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Keeping It Short While Going Long

We checked in recently with our friend Don Walsh, to see if he’s still maintaining his streak of swimming in the Atlantic Ocean at least once per month for the last 135 months.  He is, and that’s an amazing 11 years and 3 months.  We asked Don to share some of his secrets for maintaining the training necessary to handle long-distance swims in open water.  Don, a veteran of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (28.5 miles) and a circumnavigation of the Isle of Jersey (41.5 miles), sent us the following article.    

I’m asked a lot what are my favorite sets when training for a distance swim.  I like 500s because I can get through them quickly without losing focus, and that’s important to me when I have to pile on the yardage.  I keep my repeats short so that I don’t lose focus and my mind doesn’t wander.    I hever leave the wall without having a focus point in mind to help me improve my swimming.  I always want to leave the pool a better swimmer each and every time.

Instead of watching the clock and using intervals, I use my breathing to tell me when to start each swim.  After each swim, I take one deep breath at the wall (roughly five seconds to exhale and inhale), then push off for the next swim.  

My favorite way to get through a long practice is to break it down into 500-yard segments.  I try to see how many ways I can swim each 500, without swimming more than 100 yards at a time.  Remember:  I take only one breath (5 seconds) between each repeat, so these 500s are like a continuous swim.  Here are some examples of how I swim the 500s.    To create more sets, you could reverse the order, or vary your speed, or add some sighting, or take a little more rest after each 1000.  Use your imagination to expand on what you see here.  These sets add up to 12,500 yards.

4 X 25

6 X 50 

4 X 25

2 X 50 

3 X 100

2 X 50

4 X 50 

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

4 X 50

2 X 75

4 X 50

2 X 75

2 X 75

2 X 100

2 X 75

1 X 100

6 X 50

1 X 100

2 X 100

4 X 25

2 X 100

2 X 100

2 X 50

2 X 100

2 X 100

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

2 X 100

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

6 X 50

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

3 X 100

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

4 X 25

2 X 50

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

2 X 50

4 X 25

4 X 25 

2 X 50

1 X 100

2 X 50

4 X 25

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

4 X 25 

1 X 50 + 2 X 25

1 X 50 + 2 X 25

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

2 X 50

1 X 50 + 2 X 25

1 X 50 + 2 X 25

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

1 X 100

1 X 50 + 2 X 25

1 X 50 + 2 X 25

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

4 X 25

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

1 X 50 + 1 X 25

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

2 X 50

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

1 X 50 + 1 X 25

2 X 25 + 1 X 50

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

1 X 100

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

1 X 50 + 1 X 25

2 X 50

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

4 X 25

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

2 X 50

2 X 50

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

2 X 50

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

2 X 50

2 X 50

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

1 X 100

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

2 X 50

1 X 100

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

4 X 25

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

1 X 100

1 X 100

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

2 X 50

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

1 X 100

1 X 100

1 X 25 + 1 X 75

1 X 100

1 X 75 + 1 X 25

1 X 100