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by Kristina Henry

November 11, 2018

Talbot Masters coaches Kevin and Mary Gibson share what they learned from October’s event

Kevin and Mary Gibson have revamped how they coach their swimmers.

The Talbot Masters coaches are making the changes after attending the National Coaches Clinic in College Park, Md., which drew close to 100 Masters coaches from across the country. They had an opportunity to learn from some of the biggest names in swimming, including Gary Hall Sr. and Bruce Gemmell, which left a big impact on the Gibsons.

What the Gibsons learned could fill the pages of a NASA white paper: vortex, hyperstreamlining, base threshold, and propulsion.

The term threshold is now in Talbot Masters’ lexicon and will be an integral part of the club’s workouts going forward, as well as kick sets. The coaches plan to have their swimmers start doing drylands, plan to have special butterfly and breaststroke clinics, and have shared information with their swimmers about dietary recommendations.

“The information was practical and can be easily implemented,” says Mary, a USMS Level 2 coach and a recipient of a USMS Kerry O’Brien Coaches Award in 2013. “The weekend was so informative and got us charged for our upcoming swim season.”

Here are some of the key lessons the Gibsons learned.


Gold Coast Masters member Gary Hall Sr., a three-time Olympian and FINA Masters world record holder, focused on drag, propulsion, and inertia and how Masters swimmers can improve their efficiency, especially as they age.

He even taught the group a new term: hyperstreamlining, which is a streamline done properly—arms straight up behind the ears and held very tight. This streamline reduces drag by 22 percent, according to Hall’s research with The Race Club, a swim club and training facility he founded in the Florida Keys.

Hall, who also did a two-hour, in-water session on open water and swimming technique, discussed the value of kicking.

“Not social kicking,” Mary says, laughing. “We did not kick much back in the day. These days a good kick set helps to optimize propulsion and minimize drag in a race. I plan to have the team kick during every practice.”

Hall also discussed the importance of flexibility and kicking, especially dolphin kick, and led attendees through a series of drills of breaststroke and butterfly, including survival butterfly suggestions for the 100 and 200.

Got (Chocolate) Milk?

DOC IU Masters Swimming member Joel Stager discussed the importance of proper nutrition refuel within 45 minutes of a workout. Stager, a professor emeritus at Indiana University’s School of Public Health and the director for the Counsilman Center for the Science of Swimming, recommended consuming a meal of a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, which happens to be the ratio in chocolate milk.

“He also showed that most teams train for endurance despite the fact that most swimming events are more power-oriented [e.g., 50s and 100s and even the 200 free],” says Kevin, a USMS-certified Level 2 coach. “He concluded that we should focus on intensity rather than distance. Also, rest is a good thing.”

Getting Fit

Certified strength and conditioning specialist Bo Hickey gave a lecture on injury prevention and offered various strength and flexibility exercises. Among the highlights was a test set of squats, which included a static squat followed by a set of dynamic squats followed by squat jumps. This gave the coaches an idea of the fitness required to swim the back half of a 100-yard swim quickly.

“Kevin failed that test,” Mary says, laughing. She adds that she plans to work with her club on dryland exercise because of Hickey’s presentation.

Building a Workout Plan

If you want to build a workout plan, who better to learn from than Bruce Gemmell, who coached 14-time world-record setter Katie Ledecky before she went to Stanford?

Gemmell discussed how to build a training plan using various intervals and distances to improve aerobic and anaerobic conditioning, as well as stroke count and stroke tempo. He referred to former University of Michigan coach Jon Urbanchek’s color charts to outline the various intensities of swim sets.

“These range from white through pink, red, purple, and blue as the intensity increases, which we plan to do for our team as well,” Kevin says. “By offering more than one set, we can provide for our sprinters and our distance swimmers during the same practice.”

Open Water Training

The NCC also included a session on triathlon.

Tennessee Aquatics Masters Swimming’s Jack McAfee discussed his experience of qualifying for the IRONMAN World Championship and what triathletes need from their coaches, things such as help with sighting techniques, performing quick turns around buoys, and basic swim training.

He also address how all strokes benefit triathletes and said that they should be done in every workout.

“He used examples such as butterfly and flip turns,” Kevin says. “Pushing off the bottom using butterfly can be helpful to open water swimmers at the start, and backstroke can be useful when turning around a buoy. Flip turns help with breath control. Some take swimming the different strokes for granted, but it makes sense for all of us, whether we’re competitive swimmers, fitness swimmers, or triathletes.”


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