Elmbrook Masters' 100x100's
What?! You want me to do what?! Yes, 100x100 is a daunting task; however, there is a group in Wisconsin that welcomes this killer set with open arms.
Elmbrook Masters of Wisconsin Masters Swimming began their traditional 100x100 challenge set in 2004. Bradley Hext, Tim Young, Laren Tiltmann and Mark Kaczmarek were the "Master" minds behind this, what some might call crazy, workout. With a little inspiration from another team, the Naperville Waves, our guys decided we should give it a try. "There's not a whole lot that's exciting and new in Wisconsin during those winter months, and I think that the team just needed something new to rev its engines before the push to Nationals in Indy that year," said Trina Schaetz, an Elmbrook Masters swimmer.
Though it seems as though the set might lack creativity, Elmbrook Masters works hard to make this challenge set fun and innovative. Trina describes the atmosphere before the annual swim:
[The pool deck] is really "buzzing." One by one, old friends and current teammates come through the door with their gear for the morning. Everyone smiles when they see another friendly face come in. Each is greeted with shouts of "hello!" It's just plain happiness from the people already there that another friend decided to stop by. I know that everyone feels welcome and the excitement of seeing friends show up for a set like this really builds.
After people arrive, they start setting out their gear and goodies that they brought to share. Before you know it, our tables are FULL of PowerBars, cookies, water bottles, sports drinks and all sorts of comforting treats to get us through. It's like the party builds before our eyes.
Then there's the stretching out and the gathering behind the lanes. The clock is started and people know that we are going to get started in 5 minutes exactly. Before you know it, the psych-up music is pumping out of the radio, and music just really gets a person going. Then it's like New Year's, everyone shouts out as the last 10 seconds count down, "10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1," and the leaders dive right in.
100x100's may seem long, but Elmbrook Masters breaks the set up into 10 sets of 10x100's. Each mini-set is unique. "It's great to have 10 sets of 10," said Trina. She continued, "That just makes it better already-doesn't it? 100 just sounds too big to bite off." So, what do Elmbrook Masters' mini-sets of 10x100's look like?
1-10: Warm up, stretch out and loosen up freestyle or mix, your choice.
• Pull half is an option during warm-up.
11-20: 50 kick/50 swim free with fins. Again, loosen up your legs.
(Challenge!! Underwater first 25.)
21-30: 100 IM‘s. (Can't do fly? Mix in some free; try to get at least one 25 of a stroke other than free per repeat.)
• 2 X (50 fly/50 back; 100 back; 50 back/50 breast; 100 breast; 50 breast/50 free)
31-40: All free, descend 1-5 to 90 percent; breathe every third stroke on the 1st 25 and every 5th stroke on the 3rd 25.
(Challenge!! breathe every 3rd stroke on the 1st 50, every 5th stroke on the 2nd 50).
41-50: Stroke swim for 1-5: Swim reverse IM order with fins (dolphin kick for breast swim) for 6-10
(Challenge!! No fins on 6-10.)
51-60: 25 kick (no board)/50 pull with pull buoy only/25 swim (all free for 1-5, mix stroke or free for 6-10).
(Challenge!! Do 2x100's fly, 3x100 back, 3x100 breast (using dolphin kick to pull breaststroke, and 2x100 free.)
61-70: Stroke drills/swim - 25 left arm only, 25 right arm only, 25 kick, 25 swim (swim last 50 if you are short on rest) for 1-5; swim stroke 6-10 (only use fins if necessary on this set).
71-80: 50 kick/50 swim free with or without fins
(Challenge!! 2 each stroke; dolphin kick on back for breast kick, dolphin kick with breast arms for breast swim; last 2 = choice or weakest stroke challenge.)
81-90: Stroke count free - 1-5 descend per 100; 6-10 descend per 25 (REMEMBER, descending your stroke count, not increasing speed.)
91-100: WARM DOWN with fins (mix strokes and double-arm pulls or just kick).
What else makes this program and this challenge set special? Elmbrook Masters has found the perfect recipe for a challenging workout, a supportive team and fun in the water. Here are the ingredients:
3-4 helpings of pump-up music
Krista VanEnkenvoort is the team's resident DJ and carefully crafts a special three- to four-hour-long playlist specifically for the event. A good playlist will get your adrenaline boiling and your enthusiasm rocking.
A generous helping of refreshments and snacks
Each Elmbrook Masters swimmer is invited to bring snacks and/or drinks to share with the group. Nutrition bars, sports drinks, some junk food and homemade goodies will add flavor and life to this workout.
A dash of old friends
Often former Elmbrook Masters will come to visit and participate in the annual event. A warm smile from an old teammate will spice up your pool deck.
A large serving of support
Elmbrook Masters support one another throughout the entire challenge. High fives, pats on the back and "way to go's" can take any workout from dull to delicious.
And, to round out this winning recipe for a successful 100x100 challenge set ...
A heaping portion of a post-challenge celebration
Curt Paulsen of Elmbrook Masters invites the group to his home for a "refueling" party after the challenge. Fun, food and friends is the healthiest combination after a set like 100x100's.
Do you think you could master this 100x100's recipe for success? Trina provides a little advice to any Masters program eager to give it a try:
You simply need some contagious enthusiasm and some ideas for making the workout more bearable. You don't have to have a big party, but the potluck of treats on deck, the creative workout and the music make everyone's attitude perk up. We have two refueling breaks during the set: one at 4,000 and one at 7,000. It's fun to get out for 10 minutes, take some ibuprofen and catch up with someone you haven't seen yet that morning.
Just keep running it and it will become a TRADITION. Traditions have some crazy kind of magic that tie us all together -- don't they?
For other interesting recipes to create new, exciting and challenging workouts, just look around you. There are over 1,000 Masters programs across the United States; each one is unique. Share ideas with other swimmers and coaches and don't be afraid to try something new.