So, you want to be a swimmer?

I’m a little biased.  I’ll admit it.

I love the sport of swimming.  I swam for about 11 years and I’ve coached for close to 7.  If I’m not at home, you can usually count on me being at a pool.

With that being said, it really pains me when people say that hate swimming or they can’t do it.  I don’t know if they give swimming a chance!  And, to be honest, I think there are a lot of people that think it’s a lot easier than it really is.

The truth is, swimming is hard.  There is a lot of coordination that goes into it.  (For whatever reason, I’m more coordinated in the water than on land.)  But, you can do it!  You just have to ease yourself into it.

So, I decided to sit down and put together a quick little six week program to get you started in the pool.  The program requires you to get in the water at least three times a week for about 30-60 minutes.  The workouts are very general, but be sure to mix up the strokes a little bit just for a change of pace.  The most important thing is that you try to get in the water about three times a week.

If possible, try to get someone to look at your stroke.  Maybe you know a swim coach or a swim instructor.  Or, there is someone at your gym that can help you.  If you’re stroke is off, you could hurt your shoulders or another part of your body.  Or, you could be working a lot harder than you need to.  The bottom line is that stroke technique is very important.

If there isn’t anyone available, try to work on a few drills.  Watch a few videos of good swimmers and watch how they swim.  Take a look at a few websites for a few drills.  I love Swim Network and Flo Swimming.  It is always helpful to go with someone else so they can let you know if your stroke doesn’t look quite right.

Make this program your own.  Mix it up, change things around.  This is just a rough blueprint of what a beginner swim program can look like.

Week One:

During week one, we just want to build up some endurance.  Nothing fancy – just swimming.

Warmup: 100 swim, 100 kick

6 X 50 kick (use a kick board if they are available) on :15 seconds rest

8 X 50 swim on :20 seconds rest

1 X 200 swim – just try to finish this without stopping.  If you have to stop, simply take a brief break and keep going.

6 X 25 swim on :10 rest – try to increase your pace a little more

Easy 100 cool down

Week Two

This week, we’re going to step up the yardage just a little bit.  If you’re still having trouble with week one’s workout, stick with week one.  Don’t rush into it!

Warmup: 200 swim, 100 kick, 100 pull (with a pull buoy or just cross your ankles – or, just swim another 100)

8 X 25 kick on :20 seconds rest (I like to do two of each stroke)

4 X 100 swim on :20 seconds rest

6 X 50 swim on :10 rest – pick up the pace on these!

Easy 200 cool down

Week 3

Warmup: 200 swim, 200 pull, 100 kick

8 X 50 swim on : 15 seconds rest

1 X 300 pull (use pull buoy or cross your ankles)

10 minute swim – try to continue for the whole time without stopping!  See how many lengths you can swim and challenge yourself to swim one more the next time you swim!

8 X 25 kick on :10 seconds rest – pick up the pace!!

Easy 200 cool down

Week Four

Warmup: 200 swim, 200 pull, 200 kick

6 X 75 on :15 seconds rest (I like to do the middle 25 a different stroke)

2 X 200 swim on :20 seconds rest

6 X 50 pull on :15 seconds rest

1 X 500 swim – challenge yourself to do this without stopping.  :)

Easy 200 cool down

Week Five

Warmup: 300 swim, 200 pull, 200 kick

12 X 50 swim on :15 seconds rest

6 X 100 swim on :15 seconds rest (build your speed so your last 25 is your fastest)

8 X 50 kick on :15 seconds rest

3 X 200 swim on :15 seconds rest (work on strong strokes, get the most distance per stroke that you can!)

8 X 25 kick on :10 seconds rest (push yourself!!)

Easy 200 cool down

Week Six

Warmup: 400 swim, 200 pull, 200 kick

6 X 100 swim on :15 seconds rest

8 X 50 kick on :10 rest

4 X 200 swim on :15 seconds rest (get that distance per stroke!)

10 minute swim – see how far you’ve come!

8 X 25 sprint on :10 seconds rest

Easy 200 cool down

If you’ve finished the program and want some more, take a look at something that I put together for my high school swimmers a few years ago.  It gives a variety of sets that you can put together to create a workout.  Have fun with it! You can find the pdf here:  OffSeasonSwim

Let me know what you think!  Or, let me know if you have any questions at all.  Have fun!

Today’s Post is Brought to You By…

…. the letters H, L and S!

This weekend Mel and I visited Chicago for the Healthy Living Summit.  The summit was organized by a few healthy living bloggers.  While I did have a great time with Mel walking around the city, I don’t know if the summit was really organized for someone like me.  Don’t get me wrong, the information about nutrition and fitness was spectacular and I plan on using it as a coach.  However, I felt as if the conference was for those who had already mastered “healthy living”.  I know I haven’t and I have a long way to go.  I was hoping that this conference would help me to get there a little easier.  How do I start running?  How and where do I find good food – that not only tastes good, but is also affordable?  How can I mix good, healthy food with a donut here and there?  Can I eat a donut without feeling guilty?

I suppose I should have known that it wasn’t going to be like that, but I felt a little intimidated and, well – out of place.

I did learn a lot about myself, which is nothing to throw away.  I had a great time with an old friend and put myself out there a little more than I expected.  For me to go into an event only knowing one person was tough for me.  It took a lot of courage for me to do it – and I am proud of myself.  I do know that I want to keep blogging because I love it, but I shouldn’t feel obligated to fit into a certain mold.

Regardless, I had a good time and plan on using the information that I took away from it as much as possible.

And, on top of that, I can use the swag for a long time!  :)

The last part of my day consisted of items from the HLS swag bag.  For a snack, I had a Blackberry Solixir and some sour cream and onion Pop Chips.

The Solixir was yummy.  Just sweet and bubbly enough to curb a soda craving.  And, I love Pop Chips – but I already knew that.  :)

For dinner, Dan and I used the Subway gift cards that HLS provided.  I bought a foot long turkey and ham with cheese, spinach and cucumbers.  (I saved half of it for another time)  And, I shared some baked BBQ chips with Dan.

Wow – you can certainly tell that I used the iPhone 4 to take that picture.  (I have the third generation phone, Dan has an iPhone 4)  I had no idea that camera was *that* much better.  I might need to get one…  :)

It’s Brunch, Y’all!

There’s something you need to know about my husband.

When he likes something, he goes all out.  It can be anything from fishing to bluegrass music.  When it comes to his interests, he borders on obsessive.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing.  (Although, I could use a little less fishing equipment in my life)

And, when he likes a certain food, he wants it all the time just the way he likes it.  One of his favorite dishes is shrimp and grits.

For our honeymoon, we went to Atlanta, Charleston and Savannah.  It was a great trip and I can’t wait to go back.  (I’m convinced that was a southern belle in a past life)  One of our favorite meals was in Charleston when we stopped at the Hominy Grill.  It’s a small little restaurant with really delicious food.  Dan had the shrimp and grits that was absolutely amazing.  It’s been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and just recently in Food Network Magazine.

After doing some research, Dan found out that there was a cookbook available.  And, he proceeded to buy it.

The book itself is filled with yummy southern recipes like biscuits and brunswick stew.  My personal favorite is the banana bread, which they serve pan fried with butter at the restaurant.  Yummmmm.

But, of course, the star of the show is the shrimp and grits.  Dan made them for me shortly after we received the cookbook and it was really good.  We knew that we wanted to make it again.

However, we haven’t picked up any good shrimp lately.  (We normally stick with the frozen, pre-cooked variety)  But we knew we wanted something nice and hearty for brunch today.  So, we adapted the recipe a little bit and made a brunch version of it replacing the shrimp with a fried egg.

We made the cheese grits recipe from the cookbook.  Remember how I mentioned that my husband likes to go all out?  Well, he actually went ahead and bought grits from the same place that the Hominy Grill buys them from.  I guess it’s a 225 year old gristmill in North Carolina called the Old Mill of Guilford.

I’d say they were worth it.  :)

Along with the grits, Dan cooked some bacon, mushrooms and fried an egg.  The bacon and mushrooms are also served with shrimp and grits.

It was absolutely sinful.  All of the textures and tastes were there – creaminess from the grits, saltiness and crunchiness from the bacon and the meatiness of the mushrooms.  Yum. Yum.  Yum.

While we were cooking, Jackson was on “chipmunk patrol”.  He watches the patio to make sure the chipmunks are staying away from my kale plants.  Those little buggers ate them earlier in the summer.  Grrrr…

I just like how serious he takes his job.  :)

Off to watch some swimming.  They are actually broadcasting some of the National Championships.  Granted, I already know the results of the races, but it’s still fun to see all of the athletes.  G’night!

Operation Beautiful Athlete

As hard as it is to believe, I am starting my seventh year as a swim coach.  Throughout those years, I have met so many different girls and boys all trying to achieve their goals through the sport.  The goals varied from reaching the National championships or just getting in shape for basketball season – everyone has their own personal reasons when they join the team.

This week marked the beginning of high school season.  High school season is always interesting.  You miss the girls that graduated, but you can’t wait to meet the new girls that will start or add a new chapter to their swimming career.

As someone who was a competitive swimmer for almost 11 years, I know what it takes to be successful in the sport.  And, I also know the heartache and pressure that young athletes face – regardless of their sport.  Swimming is a sport that you can’t really afford to be self-concious because you’re in a swimsuit all the time.  It can be difficult.  I’ve suffered from poor body image for as long as I can remember.  When I was in high school and during my very brief college swimming career, I had a tendency to use diet pills to give me that extra boost.  They made me feel sick and my heart would race uncontrollably.  There were a few times that I was scared that I wasn’t going to make it out of the pool.  And, for what?  To survive a practice?  To swim a little faster?  To lose a few pounds?  It wasn’t worth it. And, it’s not something I admit freely.  I was using the same kind of pills that killed a few major league baseball players and other athletes.  Not cool.

Despite my poor choices, I’ve prided myself on being the best coach that I can be.  I know that I am a role model and I know that girls look up to me.  They come to me with their problems and I am honored that they trust me enough to talk to me about them.  I may be a young coach, but already I’ve had to deal with eating disorders, bullying, domestic abuse, underage drinking, sexting and drug use.  Kids today are subjected to a variety of issues that are extremely difficult including increased pressure from school, home and their peers.

There is so much pressure to do things a certain way, be a certain way or look a certain way.  I can see the stress and fear on the faces of my athletes.  I may not know exactly what they’re going through, but I can see the same stress and pressure that I faced during my own career.  The stories may be different, but they all have one thing in common – we are all trying to fit into a particular mold – a mold that we may not fit into.

And, guess what!  That’s okay!!  We just need to be true to ourselves.  I love all of my swimmers like they are my own daughters.  I want them to feel beautiful no matter what.  I want them to be stronger (physically, emotionally and mentally) tomorrow than they were today.  Above all else, I want them to be happy and successful.

I absolutely love the message that Caitlin over at Operation Beautiful is sending.  We need to end the negative thoughts because they hurt us.  I know that I’m not perfect and I need to start practicing what I preach.  And, that’s the plan.

I decided to start a Operation Beautiful Athlete campaign during this swim season.  I planted the first post-it today in the girl’s locker room.

We’ll see if anyone starts to catch on.  :)

An Experiment with Grilled Pizzas…

I’ve been wanting to try grilled pizzas for a long time.  I’ve seen numerous recipes and blog postings about it.  But, I was intimidated.  I wasn’t sure how to do it or if it would even be worth the effort.  As it turns out, it was totally worth it.

My parents and sister came over for dinner last night and I decided that they were going to be the guinea pigs.  (They have to play this role often.)  So, armed with some pre-made pizza dough from Trader Joe’s, we heated up the ingredients and started creating our own pizzas.

We had two sauces – both homemade.  My dad and Dan both chose the pesto while my mom, sister and myself went with a tomato sauce.  Choice of toppings included turkey Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, mushrooms, grated Italian cheeses, Italian herb blend and some red pepper flakes.

Everyone had to make their own pizza – which was kind of fun.  You could choose between two different crusts – whole wheat or regular.  We rolled them out on the table and started adding the toppings.

Because we only have a small little smokey joe grill, we couldn’t make the pizzas too big.  Plus, we don’t have the giant spatulas that pizza places have.  They would have come in handy!

After they were all prepared, we put them on the grill.  The key here is to put olive oil on the bottom of your pizza so it doesn’t stick.  They aren’t going to be perfect pizzas because they do take some convincing to get on the grill, but I think that adds the the character of them.  :)

I think it would have been easier to prepare the crust, throw it on the grill and then add your toppings.  But, you have to be careful with the heat, so you have to work fast!  I’ll let you know if we try anything different.  Here are a few of the finished products:

In the end, they were absolutely delicious.  The crust was nice and crunchy, but still a little chewy.  And, the flavor of the grill really came through.  I will definitely make these again!

Ole!

I am really behind on my blog posts, so you’ll have to excuse the rapid fire postings!  :)

For some reason, the husband and I have been on a Mexican kick this week.  We had two consecutive meals that featured roughly the same ingredients.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining .  Both were delicious.

On Monday, the husband cooked up some shrimp with olive oil, lime juice and El Rey fajita seasoning.

In addition to the shrimp, we heated up some black beans and brown rice (the frozen variety from TJ’s).  I shredded a little bit of extra sharp cheddar cheese and brought the salsa out of the fridge (TJ’s brand, of course!).

After all of the ingredients were ready to go, we made our own “burrito bowls”.  We totally stole the idea from Chipotle.

We put this together often because it’s pretty cheap and easy to make.  It takes about 10 minutes to put everything together.  That works for me.  :)

After dinner, Dan surprised me by saying, “Want to take a trip up to Trader Joe’s?”.  To which I simply replied, “Well, if you want to.”  Don’t be fooled, though.  In my head it was more like, “REALLY?  Trader Joe’s??  On a MONDAY?!  YES!  YES!  YES!!!!!!!”

At TJ’s we picked up all the basics, plus a few new products.  We couldn’t believe that we actually found a time that wasn’t too busy.  It was kind of nice to spend some time just looking at different products.  For some reason, I always feel rushed when I shop there.

The following day, we were going to do a vegetable stir fry, but found the vegetables that I had picked up for it were no longer good.  Boo.

But, I rallied and put together another Mexican inspired meal.  This time, we made chicken tacos.  I mistakenly picked up chicken thighs at TJ’s, but they worked out beautifully.  I cut the boneless, skinless thighs into cubes and marinated them in *surprise!* lime juice, olive oil and fajita seasoning.  After they marinated for about 30 minutes in the fridge, I quickly cooked them on the stove.

Dan warmed some tortillas – flour for me; corn for him.  And we added some avocado, salsa, extra sharp cheddar cheese and beans and created some delicious tacos.  On the side, we served some brown rice and black beans.

They were really, really good.  Even Jackson wanted some…

:)

Boredom Sets In…

So, here’s the deal.  There might be a house on the horizon for myself and the husband.  It’s a crazy family situation so it isn’t easy to say what’s going to happen.  However, it might be happening.

Therefore, the husband and I are attempting to save money.  That means that I can’t run to the store whenever I need something or when I crave a little challenge with a new recipe.

I know, I know.  It’s not that hard.  But, sometimes I lack the creativity and drive to actually work with what I have in the apartment.  I suppose the end result is worth it.

Tonight was one of those nights.  I wasn’t sure what to have.  I had a long day.  I had a swim meet in the morning (the first day of four), swim practice in the afternoon and I went for a brief swim myself.  To be honest, I didn’t want to cook.  I was secretly hoping that Dan would walk in with Oscars.

But, alas, he didn’t.

Knowing that I had some mozzarella, turkey pepperoni and some tomato sauce, I figured pizza would be easy enough.  I used a recipe from Jenna over at Eat, Live, Run for the pizza crust.  It was a pretty easy recipe and not too bad for you.  The whole wheat flour certainly helps.  :)

I added some cheese, pepperoni, sauce, parmesan and Italian seasoning to the top.

What's left of the pizza...

The crust was pretty good.  It made enough for two pizzas so I threw the other one in the freezer.  I’ve never used frozen crust before, so it will be interesting to see what happens.  It was pretty substantial and thick – which is how I like my pizza.

I feel like I might of overworked it a little bit because it was on the tough side.  I think I will definitely try adding some beer to give it a bit more flavor the next time I make it.

Mmm…. a beer sounds good right about now…  :)

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