My name is Chuck Destro. I studied Mechanical Engineering and was a sprinter at Purdue University 2009 - 2013. In 2015, a year and a half after graduation from Purdue, I was experiencing a little loss of identity. I was often bothered by the thought that I never reached my full potential. I started swimming again, very slow swimming at a local YMCA. At the time, I lived in a town with virtually no population and the only company I had at the pool were the kids constantly jumping on the diving boards.
After a few months of paddling around, I found myself back at Purdue to visit friends and teammates at an Alumni day. After some catching up, a challenge went out. Originally, the challenge was a 50m race exclusively between one of my old teammates and I. Pretty soon, we had a full 8 lane pool with a starter and guys in racing suits lined up behind the blocks. The result was shocking. How could a guy who was barely swimming any yardage, be able to out touch an entire D1 sprint group? This event only strengthened my feelings that I had not yet reached my full potential.
Over the next few weeks, I called on friends, coaches, and experts. I researched how other sports train their sprinters, and how the most recent research says we should train. Together, we developed a training plan with the goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Trials. I signed up for a meet just 12 weeks away, and I put my head down and trained. The training theory was that I would swim 7 days a week, for 30 minutes or less. I cycled between days that we called: Anaerobic Capacity, Acid Buffering, Peak Power, Fiber Recruitment, Race Rehearsal and Rest. We defined these categories in the following way:
- Anaerobic Capacity - These days focused on dive sets. A constant mixture of 50s 75s & 100s. I adjusted the rest from 3 minutes all the way to 15 minutes between efforts. These could be with resistance, with fins, with paddles, or with nothing. An example set would be: 6X 50s on 5 minutes.
- Half Full Acid Buffering - These days focused on the ability to deal with large amounts of acid. I tried to use broken swims to achieve this. I tried to generate the maximal amount of acid that I could with repeated fast, short rest sprints between 25y and 50y. An example would be: 4-16 x 25s max on the :15 - :30. Again, I did this with all different types of equipment and resistances.
- Peak Power - These days focused on short sprints with lots of resistance. I wanted to avoid burning out my nervous system with too much sprinting, so on peak power days, the reps were adjustable. I would stop when I felt my power beginning to drop off. An example set was: 6-12x 6 arm cycles.
- Fins & Paddles, MAX, Max Power Tower Weight Fiber Recruitment - These days, I tried to prime my nervous system and muscle fibers for maximal amounts of speed. I did this by swimming very slow, very good technique with Anti-paddles and drag sox. Immediately after removal, I would swim something short and fast, then immediately get out of the water for the day in an attempt to program my body to always swim like that. An example would be: 20x25s w/ Anti-paddles, Drag Sox, Snorkel on :40
- Race Rehearsal - These days are pretty self explanatory. I tried to replicate race day as closely as possible, from food all the way to sleep schedule.
- Rest Days - Due to all of the sprinting in this program, rest days were taken frequently and they were critical. These served to rest not only the body, but the mind. I would try to do fun things and just play in the water. I would not allow myself to swim faster than float speed on these days.
After a 2 week taper, race day arrived. I selected my home pool at Purdue and invited family to see what I had been doing during my lunch breaks at work. Not only did I achieve the qualifying time, but I also hit a new PR. I think everyone was shocked, according to the training that I had done my whole life, this should not have been possible.