When the weather gets hot, Andy Newell goes for a swim in Stratton’s snowmaking pond — and a couple times a month he makes a workout out of it.
We should expect nothing less from the 12-and-under Vermont state swim champion, now a veteran U.S. Ski Team sprinter.
“It’s great if you need to rest the legs a little bit from impact or if you have some kind of injury,” Newell wrote in an email, a little over a month after recovering a back injury. “Or if you want to get a break from the heat and humidity.”
Those of us not on a full-time training regimen are usually trying to escape the latter: the dog days of summer that make us suckers for AC.
Rather than hop in an indoor or outdoor pool, Newell recommends open-water swimming. For the calorie-conscious, it’s more work swimming in variable water, especially against a current (but we recommend calm lakes or ponds over rivers and oceans for safety reasons).
“I always do open-water swimming because it’s way more exciting,” Newell explained. “We have a great spot for it here at the Stratton snow making pond. The water is nice and clear and it’s big enough to keep it interesting. Down and back is about .5 miles or you can swim loops of you don’t mind always turning.”
Rather than go for distance, swim for a set amount of time. Newell usually goes for an hour.
“Any longer it starts to get tiring,” he explained. “Often I will bring my surf board down to the pond, or you could use a stand up paddle, and I do the remainder of the workout paddling. It’s a pretty fun workout for the summer.”
In terms of tips, he recommends the following:
- Wearing a wet suit can make long-distance, open-water swimming a little easier (and less scary since you’re more buoyant).
- Use goggles. Clear are best.
- Breathe often. Newell alternates sides, breathing every other stroke. “A lot of the time people don’t breath enough especially people who aren’t strong swimmers so they get claustrophobic,” he explained. “It won’t slow you down that much to breath more.”
- Keep the elbows high and think about long, full-body pulls in the water.
- For open-water swimming, use the shoreline when you breathe to make sure you’re going straight. No need to keep popping your head up.
- FS extra: Opt for non-motorized bodies of water if possible. Stay close to shore and swim early if that’s not possible.
In terms of stroke, pick whichever you feel most comfortable with. Most people pick freestyle, but swimming breaststroke for an hour will burn a similar amount of calories as a fast freestyle workout, according to active.com. Backstroke is equivalent to a slower freestyle, and butterfly is the “king of calorie-burning swimming workouts,” Active editor Ryan Wood writes.
Here are two workouts from Active:
30-minute swim for distance:
Try to cover as much distance as possible in 30 minutes. Compare between workouts and try to go farther on the same course (or do more laps in the pool).
Mix it up with a main set:
(10-minute warm-up, 15-minute main set, 5-minute cool down)
Warm-up: 300 meters (choice): 5 minutes
4×50 kick/swim (butterfly, back, breast, free) @ 1:15
Main Set (with ladder):
400 @ 5:30
300 @ 4:45
200 @ 3:00
100 @ 1:30
300 meters (backstroke, breaststroke): 5 minutes
For more on non-specific ski training, like swimming, check out Matt Liebsch’s previous Wednesday Workout.