T Nation

16 Year-Old Daughter Work-Out


Not sure which forum to post this under...

My daughter is a competitive swimmer and has a former almost world class swimmer as a coach. He was good in spite of his training, not because of it.

She has been working out with him for almost 3 years now and they swim massive numbers of laps but that is about all. Not once in 3 years have they done any weight lifting or other strength exercises. In most sports, two athletes of equal skill, the stronger one wins.

At the conference meet yesterday I was somehow able to get her to kick more and she did have her best time. today she has the most sore calves she has ever had. I think that she would be able to focus more on technique and her strokes if she were stronger.

The season ends in 1 week and I have her convinced to take a break from swimming for 3 months to refresh her desire and work on strength stuff with me. now I need to figure out what is a good workout for a swimmer?

Any input would be greatly appreciated.


My 16-year daughter often trains with me. She is a softball pitcher, so her requirements are different, but I would advile you to approach is systematically. Which muscles tire, which are the sore ones. Then work those and the (is antagonists the term?) to ensure muscle balance.

Your daughters shoulders might be fine already. The local swimteam works out at my gym so i think you're on the right track.

Good luck


I'm not sure if you are going to get the kind of info you need here, unless someone happens to be a professional swim coach. I swam in high school (butterfly), and we did some basic weight training in the off season. However, I would strongly urge you to look into the latest swimming training techniques.

The bottom line is that, yes, she should do some weight trainig, but it should be geared towards her main event (sprint vs. distance). That's why you should really find swimming-specific info.

Good luck.


One of my friends, who has been to states four years in a row, swims year round. I don't know if I would advise a three month break but I do not know anything about swimming.


I am definitely looking elsewhere as well, but you'd be surprised at the depth of info that people on this site throw out there. it was worth a shot.


Swimming dogma...her coach sounds pretty old school. More progressive teams are concentrating a lot more on technique and all around conditioning than just swimming "lots and lots of laps." I am a former high school swimmer and my girlfriend is a competitive swim coach. Basically these coaches that just have their swimmers doing thousands of yards are ending up with young, talented athletes with a host of overuse injuries.

Technique is the most important thing to work on. I would say instead of having her break totally from swimming for 3 months, have her work with a really good technique coach. In addition, work on her basic conditioning with weight training and GPP. When the season rolls around again, she will me much better off.

Is she planning to swim in college? Or does she just want to be competitive in HS? College level athletes take maybe 2 weeks off per year. Other than that they are in the pool six days per week.

If you are in Colorado I can suggest some good technique coaches. Otherwise, maybe check out total immersion coaches.

Hope that helps



Good point! There are a lot of knowledgeable people here.

I definately agree with FF. Technique is incredibly important, and doing tons of laps without mixing it up is just going to tire her out. Good luck, especially with her clueless coach!


With no disrespect intended, I suggest that you reconsider your belief in the necessity of strength training for swimmers. Your assertion that "two athletes of equal skill, the stronger one wins" is plainly fallacious. There is far more to swimming than just strength and skill. Furthermore, since most swimming events involve fairly long durations (more than one minute) I propose that strength is of relatively little importance in all but the very shortest events. I am not saying that strength training doesn't offer any potential benefits, but the pool work is far more important than anything your daughter could do in the weight room. As long as the swimming aspect of her training is good (which sounds like it may be another issue altogether), you should not feel that she's being slighted just because her coach doesn't have her lift. Do not allow your own zeal for weight training to drive you daughter's training decisions. Swimming ain't football.


Forgot to address this in my previous post. Removing your daughter from the pool for three months to lift weights is an extremely poor idea. Regardless of her event, the pool work ALWAYS takes precedence. If you do not understand this, then I think you should stop trying to influence her training decisions.


Weight training for swimming is more about muscle balance than improving actual strength.

Becoming a great swimmer is more about keeping your shoulers / back healthy as you up the milage or intensity.

Nothing beats a well balanced body and a sweet technique.

I'd drill Eric Cressey about specific stuff for swimming balance.

Next I'd get an under water camera and a coach and work on her specific stroke under the water.

One thing I've always seen to be great for swimmers is rowing. It's a good way to put some work into back and it's about the only other thing out there that reall works the CV system on a full scale.

What does she swim?


I don't have the link, but I read a study about 8 years back that showed no improvement in swim time in college swimmers on a conventional strength training program, and a significant improvement in swimmers on that same strength program plus direct work for the rotator cuff.

I'd put more focus on flyes and rotator exercises than on presses and pulls.


She swims all distances of freestyle from 50M to 500M. I'll check out the Cressey stuff. thanks,