Strong swimmer swimming stronger after weight training

Thu, 11/29/2007 - 1:11pm
By: Michael Boylan

Christian and MIller strength train

Peachtree City resident David Miller, 67, returned to competitive swimming two years ago after a break of almost 43 years. Swimming in meets all over the state and southeast with the Southside Seals, he found great results almost immediately, but he knew he could get better and he wanted to get stronger.

“They say you get slower as you get older,” Miller said. “I just want to keep my times the same or better for as long as possible.”

A friend recommended working with Jim Christian at the World Gym on Georgia Hwy 54 in Peachtree City, so Miller met with Christian in June and has seen and felt improvement already.

Christian learned about weight training at the age of 15 when his father was stationed at Atlanta General Depot, what is now known as Fort Gillem. One would think that the style of strength training back in the late 1940s and 50s would differ greatly from what is commonly used today, but Christian states that many of the things he learned back then still hold true today.

“The studies today back up all the things that Arthur Harris taught me,” Christian said. “For instance, eight to twelve is the still the best rep guide if you’re looking to build up muscle.”

Christian, who taught and coached at Forest Park Senior High School in the early 1960s and built the football program at Fayette Christian School with Coach Bill Thorn, was amazed at what Miller had been able to accomplish in the pool without strength training.

“I thought to myself, just imagine what he’ll be able to accomplish when he is stronger,” Christian said. Christian has worked with a number of prominent athletes, such as former NBA player Sam Mitchell, former Final Four MVP Jeff Sheppard and former Pittsburgh Steeler Greg Lloyd.

Miller started working once a week with Christian and once later in the week on his own. The workout is not geared to specific muscle groups.

“You build strength in the most efficient way possible, with no regard on how to use it,” Christian said. “We just wanted to build full range strength, which gives you flexibility.”

“To be a good swimmer, you need long muscles and flexibility, especially in the ankles, and strong shoulders,” said Miller, who is starting to see these things in himself. “I feel less tired now, getting the same job done in less time.”

Miller also trains in the pool at the gym two to three times a week, timing himself. He swims in the 50, 100, 200 and 500 freestyles, the 50 and 100 back and the 100 individual medley and swims in between six and seven competitions each year.

In the 2006 National Masters meet, Miller took third place in the 100 back and fifth in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyles. He also won a number of first place finishes and the high point trophy for his age group at the Dixie Zone Championships at his alma mater, Auburn University, last year. He is eagerly awaiting to see what he can do this year, after strength training for close to a year. In September of this year, he won five gold medals at the state championships, taking first place in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyles, the 50 back and the 100 individual medley.

It appears that there are more awards and accolades heading Miller’s way, but he sees swimming as a way to stay in shape.

“I enjoy it and can be competitive in swimming,” said Miller. “I am very goal oriented and want to get better and faster, but it’s not my whole life.”

Miller said he also enjoys playing tennis and his strength training will keep him on the court for a long time as well.

“The question I always ask is what can I do to make you better,” Christian said. “Without strength training, you’re not as good as you can be. I am just excited to see what David can do now.”

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