DNOWS Header

Image Map

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Training Is Endless

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Scott "The Yesdoc" Richards, M.D., who achieved the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, trains in an Endless Pool. Daily News of Open Water Swimming inquired about the what, when, why and how:

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Why do you train in the Endless Pools Swimming Machine when you live in San Diego, a beautiful city that is abundant with open water swimmers and ocean shorelines?

Dr. Richards: I train in an Endless Pool due to my personal and professional commitments coupled with the lack of 50 meter pools in the north county of San Diego. I am a single parent and physician (outpatient with a 40 hour work week) and couldn't make the time to drive daily to a pool, do a workout with masters, as I had responsibilities and this would have been exhausting for my lifestyle and take away from my family.

I love to go to La Jolla Cove on the weekends, but for weekday training, the Endless Pool was perfect. I did a test swim in one in about 2003 and was impressed. Subsequently, I researched the different types and found a contractor who had experience with them and by 2004 I took the "plunge" (pardon the pun), and invested the money and it has been worth it 100 times over.

With being a single parent, it gave to me the ability to get up at 4:00 - 4:15 am, stretch and then begin a workout by 5 am, allowed me to be out by 7:00 - 7:30 am with 5 miles done and still get breakfast for the kid's and get them to school. The ability to train on a moment's notice is a great feature. And the current is adjustable and allowed me to simulate open water much better than an 80˚F (26.6˚C) degree pool as I keep the temperature in the winter at 62-62˚F (16-17˚C)and in the summer no warmer than the mid 70's˚F (23˚C). I'd also swim in the evening while the kids were doing homework and could add an extra 4-5 km without too much interference for my family.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Is it tough to train alone in the Endless Pool?
Dr. Richards: One has to be personally motivated as I trained with no coach. The Endless Pool necessitates having a very self-motivated person. I can't stress this enough. I just love to swim and with the use of personal workouts that I began to develop, I just really had fun. I also have the 45˚ angle mirror on the front bottom so I would constantly see where I was entering my stroke and my underwater technique.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Do you have any special methodologies when training in the Endless Pool?

Dr. Richards: The use of a pace clock, coupled with the adjustable current, is really good for understanding speeds and stroke-per-minute counts that are used in marathon swims. I began to feel what 62˚F (16-17˚C), 66˚F (18.8˚C), 70˚F (21˚C) and such would feel like. I began to know what RPMs were, what stroke counts were, and as I got more efficient and stronger, I used less strokes at the same speed. John York of the Catalina Channel Swimming Federation said I had one of the most consistent stroke counts for the entire Catalina Channel swim he had seen in years. I really attribute that to training in the Endless Pool.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your swimming background?

Dr. Richards: I had been a competitive swimmer from ages 8-22 and then masters swimmer from ages 26-38, but I was really tired of the heavy interpersonal competitiveness that was happening at masters swimming, especially when triathletes would swim and try to beat the old fat guys. The you-against-the-elements was what drew me into the marathon swims. At my age (now 49) the goal is to get to the other side. I know that if I had attempted the swims in my 20s, I would have put so much more pressure to have world-class times.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Hhow many hours you trained in the Endless Pool?

Dr. Richards: When I was in training for the marathon swims, I had a Monday-Wednesday-Thursday-Friday schedule for the Endless Pool and at least one day on the weekend would be in the ocean at least 2-3 times a month. If I didn't make the ocean, I would use the Endless Pool for long swims on Saturday with Sunday being a shorter workout.

Note that the Endless Pool automatically shuts off after 31 minutes and 45 seconds. Therefore, I did sets based on the 30-31 minute length with no more than 1-2 minutes of rest in between. Each morning would start with a warm up that was 31 minutes and 30 seconds long (15:45 at an easy pace, 10:30 on a faster pace and 5:15 at "ocean speed"). Based on what I learned my speed was, this would be about 2,300 yards as I can hold 1:15-1:20 for 100 yards on a regular basis. 1:20 pace for 30 minutes is 2,250 yards. So my yardage is approximate during the workouts between 5-7:30 am. On Monday, I would front load the week with at leat 14,000 yards and the most I ever did on a Monday was a 21,000 yard day over three separate workouts.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What was a typical training week?

Dr. Richards: A typical week in the Endless Pool would be as follows:

Monday between 5:00-7:15 am
31:30 Warm up
31:30 Swim at pretty fast pace
3 x 10 minutes descend on 10:30
31:30 swim pace (5-4-3-2-1 set). The 5-4-3-2-1 set is 5 minutes easy, 10 seconds rest, then 4 minutes faster, 10 seconds rest, 3 minutes faster, etc. till the 1-minute swim is all out. I did this to simulate the end of the Channel requiring that extra gear to break through the tide.
10' swim down

Wednesday between 8:30-9:45 am
31:30 warm up
31:30 pad/pull - 10 x 3' on 3:15 pace
4 x 7:30 on 8' pull
10 x 2:30 swim on 3 minutes, descending by 2's with the last 2 at max heart rate
3' easy

Thursday between 5:00-6:50 am
31:30 warm up
31:30 with Zoomers
10 x 3 on 3:10 desc
5-4-3-2-1 set
5' easy swim down

Friday between 5:00-7:00 am
31:30 warm up
6 x 5' on 5:15 pull
5-4-3-2-1 set
31:30 pace swim
1' easy

Saturday/Sunday (if not in the ocean)
31:30 warm up
2 x 15' pull on 15:30 - 2nd faster pace than first
3 x 10' swim with Zoomers on 10:20 descending each with faster speed on pool 5-4-3-2-1 set

Monday afternoon
15' easy
10 x 6' swim descend on 6:15
5-4-3-2-1 set
5' swim down

I usually averaged 14-18 km on Monday. Occasionally, I'd add an extra swim on Thursday evening that would be more of a "sprint" or backstroke to give the arms a different feel. This would add an extra 3-4 km per week.

Weekday average was about 35-40 km yards. Then on Saturday, I would go to La Jolla Cove and swim at least 2-3 hours which would be about 10-12 km and on Sunday an easy endless swim of 3-4 km.

The total weekly yardage averaged 45,000-60,000 and I would vary this depending on how my shoulders would feel.

I also use my Swimman MP3 player when I train so I can listen to music, books and even medical journals when I train. This allows my training to be another of my multi-tasking times. I have taken education days and spent 6 hours in La Jolla listen to medical lectures and get home and send in the test answers. It's been neat to learn and train at the same time.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What were your times and dates for your Manhattan Island, the English Channel and Catalina Channel swims?

Dr. Richards: Manhattan was in June 2006 in a time of 8 hours 8 minutes. Catalina was in September 2006 in a time of 10 hours 39 minutes. The English Channel was in 2007; the full story is on my blog.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What is your medical specialty? What do your patients think of your open water swimming accomplishments?

Dr. Richards: I am a board certified psychiatrist with also being clinical/research fellowship trained in mood and Eating Disorders (anorexia/bulimia). Since an article about me in 2007, a number of patient's were amazed and my family has put up my England map course on my wall. I was initially uncomfortable with this, but it has been a big positive as some will say, "You walk the talk of self control and hard work."

Copyright © 2011 by World Open Water Swimming Association

1 comment:

Thank you very much for your interest in the world of open water swimming.

The Staff of the World Open Water Swimming Association

A Thank You Gift from WOWSA

WOWSA is celebrating the
1-Year Anniversary of the monthly Open Water Swimming Magazine
by giving you a free copy of the anniversary issue.

Open Water Swimming Magazine Anniversary Issue
File Size: 13MB


Download the file to your computer, and then right-click to extract the magazine which is inside the zip folder. The magazine is in PDF format.

CLICK HERE to download your free copy now.

Open Water Swimming Magazine

Open Water Swimming Magazine

The Open Water Swimming Magazine is the monthly magazine entirely focused on open water swimming heroes and heroines of every age, ability, and background. Published by the World Open Water Swimming Association, the Open Water Swimming Magazine is a free benefit to WOWSA members.

WOWSA Member Benefits include 12 issues of the Open Water Swimming Magazine, the annual 276-page Open Water Swimming Almanac, a free listing in Sponsor My Swim, outstanding product discounts from FINIS, an entry in Openwaterpedia and more...

The Other Shore

The Other Shore follows world record holder and legendary swimmer Diana Nyad as she comes out of a thirty-year retirement to re-attempt an elusive dream: swimming 103 miles non-stop from Cuba to Florida without the use of a shark cage. Her past and present collide in her obsession with a feat that nobody has ever accomplished. At the edge of The Devil’s Triangle, tropical storms, sharks, venomous jellyfish, and one of the strongest ocean currents in the world, all prove to be life-threatening realities. Timothy Wheeler’s documentary brings Diana Nyad’s extraordinary adventure to life as Diana sets out to prove that will and determination are all you need to make the unimaginable possible.

2014 Open Water Swimming Almanac

An Almanac for Open Water Swimming

An almanac is essentially a body of knowledge which is so complete that it enables people in different fields to make predictions about the future of their respective industries.

This, for example, was the purpose of the traditional farmers almanacs. It enabled farmers to determine as accurately as possible which crops to plant for the greatest harvests in a given year.

But the farmers almanac was just one example among many.
There are, of course, many different kinds of almanacs.

In fact, there is even one for open water swimming...

Preview the Open Water Swimming Almanac:

The trends are very clear.
The tide is rising for open water swimming.


Open Water Swimming Event Sanctioning

World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation

Open Water Race Calendar

Coaches Education Program