Swimming races can last from less than a minute to more than five. When swimmers come to the wall at the end of a race, their bodies are often burning, because they are working with a short oxygen supply.
When we condition, we sometimes incorporate snorkels to work our athletes’ lungs and breathing techniques during dryland training. The snorkels simulate what it’s like in the water by forcing athletes to take in more air and expand their lungs. Snorkels also get their bodies used to working on a long-held controlled breath, rather than the normal huffing and puffing that often takes place during conditioning drills.
With our in-season training, we progress into our conditioning by using 12 to 20 minutes of anaerobic conditioning. To build up their lung capacity, we’ll use a variety of sprints, box jumps, stadium stairs or jumping rope.
I find that most young athletes who come into Texas A&M’s program aren’t used to conditioning outside the pool. Some have worked only in the pool and have never done any running or dry-land training. We train on dry land two days a week during the season and four days in the off-season. This really works on strengthening the body and conditioning our athletes to compete at their top levels.
Paul Sealey is the assistant strength and conditioning coach for swimming and diving at Texas A&M University.