In this guest blog post, MySwimPro community member Michael Rourke shares how MySwimPro has helped him personalize his swim training and stay motivated. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Michael is a swim coach, triathlete and math teacher!
Hello swimming community! My name is Michael Rourke, and I am a former competitive swimmer, collegiate track athlete, and current age group triathlete. I am also the head swim coach at a high school in San Antonio, so swimming pretty much consumes my life, and I love it!
I started swimming at the age of 9, and swam competitively at a fairly high level until my final year in college. I stopped swimming when I started college at Texas State University because I had a track scholarship, so swimming was put on the back burner for about 7 years.
Once I graduated and started my career as a swim coach, I wanted to get back in the water to get back in shape. The water had always been my “go-to place” to lose myself in exercise; there really is nothing better than the feeling of the water flowing by your ears and hearing only the sound of the waves as you swim.
My Swimming Goals
As far as my current goals as an athlete, I am training for my first Ironman 70.3, but as we all know at the moment, racing has been put on hold for the foreseeable future. I have competed in many local sprint and olympic distance triathlons, and will continue to do so, but for now, my training consists of building a base for when we do get to start competing again.
Related: How to Set SMART Goals
As a San Antonio resident, I was so excited to have the USMS National Championship meet in my hometown, but unfortunately, that was canceled too. I was hoping for a top 10 finish in my age group in a couple of events, but I guess I’ll have another year to train before that happens!
How I Use MySwimPro
Last year, I learned about MySwimPro and decided to give it a go. I didn’t have a smartwatch at the time, so I used MySwimPro on my phone to create my workouts and follow along. This was a great way for me to log my swims, look back at my progress, and was a very user friendly way for me to keep track of all my numbers (I’m also a math teacher, so analysis of times and workouts is in my nature!).
Related: Training for the Invictus Games with MySwimPro
I joined a US Masters Swim team, and went along with most of their practices, but soon realized that I needed something a little more. Being a triathlete and a former state level swimmer, my training needs differed from what the general practices were. I started using MySwimPro again to track my own workouts. I love training with a group, but also love the fact that I can upload my own workout if I need something more geared toward my current goal as a triathlete. I now swim with my FitBit Versa 2, and love that the watch gives me the set as I’m going, so I don’t have to waste any time on the wall.
What I Love Most About MySwimPro
MySwimPro makes it easy for me to vary my workouts from day to day, and follow along on my watch. I talk about how I’m a triathlete AND a competitive swimmer, which can have VERY different workouts. I can do a sprint speedwork session to work on my 100 free in the pool, and the next day a set of 8×200 at 70.3 pace for triathlons. I am starting to post more of my workouts on the MySwimPro Facebook group, so follow along and feel free to take any workouts you like!
MySwimPro has changed the way that I look at training. The fact that you can edit the specific energy zones you want to hit in a set, keep track of a detailed swim log and choose specialized workout plans is amazing. This app really challenges you as a swimmer and can give you exactly what you need to reach your goals.
Related: Energy Zones – Whiteboard Wednesday
My Advice for Swimmers
This is an odd time for swimmers alike. I was out of the pool for roughly 10 weeks, and it looks like there may be a possibility of the pools closing again, so I know the pain that everyone is going through to find water.
Related: Sparking Joy While Being a Fish Out of Water
That being said, like I have told my swimmers, this quarantine time can be a great one for your swimming, as long as you adopt the positive mindset. I have a couple of tips that go along with this idea, as well as tips in general for your swimming specific goals:
- Have Fun
A lot of swimmers, myself included, took for granted the accessibility of pools and the fact that we can go to a gym or community pool whenever we wanted. Swimming is special in each and every one of our lives, or else you wouldn’t have made it this far through my story! Enjoy the fact that you get to jump in the water and train to be the best version of yourself you can be. A happy swimmer is a fast swimmer.
- Find Training Buddies
This one is so important, because I know exactly how hard it is to stay motivated and train on your own. I joined my local masters team, and while we may not always do the same workouts, we always have great conversations and laughs at the wall between sets, before and after practice, and you build a sense of community with those who share common goals as yourself. You can also learn a lot from other swimmers, whether it be the type of equipment you need, new ways of training, or small tips on technique to perfect your stroke.
- Embrace the Process
As swimmers, we put in hours on hours, meters on meters of training, for a race that may only last 1-2 minutes. I train mostly for the 100 and 200 freestyle (with the occasional 500 thrown in every now and then), and I train around 35k a week. That’s A LOT of volume for such a short race, so it is really important to remember the process throughout all of your training.
You may not have the best swim at the end of the season, or whatever the case may be, but the months of training will never be taken away from you. Enjoy the time you spend with your club or training partners, or just those moments of silence with the black line on the bottom of the pool.
Related: MySwimPro is Helping Me Break Masters State Records at 51 Years Old
- Start Slow
Don’t bite off more than you can chew or you may lose motivation. For those of you who are new to swimming, ease yourself into those more intense sessions or training blocks. And for everyone who is just getting back in the water after an extended break due to pool closures, try not to hit practices as hard as you did prior to the closure. None of us will have the exact same level of fitness as before, so it is very important to gauge where you are at during your first swims.
The fitness will come back, but you don’t want to rush anything; injuries will keep you out for even longer. For those of you who are new to swimming, don’t hesitate to reach out. The members of the MySwimPro community are absolutely outstanding, and I can guarantee that any question you may have will be answered with kindness and tips that will get you on your way.
- Stay Consistent
Swimming improvement comes with consistency in the pool, as opposed to duration. Many swimmers, myself included, have a thought that “the longer I swim, the faster I’ll be.” While that is true, to an extent, the consistency of your swims matter even more. Performing 1 or 2 long swims a week, and not swimming at all the rest of the week, will not bring the same amount of gains and improvement as 3-4 shorter swims throughout the week.
The “feel of the water” is something that is very easy for swimmers to lose, so the more consistent you are in the pool, the faster you will see improvement.
For anyone who is looking to get started in swimming, look no further than MySwimPro. There is such a great community surrounding this app and what it does for swimming, and so many resources that can help you meet your goals. I hope that you have found some helpful information in this post, and please do not hesitate to reach out via social media if you have any questions!
Follow Michael’s journey on Instagram at @michael.rourke.tri! Download the MySwimPro app and start a free trial of ELITE COACH to unlock all of our swim workouts and training resources.