About a year after beginning this blog, I got interested in open-water swimming, and it's been my passion ever since. Here's a list of some swims I've done.
Today was the Spring Fling Meet on Long Island. In honor of the meet’s moniker, I wore my flowery cap during warm-ups:
I decided to be a sprinter for this meet, swimming 100 FR plus 3 50s. Here’s how it went:
100 FR: 59.56 (28.94, 30.62)
I was so incredibly happy with this swim! I have long had a love-hate relationship with my 100 FR. Actually, maybe it would be better described as a bully-victim relationship: I would try to make a friendly overture; it would beat me up; I would whimper and retreat and avoid the event entirely for a year or so.
The last time I broke a minute for my 100 was in March 2004 (59.77), and I had almost despaired of ever doing it again. Until today, my 40-44 AG best was a 1:03 (and this is my 5th year in the age group!). For this race, I told myself that I would be happy with a 1:01-low or 1:00+, but secretly I hoped to go under that magical 60 seconds.
Since doing more sprint training in Florida, I had been envisioning swimming this race most days in practice. I imagined kicking really hard on the last 50, and putting my head down and not breathing during the last half lap. Then I imagined looking up at the board and seeing a 59 by my lane. That’s exactly how it happened today!
My masters best in this event is 58.07 (2002), and my lifetime best is 57.53 (1981). I wasn’t considering swimming this event again this season, but now it seems as if the first and maybe even the second of those numbers might be within reach if I were to swim this tapered and suited. On the other hand, today’s swim was a really good one—I hit all my turns, and executed exactly the way I wanted to. I don’t have any obvious ideas about how to swim it tons better, so maybe I should just stand pat with this time this season. It’s something to think about.
50 FL: 30.08
This was another age-group best (I had previously gone 30.25 in 2008). It’s less than .5 seconds off my masters best of 29.71 (2000). I was really pleased with the time—my most recent 50 FL swim was a scm 34.95 this past December, and this definitely beats that swim. I was also happy overall with my stroke—the changes I made to my fly in Florida have made it more powerful, and maybe over time they will become sustainable for longer distances.
I did glide into the wall on both my turn and my finish, so I see the potential for some improvement there. Also my breakout after my dive was not as well timed as it could have been—I think I need to work on that in practice while wearing the overcap I wear in meets, as that seems to alter the feel of surfacing a bit.
50 BK: 31.62
This was a little off both my age-group best (31.35, 2008) and my masters best (30.70, 2001). My start wasn’t very sharp, my turn was not as snappy as I had practiced this week, and I probably should have taken an extra stroke on the finish. I also think I need to get a little deeper on my catch. Still, this counts as a respectable 50 BK for me.
50 FR: 27.25
I had a fun race with my teammate in the next lane on this one--he had been trash talking me about our "death match" all meet long. My time was about .4 seconds off my 40-44 best (26.83, 2008), and well off my masters best of 25.99 (2002). Still, it was a better 50 than I have been swimming lately. I had a decent though not great turn, and while my kick felt strong, my turnover felt a bit sluggish. I’d like to swim this race again this season—maybe at the meet that’s coming up in 2 weeks. I’d love to get back under 27.
Other meet notes:
I was happy overall with this meet. Heck, after my 100, I still would have been happy if I'd swum 40-plus on all my 50s! This was the first meet in a while that I went into feeling completely healthy--no muscle twinginess or asthma symptoms or joints feeling iffy--and it was just a joy to get up the blocks repeatedly and blast some sprints as fast I as I could without worrying about anything going awry.
Everyone I saw during the warmup smiled at me (or at least at my cap), and that made me go into the meet feeling like the world was a happy and wonderful place. I think that helped me stay relaxed for my races.
For the meet I wore my Asics purple-flowers-and-pinstripes suit:
I still just can’t bring myself to squeeze back into my B70—it seems like such an ordeal! Maybe if I end up doing a taper meet this spring (not a sure thing) I will suck it up and wear it.
Clearly the coaching I got in Florida helped me in my races. I don't get the same level of feedback about my swimming here in New York. I need to figure out some way to get some stroke coaching and some feedback and advice on my meet swimming.
My next meet will be in 2 weeks—I have to decide what I want to swim, and get my entry in soon. I'm leaning towards 100 BK, 50 BR, 50 FR, and maybe 1 other event (although I need to check the entry form to make sure none of those are back-to-back).
Updated March 7th, 2010 at 05:54 PM by swimsuit addict
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This morning I went up to Riverbank State Park and had a little LCM day-before-the-meet swim. It felt good to stretch out in the long pool. It was a beautiful day here, and the views of the Hudson through the pool windows were inspiring. Here’s what I did:
1000 LCM warmup
10 x 100 @ 1:45, odds FR, evens FR/BK halfies [moderate pace, sharp turns w/ good streamline]
Extra 100 FR/BK halfsie [because my last one on the set above was interrupted, and I wanted to finish on a strong note]
After I got home I had a good long stretch. My calves are still a little tight from ballet (I went again on Thursday night), but otherwise everything feels good, and I’m excited about getting to swim in the meet tomorrow!
Today’s pool drama notes (there’s always something!): Midway through my set of 100s I had to deal with three lanemates who were swimming side-by-side lengths, using the whole width of the lane. (They were triathletes, so maybe they were practicing swimming at close quarters for their races.) This situation got resolved pretty quickly—the lifeguards up at Riverbank have gotten pretty proactive about enforcing good circle-swimming etiquette—but it got me to thinking about swim caps. Perhaps what I need is a really fierce looking one, maybe with rows of spikes on it, that would make other lap swimmers think twice about having a head-on collision.
Not real spikes, mind you—after all, I am a gentle swimmer of peace and nonviolence. Mostly. But those squishy spiky things that I’ve spotted on Halloween costume biker jackets and dog collars could work. They look quite scary, but are actually soft and lightweight. They seem to be made out of a similar material to Zura fins.
A quick internet search found this rubber Mohawk spike strip meant to go atop a motorcycle helmet. One of these (or a few rows of them!) on a black silicone cap would definitely be a look. If I had a cap like that, I”d definitely wear it for open-water swim starts!
But perhaps for the pool, a single spike right on the top of the cap would suffice. It might actually make you more streamlined, at least when your head was in the right position, and it would quickly alert you when your head position drifted too high. If the spike was long enough, it would help correct any cross-over tendencies. It would thus be good for technique, as well as defense.
So, I actually need two new swim caps—the “Narwhal” model, for the pool, and the “Spartacus” for open water. Anyone have any friends in high places at Speedo or Tyr?
Happy weekend, everyone!
I swam with my team at John Jay college this morning. Here’s what I did:
6 x 100 FR (50 fist drill, 50 swim) @ 1:25
6 x 100 FR @ 1:20 [I did FR/BK halfsies on the last 2]
6 x 100 IM @ 1:35
6 x 100 (25 underwater/25 flutter kick on back/50 build free) @ 1:45
6 x 100 BK @ 1:45 [1:22, 1:20, 1:20, 1:20, 1:22, 1:22]
6 x 100 (75 FR/:05 rest/25 sprint) @ 1:40
(It didn’t feel as repetitive as it looks on the page! I actually had fun on the underwaters set—I aimed to stay down long enough to push off the spot where the pool bottom angles sharply down towards the deep end, so that I could get an excellent push off there and spring up to the surface.)
Afterwards, I went by the Y to do weights and stretching, then had a massage mid-day. It had been 4 weeks since my last one instead of the usual 3, and some of my muscles were definitely feeling pretty tight and tender. Much better now!
Today I swam at the Y during early morning lap swim again, and it worked out well. I had my own lane for the first half of my workout, then circled with just one other swimmer for the rest. Plus, during a break between sets someone from a neighboring lane told me that I was “such a beautiful swimmer!” I think I really like this morning Y swim crowd!
Here’s what I did:
1000 scy warmup (400 swim/200 kick/200 pull/200 drillswim)
5 x 100 @ 1:30 FR -> BK pacman set
200 kick w/ fins (100 mod, 2 x 50 build)
6 x 50 w/ fins (25 + turn sprint, rest easy) @ long rest [I did 3 FR, 2 BK, and 1 FL]
5 x 100 w/o fins (25+turn sprint, rest easy) @ 2:15 [2 FR, 2 BK, 1 FL]
10 x 50 FR/BK halfsies @ :50 [all easy-mod pace, but worked on really snapping legs over on turns]
100 easy warmdown
Afterwards I stretched out in the warm, pretty pool, then headed upstairs for a short rowing workout. I had tried to go to the gym’s rowing class last night, but it has become very popular again and was already full when I arrived. (Rowing class is a bit like spin class on Concept 2 erg machines, an interval workout with everyone rowing in sync and an instructor calling out instructions and, often, narrating a rowing course or race for us. No disco music. It’s a great workout in 45 minutes) So I decided to do some rowing on my own today—I programmed the machine to do 2-minute pieces, with :30 rest in between. I warmed up on the first 2, then descended numbers 3-5 and 6-8, then warmed down the last two. (I went 2:19/2:14/2:08, 2:35 (was chatting with a fellow rower here)/2:12/2:07 on my descends. Those numbers are average 500m pace during the 2 minutes of rowing).
One cool thing about rowing on erg machines is all the information and feedback you get—after every stroke, the machine calculates your 500m pace time for that stroke, per-minute stroke rate, average pace for the piece, projected finish time or distance, etc. (It also does the standard workout-machine stuff like calories burned, wattage, and so forth, and will even give you a little pace boat picture to race if you tell it to do so). Seeing how small changes in rowing technique affect the numbers on each rowing stroke really helps me stay focused on maintaining good technique. Plus the rowing room has mirrors on the front and sides, so you can visually check your technique now and then.
I often think how great it would be to have all this info while swimming. Can you imagine swimming 200 descends in workouts and getting feedback each stroke cycle about your stroke rate, your dps, your current speed (measured as, say, your 100-pace), and your projected finish time? All this could be projected wirelessly into your goggles. Actually, figuring out how to do that for stroke rate should be doable (and has maybe already been done—I know Speedo used to sell a swim watch with metal sensors on the sides that calculated stroke rates by measuring changes in conductivity and using that to figure out how many times the watch, and thus the arm wearing it, had been dipped into and out of the water per minute. I’m not sure if they still make this, or if it was widely adopted by teams. I think the technology to take such stroke rate info and make it appear somehow in the field of vision of a person wearing goggles exists.) Measuring swimmers speeds at very frequent intervals would be trickier. Swimmetrics does it with tethering; you could possibly do it untethered in an endless pool, if you could get precise measurement of both the speed of the water current and the swimmer’s position relative to the back wall of the tank (and maybe, once you got that latter measurement, you could have the speed of the water current automatically adjust itself so that the swimmer stayed in roughly the same place no matter the swimming speed. Can endless pools already do this?) Maybe by the time I’m in the 85-59 age group all this will be old technology!
The heat sheets and timeline for this weekend’s swim meet on Long Island are up. It looks like it will be a short meet, starting at 9 and ending around 12:15, even with several 1000 heats in there. I’m swimming 100 FR, 50 FL, 50 BK, and 50 FR. (I know ahead of time I won’t be swimming any relays, since I’m the only woman from our team attending). It should be a fun event.
[I do realize that resuming 2 leg-intensive activities (I went to ballet class Monday night, plus the rowing today) is probably not optimal meet-week prep. But I figured getting back into my NYC routine took priority of being perfectly prepared. And it’s still early in the week, and I’m not too sore from the ballet, so I think things will be fine. I just have to remember how to do starts—I haven’t practiced those since my last meet in January!]
I had a nice swim at my local Y this morning. I had almost given up swimming here, even though it’s probably the most conveniently located pool I swim at. I had tended to go mid-morning or at noontime on days I didn’t practice with a team, and there always seemed to be a lot of cranky swimmers around who resisted circle swimming, got mad and defensive about being passed, and complained about any style/speed of swimming that created too many waves. (There used to even be signs up in the two fastest lanes that said “Crawl stroke only—no kicking.” Swimmers who wanted to kick or swim fly had to move over to the slowest lanes with the water joggers, where such activity was sure to cause major chaos and complaining.) I would be ultra-polite and cheerful in hopes that the positive energy would be contagious, but to no avail. Sometimes I would have my own lane, or find a cooperative lanemate or two, but too often not. I figured the early morning hours, before work, would be even more zoo-y, so I hadn’t even tried them in a long time.
But this morning I showed up at around 6, and there was actually an empty lane. One of my open-water friends was there starting a workout (she’s training to swim around Manhattan this summer), and soon another swimmer I know showed up. I ended up doing my own workout, but with people who were of similar speed who were experienced circle swimmers. (The pool had filled up a bit by 6:30, and was hopping by 7, but these morning swimmers were by and large focused on getting in their workouts, and willing to cooperate in order to do so). So early morning seems a good time to use this pool—while more crowded than at off-hours, it’s actually easier to use. Here’s what I ended up doing:
8 x 75 FR/BK/FR @ 1:10
5 x 100 IM K -> Swim pacman set
4 x 75 S/K/S @ 1:15
4 x 100 FR/BK/BR/FR @ varied intervals
2 x 50 (25 fast/25 easy)
I’ve been rethinking what my workout schedule will look like this spring, and I’m glad to know that early-morning swimming at the Y is a good option—especially since this is where I do my weight workouts and stretching. It’s nice to consolidate everything in one place. And although the pool is only 4 (narrow) lanes, it’s consistently a good temperature. And it’s a pretty pool, featuring elaborate blue-and-yellow decorative tiling that was a gift from the King of Spain in 1929. Pretty counts for something when choosing a pool.
There’s actually a second, smaller pool at the Y which is kept at about 90 degrees for kids lessons and water aerobics that has even more elaborate tilework and stained glass windows and dramatic arches—it looks like a temple to the water gods. (There’s actually a Neptune mosaic that is its central feature.) After doing my workout, I went to this pool to stretch out and bask a bit. It's not quite as great as swimming outdoors, but it's definitely something to look forward to at the end of my workout!
I had an easy trip back to NYC—I think I spent a total of about 10 minutes in the Atlanta airport, which has to be a PR. There’s scant evidence here of the snowstorms that hit the city on Thursday and Friday—the sidewalks are surprisingly clear, and it’s easy to get around. It feels good to be home.
I walked over to swim practice this morning at John Jay college. It was crowded—we were 6 in my lane—but full of good energy and camaraderie. Here’s the workout we did:
600 scy warmup
8 x 50 @ 1:05 : FL/BK, BK/BR, BR/FR, FR/FL twice through
2 x 50 @ :45
2 x 75 @ 1:15
2 x 100 @ 1:30
2 x 125 @ 1:55
2 x 150 @ 2:15
2 x 200 @ 3:00
2 x 250 @ 3:45
2 x 300 @ 4:30
[On this long set I did a mixture of FR and BK. There were 2 swimmers swimming heels-to-head-together ahead of me, and 3 others who swam pretty clumped up a ways behind me. I switched up strokes as necessary to stay in that sweet spot in between the two groups.]
4 x 50 Kick @ 1:05
12 x 75 @ 1:20: 1st 4 FL/BK/BR, 2nd 4 BK/BR/FL, 3rd 4 BR/FL/BK [I kicked all but the BR on the first 8 of these, and all of the last 4]
Today was my first day back circle swimming after a month of having my own lane most days down in Florida. It worked out well, and I was reminded of the advantages of swimming with so many others—having frequent coached practices, workout mates who are pretty exactly my speed, and the whole esprit de lane thing of encouraging each other on (and occasionally whining about the set). There’s also the fact that up here there are local meets, whereas my swim buddies in Florida generally have to travel overnight to compete. There are 3 nearby one-day meets coming up over the next 6 weeks, and I’m planning on swimming them all—on March 7, March 21, and April 11. At the first one I’m swimming 100 FR, 50 FL, 50 BK, and 50 FR. I’m still figuring out what I”ll do at the other two.
I spent most of the day driving to my mom’s house in Alabama (where I store my Florida stuff) and lugging said stuff to and from my car. This handy gadgetis my new BFF.
So when I finally got to the pool this afternoon I was pretty tired, and felt mostly like stretching out and just wiggling around in the water. Here’s the teensy workout I did:
5 x 100 FR -> BK pacmans @ 1:30
500 warmdown / scull / bask
Tomorrow’s a travel day, so probably no swimming. I’m just hoping Delta will get me home without any flight cancellations, or other major drama!
The good news today was that the pool was set up LCM this morning, even though the temp was in the low 30s. A bonus long-course day! Woohoo!
The bad news is why: One of the lifeguards told me that someone complained to the local health department about the pool operating while partly covered, and they’ve now been forbidden to do that. (I’ve no idea why the health department objects to the practice). So eventually the pool might change its policy on opening up a few lanes for lap swimmers on cold mornings, and not open at all. Tomorrow is supposed to be quite cold, and I was told to be sure to call before driving in, as they might well be closed.
I’m only here one more weekday morning before heading back up to NYC, so this whole business doesn’t really affect me much this year. I do hope they figure out how to operate with the health department’s blessings on cold mornings before next winter (and sooner than that for the sake of my morning swim buddies here!). I do feel lucky to have gotten in a couple months of outdoor swimming without any previous problems.
So this morning I resolved to enjoy the long-course swimming while it lasted. I had the pool almost to myself the whole morning, it was sunny with blue skies, and with no covers last night the pool temp had dropped to a pretty ideal 81 or so. Here’s the solo workout I did:
? x 100: odds are BK, with the interval starting at 2:00 and descending 5 seconds each time until reaching 1:45, then increasing :15 on each successive 100 until the end of the set; evens are FR and start at 1:45 then decrease :05 on each successive 100 until failure [So on the first 8 100s both BK and FR have intervals that descend by 5 seconds each time, then the BKS start getting a lot slower and the FRs a bit faster until you miss a FR interval. I made the 1:25, just made the 1:20, then missed the 1:15 completely, so I ended up doing 14 x 100 in all.]
4 x 150 K/D/S IM order @ :20 rest
400 FR/FL/FR/BK/FR/BR/FR/FR, working strokes + turns, frees easy
100 fly kick w/ fins, building each 50
8 x 50 w/ fins (30 Sprint, 20 easy) @ 1:30 [did 1st 4 FL, then 2 FR and 2 BK]
8 x 50 Kick w/o fins @ 1:15, rev. IM order twice through [The wind was really blowing at this point—it made about a 10 second difference compared to my regular kicking times! (It was blowing towards the starting end of the pool, so my FRs and BKs were slow, my BRs especially were unusually quick.) I might could have gone just as fast on the with-the-wind 50s if I had simply floated on my back and held up my kickboard like a sail.]
We’ll see how things go tomorrow. Even if I don’t get to swim in the morning, the pool should be open in the afternoon when the age-group team works out, so I don't think I'll have to go swimless.
My long-course bliss lasted for just one day. This morning it was back to a scy set-up—although at least the whole pool was uncovered. I had my choice of any of 20 lanes (there were about 8 of us swimming). There was a pretty sunrise during warmup, and good company to swim with, so no complaints, even with all those silly turns!
Our coach had to get to work early this morning, so one of my teammates and I made up our own workout. Here’s what we did:
6 x 100 FR @ 1:30 [This was supposed to be just 4, but I did an extra 2 while my workout partner took a quick trip to the locker room.]
6 x 75 FR/ST/FR @ 2:15 [I cycled through FL/BK/BR for the stroke part of these.]
8 x 50 K/S @ 1:00 [alternated FR and BK]
10 x 25 @ :30, done as 3⅓ x (1 EZ, 1 med, 1 sprint)
300 easy swim
There were turkey buzzards circling overhead during the last part of the workout, so I tried my best to look lively.
(That is at least preferable to the pool I swam at as a kid where bats would swoop down over the water at dusk while we were swimming!)
The policy for morning lap swim at my Florida pool is that if the overnight low is 44 or below, the pool will be set up short course (and just a few lanes will be uncovered for the handful of morning swimmers that show up when the weather is that cold). When it’s warmer, the pool is set up long course the night before, and it gets to sleep uncovered overnight.
In past Februarys, that means that the pool has been set up long course about 60 percent of the time. (Overnight lows are usually somewhere in the 40s.) This year has been different, though. Unusually cold temps have meant that the pool staff have only had to reconfig the lane lines once.
Until this morning. When I woke up, the temp here was about 44, so I on my drive to the pool I was in suspense--which way the lane lines would be? When I saw it was long course, I was so happy.
Here’s what I did—mostly on my own. The theme today was maintaining a constant kick while swimming long-axis strokes:
1000 LCM warmup
8 x 50 @ 1:15, odds K, evens swim w/ kick, alternating BK and FR
10 x 100 FR @ 1:40, odds pull, evens swim w/ kick [did 1-4 with paddles, 5-8 w/o paddles, 9-10 with snorkel]
200 Kick w/ fins
4 x 150 swim with fins @ :30 rest, moderate pace [did first one 50 FR / 25 FL / 25 BK / 50 FR; 2nd =50 FR / 25 BK / 25 BR w/ fly kick / 50 FR; 3rd and 4th = 50 FL / 50 BK / 25 BR w/ fl kick / 25 FR]
10 x 50, odds 30 all-out sprint + 20 easy, evens all easy [30-meter sprints might be my all-time favorite thing to do long course. I did 1-2 FL w/ fins, 3-4 BK w/ fins, 5-6 BR, 7-8 FR w/ fins, and 9-10 FR w/o fins, all on w.w.s.m.m. intervals (when the spirit moves me.)]
5 x 100 FR/BK halfsies @ 2:00, starting moderate pace and ascending to easy by 5th one
200 easy kick
200 easy swim w/ dolphin dives in shallow end
I love long course, and would swim and compete in it all year long if I had my druthers.
An intense lightning storm woke me up this morning at 4:30, about half an hour before my alarm was scheduled to wake me up for 6 am workout. I got up and watched lightning strikes over the gulf for a bit (it was pretty cool!), then turned off my alarm and went back to bed. Good call—it stormed all morning, and the pool was not open, so no workout.
By noon it was sunny and warm, though, so I made went to the now-open pool to swim a short workout on my own. Swim buddy Ray was at the pool (he’s always at the pool!) so we did the main set together.
1000 scy warmup
15 x 100: odds easy BK @ 1:45, evens FR starting at 1:45 and descending the interval by :05 on each one (down to 1:15) [I worked on keeping a constant kick on my FRs. A couple of times early in this set I got lost on my turns—I forgot whether I was in the middle of FR or BK (my mind must have been wandering bigtime). I had to look over at Ray to figure it out—he usually swims with a snorkel, but takes it off for backstroke. It’s weird that I can keep track of the intervals but forget completely what stroke I’m supposed to be swimming.]
500 moderate done as 25 Kick / 25 Swim / 50K / 50S / 75K / 75S / 100K / 100S
I think I managed to spend the only sunny part of the day in the pool. It’s now clouded over again and is threatening to turn into a dark and stormy evening.
Or at least I didn't have to.
This morning I was imagining singing “Such a perfect day” to the pool as I was swimming (I love that Gretchen Bleiler commercial that has been showing during the Olympics). Some days are like that—I just feel like I love love love the water and never want my time in the pool to end.
I was planning on doing a different workout, but enjoyed the initial 25s so much that I kept on doing them (I had planned on doing 12, not 40). Here’s the solo workout I did (scy):
10 x (4 x 25 @ :30): Each set of 4 is 3 descending + 1 easy [I did the first 6 sets FR, 3 BK, and the final one FL with fins]
200ish easy kick
200ish pull with paddles [I worked on hand placement when entering the water]
8 x 50 kick/swim @ :50, IM order twice through
200 easy warmdown
This morning the air temp was just over 30 degrees when I got to the pool. But the facility was open, the water was warm (82), and there was little wind—a perfect morning for swimming (and the first workout in a while where the backstroke flags were predictable.) My workout buddy Ray was there, and here’s what we did:
1100 warmup (scy)
10 x 100: 4 @ 1:35, 3 @ 1:30, 2 @ 1:25, 1 @ 1:20 [I did the evens in each group FR/BK, and focused on making that one BK turn really great
12 x 50 Kick @ 1:00, 4 sets of 3 desc. [did 3 of the 4 fast ones <:45]
400 FR, neg. split
6 x 50 pull w/ snorkel, working on maintaining a strong core [My favorite drill for this is to move my pull buoy down a bit more towards my feet on each successive 50, while trying to keep my core engaged and my back unarched, and focusing on feeling the connection between my arm stroke and body rotation. Anywhere below the knees gets difficult—you really have to use your abs to keep the pull buoy from making your feet and legs float too much.]
200 warmdown + sculling + basking
Our coach changed our workout schedule so that we have practice tomorrow night instead of tomorrow morning. Hurray! Now I can watch the figure skating without worrying about how I’ll feel waking up for 6 am workout.
Updated February 19th, 2010 at 09:20 AM by swimsuit addict
An article about speedskater Shani Davis in last week’s New York Times magazine made this comparison between Davis and Phelps:
Both Phelps and Davis are unusual within their sports in their versatility and their ability to defeat competitors who focus on just one or two events. Where they diverge is that Phelps has always relied on one strong, almost Svengali-like coach, while Davis takes advice from numerous coaches — some connected to the U.S. national team, some not — and then synthesizes their guidance and sets his own course. His coaches are more like a panel of consultants.
This quote has been rattling around in my head for the last few days, especially as I watch the figure skaters having intense last minute conversations with their coaches just seconds before they hit the ice to compete. (I would find that sort of last-minute openness to instruction really intrusive, but then figure skating is a much different sport than swimming, and these skaters and coaches are world-class and must know what works for them. If I were attempting such difficult and potentially painful things every time I competed, I would probably need a pep talk before going out there too.)
On the Phelps-Davis scale, I think a lot of masters swimmers are more like Davis—seeking out expertise where we find it and consolidating as best we can. I know that describes my usual method. I think of it as being my own head coach: I decide what my season focus and goals will be, what my training schedule will look like, what sort of cross-training and dryland work I’m up for doing. Then, ideally, I seek out others with more expertise than I have (or educate myself as well as I can) to be my workout coaches, stroke coaches, strength or nutrition experts, etc. (Not that I have my own stable of personal coaches, like Dara or Shani. For me, it just means that I try find someone knowledgeable—a fellow swimmer or coach—to ask for a pointer or two when I decide that my BR rhythm is off, and try to attend the practice sessions of coaches whose workouts work best for me). I keep track of what sort of training I’m getting in my coached workouts, and fill in whatever’s missing on the days I work out on my own (or finagle opportunities to get it during group workouts). Sometimes I do a better job of this “head coaching” than others; some seasons I am a real control freak about doing whatever I need to reach my goals, and other times I just kind of coast along. It’s often just more relaxing to turn off the meta-swimming part of your brain, and show up at a group workout and do whatever someone else tells you to.
I’ve done that whenever I could during my time down here in Florida and been pleased with the results. It’s been a break from my usual routine, and I feel like when I go back home to NYC I’ll be ready to be more hands-on in my training again.
This morning I overslept (too much late-night figure-skating!) and was late for workout. Luckily Chuck was still there when I rolled in around 7:30, and he gave me a workout. Here’s what I did:
600 warmup (4 x 100 S/50 K)
200 pull [I used my snorkel]
12 x 25 @ :30 (done as 3 x (1 easy, 1 build, 1 easy, 1 sprint))
3 x 300 (100 FR/ 100 BK / 100 FR) @ 4:45
3 x 150 Kick (50 FR/ 50 ST/ 50 FR) @ 3:00
3 x 200 pull @ 3:00, keeping all 3 under 2:40
3 x 100 Kick fast @ 3:00 [1:44, 1:39, 1:37]
I was still feeling a bit sore from last night's practice, but loosened up as the workout progressed. Looking forward to more tomorrow!
I swam with the Panama City Beach masters team tonight and had a lovely coached workout (scy). Here’s what I did:
4 x 50 Kick (25 easy/ 25 build) @ 1:00
16 x 50 drill (4 x IM order) @ 1:00 [got some good FL and BR tips here]
4 x 100 FL kick w/ fins @ 1:40
2 x 200 FL @ 3:30 [just did as much fly as I could do w/ good technique (ie no gliding and keeping my pull narrow and hips up), did rest FR]
4 x 100 BK kick w/ fins @ 1:40
2 x 200 BK @ 3:30
4 x 75 BR kick @ 1:45
2 x 150 BR @ 3:15
4 x 100 FR kick w/ fins @ 1:40
1 x 200 FR fast [2:23]
It was a calm and happy workout, with a pretty sunset and the a slender moon shining down on us as we finished up. Driving home I realized I had swum 5000 yards without really feeling it much.
I swam solo this morning under a very interesting sky—lots of really dramatic low stormy clouds against a pinkish sunrise background. I was torn between swimming on my back to watch the sky, and NOT swimming on my back in order to avoid whacking my arm/head/heels against the wall when I forgot to account for the flags being blown an extra couple of strokes towards the wall. I ended up with just a few knuckle bruises. And while it rained a bit on us, it never stormed like it seemed it might.
Before I got in the pool the lifeguard warned me that the water had cooled off a bit—it was down to 80-81 degrees. I assured him that was a great temp (it’s usually around 82-83, which is warmish but bearable because it’s an outdoor pool and the air temps have been so cold here). He nonetheless cranked up the heat and by the middle of the workout I could really feel the hot water pumping out of the vents at the bottom of my lane.
One swim buddy was also at the pool and I did the long 100s set with him—otherwise on my own this morning. Here’s what I did:
1000 scy warmup
8 x 75 K/D/S @ 1:25, 1-4 IM order, 5-8 rev. IM order
1 x 100 @ 1:40 [I did FR/BK halfsies on all the 1:40s in this set]
1 x 100 @ 1:30
1 x 100 @ 1:20
2 x 100 @ 1:40
2 x 100 @ 1:30
2 x 100 @ 1:20
[Then because the pool was hot hot hot and we were feeling it, we relaxed the intervals for the threesies round]:
3 x 100 @ 1:40
3 x 100 @ 1:35 [did 25FL/75FRs]
3 x 100 @ 1:30
4 x 150 Kick w/ fins @ 2:30 [FL/BK/FL by 50s]
I entered the Eisenhower Park meet on March 7th. I decided to do my best sprinter impersonation—I’ll swim either the 100 FR, 50 FL, 50 BK, and 50 FR, OR I’ll swim 2 x 100 FR, 50 BK, and 50 FR. (The 100 FR is the first event; if I like my time I’ll scratch the 200 FR I entered; if not, I’ll go for a 100 FR split in the 200 FR later on in the meet. The 50 FL is right before the 200 FR, so I won’t swim both of those).
Today I swam scy solo and tried out some sprinting with fins, then a little aerobic set at the end for some recovery. I gave myself mega rest on the fin part because they tire me out so. Here’s what I did:
3 times thru:
4 x 25 dolphin kick w/ fins @ :30, odds build, evens all out
50 easy flutter kick on back w/ fins @ 1:30
4 x 25 @ :45, odds FL w/fins, evens easy
6 x 25 @ :45, odds FR w/fins, evens easy
200 easy swim
3 x 50 FR w/ fins @ 1:00, desc. 1-3
300 easy swim (fins off)
2 times thru
2 x 50 FR @ :45
2 x 100 IM @ 1:45
200 FR/BK halfsie @ 3:00
I was feeling lazy today and contemplated skipping practice, but after reading about the heroic measures blogsters in the mid-Atlantic seem to be taking to get in a swim, I decided I would feel ashamed not to go.
( I do hope the snow clears out soon for everyone that has been hit hard. I’ve been following the action with plenty of there-but-for-the-grace-of-Florida-go-I shuddering.)
So I did go to the pool and got in the following workout with swimbuddy Ray:
12 x 50 @ :50 (4 sets of 50 easy-50medium-50fast)
4 x 125 @ 2:00 [focused on maintaining strong kick on odd lengths]
2 x 250 @ 4:00, increasing speed each 50
5 x 100 @ 1:40, odds BK, evens FR
1 x 500, negative split
I need to figure out what meets I want to do over the next couple months, and what events I want to swim in them. I'll probably do the March 7 meet at Eisenhower park; Harvard is a possibility.
The temp was around 30 degrees this morning, so I wasn’t sure whether the pool would be open for 6 am workout. I drove over with my fingers crossed, and was rewarded with an open pool, an enthusiastic if shivering coach on deck, and 3 great workout buddies. It was cold but not nearly as windy as last night, and there was a lovely sunrise just after warmup.
Here’s what we did:
1000 scy warmup (400 swim, 300 drill, 200 kick, 100 IM)
12 x 25 @ :30; odds underwater, evens choice build
8 x 25 fly @ :30 focusing on technique [I worked on keeping my arms moving at all times—no extended gliding!—and arm entry and pull positions]
2 x 200 IM @ 3:30
8 x 25 back @ :30, focusing on technique [getting a deeper catch]
2 x 200 fr/bk/fr/bk @ 3:30
8 x 25 breast @ :40, focusing on technique [I worked on delaying my kick a bit—it made my breaststroke feel neater and less splayed out, but maybe also a bit less powerful]
2 x 200 IM @ 3:30
4 x 25 sprint FR @ :45 [“because you should always end an IM set with some fast freestyle”]
It was super to get in some stroke coaching this morning—I love working on technique, and don’t do it enough. I felt good in the water but fatigued, and none of my swimming was terribly fast. I was grateful for the generous intervals. I’m looking forward to a easy morning off (from swimming at least) tomorrow.
After swimming I drove up to Alabama for lunch with my family, then back down here. As I was passing all the farms, I was reminded of my age-group swim coach who insisted on rolling down the window and mooing at the cows anytime we passed any—he said it was to see if he could make them look up. I think when he acquired this habit, he had no idea that he would one day be stationed in rural Alabama and get to do so much mooing.
(For any parents of adolescents out there who are looking for new and improved ways of embarrassing your kids—this is an excellent method. Make sure you do it when they have friends in the car.)
It was really scary windy at workout tonight. Chairs were blowing around on deck, and I was nearly 2 strokes shorter on the backstroke flags with the wind than against it. Coach Chuck gamely stood on deck and shivered while he coached. Here’s what I did:
600 warmup (400 swim, 200 kick)
8 x 100 (S/K/D/S) @ 1:50 [Odds FR, evens BK]
12 x 25 kick @ :30, odds build, evens fast
3 x 150 w/ fins (100 easy swim, 50 very fast kick) @ 2:45
4 x 75 w/ fins and paddles (50 easy swim, 25 sprint) @ 1:30 [I can see why people get addicted to fins—it was really fun going so fast on these and on the previous kicks]
4 x 200 FR neg. split @ 3:15
3 x 150 w/ fins (100 easy swim, 50 very fast kick) @ 2:45
4 x 75 w/ fins and paddles (50 easy swim, 25 sprint) @ 1:30
3 x 200 FR @ 3:15 (1st one neg. split, 2nd one 150ez/50fast, 3rd one warmdown)
With this morning’s swim, that puts me at over 7000 yards for the day, which is more than I’ve swum in a long time.
(I’ll see how I feel about that 6 am workout tomorrow!)
(Physics problem note: I'm still working on accumulating enough pennies to continue my snorkel experimentation)