The Technique Tweak

Mountain View Masters Swim and Social Club

Mar 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

An MVM coach directs a cool evening workout.

WHEN AMATEUR TRIATHLETE Laura Schuster wanted to get serious about her training, her first target was her dismal time in the swimming leg. After countless frustrating hours alone in the pool, she decided to join the Mountain View Masters, a Bay Area swim club with 250 members and a paid coaching staff of seven. Jumping in a pool with a legion of Speedo-clad swimmers analyzing her technique was daunting at first, but after just one day Schuster had a breakthrough. What happened? Like many swimmers, she had problems stemming not from weak endurance, but from bad form. An MVM coach pointed out her short stroke and poor hip rotation—and almost immediately she became more efficient. "Personally, I'm a faster swimmer now because of the club," said Schuster, whose 100-yard splits have dropped 10 seconds and who has gone from slowpoke to club president. "And now I love having other people telling me what I'm doing wrong."

The MVM offers a different workout six mornings a week, but the most rigorous group sessions are head coach Alan Liu's Monday-morning anaerobic-threshold sets—fast-paced intervals broken up by short rest periods. Try it with a few friends:
1)Warm up at a slow pace for 10 minutes, followed by another 15 minutes focused solely on technique (ideally a club coach can monitor your strokes).
2) Now the real work starts. With each swimmer in his own lane, sound the starting gun and swim a fast-paced (i.e. 90 percent of your maximum effort) 100 yards followed by five seconds of rest.
3) Repeat the sprints with five- to ten-second rests for 30 minutes. Record your total distance; the goal each week is to beat the previous week's best distance. Fast swimmers should be able to complete about 2,500 yards; slower swimmers about 1,500.
Contact: (408) 735-1326;

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