Where Mexican Swimmers Go, Others Are Following: 20,000-meter Workouts

Where Mexican Swimmers Go, Others Are Following: 20,000-meter Workouts

Upping the ante to 20,000 meter high-altitude pool workouts in Mexico City

International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer Antonio Argüelles recalls, “As a long-distance swimmer in my youth, 100 x 100 meters was a standard set that we did several times during the season. Later in life, I felt that it was a challenge that needed to be done occasionally. As I started training with Rafa Álvarez, the 100×100 set disappeared from the map. Instead, we began the dreadful 10 x 1,000 meters every month.

After my return from Europe in this summer, while we were discussing our plans for the upcoming season, I dared to throw in a new set, knowing that Rafa would probably send it straight into the trash can. ‘Rafa, how about 200 x 100 meters? That would be fun.’

He answered quickly, ‘Fun, sure, but do not see the purpose.’

Last year in December, Argüelles pushed forward with his idea of a 200 x 100 meter workout (Double Century) at 2,240 meters (7,349 feet) altitude among his Mexico City workout group, as they prepared for the Brazada Abrazada.

Quickly, Jaime Lomelín, Mariel Hawley, Nora Toledano, and Paty Kohlmann agreed to do their first 20,000m high-altitude workout in a 50m long-course pool. Argüelles recalled, “They all loved the idea and we decided to make a list that soon increased to 20 swimmers.”

The team

The German Club in Mexico City agreed to let them use their 50m outdoor pool. Later the swimmers donated $1,000 to help to teach children during the school year. The swimmers divided themselves into three lanes and did the following 5 sets four times on 2 minutes for a total of 20,000 meters:

  • 10 x 100 meters at R3
  • 10 x 100 pull buoy and paddles
  • 10 x 100 75 meters at R4 and 25 meters recovery
  • 10 x 100 fins at R3
  • 10 x 100 negative split R3/R4
Coach Rafa Álvarez set description
50m pool at the German Club in Mexico City
Hydration and feeding

Olympian and Michigan alumnus Ricardo Vargas, a 1500m swimmer with a personal best of 15:11 in training for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, averaged a 1:08 long-course meters per 100 at altitude, without using any equipment.

The Goal Has Been Set – Other Groups To Follow

Now, this winter, masters swimming groups in Barcelona, Spain and San Francisco and Long Beach, California will follow in the wake of their Mexico City counterparts this winter. The different groups are planning their own 200 x 100 meter workouts, albeit not at high altitude.

Not to be outdone, Ned Denison of Cork, Ireland recalls previous years when he and his group of hard-core Irish swimmers would do 200 x 100 sets and even 250 x 100m workouts.

Argüelles recalls his experience, “For many, it was a swim they had only dreamt of. For others, it was a reassurance that they could accomplish tasks that seem difficult. For me it was a day to remember. Although I had not swam the way I’d expected, I had encouraged many others to take on the challenge. Along the way, we raised money for a great cause, and the experience made me remember George Sheehan’s quote: ‘In each training session or event, one must become the hero of one’s own story.'”

Antonio Argüelles asking What’s Next?
Jaime Lomelin and Nora Toledano
Olympian Patty Kohlmann
Ximena Argüelles
Jaime Lomelin and Nora Toledano
Coach Rafa Álvarez and ringleader Antonio Argüelles
14 swimmers completed the entire 20,000m high-altitude workout, 3 finished 15,000 meters, 3 finished 10,000 meters in Mexico City

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Steven Munatones