Swimming the English Channel is going to take one-part perseverance, one-part good weather, and two-parts training. To train for our event we went to the best in the business, Mike Schnur. He is the head coach of the University of Pennsylvania Men’s and Women’s Swimming Team.
We figured he would know a thing or two about swimming in general. It also happens he had some specific advice for distance swimming training techniques. We came away from the conversation with so much good advice that we thought we would share it with all of you.
Tips from Mike:
- Keep heart rate below 130 bpm for as long as possible. Endurance training is all about conserving energy. See how long you can keep heart rates below 130, start at 1000 meters, then 2500 meters, then 3000 meters. Keep working up until recovery time is instantaneous.
- Distance swimmers avoid kicking hard. The distance swimming kick cadence is half the racers kick cadence.
- Train at least 5 days per week.
- If you try to just swim for 2 hours straight you’ll die of boredom. It’ll be like banging your head against the wall. Swimming is all about mixing it up. Mix it up with the pull buoy, kickboard. Do sets of 200, 400, or whatever. Mix up strokes and set length. Keep it fresh.
- Keep rest between sets below 30 seconds, if you need more rest then you are already working too hard and your heart rate is too fast for ideal endurance training
- Find outdoor swims to train. He recommended Sunkist in Atlantic City to us or swims during the winter in Florida (although this requires travel for us).
- Pools should be kept between 78 and 83. He has his pool hot because “his boys are fat”. The hotter the water the more you sweat. This struck me, since I don’t feel myself sweating when I swim, but I guess we all do. Makes me think the water is probably pretty close, but I guess there is no sense dwelling on this since I’m going to swim anyway.
- Distance swimmers typically do 7000 meters daily and 12000 on a double day. 6-7 days per week.
Mike starts and ends every discussion with us by saying “you guys are nuts”. He’s a totally good guy.