To Swim or Not to Swim

By Monica Brant – September 5, 2012
Photography by Brian Fitzsimmons

Okay, so I have probably spoken about my track workouts with each column of late but each session has had something to do with my renewed love affair with track meets and sprinting. This month’s featured swim workout doesn’t have much to do with track but I can definitely see where it would come in handy to improve my sprinting performance.

I have to back up to give you more details. I arrived home on a Monday night and was scheduled with swim instructor Maurice Culley for Tuesday morning. I’d been out of town for two weeks, hosting my F.E.M. Camp in Canada and competing at the USATF Master’s National meet in Chicago, so I’d come home fairly beat up from four days of sprinting, jumping, and throwing. I was dreading the swim session on Tuesday partly because I knew waking up Tuesday morning would be pretty hard and also because I have never gotten over my slight panic at having to “swim for a purpose.”

Let me explain. When I was between 9 and 11 years old, my mom took me to the local pool in Castroville, Texas, for the standard lessons every kid should take. We practically grew up in the water at Medina Lake and I was comfortable skiing and playing in the lake all day long but Mom felt I needed to “learn” to swim. Those days seemed like an eternity for me. Though I’m sure it was only an hour or two, I would much rather have been at the barn playing with my horses than treading water and learning to “freestyle” back and forth in the pool. Not only did I not like it, I was bad at it. I felt claustrophobic when I had to put my face in the water to swim and I never really got the hang of it. I always felt panicky; I’m sure the instructors let me pass just so they didn’t have to have me back in class again.

Fast-forward to Tuesday, August 7, 2012. I was trying to be brave, as I had committed myself to this feature and workout, so I put on my happy face and gave it my best effort. Thankfully Maurice understood what I was saying as I voiced my issues with “swimming for a purpose” and he didn’t make me feel bad; come to find out, I’m not the first client who has had these issues. We started the workout on the pool deck with some core work and a nifty device that simulates some of the movement the body performs while swimming.

After going through these exercises, it was time to get wet and face my fears!

Maurice gave me some fins and goggles to wear to avoid splashing my eyes (yes, I was wearing my contacts!). He hooked me up to a pulley so that the further away I got from the side, the harder it was to swim. It was challenging—I almost reached the other side of the pool! As we went through each part of the workout, he gently took pieces of equipment away until it was down to just me and my hands and feet (he let me keep goggles on, though!). I was still dealing with my panicky feeling every time I had to put my face down and turning for air was also challenging, but I kept working at it. As my breath and heart rate increased, I had a harder time keeping a steady pace so, every few strokes, I had to stop and gather my wits before continuing. Maurice was super patient and never made me feel bad for not being a graceful swimmer. He allowed me to face my fears on my own terms and speed and he modified the workout where I needed.

Maurice definitely knows swimming and he has invited me back so I can continue to build my confidence. If this workout was indeed something I could add in to my schedule, it would increase my endurance and lung capacity for sprinting without the severe banging on my body and joints. Maybe I can make time to go…it was definitely interesting, and I’m thankful AFM and Maurice kept harassing me about doing a swim workout (ha, ha)! And yes—I was worn out all over after the workout, so I allowed myself a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful location of Lost Creek Country Club at the leisure pool.


provided by Austin T3 – Team Triathlon Training with Maurice Culley |

Warm up: 

300 swim with a swimmer’s choice drill every 3rd 25

Upper Body with Cardio Work:

2 X 10 Push-Ups followed by a 200m swim at
75% effort
2 X 10 Press-Outs followed by a 200m build swim (from 70-80% effort)
2 X 10 Push-Ups followed by 200m swim at
75% effort
2 X 10 Press-Outs followed by 200m build swim
(from 70-80% effort)

Core Work:

1 minute Ab Kicks (broken in 20 second segments) Flutter/Over-Under/Apart kicks
1 X 300m (100m swim/100m kick/100m swim with a board)
1 minute Pike Crunch – full extension
1 X 300m (100m swim/100m kick/100 swim using fins and board)

Power Set:

3 X 10 Power Rack Set
1 X 500m Freestyle (easy pace)
2 x Power Rack Set
1 X 400m Freestyle (build pace)
1 X 10 Power Rack Set
1 X 200m Freestyle (fast pace)

Power Bands (with paddles and/or fins)

3 X 25m Freestyle Sprint with power bands SWIM
3 X 25m Fins Kick Sprint with power bands KICK
3 X 25m Freestyle Sprint with power bands SWIM

Cool Down:

200m EASY!!

Special thanks to Hair Goddess
( for continual great hair design.


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