Training at Arizona State with Grant House & Jonny Kulow
Underwater kicking. Resistance training. Hypoxic work.
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Grant reflects on his disappointing performance at trials where he did not qualify for the Worlds team. Jonny describes his trials performance as decent and continuing to improve throughout the summer. If you don’t know Jonny Kulow, he is an 18 year old from Wyoming who spent the last few summers working on a bison ranch. He explains how he got involved with competitive swimming and ended up at ASU. As a freshman at ASU, he’s improved significantly under Coach Herbie Behm, improving by 3% and putting up some disgusting relay splits (18.3/40.8). He went 21.8/48.4 LCM this summer.
They discuss what it’s like to swim at Arizona State University and how swimmers like Patrick Salmon and others will push themselves hard in practice even when feeling tired. Being around teammates pushing themselves helps motivate everyone to work hard. The swimming program at ASU has had major success in recent years, winning titles and fighting for the team championship. The team trains in two groups led by coaches Bob Bowman and Herbie. There is some crossover between the groups. The first few weeks of general training helps build confidence and connections between the swimmers. Bob & Herbie are very selective about who they bring into the program.
Grant & Jonny explain various aspects of their training program. Strength training is emphasized, along with different drills for improving explosiveness off the starting block from day one of practice, like kneeling starts and jumps. Underwater work is also a major focus, spending 20 minutes on drills like different hand positions. Top-end speed work includes max-speed strokes and incorporating underwater drills into sets to work on it while fatigued. The goal is to improve overall strength as well as sport-specific skills like explosive starts and efficient underwater dolphin kicking.
They use buckets/parachutes/sponges for resistance training. They do underwater kicking with power racks for resistance. They do lactate threshold sets like 4x100 on 4 minutes or 6x50 on 4 minutes. Herbie separates front-end and back-end training to different days. They do things like 4x25 or 4×75 on 1:30 to work on 100s and 200s separately. There is usually a recovery day each week focused on keeping heart rate below 120-130, with continuous easy swimming and switching equipment without long rest periods. Herbie incorporates technique work into recoveries based on what he observed in hard sets.
Herbie also blends hypoxic training into threshold and interval sets, having swimmers follow changing breathing patterns like every 2, every 4 strokes. Meditation swims are done at the end of workouts, involving slow 25s with only 10 breaths and a focus on relaxation. Psychology is important for race day, with Jonny getting nervous before warmups but then shutting his mind off to swim relaxed. He lets the race environment turn his systems on rather than forcing it. Herbie emphasizes sending best times in prelims to work out any kinks.
This interview acknowledges the pressure athletes feel to perform well and how much coaches care. It notes the importance of ownership over one's performance and holding oneself accountable. And, it emphasizes the need to truly believe one is the best and can make the Olympic team rather than just hoping.
As Coach Jeff Dugdale likes to say, “Hope is not a strategy.”
Listen on Apple Podcasts, here.
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