World Class Workout 14: Different Strokes With Kristy Kowal

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This World Class Workout is a stroke-intensive drill set from breaststroke wonder woman Kristy Kowal.

Kowal burst onto the scene in 1998 with a gold-medal-winning performance in the 100-meter breaststroke at the World Championships. She has since gone on to a silver medal at the 2000 Olympic Games in the 200m breaststroke and once held the American record in that event.

Interestingly, Kristy cites an earlier World Class Workout contributor as one of her role models and inspirations:

"I love Janet Evans, she is the reason I wanted to be in the Olympics," Kowal says. "I saw her when I was younger and I wanted to be just like her."

Kristy's coach, Jack Bauerle, gave her this workout as an opportunity to work her best stroke, breaststroke. Many swimmers on club teams (and Masters groups) find it difficult to focus on their best strokes during training sessions because the majority-rule freestyle sets tend to dominate the workout.

I found this particular stroke-intensive challenge a useful option for all non-freestylers, since it is easily adaptable as a "stroke" workout for not only breaststokers but also backstrokers or butterfliers.

Freestylers are not off the hook, though: I always suggest challenging yourselves with alternate strokes to condition lesser-used muscles while improving cardiovascular performance.

Still not convinced? Go ahead and do the workout freestyle then; it's bound to challenge you anyway and give you an opportunity to work on your technique.

Kristy Kowal's Workout

1 x 1,000 (75 swim, 25 kick)
300 pull choice

Warm-Up Set
8 x 75
Odd: freestyle @ :60
Even: 25 drill/50 build @1:15

100 easy swim

Main Set
16 x 200
1. Freestyle, moderate
2. 50 drill breast/50 swim breast
3. Freestyle, moderate
4. Breaststroke, negative split

Do this four times through, descending 4-8-12-16

Pull/Kick Set
30 x 50
Pull free on :35
300 moderate kick on 1:35 base

Final Set(s)
8 x 50 descend 1-4
(to the point where you're swimming 33- or 34-second 50's on 55-second intervals)

3 x 100 negative split breast with paddles and fins on 15 sec rest

200 easy cool-down

TOTAL: 7,900 yards

The warm-up doesn't specify any type of stroke, but given that you have a 25 kick separating a total of 10x75's, this is a great opportunity to throw in some stroke work.

After the first 500 of the warm-up, which you can do freestyle, go ahead and do the following four 75/25 cycles in IM order (fly, back, breast, free), and for the fifth one repeat your weakest stroke.

The next 8x75 set grants you an opportunity to focus on stroke-specific drills on the even-numbered repeats. For instance, you can do one of each stroke on the four drill/build 75's, while swimming freestyle on the even ones.

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