A Retired Swimmer’s Workout

The general misconception in society is that written workouts are “not needed” for out-of-shape swimmers looking to stay flagrantly out-of-shape. However, a majority of us actually do need a written, well-executed practice. Many American former-swimmers, like me, exist out there and are in desperate need for a written workout with absolutely no workout value whatsoever; that will not raise the heart rate beyond what one experiences getting off the couch; something that will keep those pounds on, keep that blood pressure high.

This workout is for you.

Don’t warm up. Warming up “well” or “long” is so your early 20s. Instead, visualize what it would feel like to actually warm up. A 10 minute pool-stare should do the trick. Not only does this look intense, but will certainly impress those around you (lifeguards, obviously). If anyone asks, “What are you doing?” or “Are you using this lane?” simply (loudly) recite that story about the obscure basketball team who only visualized practice and beat the other basketball team who actually practiced for 30 days. “What?” they’ll say, while hopping in your lane. Grunt or groan loudly, “Ohhhhh you did not!” while giving them the Amy Van Dyken Death Stare until they awkwardly decide another lane would probably be better. This is your lane. This is your time. Throw in 4.5 arm circles, just to show casual swimmers and bored lifeguards that um yes, you’re very serious.

Sample Warm Up:
5 minutes goggle adjustment.
5 minutes “stretching.”
2 minutes arm circles.
Repeat if necessary until water looks warmer.

Actual Warm-Up
It’s important to play mind games with everyone else in your lane. You don’t want other lap swimmers to know your speed or practice strategy; mix it up. Swim no longer than 13 yards at a time. Throw in mid-pool leg stretches and flip turns to throw off anyone tagging behind you, studying your stroke, or drafting close behind. Your stroke should resemble “freestyle” but don’t give away anything.

Sample Actual Warm up:
175 yards freestyle w/ midpool flip turns.
25 yard lane-line pull on back.
3 strokes butterfly, then walk back to the wall slowly and purposefully (think: a Wes Anderson movie), so everyone knows the person doing the sophisticated butterfly stroke was you, what you look like, and how easy it was for you to do said 3 strokes with very little actual warm-up.

Kick Set
Fins. Underwater. Sprint 25s. This is your time to shine. This is your forte. Ask the lifeguard to time you. When she gets her watch, laugh. Then take out your own special neon-green Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles watch and hand it to her, “The only watch I use.” This gets the members of the desired sex to notice you for all the right reasons. Politely ask others if they mind if you do some “explosive Phelpsian 25s.” When they ask what “Phelpsian” means, point out some obscure flaw in their own stroke and quickly resume your practice.

Sample Kick Set:
100 kick with board, slow, goggles off.
4×25 kick with fins, sprint, underwater. Scream in faux agony after each, as if you’re “so way off” your best times.

Pull Set
You’re retired. No pull set.

Main Set
You’ve impressed about as many people as you can by this point. No reason to push things. Put in a snorkel and do some sculling. Extremely slow, “precise” swimming looks to others as if you know what you’re doing. Embrace this.

Sample Main Set:
2×75 scull with snorkel.  Or just sit on the side of the pool and drink water and act annoyed that everyone else is in your way. Do this for approx. 20 minutes or so, until you get “fed up.”

End of Practice Fireworks
By now people in the pool are like, “Who’s the dude doing the crazy non-workout?” They’re be taking photographs of you, or calling their friends and loved ones, telling them, “You better come to the recreational center ASAP. There’s a lap swimmer here who is doing AWESOME.” Don’t look around at the commoners. Just stay cool and composed. Hopefully you have some obscure swim cap on, preferably one from your college days. They’re wondering. Now it’s time to deliver. It’s ideal in this situation to use fins and paddles. People will be watching. Fins and paddles are like wearing a polyurethane suit — no one knows your slow secret.

Sample Firework Set:
50 butterfly, fins and paddles, as much waves as possible. Scream each time you breath, as if hell itself is unleashing its fury upon this small, pathetic 6 lane practice pool. Grunt when you come to the wall, and reenact the Phelps vs. Cavic celebratory finish.

Expect everyone within a 50-mile radius to be waiting for you to finish workout, begging for autographs, or a dinner invitation, and/or general worship. Don’t wait for them to ask you, though. You want to always leave them wanting more. Quickly warm-down 15 to 17 yards, elementary backstroke is apropos, then hop out. While you’re backstroking, look to the heavens above and count your blessings, for you were truly sent onto this planet to accomplish this non-workout workout, for everyone else to see.

Mike Gustafson is a freelance writer. Follow him on Twitter @MikeLGustafson.  

I hope you enjoy the above article by Mike Gustafson, an old teammate and friend from college as much as I do! Mike is about as awesome they get, and since college he’s accomplished some amazing things that involve swimming – things as diverse as creating a swim series called, “Chlorination” to writing fantastic articles for USA Swimming and Splash Magazine. He is also in the process of opening his own brick and mortar bookstore! His twitter feed is famous within the swim community. If you have a twitter account and swim, you need to follow him.

Categories: Guest Posts

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3 replies

  1. I can see John Belushi or Bill Murray or Will Ferrell doing this on one of the vintage SNLs.

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