Sure, the life of a sprinter might look nice.
Short workouts, some sprinting here-and-there, and some work on those starts and turns.
As a sprinter you know that the life isn’t quite that easy. The reps are always at the highest intensity possible. And your races can be completely decided by even the smallest of mistakes.
That being said, the sprinters rule the pool. They don’t call the 100m freestyle the “blue ribbon” event for nothing, after all.
Here are 10 signs that you are a sprint swimmer:
1. You almost feel bad for the distance swimmers.
There are moments that you feel bad for the swimmers in the “Animal Lane” who are doing descending mile repeats. Of course, that’s until you see that you are doing 40×25 @:30 as fast as you can or until your arms whip out of the joints like a hub cap rolling off a cop car turning at high speed.
2. “Distance” is anything longer than your longest event.
As a splash-and-dasher your frame of reference for what is a long swim is, well, short. Anytime a set or rep longer than your race distance is scrawled up on the whiteboard you imagine your precious short-twitch fibers receding and atrophying.
3. You still aren’t completely sold on the idea of training.
You are a racer, through and through. You represent like a champ when it comes time to stepping up on the blocks, where you can let your competitive instincts truly shine. Practice, however, is another matter altogether.
4. Your taper is nice and lengthy.
Your magical little swim taper starts sometimes as long as 3 weeks away from the big meet. The effects of taper aren’t as pronounced for you; after all, you were always doing sprint work in the pool with high rest. You do get a nice break from the weights for a little while to sharpen the blade of your explosive capabilities.
5. Warm up leaves you winded.
Even though it was an 800 choice, it still left you feeling a little short of breath and red-faced. Good thing warm-up isn’t competed at meets!
6. You need to warm down longer than the distance kids.
Because of your increased muscle mass, and your relatively low aerobic foundation (in comparison) to the milers, you actually end up needing more time to get a thorough swimming warm-down after a punishing 50m sprint.
7. You have two speeds: Go and Ouch.
As you step up on the blocks you see that most of your teammates are standing up on the blocks. Why? Because they know they are about to watch a flame-out of spectacular proportions.
Being an explosive and short twitch monster means that racing a 200 freestyle is going to result in a very fast first 75 or so, and then some serious T-Rexing over the last 125. At least it will be entertaining for your teammates to watch.
8. You are the relay ace.
With the exception of the 4×200 free relay (see above point), you are the main weapon on the high point-scoring relays.
Coach likes to use you tactically; lead-off with the Big Show and the team is off to an early lead. Or having you anchor means that other teams are nervously racing their brains out for the first three legs knowing that they are about to get punished on the last leg.
9. You live to swim at 99%.
As a highly-tuned athlete you know that there is a precious balance between effort and speed. If you throw too much effort at your stroke you end up spinning out. Too little and you aren’t turning over fast enough.
Somewhere between those two is the magical balance of relaxed speed, a feeling you train to experience at race-time.
10. You train thousands of hours to drop one tenth of a second.
Unlike a miler, who can cannonball off the start, dog paddle the first 100, and still make up the distance on the competition, your race is decided by hundredths and thousandths of a second.
Having a “good” start versus an “okay” start means the difference between 1st and 7th. As such, you search endlessly for the minuscule improvements in your swimming.
- NCAA & World Champion Josh Schneider’s Favorite Sprint Set. If you like blinding speed US National Team member Josh Schneider has a set that is right up your alley.
- The Auburn Sprint Set. The hardest set I have ever done, and I still didn’t finish it. 100×25 all-out on increasing rest. Try at your own risk.
- How Caeleb Dressel’s Logbook Helped Him Become the Fastest 50-yard Freestyler of All-Time. Caeleb Dressel of the University of Florida’s log book has reached legendary status. Learn how he used it to become the sprint phenom he is today.