Can’t swim in a pool? Try refried beans instead

Can’t swim in a pool? Try refried beans instead


Longhorn Aquatics swim coach Whitney Hedgepeth uses canned goods to get in a “swim” practice at home.

If you can’t swim in a pool, grab a pair of canned goods and pretend you’re swimming while you lie on a bench instead.

That from former Olympic medalist Whitney Hedgepeth, who has devised some clever but tortuous dryland sessions for members of the U.S. Masters Swimming team she coaches. The Austin program, like many around the country, is suspended during the pandemic.

Hedgepeth emails a new workout to the approximately 160 Longhorn Aquatics swimmers every Sunday evening.

“I just want everybody to stay active,” she says. “(It’s good for the body and the mind.”

Hedgepeth, who has coached the program since 2005 and was named U.S. Masters Swimming Coach of the Year in 2013, does the workouts herself six days a week. She bikes, rows, does yoga or rests on the seventh. She describes the workouts as harder than she expected, and says they induced some muscle soreness. She’s incorporated both her husband and her dog into some of the sessions, to keep everybody moving.

I’m one of thousands of Austin swimmers who’ve been forced out of the water by the coronavirus, and I can’t wait to try the workout. I’ve been biking, running and walking around my neighborhood, but for me, nothing compares to the all-body workout and mental therapy of a good swim. Unfortunately, that’s not an option right now.

Hedgepeth, who won silver medals in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke and a gold medal as part of a relay at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, used 15-ounce cans of refried beans, but any can will do. Prepare for a seriously muscle-quaking workout, she says – especially the flutter kicking while sitting on your hands. And keep your head down when you “swim,” to prevent back pain.

“Those cans got heavy,” Hedgepeth says.

Without further ado, here’s the workout:


Warm Up

1-1.5 mile run/walk


8 x 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest

Freestyle with soup cans or any canned food


100 jump ropes or 50 jumping jacks


30-seconds to 1 minute wall sit


8 push ups


8 chair dips with arms

(Repeat above four exercises x 3)


8 x 30 seconds on, 30 seconds rest

Butterfly or breaststroke with soup cans


50 lunges (25 each leg)


30 seconds to 1 minute plank


8 shoulder taps on each side from pushup position 


30 seconds to 1 minute flutter kick (on bench, with hands under butt)

(Above four exercises x 3)


1-1.5-mile run/walk (faster than first time)




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