The Biology of Swimming

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  • Learn about how your swimming machine works
  • Understand why you feel the way you do in practice
  • Improve your race strategy by knowing your Swimming Machine
  • Upgrade your training by simply mastering the basics

Don't be afraid! This is not biology class, this is swimming class. Your body is a Swimming Machine with a lot of moving parts. Knowing how these all work can help you understand why you feel the way you do at practice, why you train the way you do, and why you race the way you do.

Introduction

Part One: How the Swimming Machine Works

  • Muscle- How it Works
    • Sarcomeres: The Base Unit of Muscle
    • Myosin Heads: The Movers
    • Swimming Long is Against Biology
    • Muscle Damage: Explaining Soreness
  • Energy Systems- The Ultimate Hybrid
    • ATP: Pure Energy
    • Phosphagen system: The Energy Already Sitting Around
    • Glycolysis: Burning sugar
    • Aerobic: Efficient Burning
    • The Race Chooses the Engine.
    • Fuel for each Engine
  • Muscle Types- Sprinter vs. Miler
    • The Spectrum: Fast vs. Slow Twitch Fibers
    • Number of Fibers vs. Size of Fibers
    • Changing-ish your Muscle
    • Sprinters in the Mile and Milers in the 50

  • The Motor Unit- The Basics of Control
    • The Nerve Highway
    • Motor units Big and Small
    • Different Strokes Means Different Motor Units
    • Unlocking your Nerve Potential
      • Cardio- The Pump that Never Stops
        • The Circuit: A Pump and the Blood Highway
        • VO2: How big is your Fire?
        • Cardiac Output: How the Pump Works
        • Explaining all your Worst Feelings

      • Lungs- Breathing and Acid Control
        • Getting the Air next to the Blood
        • Why do we Feel Air Hungry?
        • Dealing with Acid:  Lactate and CO2 in the Blood
        • Lung Capacity and Breathing Muscles
        • Lactate Threshold- The Ultimate Endurance Test
          • Following the Acid: Creation to Elimination
          • What is the Lactate Threshold?
          • How to Test the Threshold
          • Lactate Threshold Graphs for Sprinters and Milers
        • Hormones-  Masters of the Machine
          • Training Hormones: Maintaining Sugars and Pressures
          • Recovery Hormones: Refuel, Rebuild, and Rehydrate

          Part Two: How the Swimming Machine Adapts

          • The Basics- What's the Best Workout? 
            • Science studies in swimming: tough to generalize
            • Specificity: Get better by Doing
            • Playing the physics game vs. the biology game
            • Elite athletes: their start point and maximum ability to train
          • Endurance Training- Laying a foundation
            • Aerobic Power: VO2max Training
            • Aerobic Endurance: Mitochondrial Training
          • Sprint Training- Top speed that lasts
            • Speed Training: Nerves and Muscle Angles
            • Lactate Tolerance: Buffering and Hypertrophy
          • Motor Learning- Cementing Habits
            • Motor Pattern: Technique
            • Motor Learning: Writing Motor Pattern Programs
          • Taper- Super Compensating
            • Day by Day Changes during Taper
            • Types of Taper: Minor, Major, Retaper
          • Overtraining- Too Much of a Good Thing 
            • Over-reaching vs. Overtraining
            • What does Overtraining Look Like and How to Test for it
            • How to fix Overtraining and Stop it from Happening Again
            • Dryland- Building In-Water Power... Out of the Water
              • How Dryland Helps You Swim Faster
              • Circuit, Strength, Power and Speed Training
              • Flexibility: Increasing Power and Decreasing Drag

                Part Three: How the Swimming Machine is Perfected

                  • Nutrition- Refuel, Rehydrate, Rebuild
                    • What is Food?
                    • Insulin, Glycemic Index and the Workout Loophole
                    • Training and Competition Meal Plan
                    • Micro-nutrients, Supplements and the Microbiome
                    • Injury- Joints, Lungs and Ears
                      • Joint Anatomy and Tendinitis
                      • Swimmer's Shoulder: Impingement Syndrome
                      • Breastroker's Knee
                      • (Flyer's) Spine
                      • Pre-hab and Rehab
                      • Cough
                    • Physics- Drag, Power and Pools
                      • Drag- Form, Skin and Wave Drag
                      • Power- The Good Drag
                      • Pool Physics- Getting Rid of Waves
                      • Psychology- Building Mental Toughness
                        • The Brain- Animal vs. Human
                        • Motivation- The Will to Do
                        • Self-Control and Grit- The Practice of "Overcoming"
                        • Anxiety- Turning Bad Feelings into Good Ones
                        • Confidence- Practice it 'till You Make it!
                        • Leadership- Making Others Better