense for them to be putting in the same yardage as a distance swimmer. However, these days sprinters will typically do a lot more HIIT training (high intensity interval training). So they're still in the water just as long, but not swimming nearly as many yards.

Yes, I received a scholarship. I wouldn't trade my swimming experience for anything (with or without the scholarship).
 

Aloha Hoosier

Hall of Famer
Aug 30, 2001
29,272
10,964
113
6-7 hours a day would be at the extreme. Typically, it is 1.5 - 2 hours in the morning (e.g., 6:00 - 7:30 AM) and another 2 hours in the afternoon (e.g., 3:00 - 5:00 PM), 6 days a week (although often Saturday might be one workout of 2-3 hours). Then you also have 3-4 days a week of weight training (e.g., T-Th-Sat), at about an hour each time. Almost everyone takes Sundays off. So it's more like 4-5 hours a day, even for the truly elite swimmers, but that's year round, with maybe a week off in the Spring and two weeks off at the end of summer.

In high school, I often left the house at 4:30 AM to make it to our 5:10 AM practice, and got home around 6:00 PM.

Now, during breaks, especially Christmas break, we would sometimes have three workouts a day. The middle one would be around noon and last for 1-1.5 hours. That one usually was a lot of sprint work and/or stroke drills.

In college there were two semesters when I had practice from 6:00 - 7:30 AM, organic chemistry lab from 7:30 - 11:30 AM, lunch, back to a couple of lectures, then afternoon practice from 3:00 - 5:00, followed by weights from 5:30 - 6:30, then dinner, studying, an entire Dominoes pepperoni pizza at 10:30, then in bed around 11:30.
I concur with this. Not sure how I don’t remember you in practice. ;)
 
  • Like
Reactions: kkott and Noodle

Aloha Hoosier

Hall of Famer
Aug 30, 2001
29,272
10,964
113
I concur with this. Not sure how I don’t remember you in practice. ;)
By the way, I wasn’t close to good enough to swim at IU. In fact, I didn’t swim my senior year so I could work and bank some money so I could afford to go to IU - barely.
 
Mar 3, 2020
1,326
899
113
No, the fact that they swim more than one stroke or event does not affect their practice time. (I suppose it might add a little time if someone is working on backstroke starts and standing starts, but even than probably not.) True sprinters will sometimes get off a little "easier" than others. It usually makes little sense for them to be putting in the same yardage as a distance swimmer. However, these days sprinters will typically do a lot more HIIT training (high intensity interval training). So they're still in the water just as long, but not swimming nearly as many yards.

Yes, I received a scholarship. I wouldn't trade my swimming experience for anything (with or without the scholarship).
thanks for your reply, some interesting stuff to say the least, I'm sure the discipline you learned from swimming has carried over to your post athletic endeavors. I still find it amazing the amount of time and dedication it takes to compete at that level, crazy at it seems the mental aspect of doing it may be tougher than the physical.
 

Spartans9312

All-Big Ten
Nov 11, 2004
3,152
2,304
113
thanks for your reply, some interesting stuff to say the least, I'm sure the discipline you learned from swimming has carried over to your post athletic endeavors. I still find it amazing the amount of time and dedication it takes to compete at that level, crazy at it seems the mental aspect of doing it may be tougher than the physical.
As 4 is to 1
 

TMFT

Sophomore
Nov 4, 2019
907
2,567
93
For people who make it to the elite Olympic level, nothing surprises me. I heard an interview with Kurt Angle once where he talked about his training regimen going into Atlanta. I don't recall where it was, but I guess he referenced it in his book too. Takes a special kind of crazy dedication to do that.

 

Noodle

Hall of Famer
Jun 19, 2001
26,245
5,792
113
As 4 is to 1
Indeed. As an example of the mental aspect of it, once a season in college our morning practice would be canceled with no advance notice, usually in the middle of winter. The way it would work is that you would get up at the regular time (~5:30) and trudge over to the pool. Seems like there was always a foot of snow on the ground. When you got to the pool there would be a little handwritten sign on the door saying "No practice this morning."

Now, you would think that any sane person would be pissed that they got out of bed at 5:30 in the morning for a "meeting" that that someone arbitrarily decided to cancel without telling you. Instead, it was one of the most euphoric feelings imaginable. You got to go back to bed! In fact, almost everyone would go back to bed for at least 3-4 more hours. Heck, I remember going back to bed until noon one year, missing all of my morning classes. But man, was that an incredible feeling. And practice that afternoon was always stellar, as we would do some set that allowed everyone to kick ass after their half-day taper. That one little break allowed us to recharge and to see that we were actually getting faster even though it didn't necessarily feel like it when your body was constantly broken down.

Was it all a mindgame? I suppose on some level. But it clearly served an important purpose. I would be shocked if that coach is not still doing the same thing.
 

Noodle

Hall of Famer
Jun 19, 2001
26,245
5,792
113
Indeed. As an example of the mental aspect of it, once a season in college our morning practice would be canceled with no advance notice, usually in the middle of winter. The way it would work is that you would get up at the regular time (~5:30) and trudge over to the pool. Seems like there was always a foot of snow on the ground. When you got to the pool there would be a little handwritten sign on the door saying "No practice this morning."

Now, you would think that any sane person would be pissed that they got out of bed at 5:30 in the morning for a "meeting" that that someone arbitrarily decided to cancel without telling you. Instead, it was one of the most euphoric feelings imaginable. You got to go back to bed! In fact, almost everyone would go back to bed for at least 3-4 more hours. Heck, I remember going back to bed until noon one year, missing all of my morning classes. But man, was that an incredible feeling. And practice that afternoon was always stellar, as we would do some set that allowed everyone to kick ass after their half-day taper. That one little break allowed us to recharge and to see that we were actually getting faster even though it didn't necessarily feel like it when your body was constantly broken down.

Was it all a mindgame? I suppose on some level. But it clearly served an important purpose. I would be shocked if that coach is not still doing the same thing.
I should also add that coaches in every sport (at least coaches that are any good) spend A LOT of time working on mental aspects - including not only mental toughness but also keeping their athletes' minds in a positive and productive place. (Some might call the latter mental health. But to me that phrase conveys something different that most coaches are not qualified to deal with - at best, they can only spot when there are concerns with an athlete's mental health.)

The very best coaches are usually the ones that not only know the X's and O's (or, in my case, technique and training methods), but, more importantly, also know how to keep their athletes minds in a positive and productive place. The cream of the crop are the ones that instill in their athletes unconditional trust and the unwavering desire to go to battle for their team (and their coach!).

Not sure if everyone has seen the Australian swimming coach in action the other night, but this guy gets it - more coaches need to be like this - show your damn emotion when one of your athletes does great. Best coaches I ever had were like this.

 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: mcmurtry66

mcmurtry66

Hall of Famer
Mar 14, 2019
10,808
8,603
113
I should also add that coaches in every sport (at least coaches that are any good) spend A LOT of time working on mental aspects - including not only mental toughness but also keeping their athletes' minds in a positive and productive place. (Some might call the latter mental health. But to me that phrase conveys something different that most coaches are not qualified to deal with - at best, they can only spot when there are concerns with an athlete's mental health.)

The very best coaches are usually the ones that not only know the X's and O's (or, in my case, technique and training methods), but, more importantly, also know how to keep their athletes minds in a positive and productive place. The cream of the crop are the ones that instill in their athletes unconditional trust and the unwavering desire to go to battle for their team.

Not sure if everyone has seen the Australian swimming coach in action the other night, but this guy gets it - more coaches need to be like this - show your damn emotion when one of your athletes does great. Best coaches I ever had were like this.


I should also add that coaches in every sport (at least coaches that are any good) spend A LOT of time working on mental aspects - including not only mental toughness but also keeping their athletes' minds in a positive and productive place. (Some might call the latter mental health. But to me that phrase conveys something different that most coaches are not qualified to deal with - at best, they can only spot when there are concerns with an athlete's mental health.)

The very best coaches are usually the ones that not only know the X's and O's (or, in my case, technique and training methods), but, more importantly, also know how to keep their athletes minds in a positive and productive place. The cream of the crop are the ones that instill in their athletes unconditional trust and the unwavering desire to go to battle for their team.

Not sure if everyone has seen the Australian swimming coach in action the other night, but this guy gets it - more coaches need to be like this - show your damn emotion when one of your athletes does great. Best coaches I ever had were like this.

Sooooooooooooooo great!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Noodle
Mar 3, 2020
1,326
899
113
Indeed. As an example of the mental aspect of it, once a season in college our morning practice would be canceled with no advance notice, usually in the middle of winter. The way it would work is that you would get up at the regular time (~5:30) and trudge over to the pool. Seems like there was always a foot of snow on the ground. When you got to the pool there would be a little handwritten sign on the door saying "No practice this morning."

Now, you would think that any sane person would be pissed that they got out of bed at 5:30 in the morning for a "meeting" that that someone arbitrarily decided to cancel without telling you. Instead, it was one of the most euphoric feelings imaginable. You got to go back to bed! In fact, almost everyone would go back to bed for at least 3-4 more hours. Heck, I remember going back to bed until noon one year, missing all of my morning classes. But man, was that an incredible feeling. And practice that afternoon was always stellar, as we would do some set that allowed everyone to kick ass after their half-day taper. That one little break allowed us to recharge and to see that we were actually getting faster even though it didn't necessarily feel like it when your body was constantly broken down.

Was it all a mindgame? I suppose on some level. But it clearly served an important purpose. I would be shocked if that coach is not still doing the same thing.
follow up question how much does one improve over a college career , I've seen in swimming a tenth of a second his huge. just curious what that sort of training does for actual performance. for example if you walked in your freshman year doing the 100 meter freestyle in say 50 seconds by the time you were a senior were you doing it in 45 40 35?
 

Noodle

Hall of Famer
Jun 19, 2001
26,245
5,792
113
follow up question how much does one improve over a college career , I've seen in swimming a tenth of a second his huge. just curious what that sort of training does for actual performance. for example if you walked in your freshman year doing the 100 meter freestyle in say 50 seconds by the time you were a senior were you doing it in 45 40 35?
That is almost impossible to answer, as it depends on so many factors. The biggest one is probably how fast someone is coming out of high school, and secondarily, how long they have been training at a serious level. For example, an old teammate is a high school coach in Indianapolis. One of his swimmers (a sprinter) did not really start swimming competitively until his freshman year of high school. His times dropped by a phenomenal amount over 4 years, and I would think he could drop quite a bit more in college.

On the other hand, someone entering college that is already swimming at an elite level might not drop as much over 4 years of collegiate swimming. But even that will depend on numerous factors, including their technique (can it be improved significantly), whether they grow at all, how much weight training they've done previously (e.g., can they make significant strength gains), and (obviously) how hard are they willing to work. Some won't improve all that much, while others will make extraordinary time drops.

In other words, it depends. :p

As for 100 yard freestyle (NCAA is short-course, in a 25-yard pool), the NCAA record is :39.9 by Caleb Dressel. (That time was unfathomable when I swam in the 1980s). His :17.83 in the 50 (2018) is from another world. His second lap was :09.1. When he was a freshman (2015), he won the 50 in 18.67. He was only 11th in the 100 at :42.6 (I doubt that was his fastest time, though). Still that gives you some idea of the high end of time drop over a college career.

Back in 1985 the NCAA record was :19.3. I think there were only 1 or 2 in the Big Ten that went under :20, and only 5 or 6 in all of NCAA that did. In other words, Dressel could have started in the water and still toasted the entire field by over a body length.

Don't ask me to explain how times have dropped so much in 40 years - I have no good answers. Then again, my times from the mid-1980s would have won almost every event at the 1960 NCAAs (and even beaten Mark Spitz as late as 1971). By the time the mid-1980s rolled around, my times were yawn-inspiring.

Here's Dressel in 2018:


So, for guy
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: mcmurtry66

JamieDimonsBalls

All-American
Gold Member
Jun 28, 2015
8,032
5,359
113
6-7 hours a day would be at the extreme. Typically, it is 1.5 - 2 hours in the morning (e.g., 6:00 - 7:30 AM) and another 2 hours in the afternoon (e.g., 3:00 - 5:00 PM), 6 days a week (although often Saturday might be one workout of 2-3 hours). Then you also have 3-4 days a week of weight training (e.g., T-Th-Sat), at about an hour each time. Almost everyone takes Sundays off. So it's more like 4-5 hours a day, even for the truly elite swimmers, but that's year round, with maybe a week off in the Spring and two weeks off at the end of summer.

In high school, I often left the house at 4:30 AM to make it to our 5:10 AM practice, and got home around 6:00 PM.

Now, during breaks, especially Christmas break, we would sometimes have three workouts a day. The middle one would be around noon and last for 1-1.5 hours. That one usually was a lot of sprint work and/or stroke drills.

In college there were two semesters when I had practice from 6:00 - 7:30 AM, organic chemistry lab from 7:30 - 11:30 AM, lunch, back to a couple of lectures, then afternoon practice from 3:00 - 5:00, followed by weights from 5:30 - 6:30, then dinner, studying, an entire Dominoes pepperoni pizza at 10:30, then in bed around 11:30.

We just hired a swimmer (college, not D1) and he was exhausted talking about how much he had to train and he wasn't even that good (his words, not mine). It's to the point where he has turned to other physical activities and is unwilling to swim even for leisure.

I hope that isn't the norm, but I'm growing more skeptical about putting my kids in swim team.
 
Mar 3, 2020
1,326
899
113
That is almost impossible to answer, as it depends on so many factors. The biggest one is probably how fast someone is coming out of high school, and secondarily, how long they have been training at a serious level. For example, an old teammate is a high school coach in Indianapolis. One of his swimmers (a sprinter) did not really start swimming competitively until his freshman year of high school. His times dropped by a phenomenal amount over 4 years, and I would think he could drop quite a bit more in college.

On the other hand, someone entering college that is already swimming at an elite level might not drop as much over 4 years of collegiate swimming. But even that will depend on numerous factors, including their technique (can it be improved significantly), whether they grow at all, how much weight training they've done previously (e.g., can they make significant strength gains), and (obviously) how hard are they willing to work. Some won't improve all that much, while others will make extraordinary time drops.

In other words, it depends. :p

As for 100 yard freestyle (NCAA is short-course, in a 25-yard pool), the NCAA record is :39.9 by Caleb Dressel. (That time was unfathomable when I swam in the 1980s). His :17.83 in the 50 (2018) is from another world. His second lap was :09.1. When he was a freshman (2015), he won the 50 in 18.67. He was only 11th in the 100 at :42.6 (I doubt that was his fastest time, though). Still that gives you some idea of the high end of time drop over a college career.

Back in 1985 the NCAA record was :19.3. I think there were only 1 or 2 in the Big Ten that went under :20, and only 5 or 6 in all of NCAA that did. In other words, Dressel could have started in the water and still toasted the entire field by over a body length.

Don't ask me to explain how times have dropped so much in 40 years - I have no good answers. Then again, my times from the mid-1980s would have won almost every event at the 1960 NCAAs (and even beaten Mark Spitz as late as 1971). By the time the mid-1980s rolled around, my times were yawn-inspiring.

Here's Dressel in 2018:



So, for guy
it is interesting when we will eventually reach the limit of how fast humans can swim run etc. the 100k dash in track seems to have gotten to that point. are P.E.Ds a problem in swimming?
 

Noodle

Hall of Famer
Jun 19, 2001
26,245
5,792
113
it is interesting when we will eventually reach the limit of how fast humans can swim run etc. the 100k dash in track seems to have gotten to that point. are P.E.Ds a problem in swimming?
No idea if PEDs are still a problem in swimming, but Ryan Murphy sure thinks they are: https://www.axios.com/ryan-murphy-doping-olympics-swimming-075d38f2-d399-47a7-a318-0d396ec8d6c7.html

Even what constitutes doping can be a bit of a gray area: https://www.vox.com/2018/7/24/17603358/ryan-lochte-doping-ban-olympics-instagram

And to come clean, I did take caffeine supplements back in the day - especially on road trips. I had my regimen of taking 360mg (I think?) of caffeine as I got off the bus (if we were swimming that night). Of course I believe that would still be well under the current NCAA limit (and back then there was no limit). Did it help me? Probably not. But I always felt rather tired and sleepy after a bus trip.