“Oh, do you want to hear about the set that made me cry?” Kasia Wasick laughs. The multiple Polish Olympian, world championship medallist, and European champion, is one of the fastest freestyle sprinters in the history of the sport. Specializing in the 50 m freestyle, her training is nothing short of heroic and brutal and there is a set that she has only ever done, and will only ever do, once.
“The thing is about my coaches, they were really sneaky about it. I didn't know that I was going to do that set,” she recalls. Wasick currently trains in Dallas but, at the time, she was swimming with coach Ben Loorz at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. “I knew we were going to do a hard set, 20 x 25 meters—which, when you hear 20x25 it’s not a big deal—but try to do it on 30 seconds, no breathing, and climb up every time to dive.”
Yes, that’s right: 20 x 25 m sprint from a dive, no breathing, on 30 seconds.
“It’s a really hard set. I think it’s really advanced.” That’s a bit of an understatement as Wasick remembers the “tears in her goggles” from the overwhelming fatigue.
“After 6, I wanted to puke. I looked up and I was like I can’t do this. I just can’t do it,” she says, the memory of fatigue influencing her voice. “On the 8th one, I climbed up and grabbed my knees. I looked up and I was melting down. But I saw the person in front of me and they were in the same pain. I could relate to them and that gave me energy. Everyone was in pain and you don't want to be the one weak person in the group.”
Wasick and her teammates did all twenty repetitions. “We all finished because we did it together. Everyone was feeling the energy of each other. The tears in my goggles disappeared.” Still, she laughs, “The dives were not pretty at the end.”
The main set did have a purpose. “You have to get into that fatigue. You have to feel that fatigue to execute a race really well and that is what helps you,” Wasick says.
She isn’t just referring to the physical stress. It was enduring and overcoming the mental test that made an equal impression on her. “Somehow I kept going and it was the worst set in my life but the most rewarding afterward. It felt so good to be able to so the set. It’s really hard.”
Such an influential and memorable swim set begged one question: will she ever do it again?
“No! I think I would miss that practice!”
Pro Main Set
20 x 25 m sprint from a dive, no breathing, on 30”
10 x 25 m sprint from a dive, 1-2 breaths max, with 20 sec rest
4-6 x 25 m sprint, dive optional, 1-2 breaths max, with 30 second rest