Author Archives: Laurie Hug

Laurie Hug: Positive Drive Fins (PDF)

“Those are the oddest looking fins I have ever seen!” said one of my training partners when I pulled the Positive Drive Fins (PDFs) out of my equipment bag.

Yeah, I guess they do look kind of funny compared to standard training fins. These are smaller and rounder and look like they won’t even fit. They also feel a bit strange the first few times you try them, particularly if you are used to using long fins. You don’t get the same level of propulsion with PDFs but they have other benefits.

Laurie 2

Lake Placid Nationals, 2013

One is that they can be used for all four strokes. So that means no more doing dolphin kicks for breaststroke during IM sets. Breaststroke kick does feel a bit awkward at first but once I got used to using them I found they help me finish my kick with a snap. The other benefit I found was that it helped me work on my pathetic six beat kick. Because they are smaller it seems easier to do quick tight kicks than when using traditional fins. As a distance and open water swimmer I like to use a two beat kick but at times I want to be able to pick things up (such as chasing a break in open water or finishing the last 50 strong in the 1650) so a six beat kick is a good tool to have in your back pocket.

Here are a couple of my favorite sets using PDFs. I like to do these after the main set to help work on using a 6 beat kick. Before training with PDFs I had trouble holding a 6 beat kick for more than 35y. These sets have helped enable me to do a strong 50 with a 6 beat kick. I don’t plan on using a 6 beat kick much since I am not a sprinter but there are times it comes in handy (like relays or strong finishes).

Set #1:

2+ rounds of:

1 x 100: 1st 50= kick on side with PDFs, 2nd 50 free with PDFs – 6 beat kick

R5-10s (just enough to put on equipment)

1 x 50 pull with FINIS Agility Paddles and Pull Buoy (leaving the PDFs on)

R5-10s (just enough to remove buoy)

1 x 50 free with Agility Paddles and PDFs – 6 beat kick

R5-10s to remove fins

1 x 50 with Paddles and 6 beat kick

1 x 50 easy

Set #2:

4-8 x 75s done as:

1 x 25 kick with PDFs (with board or on side)

1 x 25 sprint with PDFs – 6 beat kick

1 x 25 easy pull (Agility Paddles/Pull Buoy optional – just stop long enough to put them on –leave PDFs on)

Then sometimes I will sprint a 50 free with a 6 beat kick with no fins after the set.

 

Laurie Hug is a USAT Level 2 triathlon and Level 3 USMS swimming coach who has an impressive athletic talent of her own. Laurie has earned 344 individual and 36 relay top-ten finishes in US Masters Swimming since 1989. She also swam for the Univ. of Maryland during her undergraduate studies and set four school records (400IM, 500free, 1000free, 1650free). Laurie has also been a professional triathlete (1999-2009) and became a member of the USAT National Team in 2003.

 

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Laurie Hug: FINIS Agility Paddles

Last summer at USMS Nationals I had hoped to try out the new FINIS Agility Paddles but ran out of time.  Fortunately, one of the masters swimmers who swims for my club bought a pair and let me test them out.  I liked the way the paddles were a bit smaller than I was accustomed to wearing but found my thumb was getting sore from the pressure of the thumb hole.  She said she hadn’t had that problem and suggested that maybe I was gripping them rather than letting my hand stay relaxed. Well that did the trick and I was sold.  In September I picked up my own pair and then ordered a dozen for the high school team that I coach.Laurie Hug

These paddles give the swimmer a good feel for a proper catch and give instant feedback. If the swimmer drops the elbow on entry and has his/her fingers pointing up, the paddles will catch water and come off before the catch is initiated.  They also can be used for strokes other than freestyle.  While I don’t normally advocate using paddles for fly, I can leave these on for IM sets. The paddles are small enough that they put less stress on the shoulder than larger ones.  Normally paddles feel awkward for breaststroke but not the agility paddles.  I find these really help me get up high on the insweep when I take my breath and set me up to shoot forward on the recovery.

As a coach, it is nice to not have to deal with replacing straps.  This year, half of our old paddles were found to have decayed straps that kept breaking.  When we offered the Agility Paddles most of the team decided to use these rather than the ones we had been using.  (Since we only have a dozen of them they were the first to go on pulling sets – most freshmen got stuck with our old ones!)

One of my favorite ways to use the Agility Paddles is to pair them up with the Z2 Zoomers. Together, they help me feel high in the water with a strong catch and 6 beat kick.

I highly recommend the FINIS Agility Paddles for all the reasons stated above…plus they look cool!

Laurie Hug is a USAT Level 2 triathlon and Level 3 USMS swimming coach who has an impressive athletic talent of her own. Laurie has earned 344 individual and 36 relay top-ten finishes in US Masters Swimming since 1989. She also swam for the Univ. of Maryland during her undergraduate studies and set four school records (400IM, 500free, 1000free, 1650free). Laurie has also been a professional triathlete (1999-2009) and became a member of the USAT National Team in 2003.

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Laurie Hug: FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro

Laurie HugAbout four years ago, I purchased a FINIS Tempo Trainer and immediately loved the product. I started using it during solo training sessions where I found I was able to stay more focused and keep up with more difficult intervals. Setting it to beep every 18 seconds was the next best thing to having one of my training buddies swimming in the next lane keeping me on pace. I also enjoyed playing around with different stroke rates and finding which setting resulted in the fastest times.

Next I brought it to my high school team where I used it on swimmers whose stroke rates were slowing down during long sets. It was amazing to see how much faster some kids could go when trying to keep up with the beep.

The original Tempo Trainer was not perfect though and it had room for improvement. The three main issues I had with it were:

  • It wasn’t easy to switch from the tempo mode to the timing mode.
  • You couldn’t change the battery (and for something that retailed at around $35-$40 it wasn’t an inexpensive replacement).
  • The tempo mode was set for seconds per stroke cycle rather than stroke cycles per minute and I was more interested in the latter.

TT ProThe FINIS Tempo Trainer Pro solved all of these problems! There now is a mode button where the user can easily move from the timing mode to the seconds per cycle mode (found on the original Tempo Trainer) as well to as a new strokes per minute mode. This one change addressed two of my concerns in one shot! And now it allows the user to change the battery. It does costs about $10 more but is well worth higher price.

Laurie Hug is a USAT Level 2 triathlon and Level 3 USMS swimming coach who has an impressive athletic talent of her own. Laurie has earned 344 individual and 36 relay top-ten finishes in US Masters Swimming since 1989. She also swam for the Univ. of Maryland during her undergraduate studies and set four school records (400IM, 500free, 1000free, 1650free). Laurie has also been a professional triathlete (1999-2009) and became a member of the USAT National Team in 2003.

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Laurie Hug: How I Use the FINIS Circuit Trainer

CircuitTrainerThis season we purchased a FINIS Circuit Trainer for use in our dryland circuits. It can be set for work and rest intervals along with the number of reps to be performed. This makes it much easier to keep track of time than using the stopwatch function on my watch or phone. The beeper volume can be adjusted so that all the swimmers can hear the beep and saves my voice from yelling “START…STOP” for each exercise.

We also came up with another way to use the FINIS Circuit Trainer on the pool deck. We will set it to a send-off time for not-so-typical interval times. For instance, it can be used for multiple groups of 50s such as this set we did last week:

4 x 50y on :50 breast (set to beep every 25s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 on :48 back (set to beep every 24s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 on :46 fly (set to beep every 23s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 on :44 25br/25fr (set to beep every 22s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 on :42 25bk/25fr (set to beep every 21s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 on :40 25fly/25fr (set to beep every 20s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 fr on :38 fr (set to beep every 19s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 fr on :36 fr (set to beep every 18s) then 1 x 50 easy

4 x 50 fr on :34 fr (set to beep every 17s) then 1 x 50 easy

The goal is for the swimmer to beat the beep to the wall at the 25 and 50 marks. The coach can easily see who is hitting the turn before the beep without having to look at the pace clock or a stopwatch. A Tempo Trainer could be used for this but it takes time to synch them  to have each swimmer remove the Tempo Trainer after each group of 50s. This way the coach just has to drop the setting by 1 second when the swimmers do their easy 50.

 

Laurie Hug is a USAT Level 2 triathlon and Level 3 USMS swimming coach who has an impressive athletic talent of her own. Laurie has earned 344 individual and 36 relay top-ten finishes in US Masters Swimming since 1989. She also swam for the Univ. of Maryland during her undergraduate studies and set four school records (400IM, 500free, 1000free, 1650free). Laurie has also been a professional triathlete (1999-2009) and became a member of the USAT National Team in 2003.

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Follow us on Twitter! @FINISswim

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