The Fishburn Set

The Fishburn Set

I love Chloe Sutton’s Twitter feed.  She occasionally posts a set she just did in practice, and they’re invariably ridiculous. Chloe’s a professional swimmer, but she’s also, you know, a woman – and frankly there are only a small handful of men in the country who can keep up with her in practice.

Anyway, yesterday Chloe did a set that I recognized from my youth. It’s called the Fishburn Set, and it goes like this:

  • 5×100
  • 4×200
  • 3×300
  • 2×400
  • 1×500

That’s only 3,500 yards – not an unfathomable distance, especially for an elite distance swimmer. The key to the Fishburn Set is the intervals. For the first round of 5×100, the interval should be one that you can make (not too hard, not too easy). Then, in the subsequent rounds, your interval increases by a fixed amount. That amount must be less than the first interval.

So, let’s say you do the 5×100’s on 1:20, and your “increase” is 1:10. That would produce the following set:

  • 5×100 @ 1:20 (1:20 per 100)
  • 4×200 @ 2:30 (1:15 per 100)
  • 3×300 @ 3:40 (1:13.3 per 100)
  • 2×400 @ 4:50 (1:12.5 per 100)
  • 1×500 @ 6:00 (1:12 per 100)

It’s supposed to be a very challenging set, and if you design your intervals correctly, the interval on the final 500 should be perhaps just a bit slower than you could do a single 500 AFAP (as fast as possible) in practice.…

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Marathon swimming, boredom, and toys

Marathon swimming, boredom, and toys

Lake Michigan is cold right now. Too cold to swim in. It hit rock bottom (33F) sometime mid-December, and there it has stayed. What’s a marathon swimmer not living in SoCal or SoFlo to do?

The typical answer is: Long Course. And that actually has been a reasonably good solution for me… until this week. With the UIC varsity teams now approaching the championship phase of their season, the pool we share has now switched to short course ’til mid-April. So… three months until Tampa Bay and nothing but flip turns every 25 yards? Oh no!

Marathon swimmers need endurance, but equally important is being able to psychologically tolerate swimming for long stretches without stopping. This isn’t as relevant in pool competition, where the longest race is only a mile. In the mile, you still need good speed, so lots of interval training is the norm. Even in my younger days when I routinely covered 10,000m over a morning & evening practice, I’d rarely do sets that required me to swim more than 20 laps at a time (500 SCY or 1000 LCM).…

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MIMS finishing times: 1982-2010

MIMS finishing times: 1982-2010

Five months until MIMS! In the meantime, some data porn for your enjoyment (click to enlarge):

The NYC Swim website has MIMS results as far back as 1915, but the modern version of MIMS as an annual marathon swim race began in 1982, when Drury Gallagher founded the Manhattan Island Swimming Association.

The chart above shows every MIMS finishing time from 1982-2010 (black dots), along with the slowest, fastest, and median time of each year (blue, green, & red lines, respectively). Only participants in the annual MIMS race are shown – no solo attempts (e.g., Shelley Taylor-Smith’s record swim of 5:45 in 1995).



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    On pull buoys, ctd.

    On pull buoys, ctd.

    A few follow-up thoughts on pull buoys:

    First, to be clear, the use of pulling gear for motivational reasons (as Mark described) is probably only relevant if you’re a distance/marathon swimmer who trains enough volume that mental fatigue is an issue. Or perhaps (as I described) if you’re just having a bad day of training and pulling gear means the difference between getting through a workout or bailing out early.

    If you’re a sprinter and/or stroke specialist, pulling equipment probably isn’t too useful, aside from certain types of drills.

    But Mark is a marathon swimmer, and so am I – so that’s why I wrote the post.

    Second, I want to highlight one particularly important quote from Mark’s interview:

    To make up for the lack of swimming I do a lot of running, cycling and kicking to make sure that I have strong legs and I do a lot of core work to make sure that my abs are ready to handle the body position requirements for a race, so it’s not like I only do pulling sets.

    So, it’s not that he doesn’t think leg strength is important, even as a marathon swimmer – he just finds it easier (from a motivational standpoint) to break up his training into different activities.…

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    Another MIMS match race

    Another MIMS match race

    This is sort of interesting.

    It isn’t being actively promoted yet, but it seems the Manhattan Island match race/record attempt wasn’t just a one-off deal. Last September, NYC Swim invited four swimmers – pros Mark Warkentin and Petar Stoychev, as well as two local women – to take on Shelley Taylor-Smith’s overall record of 5 hours, 45 minutes. Warkentin won the day, but still came 31 minutes short of the record.

    NYC Swim will hold another match race/record attempt this coming September 28, but the contestants will instead be the top two finishers of the regular MIMS event on June 18 (in which I will be competing).

    Who will they be? Maybe Vegas should put out lines on open-water swimming?



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    On pull buoys

    On pull buoys

    This is a pull buoy ————–>

    At once the most common of training aids, and the most disrespected. According to conventional wisdom, pull buoys:

    • encourage weak body position – swimmers don’t have to kick and engage their core to raise their body position as they would without a buoy.
    • inhibit body rotation, causing swimmers to swim “flat” and thus less efficiently.
    • put extra strain on the shoulders, making injuries more likely.
    • discourage underwater kicking off walls.
    • are, along with hand paddles, a crutch used by lazy swimmers to help them swim faster and with less energy.

    See, for instance, this thread on the USMS discussion forum, or one forum member’s memorable suggestion of a drill to “throw a pull buoy as far away from yourself as possible.”

    Personally, I’ve always liked pulling with paddles and a buoy. I try not to overuse them – typically, I’ll use them at the end of a main set (say, the last round of a 4-round set) for a little extra “oomph.” Actually, it’s more than just a little – I’m usually about 6 seconds per 100 faster with paddles+buoy than without.…

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