View Full Version : Peak for big meets...or give it your all every meet?

jim thornton
February 18th, 2002, 05:36 PM
In our winter YMCA league, there are about a dozen meets from September to April. Some of the swimmers come to these meets and more or less go through the motions--i.e., they swim almost as if the meet were a leisurely Sunday workout. For one friend of mine, it's almost as if he doesn't want to try too hard because if his time isn't as good as he thinks it should be, he's disappointed and de-inspired.

Other swimmers try their hardest in every event they enter, regardless if this nets them a personal record or not.

It's a difference of philosophy, I guess, but I am curious to see where others out there come down on this duality.

Someone mentioned on another thread somewhere that Popov planned to race the 50 a hundred times a season, and that these races were part of his conditioning strategy. This makes a lot of sense to me--it's hard to do a truly maximal sprint in practice, and even if you can do this, you don't have the same adrenalizing, etc. that meet conditions can induce. By attending lots of meets and sprinting all out there everytime, you get a form of practice that's virtually impossible to get anywhere else. Partly for this reason I guess I am a believer in trying your hardest in meets throughout the season. I also don't see the point in coming and swimming with less effort than you are capable of summoning.

But maybe I'm missing something. What do others out there think?

Bert Petersen
February 19th, 2002, 01:57 AM
Wow !! Great topic. There are so many variables in one's planning I sometimes wonder how we ever accomplish best times. Our season in Oregon runs basically from October to May for s/c yards and s/c meters. Then June-August for l/c meters. There are usually meets at the end (champs.) to peak, train,taper for. We usually have one meet per month somewhere in the State plus one or more in neighboring States such as Washington or perhaps all the way to B.C. Canada. Here's the wild card in the planning process. The pool. Assuming you have your social life/family properly trained, you can go to as many meets as you want. However, not all pools are equal, nor am I always at the bottom of the age-group ! So...... most of, but not all,Championship meets are in great (fast) pools and generally these are the ones we aim at. This season (fall), the first two meets were scheduled at fast pools and so I did a mini-taper for each. Of course, the best-laid plans....... the Nov. meet turned out to be in the pool which was too short ! Dec. was good and the January and February meets were in skanky pools. Not to worry, I just swam off- events, had a great social time and thought about better meets to come . So - to address the question, if the pool is right and the conditioning is right and the age is correct, I go like sickum ! If the pool stinks, or I'm not fit, or I'm too darn old for the age-group......... Hello, ladies !!! One last thought. I always space my events so as to get adequate rest and at least have a fighting chance for a good swim. :p

February 19th, 2002, 02:10 AM
It has been a while since I went to a meet, quite a while LOL, but I do have a couple of theories.

I have been extensively involved in one Masters group as an adult swimmer, and briefly with another.

In both groups however, I have noticed that many of the people that are there consider Masters more of a social and fitness program than a competitive one.

And this carries over into the competitions as well. At my main group when I was in college, there was a well known local triathalon every year and many of the people who went just did it for fun, and others were out for blood LOL. But the point was that a lot of our group competed in it, and so many others just tagged along.

This difference is easily seen in the practice pool too. We had a fast lane, a "medium lane" and a slow lane. The fast lane people were just out of sight- all very highly competitive and in tremendous shape. I resided in the medium lane most of the time. But interestingly there were quite a few medium people who could keep pace with the fast ones. Yet they chose not to do so.

And there was one lady who would spend the whole year in the slow lane- driving them all nuts too I might add- but then for a few weeks before her big "race" of the year (that triathalon I mentioned above), she would move over to medium or fast lane and really step it up. She did other competitions throughout the year too, so I would imagine that she fits the profile you describe above.

Others were sort of the same, although less obvious than this lady. They would do a regular circuit of meets and things, but the frequency of their appearance in practice at various times of the year sent a clear message which events really mattered to them.

I am in the opposite camp myself- in all aspects of my life, not just swimming. I only participate when I know I am prepared enough that whatever the result I can know I did my best, and then I go out there to kick some arse. I have not gone near a contest lately since I know I would be ticked at the results due to my lack of practice since I have been traveling so much this past year.

But I can see the other side of it too. At 25, I was the youngest person in that Masters group and still in grad school. The others all had children- some grandchildren- full time jobs etc. And now that I am in that position myself, I can understand why people would want to go to all the events to be part of the fun- to have that escape from work and family, yet also have to be selective about when they had the time to really train for a serious run at first place and have the mental build up necessary to go all out during race time.

Anyway, just my theory :)


jean sterling
February 19th, 2002, 08:58 AM
I live in water aerobics country, so there aren't a lot of meets to go to. For this reason almost every meet I swim is a big meet for me.

Philip Arcuni
February 19th, 2002, 03:41 PM
I would love to go to lots of meets and 'give it my all.' At the very least I would learn some pacing strategy (I swim a lot different in meets than I do in practice) and I agree, it is good sprint practice. It certainly feels like a workout after it is all over, and I am not too concerned about untapered times. There are lots of meets around where I live.

But going to a meet involves extensive negotiations with the family and makes things very difficult for my wife. So last year I managed to go to five meets - one or two in each course. I expect to continue that pace in the future, with about one national meet every other year.

All of my team mates seem to try hard at meets, also. They are always trying for pb's and quite willing to discuss and compare their times. Going to a meet is such a bother that it makes no sense to treat it casually. Unlike Tom, I can't really see the sense in doing that. If I wanted the socialization so much, I'd work the deck as an official, or time, rather than swim.

February 20th, 2002, 10:15 AM
like you said, much of this depends on what your goals are.

Some follow the Popov approach - like you and I do.

For others, it is a socal outing to see friends and get out of the house. You could think of it as a more atheltic form of Bridge club or poker night.

The beauty of USMS is that there is room for all different philosiphies, objectives, and goals. The common thread is our love of swimming ~ just how we do it is up to each individual.

I fall in-line as a hybrid. I like to focus and improve, but my long term goal is to be swimming when I am 78. This means I need to have fun and not let the sport dictate my life. If I can do this and steadily improve, all the better for me.

Good thread!

Chris Beardsley