Building Swimming Ability and Confidence through the SwimRVA Hammerhead Pups

July 12, 2019 Posted by SwimRVA

Author: Benjamin Harrell

The summer is officially here and the open water is calling your name. The Masters program has been calling for you to join them. You’d love to have a relaxing workout in your local pool, lake or river. The only thing stopping you is that you don’t know where to start! The Hammerhead Pups program is the right program for you. Whether you want to be the best or swim for your best, the Pups program will prepare you for the next level of swim conditioning. Coach Alice and Coach Ed of the SwimRVA Hammerheads teach the Pups sessions and gave their input on the program from a coach’s point of view.


What is the SwimRVA Hammerhead Pups?

The program is designed to start you from scratch and ease you into a comprehensive swim program and get you ready for the more endurance-based practices of the main SwimRVA Hammerheads pool program or to train on your own.

“It’s a ‘pre-Hammerhead’ session,” Coach Alice explained.” The Hammerhead PUPS program is an introduction for swimmers before joining a full open-water swimming program like the SwimRVA Hammerheads. “The program helps you learn the lingo of masters, develop confidence and endurance to do the workout, and build swimming skills so that you will be more successful.”


What to Expect?

The Pups Program is a 12-session program, broken up into two per lessons a week for six weeks. The class meets for an hour on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Participants should be ready to swim every session starting day-one but don’t expect to be swimming miles at a time from the beginning. “You start out doing a lot of instructional work with just one length at a time (25 yards) and then build to longer distances. (50/75/100/200).We work to build up to a workout length of one to two miles of total yardage.”

“Learning is really within the student – the instructor simply helps to unlock and reveal the potential within. Ultimately what you get out depends on what you determine your goal to be and how avidly you approach it. That being said, students who complete Pups should be able to go to keep up with training with the Hammerheads, either in the instructional pool session or the big pool practice.” – Coach Alice.

“By the time swimmers complete the Pups program, they should be proficient in Freestyle, with their head down, good shoulder rotation. They’ll be ready to advance to a bigger group like the Hammerheads.” – Coach Ed.

While meant for amateur swimmers and athletes, the coaches remind you that this is NOT a place to learn the basics of swimming. “Pups is not a learn to swim program so it’s not appropriate for a true beginner. There is a good teacher-student ratio, but it isn’t a fundamental-focused experience like lessons would be.”


Who Should Join?

“We have a wide variety of people take Pups,” said Coach Alice.  “Some have already been “good enough” to go to masters, but they wanted to build more confidence and fitness before doing that. Others have been triathletes who were able to swim, but not especially well – they’ve been looking to build their skills.

Coach Ed sees mixed reasons for joining in the current class as well. “A couple of swimmers are doing an Ironman. One swimmer just completed an Ironman, but barely finished the swimming portion. An older woman in the class told me, ‘I don’t want to be a triathlete, I want to be a masters swimmer.’ So we have a lot of goals to swim for.”

You’re guaranteed to improve stroke efficiency, gain confidence in the water, become familiar with how to do a swim workout, and to have fun getting to know and work with like-minded people.  If you’re ready to better your swimming ability but don’t know where to begin your journey, consider the Pups to point you in the right direction!


About the SwimRVA Hammerheads

The SwimRVA Hammerheads is a comprehensive swim training program for adults that includes everything from stroke technique workouts for beginners to open water interval sessions and demanding pool workouts for more experienced swimmers. The Hammerheads also host many swimming events, including the SwimRVA 10k, The DownRiver Rip, and the Endless Summer Swim and Party.


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The Mission of SwimRVA is to elevate swimming in the Richmond region making water safety and aquatic fitness more accessible to all. We promise to serve as a catalyst for regional aquatics and community-wide focus on water safety, health and fitness, sports tourism, and competitive aquatics. Donate today to help support our mission


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