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  1. New World Age Group Record

    by , February 17th, 2009 at 10:00 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Congratulations to my brother Linc! He just broke the 50-54 age group record in the 200 meter breast stroke. His swam the race in 2:32.06. The old WR was 2:32.78 by Ben Doyle on 7/14/08.

    In an email, Linc credits his son, Douglas, for helping correct some stoke flaws:

    "Yes. This goal was outside my ability, but Doug made some important adjustments the afternoon before the race. The best part was that Doug could make the stroke changes AND show me how what adjustments that I needed to make before the race. I admit, I did not execute his corrections well; however, I cannot dispute the results.

    The race was at Univeristy Vancouver BC at the Gay& Lesbian "Love Meet."

    If you could come get some face-to-face coaching with Doug before your Nationals, it would be valuable. I credit him with my World Record this weekend."

    His son is the top ranked Division II breaststroker and enrolled at Seattle University.

    Thanks to Skype, Doug and I have also been in contact and he has given me some very good tips on my backstroke. I hope I can live up to my brother's standard for breaking records.

    Fortunately, I just aged up to the 55-59 age group. Who knows, with some breast stroke help, I may yet be able to swim the IM.
  2. New ISP

    by , February 13th, 2009 at 04:34 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    I'm totally bummed. My ISP, Zianet, is going out of business. Well, they are still fighting, but the writing is on the wall. They have been in a battle with QWEST over billing. This Christmas, QWEST turned off internet service to all of Zianet's customers because they claim they had not been paid. Zianet's counter is that they were mis-billed. The bottom line is that QWEST will turn off Zianet's access shortly.

    So the New Mexico Masters website - which is pretty primitive by current standards, will have to move. I built the site in 1997 and have nursed along for almost 12 years. It's been a labor of love and more importantly, for our LMSC - it's cheap!

    It's time for a facelift and it's own domain (it was in a subdir). I'm looking for a good, cheap ISP that can host frontpage sites. Actually, I'm looking for easy and cheap. I know that frontpage is out of date and I have been looking at Wordpress and Expression webs (MS replacement) - but will take suggestions.

    And like so many other people, I'll be sending out an email to all my friends stating, "I hate to do this, but new email address is .... Please update your address books"

    So, Friday the 13th is a bummer.
  3. My Nephew

    by , February 9th, 2009 at 02:07 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    My nephew, Doug, is a star swimmer at Seattle U. He swims for King Aquatics and is a decent breaststroker (55./ 100) and freestyler( 20./ 50). He still holds New Mexico age group records and judging from the recent state championship results, will be holding those records for quite some time. But he has good genes.

    My brother still holds the Las Cruces High School record in the 200 IM (1:58 in 1977) - 32 years old - before speed suits and when rules required hand touches on backstroke turns and prohibited your head from submerging below the water in the breaststroke (also no dolphin kick on the breaststroke). And both he and my nephew did those swims in nylon swim suits (bikini models). No swim skins, no aquablades, no power rings - just plain old nylon.

    Yesterday, my nephew and I had a video conference via Skype. It was really great to see him and talk with him - for free! Skype 4.0 has really improved video conferencing - and you can buy one year of calling traditional phones for $30. I'm not associated in any way with Skype - I just think it is a great deal.

    Anyway, my nephew reviewed some swim videos that I had sent him and he had a ton of helpful comments about my technique. We thought we were just going to talk for 20 minutes about backstroke and freestyle. Instead, we spent one hour just talking about backstroke. He is so knowledgable and would make a great coach. I tried some of the technique tips this morning and they feel great - I'm taking fewer strokes and generating more power. Awesome. It does feel a bit clumsy, but I think with time, I will get "muscle memory" ingrained so that I don't have to think - just do.

    He also gave me some great training tips. I plan to incorporate them into my training plans. He really emphasized kicking sets - which I do, but not as intensely as he recommended. So this morning, I had a leg burner set (;-o ). There is good pain (like this) and there is bad pain (sprained knee). I'll take the good pain anyday.

    I'm going to get some more tips from him on each of my strokes. It is really cool that he is helping me and I am so very happy to have his help.
  4. Freezing Cold in New Mexico

    by , January 31st, 2009 at 12:07 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Two weeks ago, it was in the 50's at 6am on the pool deck. Relatively comfortable with a hat and coat doing my usual ballistic stretching on-deck. Almost felt like spring!

    Wrong about the spring weather! This week, it has been in the 30's and windy. Steam rises off the pool and swirls in mini-vortexes. It's a great visual effect - if you like non-linearities. Unfortunately, even with the pool covers, the water temperature has dropped significantly. It's cold on deck and you can see your breathe on every exhale. The cold penetrates my jacket and hat - but my legs (which are uncovered) feel like Jack Frost is pricking them with sharp little needles.

    Taking off the jacket and cap is an act of madness, but I gotta swim - otherwise, the rest of the day feels out of balance. I'll guess that you feel the same way.

    Jumping in the water (I can't do the one part of the body slowly immersing thing), takes your breath away. It's cold! Even my usual reverse 500 IM warmup doesn't do the trick. The first sets are still in the warmup phase and it's hard to breathe - to take in enough O2 so that you can pick up the pace a bit. So I weenie out and back off. I have to admit to changing the planned sets to something a little longer with less rest and much lower intensity.

    After a period, breathing become less painful and it's really cool to take a break and put your googles at the intersection of the water and air. You can see the dark blueness of the pool and the swirling tornados of steam rising into the darkness.

    And I got my entries in mail for the Canadian Masters SCM nationals this week. I'm 55 in FINA years and hope to get some good swims on the table. I'm going to pass on Clovis because I'm 54 for USMS SCY meets. I know that there are some swimmers who excel at the upper end of their age group and my hat is off to them - but I can't hang with the young dogs (are you listening Scott Shake??). Masters swim racing really does make you look forward to growing older.
  5. Odd Kinesthesia

    by , January 21st, 2009 at 08:34 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    "To taste a memory is far better than remembering a taste."

    I've been PMing Tinjin about swimming. He made the frontpage of this website recently. He has a great story about how swimming saved his life and made him much healthier. It's a great read and if you know of someone who struggles with age slash diet slash inactivity related heath issues, please share!

    Anyway, I read Tinjin's sig line (above), and it reminded me of a really strange and moving experience during the morning swim. I was doing an easy drill set and during the set, I had a really, really strong memory of eating a cheese burger with onions (and catsup). I could taste the burger and the flavors were amazingly lifelike. I know most of us daydream while we swim. Sometimes my mind wanders off or worse, I worry about work issues.

    But this is the first time that some part of my mind has synthesized the flavor of any food.

    I did the one hour swim this last weekend. I usually dread doing this swim because I have a tendency to watch the clock. Plus it is a very painful swim (for someone who loves 50/100/200 distances). During the swim it definately pays to ignore the clock. I decided to put on the xterra swim skin and it was a much more pleasant experience - and I was pleased with the distance covered.

    Oddly, even going back to the old green drag suit, my 100 free repeats were significantly better after the one hour of swimming freestyle. I would have thought the opposite.
  6. Track Workouts

    by , January 11th, 2009 at 11:49 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    A few years ago, when I was runnning (for triathlons and the Bataan Death March), I got involved with a group of people who did track workouts.

    It was fun, but I no matter how hard I tried, I could never run very fast. I still don't know how anyone can run 400 meters in under a minute. I think my best time was 1:20 with a strong wind. I've stopped running and I think it has helped my swimming (I'm a little faster than I was when I was running).

    Track workouts are not as demanding at swimming workouts. You can find sample track workouts on line - or you can go watch some college or high school workouts.

    The workouts follow the same format - first, perform both dynamic and static(?) stretches. The current wisdom states that static stretching actually weakens muscles. Next, there is "main" (and only) set - 10 x 400 meters with 100 meters jog recovery. And that's it! Track athletes don't slave away for hours like swimmers.

    It makes me wonder why their workouts are so much shorter than our workouts. Perhaps my limited sampling is flawed, but from what I've seen and read, track athletes don't spend hours training each day.
  7. New torture device

    by , January 7th, 2009 at 10:44 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    My brother, Linc, gave me a new torture device for Christmas. He swears by it! It is a Kiefer parachute.

    The parachute attaches to your waist with a adjustable webbing belt. The parachute is about 12 inches in diameter and connected to the waist belt with a 6 foot cord.

    You do look a little silly (and feel really clumsy). When you first jump in and try to swim (operative word is try), the drag resistance is very strong. You feel like you are going no where - because you are going no place. It takes a substantial amount of force to swim at a slow pace.

    If you can maintain your stroke technique, I can envision that one could become much stronger in specific muscles associated with effective propulsion. The key is to maintain technique (in a nutshell - early vertical forearm) which use the minor shoulder muscles - which unfortunately are among the first to become injured (rotator cuff related).

    The training effect is simply incredible - it is incredibly painful if you are trying to swim fast - as Linc recommends all out 25 yard sprint kicks. Because of his shoulder issues, he does not swim with the parachute. But I have tried swimming and kicking - and it is very difficult.

    You can do flip turns, but it is not very smooth operations. I think that sets of 10 x 25 would be sufficient to leave even the strongest swimmer gasping.

    I would improve this product by making the diameter of the parachute adjustable. Alternatively, I would drill little holes into the parachute - much like swim paddles - How many people remember the first swim paddles? They were made from plexiglass and were a flat, solid rectangle with surgical tubing. Paddles have really changed.

    Anyway, I like the idea of modifying the parachute - replacing the parachute material with either a mesh and making the diameter adjustable.

    BTW, Kiefer sells the chute for $18 plus.
  8. Holiday Training Report

    by , December 22nd, 2008 at 09:55 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    My training has suddenly been given a huge super charge.

    Laura Hernandez came back to Las Cruces for a wedding and for Christmas with her family. She recently earned her Ph.D. in Animal Physiology from Arizona and is currently on faculty - research position at the Cincinnati School of Medicine. She is a top rated masters IM swimmer which is a huge achievement given four knee operations that has left her with no left kneecap.

    When she was working on her masters at NMSU, we started to train together at the frozen hour. She was an outstanding age group and college talent from El Paso as well as a very dedicated grad student. And she loves to train - as she says, "If I don't swim, I get really cranky". We gotta get those workout induced endorphins.

    Laura and I had great grudge sets in the past and now that she is back, we are back in the pool racing each other again. I usually don't push myself this hard and I usually have longer rest intervals. Talk about getting that heart rate elevated!! What is also fun is the last turn on the last length of a grudge set. Many times, we push off at the same time and are rotated so that can look into each others eyes. And we are both thinking the same thing - gotta kick some ass!! I'd like to say that I hit the wall first, but its probably the delirum induced by an all out blast.

    Laura tells me that it is really hard to find a decent pool in her area that matches her work schedule. The only pool is a super heated bathtub that is open a few days of the week, so she has taken up spinning. I guess it really help her, because she swam well in Austin. But she really misses the good old days swimming at NMSU and Arizona.

    Laura swam for Ford Tucson and we both know many of the same people: Jim Stites, Bob DiTolla and Scott Shake. So if you guys ever read this, both Laura and I say "Happy Holidays". And Bob - if Laura had not told me you are an ME Ph.D., I never would have known - we have to talk shop sometime (after you finish your favorite race - the 200 fly). And Scott - Laura gave the low down on your crazy training. I am impressed. Thank goodness I age up this year.

    So one very unexpected Holiday present is getting to swim with an old friend - something you can't get from Walmart!
  9. Holiday Plans

    by , December 17th, 2008 at 06:42 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    First, my sincere wishes to all swimmers for a safe and fun holiday season.

    I'm officially off work for the rest of the year and will be back in the office on January 5th! After 27 years with the Army Research Labs, I've reached the age where I'm almost out to pasture and have the "use or lose" leave to prove it.

    I'm planning to use the time off to do a couple of things. First, I want to reflect back on the past year and think about both the good things and the things that I know I should improve upon. Second, I'll use the time to make plans for the upcoming year.

    I've organized a big holiday swim for the end of the year. It's called "Los Rapidos" for historical reasons, although it is anything but speedy. The set is 109 x 100 yards on 1:45. I really dislike the set, but a lot of people like to do this crazy cult swim, so I reserved 4 hours of pool time. I've invited all of the local kids teams and the high school team to participate. Fortunately, I've asked a friend to organize the counting. I did it one year and screwed up which caused a lot of complaining.

    As far as swimming plans go, because I've hit that magically FINA age group change, I'm taking a hard look at the Canadian SCM Nats (rather than Clovis) and Indy (LCM Nats).

    I'm also involved with New Mexico Senior Olympics and plan to go to the National Senior Games in Stanford. It is great to see swimmers that normally don't go to USMS events, but are outstanding multi-sport athletes in their own right. For example, Colleen Burns, from MacIntosh, NM, won the women's 5K in 20:35 and was a multiple medalist in swimming. Her 5K time was the fastest womens time overall. And her son is a great triathlete, competitive swimmer and high school teacher and head swimming coach.

    My point is that when you go to the National Senior Games, you get to see other athletes in other sports (volleyball, track and field, table tennis, etc) besides swimming. It is a great multisport event and a real celebration of life.

    Personally, at the state level, I've competed in swimming, racquetball (a fun game that takes up too much of my time) and triathlon. I keep wanting to try air rifle, but the cost of a competitive air rifle is about $2K - a bit out of my league. The old daisy bb gun just doesn't cut it.

    Another holiday plan is to refurbish the upstairs. I need to remove all the old carpet and moulding and check the foundation. If it looks good, I'll start installing a very pretty blonde ash engineered floor. Hopefully, I will have the same number of fingers remaining when I finish. I did smash my thumb trying to pound finishing nails the last time and it was a bloody mess.

    I guess planning is kind of like making New Years resolutions. We will see how far I get with actually completing these plans.

    Best wishes to all for the holidays!
  10. Long Beach Photos

    by , December 14th, 2008 at 01:53 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)

    I got a chance to take some photos of Long Beach and some of my friends at the meet. There are two albums - one of the scenic sunsets we enjoyed and the other of some swimmers: Jordan, Frank, Kari, Ande, Mark (w/toe ring), Fred and Jim are in the photos.

    If you have ever wondered what the most famous guy on the USMS discussion forums looks like - check out Ande (just after his new world record in the 100 Back).
  11. Speed suit withdrawal

    by , December 9th, 2008 at 11:21 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Swam in the Holiday Invite at Long Beach this weekend. The meet is very well organized and well run. I highly recommend it to anyone that want to swim in a short course meter meet. It was very exciting to try some new technology (B70 and Xterra).
    These suits (B70 and Xterra) really have some Zing! My stroke count was lower and the pushoff distance was longer - plus, when you surface, you literally pop up out of the water. They increase bouyancy!

    Back in the pool this morning with no speed suit! Major drag - pun intended.

    I'm back to wearing the old green baggie drag suit - much more comfortable and much more slower. It takes more strokes to swim a length and push off distances are much shorter.

    So it's a kind of withdrawal to swim in the old green monster - but it is good to be back home.
  12. B70 versus XTerra - My experience

    by , December 9th, 2008 at 11:00 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Swam at the Long Beach meet this weekend and had some decent swims. I used both the Xterra and B70 for different races.

    Had a life time personal best (50 back) in the B70 (age group record at the top end of the age group). But, the suit has unraveled after a few swims (26, 5'8", 175). The elastic around the neck is exposed! I'll post a picture on my blog.

    If there is a B70 rep reading this, do you have an exchange policy? You might learn something about quality control by doing a failure analysis; e.g., where to reinforce seams, etc.

    My M-size Xterra, apparently made of the same material, did not fit correctly. I purchased a knee or farmer john suit. I expected that the band around the knee would be reinforced by elastic. Instead, it was loose and not snug. I don't think it would provide the desired effect of minimizing laminar turbulence. I noticed that other male swimmers also had the same issue with their suit.

    I also found that the Xterra felt like it let water into the suit during the maximum velocity portions of the race - at the start and after the turns. I felt water rushing into the suit and it felt like it "gushed" all the way down from neck to knee - a cool wave of water. This may or may not have had a physical effect, but it clearly broke my concentration. I did not have the same issue with the B70.

    Question: why do these suits have to be so tight?
    I hypothesize that the suits have two effects: 1) minimizing laminar flow resistance and 2) increasing buoyancy (my subjective opinion and mentioned in other forum posts).

    If the hypothesis is true, I believe that the optimum suit would be snug or tight enough to minimize laminar flow (and prevent water intake) while not leaving welts and constricting inhalation. Also, maximizing the amount of material should increase subjective buoyancy.

    I also hypothesize that the recommended suit size (extra-tight) places undue stress on the seams of the suits and reduces the expected life of the suit. After examining the rubber coating of both the Xterra and B70, I believe that the material may be more resilient than lycra, but unfortunately, we as consumers, have no independent testing capability and have to rely on ancedotal forum reports.

    Personally, I like these suits. I would like them to last longer and I believe that if they could be better designed that they would capture a greater share of the market.

    How many suits can be worn in competition? There were unsubstantiated rumours of record setting performances attained through the use of multiple suits. I suppose that anyone that could physically wear more than one of these extra tight suits deserves some kind of award, but if the buoyancy hypothesis is correct, the use of multiple suits poses ethical if not legal questions.
  13. Saturday 6:00am New Mexico

    by , November 29th, 2008 at 08:21 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Darkness, then stadium lights
    Steam rises and swirls
    Shivering in the cold
    And in one swift leap
    Feel the magic of water.
  14. Things that I'm Thankful for

    by , November 27th, 2008 at 09:50 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Happy Thanksgiving to everybody in old people swimming land!

    I'm very thankful for a lot of reasons - family, friends, a roof, food -as we all are, but AQUATICALLY, here are the things that I'm thankful for:

    My brother (Linc) and his wife that swim masters. It's always great to see them at a swim meet.

    My partner (Kari) because she swims masters and has become quite good for never having had a background in swimming.

    My distant and near team-mates - Go Mud Sharks and Rio Grande!

    My competition and my friends: The swimming dentists (Bobby and Geoff) - both of whom are backstrokers - one who is 10 inches taller and the other who is 3 inches shorter - thanks for the great races!

    Also Thanksgiving day wishes to bunch of other guys that I love to race and race with: Bill A. and Eric vdB (the bay area boys), Fred F (whose heart is in S.F)., Rick A (from the frozen wasteland), Tom R. (LaLa Land), John M (who beat cancer), Scott S. (best smile award):

    the thrill of competing against you guys makes me feel really and truly alive!

    Other odd things that I'm thankful for:

    A cold pool on a hot day
    A warm pool on a really freezing cold day
    Hot showers
    The beauty of water
    Being the first to jump into the pool
    Finishing (anything) - including Thanksgiving Day dinner.

    Best wishes for Thanksgiving!
  15. Is Swimming Recession Proof?

    by , November 9th, 2008 at 11:57 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Competitive swimming is a upper middle class sport. It is much more expensive to construct, maintain and operate an aquatic facility than the facilities required for other sports - softball, basketball, tennis and football. Perhaps NASCAR or golf facilities are more expensive in terms of construction and operation costs, but swimming is right up there.

    We are getting ready to go to the Long Beach Grunion meet in December and the cost of travel has clearly increased. We are looking at significant increases in airfare, rental car, hotel, meals, parking, gas and entry fees (which has not increased thank goodness!). Although I complain about travel related costs, other important groups are also faced with the same or greater cost increases. Age group swimmers and their families face significantly greater travel related costs to participate in regional or state competitions. High school and college teams may face budget cuts. I heard (NPR) that Philadelphia is planning to close public pools until the financial situation improves.

    Many, many years ago, I worked on a research project that investigated the economic impact of an major oil spill on tourism in the Galveston area. We used something called a Leontif matrix to assess the impact of decreased tourism on various sectors of the area's economy. For example, if fewer tourists decide to vacation, the hotels suffer a direct impact. But the businesses that support the hotel - food supply, travel services, Jose's Tacos all are effected in a secondary and tetriary effects. I didn't think about it at the time, but there is a time dimension to the matrix - the economic impacts probably ripple through related business (and time) much like dropping a pebble into a glassy pool.

    If the global economy does go into a recession, I guess that it will have an effect on the upcoming FINA games in Norway(?) and may affect participation in our regional and national events.

    The big question is "how will the recession affect your ability to swim (for exercise and for sport)?" Will your pool costs increase or will the availability (in terms of hours) be reduced - or both.

    I expect that the global recession will have secondary and tertiary impacts and that we, as swimmers, will be affected.
  16. So, am I a Coach???

    by , November 7th, 2008 at 05:21 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Question: Am I A Coach?

    This may be a dumb question, but it is something that has been in the back of my mind for quite some time.

    I posted this in coaches forum and we see what the real coaches think.....

    Primarily, I swim and train myself. I get up at 4:45am and I am in the water from 6:00am to 7:00am M-F and from 7:00am-9:00am on Saturday. Sometimes, friends will join me for sets and we trade calling sets.

    Some of my self coaching activities:
    I write my own workouts
    Keep a training log
    Keep a performance log
    Read all I can about the sport and have a modest library
    Purchased and studied Reese and Marsh's instructional DVDs
    And I've read extensively about anatomy, exercise physiology and kinesiology (biology undergrad; engineering Ph.D).
    I've purchased a Flip Video Camera with the underwater housing so I can video tape my stroke below the water (with the help of a friend).
    And I have library of video recordings of race competitions.

    I use the information to plan my swim season and to correct certain stroke and race faults. I believe that you have to concentrate on controling gross motor movements so that you can correct flaws during practice. I have a list of cards that remind me of the things that I need to fix based on watch my video taped performances. Before these gross motor movements can become automatic, they have to be burned into the proprioceptive memory (muscle memory).

    I plan to conduct a simple velocity analysis on some of my video recordings of my race to find areas for improvement.

    I love competing and have had some success at the national and world masters level - which why swimming has become my adult avocation.

    So, can I call myself a coach?

    BTW, I spent several summers coaching and served as a volunteer assistant coach for my college - back in the ancient days of mens college swimming.
  17. Accupressure and Swimming

    by , November 4th, 2008 at 10:37 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Over this weekend, I participated in a research study that involved the use of visualization and accupressure. On Saturday, we sat by the pool and placed two fingers on the sides of our foreheads and placed the other hand on various areas of our torso (over our stomach, spleen, liver, kidney and bladder). We were told to remember a number of "bad" emotional experiences on a one to one basis. The first session lasted about one hour.

    When the session was finished, I had a headache (very rare), felt dizzy and my right knee was sore.

    The idea of combining accupressure and emotional recall is based upon the idea that the limbic system of the brain has a memory. In particular, emotional memory is stored in the limbic system - which is a very primitive part of the brain. According to accupressure theory, our organs are involved in processing these memories and affect our energy systems - and our functional performance. By recalling memories with strong emotions and pressing on certain areas, the theory believes that we can bring these emotions back to be reprocessed.

    We were told to remember our worst performances and the emotions associated with the performances and other painful or humiliating events and the associated emotions.

    After the first session, I was really drained. I experienced anxiety and anger (unassociated with any event) latter that afternoon. I think the session brought back subterranian feelings that I had repressed but lingered in my background processing.

    The next day, we had another session in the therapist's office. The focus this time was on positive emotions. We performed the same actions (pressing on parts of our torso), but this time, we were told to recall the very best activities and associated emotions. We were also told to visualize our perfect performance and how we would feel about our performance.

    During the second session, I did not feel anxiety or anger. Instead, I felt elated, happy and very positive.

    During this week, I've felt better in the water and my workout times seem to reflect a small decrease in times for a workout set. I don't know if the sessions were effective or if it was a placebo effect. The researcher told us that we were the first group of athletes that she had worked with and that she was interested in measuring our performances (before and after the sessions). So I'm on the line to do some quality swim this weekend.

    She did tell us that in individual therapy sessions with musicians that there was a definate positive effect. I have several musician friends and when comparing notes with them, I find that we have remarkably similar issues - performance anxiety and the desire to precisely and accurately control our motor performance.

    The Mind has no firewall!
  18. Great News For New Mexico State University Swimming & Diving

    by , October 24th, 2008 at 07:37 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    NMSU is ranked number 2 in the nation for team grade point average! (3.566)!!! They are the top women's team for GPA in the Western Athletic Conference!

    Tessa Bain was awarded Academic All American status for her 4.0 GPA going into her junior year (majoring in accounting).

    Last spring, the NMSU team had 11 women athletes with a 4.0 GPA - and these athletes are not majoring in underwater basket weaving - it's accounting, business, engineering, biochemistry, etc.

    I spoke with Head Coach Rick Pratt and he told me that he prefers to recruit talented athletes who are not top tier, but are motivated to work hard in both the pool and in the classroom. He said that the team helps each other and that the interaction between the team members is just outstanding.

    As we know, all most all college swimmers go on to a professional career outside of sports. These ladies are on the right track to be good citizens and hopefully, future masters swimmers!

    Mea Culpa ---------------------------------------

    When I swam in college, I did not focus on academics until my senior year. I was caught up in the peer pressure to party, party and party. Great for the social life - very bad for the GPA. I barely graduated!

    I went on the earn two masters degrees (statistics and operations research) and a Ph.D. in engineering (major: operations research and minor: computer science). I did the second masters and Ph.D. while working full time (no time for swimming).

    The point of this blog post is simple: the discipline and competitive desire that I learned from swimming stuck with me and I applied those lessons later in life when I was given the opportunity. Competitive Swimming teaches you key life values - the ability to withstand mental and physical hardship, the desire to compete and accept disappointment, the value of rising to a challenge, belief in yourself and your team and probably most important - to never give up!

    See you in the water!
  19. Hypoxic Training = Hypercapnia

    by , October 21st, 2008 at 10:44 AM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    I've have incorporated a fair amount of hypoxic training in my one hour of swimming in the morning. As many of you know, hypoxic training is holding your breath while underwater or while swimming for a certain number of strokes. The term "LungBusters" come to mind, but it does do a pretty good job of simulating the last stages of a sprint event.

    I found a pretty good definition of hypoxic training:

    Hypoxic training is the process of hypercapnia. Hypercapnia is the increase of carbon dioxide in the alveolar air, which tells the body that it needs to breathe. The feeling that we get when we have difficulty holding our breath while swimming actually results from the presence of carbon dioxide-not a lack of oxygen.

    Hypoxic training can familiarize swimmers with this feeling. Many coaches have found hypoxic training to be a form of disciplining swimmers into developing good habits, such as not breathing on the first cycle out of a turn. Several situations during a race could require athletes to be familiar with these feelings, such as extended dolphin kicks off a wall or breaststroke pull-outs. To train regularly with oxygen restriction can condition the athlete to be able to keep technique skills in top form even after fatigue and "oxygen deprivation" have set in.

    I could not find out what physiological changes occur as a result of hypercapnia, but I'm sure there is a training effect associated with this type of training (similar to a stronger, slower heart beat that results from aerobic training).

    I also found some hypercapnia training systems that you can purchase. These systems are essentially tents that you sleep in with lower O2. I suppose you could do a poor man's tent by sleeping with a plastic bag over your head (with the appropriate holes)? Just kidding.
  20. Neuro-psychological training

    by , October 13th, 2008 at 04:42 PM (My non-workout blog and random thoughts)
    Well, something interesting to write about! Not that I'm against the workout blogs, but it is rather commonplace, eh? No one blogs about how much pain they were in (LOL).

    This weekend, I was contacted by a Ph.D student in the Department of Psychology at NMSU. She is an avid adult swimmer, but she is not into the competition thing - if you know what I mean.

    She contacted me because she needs master swimmers to test a new idea (the basis for her dissertation). Essentially, the idea is based on acu-pressure and meditation. The idea is to practice her technique over a weekend (two one hour sessions) and then swim an (pre and post) event for time. I believe the "intervention" (that's the term that psychologists use) is supposed to help us with mental aspects of competitive (racing) swimming. She is really charged up about this because she will get quantitative values (our performance for 100 yards freestyle) that can be used to determine the relative efficacy of the intervention.

    I guess we have all been in a mental state that takes us away from our focus. I know that I "self-talk" during practice sets and during events (e.g., "it hurts!!", "i'm dying", "so and so is catching me", blah, blah, blah).

    I try to empty my mind before I race. I try to get into "the zone" - remember the tennis book by the same name? My favorite coach told us that "Getting too pumped up is just as bad as Feeling bad" before the race. He said that the idea mental state is to be aware of not trying to hard or giving up too easy. It's easy to say, but much harder to do - esp. if you are swimming your sixth event of a meet. I'm always drained by the sixth event. On the other hand, my college coach, a former successful head football coach, was really, really good about getting you pumped up. Paradox!

    So I'll keep you, dear reader, informed of the progress of our research project. Who knows if this will work, but it is interesting and it is novel. Perhaps a placebo effect at best?

    I'm also going to try to find some internet resources for mind sports training. If you know of a cool site, please let me know and I will post it to the blog and credit you for finding it.

    Swimmingly yours,
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