By Brady Bingham

The Water Jumper

World Record Long Jumper, Mike Powell believes water workouts helped him reach the top of his field.

Perhaps, you have seen the FILA shoe commercial. Mike Powell, the man who amazingly broke the world record held by Bob Beamon in the long jump, a feat that was once thought never to be bettered, soars into a deep pool of water, sprints (underwater) to the other side, then leaps out from the pool to the deck. Visually, this makes a good commercial, don't you think?

Realistically, Powell does extol the virtues of the water workout. In fact, Powell begins and ends every day of workouts by leaping into the water_although not quite so dramatically_and working through a set routine of drills and exercises.

"I have basically two workouts," said Powell, who uses the nine-foot deep pool in his backyard to do the majority of his water workouts. "And, most of the stuff that I do is in the deep end with a vest.

"I do one workout in the morning to kind of get myself going. It takes maybe 20 to 30 minutes and is more like an aerobic workout," he continued. "The other workout in the evening is more like a cool down."

To be more specific, in the morning Powell runs through a sequence of four to five different drills in the water, all done at high intensity. He will begin his workout by doing simulated running in the pool for about five minutes. He then performs a cross-country skiing movement for the next three minutes, followed by two minutes of alternating straight leg kicks. After then running in place for 30 seconds to recover, Powell does one to two minutes of flutter kick on his back_keeping his feet and legs underwater for increased resistance in both directions_and then another one to two minutes of an abductor pull drill, forcing his legs inward and outward, again working against the resistance of the water.

After completing this sequence, Powell will repeat the final three exercises to round out the workout. "Depending on how hard a workout I want to have," continued Powell, "I may do some more simulated sprinting. Maybe 30 second runs with 15 second recovery, four times. Or I may bring it down to 15 second runs but increase the intensity."

Powell will then finish the workout with a warm down_usually light simulated jogging to cool down.

In the evening, after his usual track workout, Powell returns to the pool to do a warm-down workout in a similar sequence as the morning workout. "If I have an easy day then I'll do a shorter version of that workout_maybe just a 12 minute workout," said Powell. "If I had a harder day then I would just do the running and cross-country skiing and just let my body warm down.

"I do this every day," he continued. "Even on my off days, I will get in there and do one of the 12 minute workouts just to do something active for the day."

Once You Start ...
Powell began using the water workouts back in 1988 when his coach, Randy Huntington (Phil, check sp) introduced him to Lynda Huey, water workout therapist and guru to many top athletes.

"I started using it more as therapy," said Powell. "I was able to still train while I was not able to run on the hard surface (due to injuries). It gave my body a break."

Not only did Powell say he saw definite positives therapeutically, but he also believed in the conditioning and weight workout benefits of the exercises in the water. "It was a tough workout," added Powell. "I remember being in the class (Huey's water workout class) and these old women were tearing me up.

But, "I had such great results from it that I incorporated it into my training. Eventually, I wasn't taking Lynda's class anymore and I just began making my own workouts. I played with them over the years and settled in to my own workout."

Powell will continue his daily water workouts training through the Olympics next year. In fact, he said that he plans to increase the length and intensity of each workout to help him prepare. "It has saved me over the last couple of years because I have been injured a lot. Now that I am healthier, I'm going to do harder workouts on the track and in the pool as well.

"(Working in the pool) has made me feel so much better, especially after a hard workout," concluded Powell. "It helps me get ready for bed each night."

Morning workout
20-30 minute workout at high intensity
5 minutes_simulated running in the pool
3 minutes_cross country skiing movement
2 min_alternating straight leg kick
30 sec._run in place to get back recovery
1-2 min._flutter kick on back
(feet and legs underwater for resistance both ways)
1-2 min._abductor pull
repeat workout