Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Maarten van der Weijden, the gold medalist at the 2008 Olympic 10K Marathon Swim from the Netherlands, prepared himself in thoughtful ways for his 2008 Olympic triumph.

The 10 km champion dramatically adjusted his sleep patterns in his native Netherlands in order to match Beijing time several months in advance. He used light therapy as well as slept – and napped – in a high-altitude tent prior to going to China for the Olymics. He also focused on his morning practices that helped him optimally prepared for the 9:00 am start time in Beijing.

Van der Weijden and his coach, Marcel Wouda shared their workouts with those who asked. That admirable philosophy – that is, not keeping things secret – absolutely fits the personality of one of open water swimming’s most visible ambassador: “It is best to be open about my training methods and share my love and knowledge of the sport with others.”

As he built himself back up from cancer, Coach Wouda frequently changed Van der Weijden’s weekly swimming volume between 40,000 meters in easy weeks to up to 120,000 meters in the hardest weeks of training. “Maarten did a good amount of (relatively) slow work, where his lactate readings are not reaching 2 mmol/l lactate concentration,” explained Wouda. “Maarten also did max holding sets and lactate production sets, but that was not a significant part of his total workout volume.”

During a typical high-volume week during his Olympic year, he followed the following schedule:

5:45 am wake up
5:50 am eat a quick breakfast
6:05 am head to pool
6:30-10:00 am swim practice
10:00-10:30 am core body workout
11:15-12:00 eat a big breakfast/lunch
12:00-2:15 pm nap
2:30-2:45 pm eat
5:00-7:00 pm swim practice
7:30 pm eat
10:30 pm bedtime

One of his typical long swim practice were as follows:

4 x 400 meters with 10-15 seconds rest (odd 400’s swimming. Even 400’s 150 pulling + 50 kicking x 2)
8 x 50 with 10-15 seconds rest
4 x 500 with 10-15 seconds rest (odd 500’s freestyle pulling with paddles. Even 500’s with snorkel)
8 x 800 with 25-30 seconds rest
5 x 400 with 15-20 seconds rest pulling (2 with snorkel, 2 with 150 @ 65% and 50 at 80%, 1 negative split by 10 seconds beginning at 70%)
2 x 150 kicking @ 70% + 3 x 50 kicking @ 80%, 85% and 90%
1 x 100 snorkel
10 x 50

Other swim practices included the following sets:

1 x 600
1 x 400 (with 100 pulling + 50 kicking)
4 x 50 @ 1:00 (15 meters max + 25 meter + 10 meters max)
1 x 100 with snorkel
8 x 300 with 10-15 seconds rest (4 x LA0, 2 x LA1, 1 x LA½, 1 x LA2)
1 x 100 with snorkel
8 x 200 with 10-15 seconds rest (3 x LA0, 2 x LA1, 2 x LA½, 1 x LA2)
1 x 100 with snorkel
1 x 1000
8 x 300
8 x 200
1 x 1000
1 x 300 (50 kicking + 50 pulling) with 10-15 seconds rest
1 x 200 with 10-15 seconds rest
2 x 100 with 10-15 seconds rest
1 X 200 with 10-15 seconds rest
1 x 300

1 x 800 (100 freestyle + 50 backstroke + 50 breaststroke)
4 x 200 with 10-15 seconds rest (odd kicking and even pulling)
2 x 1500 with 25-30 seconds rest
2 x 2000 with 40-45 seconds rest
2 x 1500 with 25-30 seconds rest
3 x 200 kicking with zoomers @ 70-90% + 100 kicking with zoomers @ 85-90% + 100 with snorkel
12 x 100

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