Regimens: A No-Drag Pool Session

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Outside magazine, August 1996

Regimens: A No-Drag Pool Session
By Laura Hilgers

If anyone could swim on strength alone, it would be Amy Van Dyken, America’s fastest female 50-meter freestyler. At six feet and 155 pounds, the 23-year-old Olympian is all power. “But even in the 50, you can’t go on just strength,” she says. “For a long time, I was trying to use my strength over finesse, paying no attention to technique.”

In honing her technique for the Atlanta Olympics, Van Dyken shaved two strokes off her 50. Here’s her favorite sprint workout, along with a distance routine for once you’ve mastered hip rotation, modified for fitness swimmers. After all, most of us don’t have time to squeeze in 65,000 meters a week.

700 yards. Repeat cycle based on ability
Advanced: 2,800 yards (four reps)
Intermediate: 2,100 yards (three reps)
Beginner: 1,400 yards (two reps)

Drill/Swim: 1 x 200 yards freestyle
Rest 30-45 seconds afterward.
Break 200 into 50-yard drill work/50-yard swim, where the drill could be alternating 25 left arm/25 right arm.
Swim smoothly, taking as few strokes as possible.

Swim: 1 x 150 yards freestyle
Rest 30-45 seconds afterward.
Increase effort each repetition.

Swim: 1 x 100 yards freestyle
Rest 90 seconds afterward.
Go at maximum effort-while maintaining proper technique.

Swim: 1 x 50 yards freestyle
Rest 45 seconds afterward.
Sprint as fast as possible, while maintaining your lowest stroke count.
Limit breathing to every seventh stroke.

Swim: 1 x 200 freestyle
Rest two or three minutes afterward.
Take it slow, mixing in a stroke other than freestyle.

Adjust yardage based on ability
Advanced (a): 3,000
Intermediate (i): 2,500
Beginner (b): 2,000

Swim: 1 x 200 yards freestyle
Rest one minute afterward.

Pull: (a) 1 x 500 / (i) 1 x 400 / (b) 1 x 300 yards freestyle
Rest one minute afterward.
Keep arm-stroke long and smooth.
Gradually build effort.

Swim: (a) 5 x 300 / (i) 4 x 300 / (b) 3 x 300 yards freestyle
Rest 20 seconds afterward.
Increase speed with each 300.
Last 300 should be 10-15 seconds faster than the first.

Kick (no board; fins optional): 2 x 200 yards flutter
Rest 30 seconds afterward.
Alternate 25 yards on stomach, left side, right side, back, then repeat.

Sprint: (a) 8 x 50 / (i) 6 x 50 / (b) 4 x 50 yards freestyle
Rest one minute afterward.
Maintain fastest possible average throughout set, allowing no more than
one or two seconds of variance between fastest and slowest 50.

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