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With a flat spell coming, here’s my yearly reminder to hit the pool

By Jake Howard

Last week, I ran into old friend Dino Andino at the Ole Hanson Swim Club. I know he likes to be kind of sneaky and dip in and out, but it was good to catch up and see him getting after it in the New Year.

Last season, his son, Kolohe, finished No. 5 in the world. He qualified for the U.S. Olympic team and will presumably be surfing in the Olympic Games this July and August. In an already stellar career, this was a personal best. Pops has a lot of which to be proud.

In the spirit of the New Year and resolutions and such, Kolohe says that Pilates, a specific diet and a lot of surfing are the cornerstones of his fitness routine. Dino likes the pool.

I can personally attest to the power of Pilates—or at least I better be able to, considering that my wife owns a Pilates and yoga studio in San Juan Capistrano. At present, I’m 43 years old, and I honestly believe regular Pilates sessions have saved my surf life.

But if you’ve been reading this column for a while, you may know that I’m first and foremost a swimmer. I try to make it down to Ole Hanson every day at lunch for a swim. As I told Dino last week, “It’s the fountain of youth.”

And as I was pondering what to write this week, I thought about doing a long-range surf outlook. Unless you’ve got wheels and time to get somewhere with a little more swell exposure, expect to sustain your surf appetite on a steady diet of waist-high waves. Looking at Surfline’s two-week outlook, it’s going to be slow goings for a while.

So, what do you do if your New Year’s resolution was to surf more? Here’s the drum I’ll keep beating: now, more than ever, is the perfect time to get in the pool (or take a Pilates class). There’s sure to be some swell later in the season, and keeping the rig tuned is imperative.

To take all of this full circle, a lot of times I talk to folks, and they don’t know where to get started with a swim workout. Easy. Some years ago, Kolohe was injured, and Dino asked me to put a few swim workouts together for him so he could stay active in the water. Happily, I obliged.

I recently found those workouts, so, in honor of seeing Dino at the pool, New Year’s resolutions, flat spells and getting ready for the next swell, what follows are the workouts I gave to Kolohe. It’s a great starting point even if you don’t swim regularly.

None of the workouts should take more than an hour. The key to it all is consistency. Making a regular appearance at the pool is paramount, but hopefully it’s a nice break in your day. It’s a chance to put your head underwater, get away from phones and emails for a while, and refresh the mind and body.

Hope to see you at the pool—and the beach—this year.

Dirty Dozen:

  • 1 lap, 1 pushup
  • 2 laps, 2 pushups
  • 3 laps, 3 pushups
  • 4 laps, 4 pushups
  • 5 laps, 5 pushups
  • Continue progression up to 12 laps w/ 12 pushups


  • 300-yard (12 laps) warmup using long, stretched-out stroke.
  • 10 x 50 (2 laps) with 10 seconds rest between reps
  • 10 x 100 (4 laps) with 15 seconds rest between reps
  • 200-yard (eight laps) cooldown

The Ladder:

  • 300-yard (12 laps) warmup
  • 2 x 50 yards (2 laps)
  • 1 x 100 yards (4 laps)
  • 2 x 75 yards (3 laps)
  • 1 x 150 yards (6 laps)
  • 2 x 100 yards (4 laps)
  • 1 x 200 yards (8 laps)
  • 2 x 125 yards (5 laps)
  • 1 x 250 yards (10 laps)
  • 2 x 150 yards (6 laps)
  • 1 x 300 yards (12 laps)
  • 100-yard easy cooldown

Endurance Workout:

  • 300-yard warmup
  • 1 x 500 yards
  • 1 x 400 yards
  • 1 x 300 yards
  • 1 x 200 yards
  • 1 x 100 yard
  • (wear hand paddles and pull buoy)
  • 10 x 50: Underwater down, easy back. Try and maintain 15-20 seconds rest between each one.

Sprint Workout:

  • 300-yard warmup
  • 10 x 50: first 25 all-out pace, then 25 easy, back to the wall. Take one-minute rest between each one (goal is to raise and lower the heart rate)
  • 6 x 100: 75 hard pace, 25 easy. Minute rest between each one.
  • 16 x 25: All-out sprints on 45-second pace.
  • 5 min. vertical kick: Alternate 30 seconds hands in the water, 30 seconds hands out of the water.
  • 200 easy cooldown

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