Tag Archives: Cleveland Aquatic Centre

S is for Summer and Summer is for Swimming

Sunday swim by Andrew Gills
Sunday swim, a photo by Andrew Gills on Flickr.

Wow! Free masters swim coaching for all-comers. And the classes take place twice a week. All you pay is the $5 pool entry and then the coach will tailor a session specifically to your goals. How wonderful!

This morning I attended the Redlands Masters Swimming session at Cleveland Aquatic Centre. It was wonderful. Coach Alan tailored sessions for each of his groups of swimmers of varying ages, abilities and goals. Those who were learning to swim also had access to a separate coach in the shallower 25m pool who could give them private instruction while more advanced swimmers completed their sets. If I hadn’t been there to experience this fantastic community initiative, I wouldn’t have believed it.

My friends are training for their first sprint distance triathlon next weekend so I fit in with them. I told Coach Alan about my sacroiliac joint injury and that I’m just this week returning to exercise after a lengthy break. At his suggestion, I used a pull buoy for my 300m warm up to reduce the pressure on my back caused by kicking. It worked and I felt strong as I glided through the water.

After our warm up, Coach Alan gave us all some tips rolling from the hips when we breath. Everyone in our little group of five swimmers was at a different stage of technique development but even for those of us a bit more experienced, the tips were wonderful. We then did some navigation swimming where we swam six strokes without breathing then six strokes with our heads above water. The Coach told us to shorten our stroke when swimming with our heads up and it helped a lot. I found this exercise comfortable.

We then did some drafting and pack swimming exercises. This was a load of fun and we probably did 500m of drafting in a V before doing four 25m pack sprints where we experienced the kicking, hitting and thrashing that is normal at the start of a triathlon.

We finished with some bilateral breathing exercises in which I focused on gliding and taking my breathing roll from the hips. My friends were then sent off to tread water for a while to learn some techniques that will help them conserve energy while waiting for the deep water start to their race. The Coach suggested I sit the exercise out because it would likely set my back off. It showed his professionalism, experience and interest in his swimmers that he would remember that I was injured out of the whole 20-odd swimmers he was looking after.

We swam for an hour and probably covered 1,000 – 1,200m (I lost count). While the distance wasn’t great, the quality was excellent. I think I got more out of this morning’s session than any of the long swims I did alone last triathlon season. I will be back.

Total: 1hour swim

‘Bayside Runners and Swimmers’

Image courtesy of vorakorn / Freedigitalphotos.net

I’m part of the Brisbane Bayside Runners and Walkers. It’s a social running and walking group here in the Redlands area of Brisbane. I started running with the group in August 2011 and love being part of the family atmosphere.

With the running season coming to an end, there are more and more people from the group hitting the pool. This morning I turned up to find three blokes from the group already gliding through the water. It felt good to have someone to say ‘hello’ to before starting my session. To me, the social element of training makes a big difference.

Set Swimming
Warm up 400m alternating freestyle and breaststroke
Drills 100m pull buoy100m catch up

100m pull buoy

100m one-arm freestyle

Main 800m medium pace with fartlek (8 x 25m sprints)
Exercise 400m freestyle kick
Cool down 100m freestyle100m breaststroke

The 800m swim was the farthest I have swum continuously so I was pleased with my effort, especially because I was able to do the 25m sprints throughout the set.

Total: 2.2km swim

Back in the pool


Okay, so I took the photo last year before my underwater camera broke, but it’s one of my favourite photos and seemed appropriate.

I hadn’t swum since April or May so had forgotten how beautiful it is to watch the sunrise through the water droplets falling from my arms. There wasn’t barely a thin glowing orange line on the horizon when I slid into the pool at 5:45am. By the time I finished my warm up, it had spread to a broad orange and yellow band that I could look at every time I breathed on the eastern side of the pool. By my main set the big ball of orange came into view over my right shoulder and I enjoyed the sensation of it’s warmth spreading over the water. By the time I got out of the pool just before 7am the sun was high in the sky above the palm trees. Perhaps I should count myself fortunate for being injured or I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this start to my day.

As for the swimming itself, it went really well. I think it’s one of the longest sessions I’ve done, which shows how much my fitness and mental toughness have improved since I started long distance running. Last May, when I was training for triathlon, I found it physically and mentally tough to swim 1,500m – 2,000m sessions. However, this morning I found the distance and duration of the session comfortable. I actually looked forward to it, rather than counting down the laps.

I completed my first 1,800m by about 6:30am but then my running friends all started turning up to the pool so the remaining 400m took almost 30 minutes because I just had to stop and say hello to everyone as they arrived. That’s the only thing I don’t like about swimming: you can’t hold a conversation with your head underwater (though I did try).

Set Activities
Warm up 400m easy alternating freestyle and breaststroke.
Drills 400m alternating:

  • catch-up
  • one-arm freestyle stroke
  • 5-stroke breathing
Main 2 x 400m freestyle medium pace
Exercises 400m kicking:

  • 100m breaststroke
  • 300m freestyle
Cool down 200m slow freestyle

Total: 2.2km swim