How They Train: The Workouts of Age-Group Standout Mason Spurgeon

Mason Spurgeon

How They Train: The Workouts of Age-Group Standout Mason Spurgeon

As a dedicated 12-year-old and rapidly improving swimmer with several AAA times, it is fair to surmise that Mason Spurgeon’s best aquatic days are ahead of him. Spurgeon—who plays the viola, loves to compete and do anything with the water—enjoys the daily challenges Coach Pam Swander puts in front of him. As he has expanded his swimming repertoire, he is showing considerable interest—and talent—for open water.

At 10 years old (2021), Spurgeon, who was a solid BB swimmer, joined Carolina Aquatics by way of SwimMAC and the Denver Hilltoppers. Head Coach Chris Wolford and Coach Jeremy Wilken mentored him as an 11-12-year-old through the Carolina Aquatics short course season.

Swander became his coach the following April, when in a first practice, she asked a group what FLEO meant. Spurgeon responded, “Hold your breath on the FIRST, LAST and EVERY OTHER,” an acronym both she and Spurgeon learned at SwimMAC. “Transitioning from college to age group coaching and finding a team member who understood some of my coaching vernacular was exciting,” says Swander. “I believe that both of us knowing the SwimMAC skills and drills accelerated our relationship and Mason’s buy-in to a coaching change. That summer season, he qualified in 10 events for the South Carolina LC State Meet, achieved his first A-cut time in the 50 free and finaled in two events,” she notes.

During the 2022-23 short course season, 12-year-old Spurgeon quickly progressed in mastering and completing sets. In March in his very first SCY state meet, he won three state titles, achieved his first AA cuts and placed top nine in all of his events. This last long course season, he focused on the 200 strokes  and the 400 IM. He increased his practice time, swam occasionally with senior swimmers, eyed attaining some AAA times and making the Open Water SC Zone team. While his summer training was interrupted by an extended family vacation, Spurgeon did make three AAA times and qualified for the South Carolina Age Group Zone team.

As a 13-year-old, Mason will advance to a group where the emphasis will be to “Compete to Excel,” says Swander. “There he will continue his 400 IM and distance training and add an additional day of dryland.”


Elements in the following sets that Spurgeon finds especially appealing are:

  • Training with parachutes and drag sox because of the physical focus and challenge to build strength
  • Pacing sets to hold speed over time as a preparation to race
  • Breaststroke pull sets that require him to push farther and faster

Early June (SCM)

  • 4 x 25 @ :45 Position 11* free kick with parachute

* Position 11 is a body line kicking position.

                                        Instead of kicking in streamline on the

                                        surface, swimmers kick with both arms

                                        above their head to make the number 11.

                                        Eyes are looking at the bottom of the pool.

                                        (Laser beam eyes to the bottom.)

  • 6 x 50 @ 1:00 25 fly, 25 free AFAP (record average)
  • 4 x 25 @ :45 Position 11 free kick with parachute
  • 4 x 75 @ 1:40 Back AFAP (record average)
  • 4 x 25 @ :45 Position 11 free kick with parachute
  • 4 x 75 @ 1:40 Breast AFAP (record average)
  • 4 x 25 @ :45 Position 11 free kick with parachute
  • 3 x 100 @ 2:30 Free AFAP back-to-back fast from the blocks

(record average)

End of June

  • 8 x 25 @ :45 Position 11 free kick with parachute
  • 200 IM Record time
  • 8 x 25 @ :45 Position 11 free kick with parachute
  • 2 x 100 @ 1:50 Fly/back, breast/free (add up times)

should be faster than 200 IM

  • 8 x 25 @ :45 Position 11 free kick with parachute
  • 4 x 50 @ 1:00 Fly/back/breast/free (add up times)
  • 8 x 25 @ :45 Position 11 free kick with parachute
  • 200 IM Off block for time

3 weeks out from Championship (all free)

  • 4 x 25 @ :45 12.5 tombstone kick/12.5 kick
  • 200 free For time (record time)
  • 4 x 25 @ :45 12.5 tombstone kick/12.5 kick
  • 2 x 100 @ 2:00 Add up – faster than 1st 200
  • 4 x 25 @ :45 12.5 tombstone kick/12.5 kick
  • 4 x 50 @ 1:00 Add up – faster than 2 x 100
  • 4 x 25 @ :45 12.5 tombstone kick/12.5 kick
  • 8 x 25 @ :30 all-out Add up – faster than 4 x 50

Come practice, Spurgeon is all-in and embraces the challenges and rewards from difficult sets. He especially favors technique drills “because I want to perfect each part of my strokes, and I like the mental focus and patience required in these sets,” he says. Following is a sample freestyle technique drill set, usually done as a setup to a main set.

Freestyle (SCM)


  • 4 x 25 @ :40 Kick hand lead switch in middle

Tap, tap, switch drill

Almost catch-up

Distance per stroke (stroke count)

  • 100 @ 1:40 Same as above with extended race walls (ERW)
  • 100 @ 1:40 Descend effort x 25

• 4 x 25 @ :35        Variable


Spurgeon Times

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Parker Poore
Parker Poore
7 months ago

oh my God good luck!!!!😎😎😎 Job and 50 free time that’s better than I can do it I will look forward to racing you!😁

Nosam Spurg
Nosam Spurg
1 month ago
Reply to  Parker Poore

Very nice

Last edited 1 month ago by Nosam Spurg
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