33 Meters: Lizzi Smith is Living Limb-itlessly

by SwimSwam Partner Content 0

August 29th, 2018 Gear, News, Training

33 Meters is a series that focuses on pro swimmers, who are a bit like 33 meter pools- they’re uncommon, most people don’t have a lot of exposure to them, and they often live between the “real” world and the swim world, much like a 33 meter pool is between 25 and 50. We can’t make them more common but we can definitely share their amazing stories with the swim community! This is a week in the life of Lizzi Smith: 2016 Paralympian, Team USA member, and Fike Swim ambassador.

The Same Drill Every Day

The Paralympic classification system can be confusing, with athletes being reclassified multiple times in their careers, but Lizzi’s S9 classification is pretty straightforward- it refers to amputations. In Lizzi’s case, her left arm ends right after her elbow. So imagine swimming every yard of every practice with one hand doing closed-fist drill and you might get a sense of what training is like for her. Since she was seven years old Lizzi has overcome that obstacle with a fierce competitiveness- the whole “if you’re going to tell me I can’t, I’m going to prove you wrong” type of mentality- and a monster kick that propelled her from a small team in small town Indiana to Team USA at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Swim Different

Lizzi literally defines what it means to swim different. She has to continually adapt common training methods, exercises, and techniques to fit her abilities and her strengths. And over the last five years she’s been on a bit of journey to discover what those abilities and strengths are and how best to train them, moving four different times across the country. But since she moved to Austin in January, Lizzi feels like the mix of swimming, lifting, and life is about right these days. An incredibly talented graphic designer, Lizzi juggles her training with jobs that provide financial support and design projects that provide a base on which to one day build a post-swimming career. Below is a “typical” week in her shoes.

MONDAY

8:30am12:30pm: Design Work for Fike Swim and other freelance projects

Fike Swim wants to expand its cap collection including some with references to Tokyo 2020 but mostly a blank slate and a direction to be bold, creative, and different.
12:30-1:30pm: Lifting
2:00-4:30pm: Swim Lessons
5:00-6:00pm: Durability Stretching
6:00-8:00pm: Coaching at Western Hills Athletic Club

Mondays are about strength and flexibility. “Swimming is full body so I try to lift that way too. I usually start off with a barbell lift- either squats, front squats, or deadlifts. 6 sets of 5 reps. Then a body weight exercise like pistol squats or wall sits, followed by lat pulldowns, shoulder exercises or shuffle walks with a band, then abs.” And if you’re wondering what the heck durability stretching is, think yoga meets injury prevention. It keeps Lizzi flexible and her joints strong.

TUESDAY
6:00-7:00am: Coaching
7:00-8:00am: Swim Practice
9:00-11:00am: Coaching
11:00-1:00pm: Swim Lessons
1:30-3:00pm: Design Work
3:00-5:30pm: Swim Lessons
6:00-8:00pm: Coaching

Lizzi might kick the week off in the water with a longer, more aerobic set like the following:
Pull/Kick:

100/400
200/300
300/200
400/100
Trying to negative split each distance and hold 1:03 for pull with a
paddle and no buoy, and 1:10 for kick!

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00am: Swim Practice
9:00-11:00am: Coaching
12:30-1:30pm: Lifting
2:00-4:30pm: Swim Lessons
5:00-6:00pm: Durability Stretching
6:00-8:00pm: Coaching

Swim lessons aren’t just a source of income for Lizzi. As with many pro swimmers who do them, lessons and clinics with kids remind pros who they used to be and how fun and simple the sport was when they were little.

THURSDAY
6:00-7:00am: Coaching
7:00-8:00am: Swim Practice
9:00-11:00am: Coaching
11:00-1:00pm: Swim Lessons
1:30-3:00pm: Design Work
3:00-5:30pm: Swim Lessons
6:00-8:00pm: Coaching

The Fike Swim caps are coming together but the manufacturer in China is having trouble with the color gradient of the Tokyo 2020 caps and with the gold coloring on “The Drop” cap. So the designs have to be modified to suit the manufacturing process.

FRIDAY
6:00-7:00am: Coaching
7:00-8:00am: Swim Practice
8:00-9:00am: Durability Stretching
10:00-12:00pm: Swim Lessons
12:30-1:30pm: Lifting
2:00-5:00pm: Swim Lessons
5:00-whenever: Design Work

SATURDAY
8:30-10:00am: Swim Practice
10:00-11:00am: Coaching
11:00-2:00pm: Swim Lessons
2:00-5:00pm: Design Work
Evenings: Babysitting for extra money

Saturdays are for going fast! A typical practice might be a meet warm-up followed by 6x100s Fly from the block for time, trying to hold 1:04 or better.

SUNDAY
The one common theme among pro swimmers is that Sunday tends to be a day of mental and physical rest and logistical preparation for the week ahead. For Lizzi it means chores and meals prep, extra sleep, and even more design work to stay on top of her projects.

The design work for Fike Swim took about two weeks to complete and the results were amazing. “The Lizzi” is one of four caps designed by the artist that are currently available on the Fike Swim website and Lizzi is working on the branding for the company’s next training tool due out in just a couple months.

That’s one week in the life of Team USA para swimmer Lizzi Smith. Stay tuned for the next installment of 33 Meters with another Fike Swim ambassador! You can support Lizzi on her journey to Tokyo by following her Instagram and Facebook pages, and you can get the latest Fike Swim news, product updates, and videos by liking them on Facebook and subscribing to their YouTube channel. And you can get a candid look at Fike Swim’s journey to help swimmers SWIM DIFFERENT by following them on Instagram.

About Fike Swim

“We design products exclusively for the most difficult sport in the world.  We unapologetically place swimmers on a pedestal.  The rigors they embrace on a daily basis can only be understood by another swimmer and they deserve a company focused 100% on helping them succeed.  Whether you’re just starting out or training for Tokyo, we stand behind you.”

-James Fike, Founder

Fike Swim Products was born when founder James Fike put a brick on top of a kickboard and transformed just another legs-only kick set into a total body workout felt into the next day. Since then it’s been our mission to create unique swim equipment with the single-minded goal of making you faster. We don’t sell toys. We create tools to help you reach your potential.

Swimming News is courtesy of Fike Swim, a SwimSwam partner.

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