By Alex Kostitch
Baywatch's David Hasselhoff may be the world's most famous fictitious lifeguard, but if you're looking for the real thing, then look no further than California's Craig Hummer.
Having attained legendary status on the fiercely competitive worldwide lifeguard competition circuit (no small feat, considering the world's best lifeguards hail from Down Under), Hummer has parlayed his past athletic achievements into a lucrative TV commentating and sports announcing career.
Still eager to stay in shape, he trains with a masters swim team in his spare time and ventures back into open waters to show some of the newer lifeguards how to win like a pro.
This third in a series of World Class Workouts is one of Hummer's favorites, and he claims to swim it at least once a week. While the main set is only 3,000 yards, a lengthier workout can be built around it with warmup drills and kicking/pulling sets.
Depending on how much time you have for your whole workout, you can warm up accordingly, Hummer explains. "If possible, get at least 500 to 1,000 yards of warmup completed before you hit this main set.
If time and capability permits, I would suggest warming up with:
500 easy freestyle
10x50 @ 10 seconds rest, descend one through five (Meaning each interval is faster than the one before it. Then repeat for intervals six through 10.)
By this time, you should be ready to attack the following:
1. 3x400 @ 5:00, descend
Hummer says that if a 400 on a 5-minute interval is too hard, you should pick an interval where you get about 10 to 15 seconds rest on the first 400, which is supposed to be fairly easy and descend down to a very fast swim.
The point of this first segment of the set is to get your heart rate up and determine the pace for the remaining repeats. After taking 100 yards to recover and loosen up, its time to complete two more 400s.
2. 100 easy @ 2:00
3. 2x400 @ 5:00, one easy, one fast
Again, the first 400 should not be too easy, otherwise you will miss your interval, Hummer cautions. Instead, try to comfortably make the interval on the first swim and then really blast the second one, giving it your all.
Be sure to keep in mind that the goal is to do all of the hard swims as close to the same time as possible. This helps to perfect three skills, Hummer explains:
First, it works on your pacing ability. You develop an understanding of what it feels like to go a certain speed for a certain length of time.
Second, it helps develop explosive speed by forcing you to go all-out early in the set, on the third 400 of the first grouping of three.