Author: Kelli Zappert

Swimming Instructor, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Stay hydrated While Swimming.

When you swim, believe it or not, you sweat. It is important, as with any sport, to drink plenty of water; before during and after your workout. Don’t make the mistake of thinking just because I am in the water I am getting plenty of fluids. The water washes away the feeling of sweat thus the old thought of “I’m not sweating”. There are a lot of different types of hydration drinks. Avoid caffeine whileas its dehydrating affects will inhibit your performance, cause headaches and the ability to think clearly.


When you sweat your body loses important electrolytes and inhibits your performance. Remember to always bring hydration in a non-breakable container onto the pool deck!

Benefits of Water for Athletes

Beginning a swim program will help benefit your other athletic endeavors. Just like swimmers partake in dry land workouts to improve their bodies ability to swim better. If you have been a runner for the better part of your life the injuries you sustain can be worked out in the pool. You say but I want to run…how about running in the pool. There are devices that will help you float enough to keep your feet off of the pool floor. You can run from one end to the other. Give yourself different a certain amount of time to get to the other end. Do sprints like you would on a running track. Make the next set perhaps a bit easier then do another hard set. You will find the plantar fasciitis is no longer bothering you. The knee pain is less than it used to be. Now you can hit the pavement again, but don’t forget what helped you get better after all water is a benefit for all athletes.

Swimming Stronger

What is your favorite stroke? Do you always swim the same stroke? Do you swim freestyle aka crawl stroke for miles at a time? Do you think about building stamina?


For the most part when people swim they are swimming crawl stroke. People have said, “I can swim 3 miles and I am not winded”. Isn’t swimming one of those things that you can build to be better, stronger and faster? The answer is YES! Sometimes all it takes is to have a swim instructor look over your technique to provide pointers. The improvement may only be a slight, but can make a world of difference.


Do you want to be faster? Change your swim training up!  Instead of swimming for 30 minutes continues, incorporate, some sprints or slight speed changes. Or break up the swim to include rest periods, allowing you to focus on technique and/or pacing.


Another way to boost your speed and strength is to find a masters swim program (known as swim conditioning at the Seattle Athletic Club) with a coach and other swimmers to push you and switch things up! It’s amazing what a little competitive edge will do to help your swimming. And always…keep it FUN!


Let’s swim quickly

The below workout is one of my favorites because I think it is important to have a variety in the workout. It’s good for your body to changes things up a bit. Move your arms in different directions to avoid repetitive motion. A rotator cuff injury is hard to come back from especially as we age. If we sit at a desk working on a computer all day typically leaning forward and then swimming all freestyle (crawl stroke) keeps you in the same position. Pull those shoulders back be proud of who you are!

Warm Up
140 swim & drill, 120 kick, 200 pull

Main Set
4 x 100, 1:35/1:45
3 x 200, :10 – :15; rest descending 1 – 3
5 x 160, :10 rest; fly/free/back/free/breast/free/free/free
10 x 40, :05 rest; 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 kick / 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 pull (sprint)

Cool Down

The beauty of a crystal clear swimming pool

All swimming pools have pretty much the same rules. One rule in particular will be at any swimming pool you go to, that is “Please shower before you enter the pool”. This rule is there for a very specific reason. And no it’s not to annoy you. Pool chemistry can be a tricky thing. If you get in without showering your perfume, sweat, make-up and what the day has proceeded to leave on you can throw off the chemicals of the pool. You might think I haven’t been anywhere I haven’t done anything to cause the pool chemistry to go off balance. If everyone has that thought then the pool will never be clean.

In order to help keep the pool chemistry in balance is that everyone showers prior to getting in. So, keeping that in mind on your next visit to the pool please remember to shower before you get in.

Member Spotlight: Lori Dickinson

Lori lives and works over 40 miles away from the Seattle Athletic Club. She drives here religiously every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to participate in Swim Conditioning. I can always rely on Lori to show up with a smile on her face and eager to jump in. She helps me keep count of the set they are swimming. Her enthusiasm for swimming shows in every length she swims.

She has been a member of the Seattle Athletic Club since the club opened its doors in the 1980’s. Lori started in the swimming program just a short time after joining, going from only being able to swim one length of the pool to participating in the entire workout. She has been actively participating ever since, making her three swim workouts a high priority every week. Swimming has kept her healthy, happy, and relatively injury-free for a long time, she doesn’t plan to ever give it up.

“I’ve had various competitive goals during my swimming years, for 2012 I set a goal just to compete against myself–to swim 250 miles for the year. At the time I set the goal I really didn’t think too much about it, I calculated the number of yards I usually swim in a week and multiplied it by 52 weeks in the year.

What I didn’t think about was the inevitable snow and ice and marathon road-closures that make being late for practice a regular occurrence. I didn’t think about the work and family emergencies that would pull me away from practice. I didn’t take into account a bout with the whooping cough that took swimming away as an option for a number of weeks, or the fact that both Thanksgiving and Christmas hit on swim workouts days. During the summer I realized that hitting my goal was actually going to require some pretty aggressive work on my part.

From that point forward I made it a point to stay late after class if my yardage hadn’t met my daily goal. When the club closed for the summer maintenance I joined another club to keep my weekly yardage up. As the end of the year approached I counted out the number of workouts left, added up the anticipated mileage for each one and realized that I had to swim every single yard in every single workout to make my goal. If a snowstorm or illness prevented me from getting in I knew I wouldn’t make it.

Thanks to my coach, Kelli, who was tracking my mileage just as closely as I was, I got in a couple of extra yards here and there on top of my plan. It wasn’t just my coach that kept me motivated, the other members of the class have always been super supportive of each other, so they helped a lot, too. I hit my 250 mile goal with 2 miles to spare on the last workout of the year. Hooray!”

I look forward to seeing Lori 3 days a week. Thank you Lori for all of your hard work!

Tips for sharing lanes in the pool

From the time we are babies we are taught to share. With this simple teaching the hope is as adults we continue to use this practice. This goes with so many different things in life.

You think “I need to get my laps in, I will go swimming today”. You head to the club. In the locker room you put on your swim suit and cap with goggles in hand you head to the pool after you have showered. You’re all ready to jump in and swim as you walk onto the pool deck you think to yourself “what’s this? All the lanes have someone in them!” There is a swim lesson in one lane, someone jogging in another lane and the other lanes have one person swimming. What do you do? Do you wait for a lane to open up? Do you get mad and leave?

There is a simple answer to those questions and leaving is not it. This is where the life long lesson of sharing comes into play. Watch the swimmers see who fits in with your level or speed of swimming. You can wait for them to stop and see you standing on the deck to ask them if they will share with you. You may think I don’t want to disturb someone’s pace; you can climb in making sure not to get in the way. Stand off to the side when they stop ask if they would like to swim circles or split the lane in half.

If you are the person swimming and see someone looking for a place to swim you can offer to share your lane with them. It is also possible to ask the jogger and lesson if they wouldn’t mind sharing a lane so you can swim laps.

Lap lanes can hold many people in them. If you leave :05 – :10 seconds between you and the person in front of you there will be plenty of room for a lot of people. If you were on swim team growing up you always shared lanes with possibly 10 or more people. It’s nice to have the pool or lane to yourself. Sometimes we get so used to it that the first thought is “What? My lane has someone in it.”

All in all there is plenty of room for everyone. All we need to do is SHARE.

It’s never too late to learn to swim… better!

Learning to swim as an adult can be challenging for some more than others. We see people swimming around making it look easy and it is easy for them because they have been swimming their entire life or close to it. They have spent more hours in a swimming pool than you can imagine; playing, training for a swim meet, practicing water polo just a few of the many things that can be done in a swimming pool.

You’re an adult and think it’s time to learn how to swim. Make sure to have the proper gear. Find a swim suit that is comfortable and goggles that fit your eye size and shape, both should fit properly. If you have long hair a swim cap works better than a ponytail. It will actually keep your hair out of your eyes. Now, there are a lot of really good swim instructors waiting for you.

The first day you take the plunge you’ll be hooked; okay maybe not hooked. Let’s face it, it may take a few times to get comfortable and gain confidence in the water. With help the next thing you know ‘You will be one of those people making it look easy’.

You can never be too safe in the water

You can never be too safe when it comes to being in or on the water. Do you like to jump in the water off a dock, boat or cliff? Can you see the bottom? If the answers are yes and then no, then make sure you follow these safety techniques. Always look before you leap, you say “I’ve jumped or dove off of this dock or cliff before, I will be okay”. With the change in our waters from climate change, storms that brought in new debris or the time of year contribute to what dangers may lurk at the bottom of any water. First of all never dive or jump into unknown waters. Swim around the area you are planning to make the plunge in. Check it out for anything that may harm you. Make sure the water is deep enough compared to the height you are jumping from.

If you are jumping from any height be careful as to how you are going to land. If you hit water wrong it can feel like you just landed on cement and cause just as much damage. The best way to jump is cross your arms over your chest, cross your feet at the ankles keeping your legs straight and hold on tight. Once you hit the water open your arms and push down then kick. This will bring your back to the surface and you will be ready to go again! Have fun but be SAFE. Nothing can ruin a good time more than needing to have the paramedics come take you to the hospital or worse the morgue.

Water Safety

Do you consider yourself to be safe when you are on or near the water? Do you have the appropriate safety gear for any of your water activities? Are you on a boat; are there enough lifejackets for everyone on board? Are those lifejackets within arms reach? Do you have all children 12 and under wearing life jackets at all times while on the boat? 80% of all drowning victims in boating accidents were not wearing lifejackets.

These are all questions you should be asking yourself before you embark on your next boating or any type of water adventure.

What do you do if someone falls off of a dock and doesn’t know how to swim? Do you go in after them? Are you a good swimmer? Do you have any lifeguard training skills? The best way to help is to lie down on the dock reaching with your arm or leg if you cannot reach them that way take off your jacket or shirt if need be your pants get a good grip on one end and say grab my coat or arm. Don’t jump in and try to save them yourself. There have been to many times where either both people end up in trouble or the rescuer is the one that drowns. If you have an unopened large bag of chips can be tossed to the victim for them to float on. Then you can give them instructions how to get to shore.