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  1. WETSUITS....

    The days are getting shorter, and the water is getting cooler. OW swimmers look upon this predictable change with mixed emotions.... the 2011 season is ending, but it is also an opportunity to prepare for 2012. There will be a short "optimal" window to get those long qualifying swims knocked off.... one less thing to have to squeeze into the early spring.

    Some CIBBOWS swimmers will go for weekend swims all winter long, braving water temperatures into the low 30's. Yes the swims will be brief; measured in minutes, not hours, and warming time will exceed swim time by a large margin. Others, will fade from the OW for the comfort of a familiar pool. I will be primarily a member of the latter group, but my respect and admiration belong to the former. I would join them more often if only I lived closer to NYC.

    It would be great to see a larger group commit to year round OW swimming in Brooklyn... even in rubber. I donned a wetsuit a couple of days ago... one that I have owned for a while but had never worn. What was the inspiration to suddenly don rubber? I was supporting some friends on a swim in Lake Memphremagog. I was aboard a pontoon boat, it was quite windy and getting cold... the temp dropped to the low 40's. Right out of the gate, a couple of waves soaked all the extra clothing I brought with me... by 2 AM, I was freezing, and the wetsuit seemed like the best option to keep me warm. It did, but additionally, it kept my arms and legs quite compressed, adding spring to my steps. I also noticed that the suit had textured forearms, no doubt to give a swimmer added purchase to every catch. All in all I would have to say it is a great design, promising added buoyancy, warmth, compression, a low coefficient of friction, and increased grip in the forearms. No one dares to claim that such equipment doesn't offer a huge advantage to its wearer, but there are many who expect wetsuited swims to carry the same weight as those done in traditional swim attire, sorry, they don't. So... how does this wetsuit swim? I don't know... I never got in the water.

    The charge of "elitism" isn't quite accurate, its just calling it what it is... which is different than a swim done traditionally. In his essay http://www.icontact-archive.com/9BwG...HympOPZ9dU?w=2 , Scott Zoring makes the case that activities done while wearing a wetsuit shouldn't be called "swimming". Though I may not agree with the terms he has chosen, I do believe that there should be a distinction between traditional and assisted or aided swimming. Once again, it has nothing to do with elitism or excluding wetsuited persons from participation, but rather just creating clear categories so that we may choose who and what to follow based on our own interests and preferences.

    Other sports have very specific terminology to describe the "style" by which one participates... take rock climbing: Free Climbing, Aid Climbing, Sport Climbing: are all different techniques. Generally speaking, it would be frowned upon if someone claimed to have climbed a route "Free" unless they had followed the rules of "Free Climbing", not to mention that it would be misleading to others who attempt the route with false information.

    Thats all I'm going to say about it. Please check out:
    http://www.freshwaterswimmer.com/ and http://loneswimmer.com/2011/09/09/ch...suits-at-dawn/

    for more on the subject.
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  2. Whetter

    by , October 4th, 2011 at 09:23 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    As in appetite whetting.

    I've been a taciturn vlogger of late, the consequence, in large part, of having to finish some articles to pay my indentured servant's burdens to the overloads who own me.

    One such article is for AARP: The Magazine, a periodical I fear I am way too old to be writing for.

    Gerontologists divide the Golden Years into four rough quadrants:

    Young Old
    Middle Old
    Old Old
    Walking Dead of Maui Taui

    The latter, of course, is more a state of mind than a chronological condition.

    Most people don't recognize it, but I can assure you, we who fall into this category recognize each other.

    Largely by smell.

    But enough shilly shallying. The topic of the article I just finished the first draft of is tendinosis, the affliction that characterizes many of the most common chronic sports injuries, from Swimmer's Shoulder and Tennis Elbow, to Runner's Knee and Achilles Heel.

    As a frequent sufferer of SS and TE, I made a trek to see an excellent doctor at UPMC's Rehabilitation Institute, a fellow with his MD in physiatry (or physical medicine) and his Ph.D. in anatomy.

    Eventually, when my article appears, I will include a link to it so that those of you who are not yet Young, Middle, or Old Old, or Walking Dead of Maui Taui, can access it without an AARP card.

    But for now, and as indicated earlier, as a way of whetting your appetite, let me just publish four ultrasound images of my right elbow, right shoulder (Supraspinatus tendon, i.e., the rotator cuff most likely to wear and tear from swimming), my left shoulder, and finally my twin brother John's notion of what really causes Swimmer's Shoulder.

    In an upcoming vlog, I shall wax at length as to why these images are, in fact, so fascinatingly paradoxical.

    And on this note, I ask you all to now begin whetting yourselves.

    Thank you.



    My right elbow, which throbs riotously on my many mis-hit one-handed backhands as well as my second (usually slice) serves. The doctor-anatomist assured me he could see no evidence of structural damage.



    My right shoulder. I am right handed, do much more with this arm than the other one, including playing tennis and--in the old days--breaking my falls when, as a frequent inebriate, I followed the drunkard's path.

    This shoulder does show signs of a small, partial tear in the supraspinitus, though the good doctor was quick to add that such a condition is more rule than exception in active fellows my age (59 as on Sept. 24; FINA 60 on Jan. 1).



    My left shoulder, with RC so perfectly in tact the doctor described it as "pristine"--the kind of supraspinitus tendon most commonly seen in Tarzan-like specimens in their teenage years.



    Finally, my twin brother John's concept of what kind of abuse would have to happen to my left shoulder to convert it into the sad shape of my right one. John is not a doctor. I'm not one either, not exactly. But I have seen plenty of oddities in my decades of fake clinical practice and know-it-all blowhardery based on five minutes of Googling Medline.

    I have never seen a tiny digging fat man shoveling away at a pristine supraspinitus.

    But I cannot rule out the possibility.

    *
    Oh, I almost forgot.

    Here's the paradox I invite you all to ponder.

    It's my left shoulder that hurts when I swim.

    The right one feels fine.

    Updated October 4th, 2011 at 09:31 PM by jim thornton

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  3. TT Outrage: the Prologue

    by , November 5th, 2011 at 10:08 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Prologue: 1962

    A highly competitive 10-year-old mathlete (in the days before mathletes technically existed) named Jimmy Thornton sits at his wooden desk, distracting himself from anxiety by reading the words carved into the wood by previous generations of students. One strikes his fancy.


    Foetus.

    Hmm, thinks young Jim, didn’t Stephen Daedalus find a similar word etched into his desk in Dublin? But no sooner has Jim begun to calm himself with literary references than the gravel throat of Mr. Glarow, 5th Grade math teacher, intrudes, reanimating all his prepubescent hormones of anxiety and dread.


    “Your performance on this test, class, was as usual abominable,” Glarow says.

    A salt-and-pepper crowned and tweed-coated Pittsburgher in his mid-50s, Charles “Chuck” Glarow is a distinguished looking fellow with more than a passing resemblance to William Hopper’s character, Paul Drake, the private investigator for Raymond Burr’s lawyer, Perry Mason, namesake of the original B&W TV version of the legal drama.


    Jim thinks to himself that no matter how much authority Mr. Glarow
    looks to possess, he is simply incorrect about at least one of his student’s mathematical performance on this particular test, which was not really a test at all, but rather a species of child’s play for Jim, just as all the other so-called tests this year have proved to be child’s play, leading to a cumulative 100 percent perfect average since the first day of class back in September.

    The melancholy groans of his fellow students only make that tiny portion of Jim’s brain that is properly described as sociopathic smile. Clearly, they are examining their grades on something that for them has proven, in fact,
    more than a test: a trial or tribulation, perhaps, or maybe a sentencing--and are now finding that their formerly average F’s—50 percent, say, or maybe 45 percent marks—have plummeted even closer to Absolute Zero.

    Young Jim’s anxiety dims as he finds himself thinking about the genius of the Kelvin scale.
    Oh, what a foil for my own perfect score these dullards’ best work will serve!

    And then the unthinkable happens. Mr. Glarow, who despite his rugged good looks, who despite the endless stories he tells about hunting bears in the mountains of West Virginia every weekend during bear season, who despite these and many other claims to manliness, still lives at home with Mother,
    this Mr. Glarow, this oddity and enigma of a private school fifth grade mathematical instructor with an arsenal of weapons at home and, presumably, an endless supply of freshly laundered underwear cleaned by Mother, hands an exam paper over to young Jim—a lad who does not punch other kids, who does not speak out during class, who does not outwardly do anything whatsoever that might be construed as “bad” (although on the inside, it is a different matter, oh, a very, very different abattoir of a matter, young Jimmy will not deny this!)—and in this moment of handing over the examination paper our earnest outwardly beatific knowledge-loving catenary-curve-graphing mathlete begins ever so quickly to dissociate.

    At the top of the paper, in giant numerals as red as arterial blood, a scarlet number, so to speak: 90%.
    Dazed to the point of vertigo, Jim forces himself to focus. His sharp eyes, their pupils constricted to mean needle pricks by humiliation, scans down the pitiless manuscript, searching for errors. Finally, he finds the problem that he has somehow, against all odds, “missed.”

    Ever so quickly, like a human ENIAC, he does the recalculations ten times in a row, lickety, at it were, split. Ten times he gets the same answer: the answer is 5. Jim looks at his answer on the paper. The answer here, too, is 5.


    The right answer, Jim knows, is 5; the answer he put down is 5; there is absolutely no wriggle room here, no reason in all the known, parallel, and largely speculated upon universes, be these 3D or 2D--no, none, zero reason to mark this problem wrong.


    Jim’s senses clear. His eyes dilate. Mr. Glarow, the tormenting, mistake-prone, stylishly dressed, bear killing Mama’s boy ignoramus, is going over the test, problem by problem, asking the herd of braying dullards to explain what they did in getting their comically boneheaded wrong answers.

    Soon, Jim knows, he shall reach problem No. 7: the problem whose answer is 5, whose solution Jim has clearly written as 5, whose method of solution, the “work” portion of the “show your work mandate” required for full credit Jim has shown in all its jejune ridiculous completeness…


    “All right, then, class,” says Mr. Glarow at last. “What is the correct answer to Problem No. 7?”

    Jim’s hand is instantly aloft, waving—but not obnoxiously, not one of
    those wavings accompanied by sounds of mmmm ahh mmmeee mmmeee, like a hungry dog anticipating the dog food bowl’s deposit by its jowls, not one of those waves at all, but rather a respectful wave, a salute almost, a collegial wave of the sort that one reasonable human being might use to gently gain the attention of another human being, the second human being having made a monstrous mistake, but the first human taking great pains to just alert him of the error without characterizing the nature of it, as monstrous and imbecilic and offensive to the gods as surely this particular-character-defect of a mistake this whopper is, i.e., the one made by Chuck Glarow, dashing in his tweed coat and umbilicus ascot, the private school teacher and injustice administrator nonpareil—to this self-same character Jim says, “Mr. Glarow, sir! You seem to have made a small error here on my test sheet. For as you can clearly see, I put a 5 as the answer for No. 7 and you inadvertently marked it wrong. See: a 5!”

    And just like that, Mr. Bear-Killer Glarow descends furiously upon the sparrow of a boy, and picks up Jimmy by his blond hair, literally drags him from the desk where Foetus is carved, jerks him into the air, yelling, “That is not a 5! That is an S!,” which, in fact, doesn’t sound at all like an S, so heavy is the air now humid with raging spittle everywhere, as if the Blessed Mother’s Son has suffered a stroke and can only twist his voice box into screaming, “That ish an Eshhh! An Eshhh!”

    And flinging Jim around the classroom like a flimsy fabric remnant, all in one motion, the innocent and infallible mathlete’s pupils constricted again to the tiniest apertures imaginable, as if his eyes are conspire to allow him no more than the merest impression of his misbegotten unjust fate, Mr. Glarow seizes with his free hand a piece of chalk, screeching a gigantic S that snake-curls its way across the far reaches of the blackboard, the class all the while agog, and no sooner has the S taken shape then the teacher cracks his student’s head upon the pitiless slate at the top of the S, and shoves the boy’s hair against the chalk, and in one curvilinear motion erases the whole obscene letter, yelling, “Essshhhh! Esssshhhhh! I’ll show you what happenshhh to thoshhe in my classhhh who answer math problemshhh with an Esshhh inshhhstead of a Five!”


    And he throws Jim under his desk, seals any possibility of escape by sitting his 190 lb. bulk on the desk chair and scoots halfway into the hollow space, as all the while the classroom of dullards—finally awakened to the one subject they love now and will always love—wake up and snigger at the sheer delightful cruelty of it all!

    But Jim, staring out at his peers from the small open slatted space beneath the desk’s front, sees that for all the joy his comeuppance has brought them, it has unnerved them, too; for how can even the stupidest among them now fail to see that nobody, nobody! escapes forever the power of mean-spirited authority when it decides to slither out and take exercise in the way it invariabl prefers to take exercise. Even Glarow himself, Jim is suddenly certain, whose mother’s hold has never loosened around his lunatic neck.

    At this moment, Jim turns his neck to see if kicks—surely easily deliverable, sight unseen, within the desk’s little prison chamber—will soon enough start raining down upon his kidneys. But Mr. Glarow’s legs, he sees, are wilted, their fury spent, his simian, tweed-sheathed arms slumped over in the evacuated space between his legs.

    It is there, between in the spaces between the teacher’s black-haired fingers, Jim sees the tufts of his own blond hair alternate like torn trophies.


    Note: I invite you to check back soon to see how uncannily this vignette relates to USMS.
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  4. Outrage No Mas

    by , November 21st, 2011 at 12:53 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Enough dragging things out.

    I want and need to move on, so I shall try to finish this Triptych of Outrage as quickly as possible. So here’s what happened:

    1. After the Clarion University snafu/cluster**** last spring, I was determined to never again make the mistake of counting on a local meet to be sanctioned, recognized, or whatever else is required to have times count for Top Ten consideration.

    2. Last summer, knowing I had no chance of affording to travel to Auburn, knowing furthermore that I’d be taking my son to college the same weekend as the annual U. MD meet where I usually swim my one USMS LCM meet per summer, I opted to go instead to another annual meet up in Cleveland.

    3. This is in a very nice pool and used to be run by Jack Groselle and O*H*I*O masters. The one time I had swum it before, all my times counted.

    4. The drawback, in the past, had been that it was a 1-day meet, which makes it hard to try for the free style quinella (50, 100, 200, 400, and 800).

    5. But this year, to my delight, I found the meet was being turned into a 2-day meet, name changed to the SynergyFest Inaugural Swim Meet. It was officially sanctioned by the Lake Erie LMSC. Sanction number 18-072923111-LCM.

    6. So I signed up, booked the absolutely cheapest hotel room I could find within driving distance, and signed up for the 5 offered freestyles (I will paste in my results at the bottom of this.)

    7. The meet, unfortunately, was not terribly well attended, probably because they also scheduled a 2-mile open water swim in Lake Erie at the same time as the pool swim, forcing devotees of both to pick one or the other.

    8. According to the meet’s predicted timeline (and I may be a few minutes off here, plus or minus), warm ups started at 9 a.m., the first event of the day would start at 10 a.m., and all the day’s events would be done by approximately 6 p.m.

    9. Unfortunately, the actual timeline was more like this: warm ups 9 a.m., first even 10 a.m., meet over 10:45 a.m. It was absurd! The starter tried to drag things out a little bit, but with only one or two heats for most of the events, the amount of rest between swims was minimal.

    10. On the second day (and again, please forgive me if the details here are a little off), I swam the 800, had about 40 minutes of rest, swam the 50, got out of the water, and was told the 200 would be starting in approximately 4 minutes! I saw on the event sheet that there was going to be a 200 backstroke/OPEN later on, and this would provide me with about 15-20 minutes rest before what is usually my best event. So I asked the meet judge if it would be okay to swim my 200 free then instead. I explained that I was really hoping to make a Top 10 time, and I thought having more than 4 minutes rest after my 50 (and earlier 800) would optimize my chances.

    11. The judge okayed it. Again, I told him I was really trying to make a top 10 time, and I asked him if switching to the 200 OPEN would screw this up. He said no.

    12. So I swam the 200, did reasonably well for me, and drove back to Pittsburgh, confident that this time, at least, I had given myself a fighting chance of picking up a few Top 10 times that would absolutely, 100 percent, no-snafu possibilities anywhere on the horizon, count—provided, that is, my times were good enough to count.

    13. I will now paste in my meet results and the Top Ten results that were just certified a few weeks ago.

    14. Please glance at these and then return for a final word or two about what happened.






    The keen observer will note that my name doesn’t appear in the 200 in the TT list even though my time of 2:18.10 would have just squeaked me ahead of the legendary Larry Wood.

    The keen observer will also notice that my name does appear in the 400, though this is very unlikely to last.

    Why?

    Here’s why.

    When a forum poster pointed out that the preliminary LCM listings were up, I immediately checked to see if I had made any TT times. The area of the website read as follows:

    2011 USMS Top Ten LCM for Men 55-59
    This is a preliminary top ten listing for proofreading purposes only. Report any errors to Mary Beth Windrath.

    Noting that my 200 wasn’t listed, I immediately emailed Mary Beth, who is an unflappably kind person with what seems like a thankless job—collating TT times and making sure they all comply with rules that people like me, evidently, have never heard of.

    When I wrote Mary Beth, I was as confident of 100 percent vindication as I was when I told Mr. Glarow that I had, in fact, written down the correct answer of 5 on my math test, only to learn that he thought I had written an S.

    Here is our email exchange:

    Hi, Mary Beth,

    Can you check the LCM 200 free in men 55-59? I swam a 2:18.10 something at the Synergy meet in Cleveland (which is where my other TT times came from in the 100, 400, and 800), but for some reason, the 200 was left out of the preliminary list.

    Thanks for taking a look. From Event Rankings:

    6 Thornton, James 59 2:18.10 1776 SynergyFest
    Inaugural Swim Meet

    Hi Jim,

    Event 15 was 200 Open, which is not a valid event for Top Ten, so none of the times from that event can count. That's why you don't see it. Only distances and strokes listed in article 102.5 are considered for top ten and records.

    Sorry about that!
    Mary Beth

    Are you kidding me?

    It was freestyle! They never said anything about this not counting at the meet.

    There were a total of about 35 people at the whole meet, so the events had approximately 5 minutes between them. I asked the guy if I could switch from the 200 free to swimming it in the 200 Open so I could get 15 minutes rest after something else I had just swum.

    He said that was fine, never mentioned anything about it not counting. I only went there to try to get some TT times.

    This is a case of where the USMS rules are just, in my opinion, utterly mean-spirited to swimmers who don't have the money to travel to big meets.

    What is the rationale for this?

    PS Sorry for seeming peeved, but I would have been 3rd in the 1000 SCY free, too, last year, but the meet got invalidated because of weird bureaucratic minutiae. I just feel the slogan, "We do it all for the swimmer," which I heard endlessly at the one convention I attended, is a total misrepresentation.

    Jim

    Hi Jim,

    You're not going to like what else I have to tell you, but I wanted to give you a heads up. The 400 Open was also listed as an event in that meet and the swimmers show up in the preliminary top ten, but will be removed for the final top ten. If it's any consolation, the times still are showing up in the event rankings.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

    Mary Beth

    Thanks, Mary Beth. You have been very kind about this, and I realize that with situations like this, you have a thankless job. I might write a vlog about this, but I will make sure to state clearly that you were extremely decent about it.

    I just think it's an absolutely ridiculous rule and that they should come up with some other way to designate non counting swims--a 400 Fun Swim, for instance, where it's clear to the participants that the race won't count for anything.

    My problem is I live in Pittsburgh, there are virtually no USMS meets nearby, so if I ever want to try to make the top ten, I have to drive to Cleveland or DC. This summer, I drove to Cleveland for the two day Synergy meet, which was clearly sanctioned, etc. So few people attended that there was often only one or two heats of each event. I think I swam the 50, then had 5 minutes before the 200, which I really wanted to try to make the Top 10 in. I asked the meet director if I could switch and have it still count, and he said yes.

    I think there was a similar rational for the 400 Open vs. the 400 Free--no rest between events. And by no rest, I really do mean minimal rest. With only 35 people at the whole two day meet, it ran awfully fast. Warm ups were at 9:00, and the timeline said each day would end by 6 p.m. But both days the events were over by around 10:30.

    All this comes on top of last spring's meet at Clarion, where the pool was measured, there were two certified officials, there was a USMS observer, etc. But someone failed to turn the paperwork in, so my personal all-time top finish in the TT didn't count either.

    I just feel the rules are stacked in the favor of regions that have tons of USMS meets and/or swimmers wealthy enough to travel, pay for hotels, etc.

    I shouldn't be so petty, but there you have it.

    Jim

    Hi Jim,

    Small meets are always tough for everyone to get enough rest, especially if they really want to do well. For this particular meet, we've since notified the official folks about alternative ways to word the meet information, so that times would be valid for top ten. Let's hope that in the future they change the way it was handled. Unfortunately, sometimes we only really learn things the hard way.

    If you have suggestions on how to get the word out about "open" or "Choice"
    events not being valid for top ten, please pass them on. Or perhaps you have a suggested rule change.

    Good luck at future meets.
    Mary Beth

    Okay, I am more or less spent. I only ask that someone familiar with the rules explain why “Open” events can’t count at least for freestyle. Obviously, you can’t expect a time to count if you are using fins or a pull buoy or an underwater torpedo sled. But are there really meets anywhere that allow such items? Assuming you aren’t using some illegal device, is there anything else that can invalidate freestyle (for example, does the 15 m underwater SDK limit apply to freestyle?)

    I propose that in the future, the word OPEN (which many of us grew up thinking simply meant that the event was “open” to any age group) be changed to UNOFFFICIAL. Otherwise, it’s just too confusing to the odd individual like me who does not enjoy curling up with a rule book.

    They say that “once stung, twice shy.”

    I have now been thrice stung.

    They also say, “a nerve struck too many times dies.”

    I greatly fear my USMS nerves are dead.
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  5. A Christmas Workout

    I’m still feeling under the weather and not able to swim any actual workouts, so I’ve resorted to writing imaginary ones instead. Following up on the Thanksgiving turduckens, here’s a 12 Days of Christmas workout, inspired by [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showpost.php?p=255996&postcount=41"]a comment [/ame]on the Thanksgiving workout forum thread. I posted this workout there, but decided to put it up in expanded version here as well.

    12 Days of Christmas Holdiday workout, done as 12 rounds on 1 day
    On the first day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    A 50 dolphin kick on my back

    On the second day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    2 x half-pool sprints [2 x (12.5 sprint / 12.5 easy)]
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the third day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    3 lengths back [75 BK]
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the fourth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    4 breaststroke pullouts [2 x 25, with 2 pullouts per length—surface for breath in between and exaggerate glides to see if you can make it to end of pool by the end of the 2nd pullout]
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the fifth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    5 streamline jumps! [in deep end of pool]
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the sixth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    6 fly stroke cycles [ie a 25 fly for some of us]
    5 streamline jumps!
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the seventh day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    7 lengths of freestyle [175 FR]
    6 fly stroke cycles
    5 streamline jumps!
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the eighth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    8 dolphin dives [or 50y of dolphin diving, at 4 per length]
    7 lengths of freestyle
    6 fly stroke cycles
    5 streamline jumps!
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the ninth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    9 breaststroke kicks [25y BR kick]
    8 dolphin dives
    7 lengths of freestyle
    6 fly stroke cycles
    5 streamline jumps!
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the tenth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    10 strokes of corkscrew [25y corkscrew]
    9 breaststroke kicks
    8 dolphin dives
    7 lengths of freestyle
    6 fly stroke cycles
    5 streamline jumps!
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the eleventh day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    11 fathoms sculling [that’s 25y scull, if you can manage 1.5 fathom push-offs]
    10 strokes of corkscrew
    9 breaststroke kicks
    8 dolphin dives
    7 lengths of freestyle
    6 fly stroke cycles
    5 streamline jumps!
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    On the twelfth day of Christmas, my swim coach gave to me
    12 lengths IM [300 IM]
    11 fathoms sculling
    10 strokes of corkscrew
    9 breaststroke kicks
    8 dolphin dives
    7 lengths of freestyle
    6 fly stroke cycles
    5 streamline jumps!
    4 breaststroke pullouts
    3 lengths back
    2 half-pool sprints
    And a 50 dolphin kick my back

    The workout totals 4350 yards, if you stick to the yardage suggested in the brackets. Plus 40 streamline jumps. Happy holidays!

    [My actual swimming today was more boring: 1300 yards easy, on my own at the Y. I’m still struggling with a cold and some asthma symptoms it triggered. I tried the “freeze a cold, starve a fever” approach over the weekend, and went out to Brighton to swim in the ocean. I managed to do my December loop, but failed in my bid to make my cold disappear. It was still worth it though, because my time in the ocean was at least a respite from the violent coughing spasms I’ve been having. I guess there’s something about immersing your face in water that stifles the impulse to cough--from an evolutionary standpoint I can see how that would be advantageous. For some reason it doesn’t seem to work as well in the pool--too bad!]
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  6. Merry Christmas from Me and Kurt Dickson's Family!

    by , December 25th, 2011 at 10:06 AM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
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  7. TT Blogs 2011

    by , January 1st, 2012 at 05:15 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    The competition was, as always, extremely tough this year in USMS blogging. There were a number of familiar names in the Top Ten this year, and a few surprises, too.

    Congratulations to all those who made Top 10 based on the three statistical categories from which the record books are written:

    1. Total number of entries (the Clydesdale Cup, named after the sweaty little workhorse that pulls its weight steadily, ploddingly, and largely without whinnying lament)
    2. Total number of comments (the Pretty Pony Puff Princess Award because this is, let's face it, a popularity contest/gauge of the blogger's appeals to swimming cliques)
    3. And finally, Comments to Entries Ratio (the Thoroughbred Championship Prize, i.e., the only one of these Top Ten blogging categories that really means anything--an excellent proxy for literary excellence combined with swimming magnificence and genuinely deserved adulation. Interestingly, this is also the only category that the USMS leadership is seriously considering awarding the winner with All American Prime status, the "Prime" meaning that it is just a notch above ordinary All American status.

    I am sure everyone is very nervous, so I won't drag things out any longer. Let me now open the envelopes in sequence.

    Total number of entries


    Congratulations to our perennial Clydesdale Cup winner, Leslie "the Fortress" Livingston! You go, girl! Did anyone else think they had a chance? Neighhhh!

    Total number of comments


    Oh. My. God. ! The Fortress does it again, easily capturing the Pretty Pony Puff Princess Award with nearly 13,000 comments! If you could bottle this kind of well-deserved popularity, you couldn't keep it on the store shelves!

    Comments to Entries Ratio


    I can't believe it! Honestly, this is embarrassing! Had I any idea that I was even in contention for the top award in swim vlogging in any medium across the world and in any language, I would never have covered these blogging awards in my, well, er, I guess I have no choice but to call it what it is, my top-Thoroughbred-Championship-Prize-winning-All-American-Prime-Potentially-Earning blog! Thank you all SO MUCH for this!

    It's going to take some getting used to this idea that I am a National Treasure. Please, give me a little time.
    The cat of deserved fame may have my tongue for a little while!

    Meanwhile, feel free to discuss amongst yourselves this incredibly good news about me--a brilliant end to 2011, and even more brilliant start to 2012--in the infinite commentary space below.

    Categories
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  8. Mixed Speed Play, Thursday, Jan. 12

    by , January 12th, 2012 at 04:08 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Swim/SCY/Solo:

    Warm up/Transition:

    600 various
    6 x 50 fly drills
    6 x 25 shooters w/fins @ :35
    6 x 50 free w/paddles @ :50
    50 EZ

    Speed/Power Sets:

    6 x 25: power kick to 15 meter on belly + over kick free, no breath, to wall @ 1:00
    50 EZ

    6 x 25: 15 m "floating" shooter @ 1:00-1:15
    -- float at 15 meter mark, explode into fast shooter to wall, cruise back to 15 m mark
    100 EZ

    6 x (25 "barge" kick w/fins + 50 EZ)
    -- "barge" kick = hold kick board horizontally with hands and keep underwater and kick
    50 EZ

    6 x 25 free w/parachute & paddles @ 1:15
    50 EZ

    4 x 25 back shooter w/parachute & fins @ 1:25
    -- parachute broke on #5 . tried to tie it, but it wouldn't hold
    50 EZ

    6 x (25 AFAP free w/fins + 75 EZ) @ 3:00
    -- went low to mid 10s
    -- might have done 7, lost track as I was wondering if the noodler in my lane was ever going to leave so I could do fast 50s
    50 EZ

    2 x (50 AFAP fly w/fins + 150 EZ)
    -- went 23 lows
    50 EZ

    Total: 3800

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Did a longish speed workout today. Had a good chunk of time and took plenty of rest. The mix of different things made it very fun!

    Read a couple interesting USAS links by email:

    The Secret to a Good Kick, which has a video comparing flutter kicks:
    http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsA...=4065&mid=8975.

    Best Barbell Exercise:
    http://www.usaswimming.org/ViewNewsA...=4071&mid=8712

    I also read this snippet about working on your SDK. So true!

    "We are frequently asked for dolphin kick training tips and ideas to improve under waters. We have found that the keys to a strong dolphin kick are core and leg strength, ankle flexibility, and executing quick, snappy kicks that finish all the way through the toes. Based on these keys, we recommend using both vertical kicking and a monofin to improve dolphin kicking.
    Doing sets with a monofin will not only build strength in the appropriate core and leg muscles needed for dolphin kick, but it will also improve ankle flexibility. The key with using a monofin is to start slow and build up to larger sets as the swimmer becomes stronger.

    Sample Monofin Set:
    8 x 25 @ 1:30 all out kick for time"
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  9. Hour Swim

    Did the hour swim tonight: 3150 yds. Felt way, way better than last year. Apart from a couple of foot cramps, I completed the event pain-free, which is a first for me. I put in a lot of prep for this event, including a 2500 last week, and I felt like it really paid off. Now it's time to .
  10. One Man's Garbage...

    by , February 8th, 2012 at 05:34 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    ...yards are another man's source of high-quality exhaustion.

    I am curious if my readers out there in water worlds throughout the dripping universe have any opinions on this topic.


    What, exactly, constitutes "garbage yards" from your perspective, assuming, that is, you believe these actually exist.


    Some, I suspect, subscribe to an opposite point of view, i.e.,
    any yard is a good yard, especially when traversed under one's own power without assistive technology like this, this, and this:



    Taking SDKs to a whole new level!




    Bladefish! The choice of eunuchs and guys who really don't want to share a lane!




    After his excellent work in
    Dr. Strangelove, Slim Pickens was almost cast for the part of Chief Brody in Jaws.

    There are several reasons why I am asking about these so-called garbage yards.


    First, I am pretty sure that if these do indeed exist, they are pretty much
    all I swim these days.

    Second, if I
    am a chronic garbage man these days, and I suspect I am, does such an approach confer any benefit whatsoever to swimming performance other, that is, than to maybe allow one to get a tiny bit better at swimming garbage yards? Are there any competitions for these?

    Third, why do these garbage yards hurt so much? In yesteryear, swimming these same distances at these same speeds were the stuff of child's play! I could plod along, lap after desultory lap, contenting myself to try to coax one of my brain's hemispheres into sleeping, dolphin-style, then switch to the other: a form of swim-napping, if you will.


    But now, I am too tired by the not-terribly-difficult swimming sets I have designed for myself on off days, and my coach Bill designs for us all on actual swimming practice days, to even consider napping while trying to finish them.


    What has happened to me?


    Has anything remotely like this happened to you?


    Two theories, maybe three:


    1. Something is profoundly wrong with me. I've suddenly gotten old, for instance, the decrepitude I have felt stalking me for decades has at last caught up and thrown me off balance, like one of those high speed chases between a lion (decrepitude) and a sick baby wildebeest (me: decrepitude's prey)--just a slight paw brush by the lion is enough to knock me off balance, and then I am surrounded by red faced felines licking their chops as the light on the savannah goes black...


    If not age, it could be something else, like a sickness of some sort, me being no stranger to any of these:


    illness

    noun

    the
    state of feeling sick or of having a disease

    disease

    noun

    an
    illness that affects people or animals, especially one that is caused by an infection

    sickness

    noun

    a
    condition in which you have an illness

    infection

    noun

    a
    disease or other medical condition that is caused by bacteria or by a virus or a parasite

    disorder

    noun

    an
    illness or medical condition

    complaint

    noun

    an
    illness or other medical problem

    condition

    noun

    an
    illness or health problem that lasts a long time and affects the way you live

    ailment

    noun

    an
    illness, usually not a serious one

    epidemic

    noun

    a
    situation in which a disease spreads very quickly and infects many people

    contagion

    noun

    a
    disease that can be spread from one person to another through touch or through the air



    2. I am simply tired out by training reasonably hard at a time when assorted other demands on my physiology, like tax preparation and deadline obligations, are also sucking the life out of me. Could I, in fact, be overtraining?


    Last year in mid-January, I suffered a detached retina, which forced me out of the water for two weeks.




    When I got the go ahead to swim again, I did my best to catch up on my Go the Distance goal in February:





    To diehards, this 50 miles might seem paltry, but it's actually a rather significant amount for me.


    That spring, I did my best times in the 500 and 1000 in years, though the swims (as regularly readers might recall) did not count for Top 10 consideration because the meet wasn't recognized.


    I did these times without a body suit, too, which in some regards made them seem all the better to me since the cheatin' suits always did provide my blubberous flapping body a bit of a lift.


    Flash forward to this season. No detached retinas in January, so this is what I swam in the same time period where I managed only 19 miles last year:




    Over 22 miles more, in other words, which
    should technically put me into better shape than I was in at the same time period last year.

    So far this February, I have been swimming every day and hope to continue doing so throughout the entire month of February, perchance to exceed last year's total. Here is the data so far:




    I have missed a total of 7 days in 2012 so far and averaged just a wee bit over 1.5 swimming miles per day.


    A few other bits of data.


    I got fat. 185 this year vs. 179 last year at the same time.

    Also, my Amish Mudhole swimming times are a bit slower at this time this year comparable to what I did last year.


    Consider the 2011 vs 2012 mid season times:



    • 50 free 25.15 then vs. 25.65 now
    • 100 free 55.27 then vs. 55.09 now
    • 200 free 1:59.81 then vs. 2:01.60 now
    • 500 free 5:33.84 then vs. 5:42.21 now
    • 1650 free 20:03.90 then vs. ?


    Well, it is time for practice, so I must be signing off to go put in my daily garbage yards.


    I am signed up for the 1650 at the end of the month.


    Then there is the Albatross meet in March, and I will see how this year's times compare to last year's. This will be the first time I can swim in the next age group up, so I am hoping to do good.


    Then there are the various championships coming up in the later spring.


    I don't know if swimming as much as I have been will prove helpful or not.


    Maybe it was the enforced two weeks off because of the retina last year that was the real reason for good times them?


    Time will tell. But meanwhile, if you have any thoughts on my situation here, please feel free to give me the benefit of them!
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  11. Monday, 02/13/12

    by , February 13th, 2012 at 03:29 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
    noon workout
    Billy G. coached

    Warm up:
    200 swim
    200 kick
    200 pull
    ==>Not really paying attention and just stopped for no reason. Probably did about 400 total.

    6 x 50 kick on 1:00
    Kick on back; no fins; went strong, range 46 to 49.

    Main set:

    6 x 50 on :50
    100 easy
    3 x 100 on 1:30
    I swam this set and went 2nd. Held 35+ and 1:12/1:13

    4 x 50 on :45
    100 easy
    2 x 100 on 1:25
    I kicked this set with Speeedo B&O fins.

    2 x 50 on :40
    100 easy
    100 fast
    I jumped back up to 2nd and went :35 and 1:05 on the last one. That is my best ever 100 practice time from a push, but I think I will have a lane leader time (1:06 best) and not leading the lane best (1:05 best today). It makes a huge difference even with just one person in front.

    3 x 200's pull
    ==>No. Sat around and talked to Bobby about my training. Then did a bunch of tummy kicks with my snorkel.

    2 x Dives.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++
    Today was a pretty good day. I was in the mood to see what I could do on something longer. And I stuck to my guns and did a lot of kicking instead of swimming everything. The nice thing now is that I can pretty comfortably hold the swim intervals with my Speedo fins.
    Categories
    Uncategorized
  12. Of Immortality and TAMFAM

    by , February 24th, 2012 at 02:26 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    We will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind;
    In the primal sympathy
    Which having been must ever be;
    In the soothing thoughts that spring
    Out of human suffering;
    In the faith that looks through death,
    In years that bring the philosophic mind.


    When Wordworth wrote his famous Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood, I assumed that he, having reached the years that bring the philosophic mind, would have looked something like this:



    It turns out that he was actually 37 at the time of penning the Intimations poesy, only a few years older than this earlier picture of him:



    I bring this up because I find myself a tweenager these days, one foot in the last days of what I have long considered the cut-off for middle age, i.e., ones 50s; and one foot in, thanks to FINA, the beginning of what I have just as long considered the beginning of old age, i.e., ones 60s.

    Regardless of whether I am 59, as the calendar says, or 60, as FINA is allowing me to be, I am chagrined to report that the attainment of "the philosophic mind" continues to elude me.

    This is particularly true when it comes to swimming, a sport measured in increments of one hundredths of a second, where the sinking into decrepitude is pitiless and inexorable.

    Here is what I actually look like these days in a recently taken cell phone picture with my death robes on:



    Here, however, is how I would describe myself to a police artist were I, by some weird magic, to become a victim of my criminal self:



    (I am the one too weak too stand; if there is anything good to come from this self-image, it's that the police artist has chosen not to show my own sagging parts, a decency he opted not to bestow upon my female attendant on the right.)

    In an effort to try to find some pittance of the philosophic mind before it is too late, before, that is, my long-time companion, Alzheimer's Jr., morphs into its own more pernicious senior self, let me set down herein a few random ruminations on what has provoked my sudden sense of growing old...



    1. Let us face it, I am growing old.
    2. For some reason that I can't quite fathom, I am starting to fatten up. Last summer, it was relatively easy to stay sub-180 after swimming practice and a steam bath, a time when dehydration is maximal. In fact, I think I flirted on occasion with the mid 170s then! But this winter, with only a few minor dietary changes, I am lucky to end practice weighing out at a portly dehydrated 183! These dietary changes include, but are not limited to, a decision to use Half n Half on my breakfast cereal; get 80 percent of my daily calories at night while watching TV in bed; and closing down our restaurant, which has changed the hours each day I spend standing from somewhat substantial to practically non-existent. Again, I do not know why I am suddenly getting fat, and I am not sure that weight is a suitable topic anyhow for a "philosophic mind." Enough about this.
    3. After more or less accepting the illegalizing of the yesteryear's cheater suits, I suddenly find myself missing them. The reason, I suspect, is that the normal year-by-year swimming time erosions, which in the past have proceeded at a psychologically manageable pace, have accelerated, again, for reasons I am not sure I grasp, fathood and old age notwithstanding. Thus one takes an unpleasant enough process to begin with--slowing down--and adds a quantum leaping agent to the mix--the removal of the body suit for hairy old men like me--and the result is a sense of plummeting that may or may not be justified, all things taken into account, but nonetheless is proving troubling for this particular geriatric tweenager.
    4. I will say that many extremely kind fellow travelers, from Jim Clemmons to Rich Abrahams to Ande Rasmussen (who is actually much too young still to be called a fellow traveler in any sense of geriatric comradeship; ditto for Rich and Jim, who preserve a youthful spirit that lesser men like me lack) have offered no shortage of advice and counsel.
    5. On Sunday, I will be swimming the 1650. Perhaps, if I do not perform too horrifically, this will remove temporarily any further imminent need of cultivating a philosophic mind. Realistically, however, I suspect this will bring me face to face with the Reaper's halitosis, which I imagine smells like daffodils and rotten meat.
    6. Back soon to resume my pursuit, be this a denial of death or an acceptance of its inevitability. The one thing I am determined to do, however, is not die of my own bad strategy--i.e., going out too fast in the 1650 and suffering like a strung up hog incapable of finishing the race he started.

    TAMFAM
    On an entirely different note, I invite my readers to try out a new fitness metric I blundered upon last night. I was in bed, eating Cookie Dough Ice Cream and watching The Office, resting up, as it were, for today's pursuit of a philosophic mind, when I decided to use my Azumio phone app to measure my quasi-rested heart rate. It was 42, decent enough for the night time.

    It then occurred to me to check out my BMI, or body mass index, which you can do yourself right here:

    http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/

    Based on last night's weight, mine ended up being 24.7.

    I decided next to divide my BMI by my Resting Heart Rate, coming up with a 58.8 percent reading.

    What, I asked myself, if I could lose 5 lb. and lower my RHH down to, say, 38?

    Improvements on both indices would increase my percent reading to
    63.1 percent. It was at this point I had a eureka moment: had I inadvertently blundered upon a new ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS FITNESS APPROXIMATION METRIC? I decided to appendage my name to it, and acronym-ize the whole mouthful.

    And with this was TAMFAM born!

    How soon can we conspire to sneak the concept into the exercise physiological literature, cited by tenure-seeking post docs the world over?

    I ask that my readers help me to popularize the concept by simply:

    1. Recording your resting heart rate tomorrow morning before you get out of bed or do anything strenuous, wink, nudge, wink
    2. Calculate your BMI by clicking on this link and entering your height and weight where indicated: http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/
    3. Finally, use a calculator to divide your BMI (numerator) by your resting heart rate (denomimator) and leave your resulting TAMFAM in the comments section of this vlog, along with as much discourse as you would like to include speculating what TAMFAM might mean and why, indeed, it might not be so AM after all. (No need to leave ridicule and naysaying; I freely acknowledge that, as of this point in time, my new fitness metric is, indeed, ABSOLUTELY MEANINGLESS.)

    I shall repost again sometime after the 1650 is over. If the subject is more on TAMFAM, you shall know that it has gone better, or at least as well, as could be expected.

    If, on the other hand, I am back to a search for my "philosophic mind," perhaps quoting freely from the oeuvre of Kierkegaard along with select passages from Sartre's
    Nausea, well then, my dear friends, ye shall know that Nature has taken its predictable course, and that the Second Law of Thermodynamics remains operable still, my own pitiable example impotent to shake it from its foundations.



    Until his time in the 1650 proves him sadly delusional, our aging Jim continues to force himself to hope against hope for the coming of Spring.




    Categories
    Uncategorized
  13. Monday, Feb. 27

    by , February 27th, 2012 at 03:19 PM (The FAF AFAP Digest)
    Swim/SCY/Solo:

    Warm up:

    600 various

    8 x 50 fly drills
    odds = caterpillar @ 1:10
    evens = single arm @ 1:00

    Main Sets:
    -- used fins

    5 x through
    50 back + 50 back kick @ 1:45
    50 breast @ 1:00
    50 EZ

    6 x 25 burst + cruise @ 1:00
    50 EZ

    Rich A. set from workout #2 on the HIT forum:
    [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=20266"]U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]

    24 x 25
    odds = easy speed @ :30
    evens = easy
    -- did the odds 4 of each stroke in reverse IM order
    -- free, 12s, breast, high 14s, back, high 11s, fly, 12 highs
    -- really liked this set; it's a great set for a recovery week or when resting for a meet
    50 EZ

    2 x (25 AFAP back shooter + 75 EZ) @ 3:00
    -- went high 8s

    8 x 25 @ :45
    odds = front scull
    evens = long breast pullout
    50 EZ

    Total: 3100

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Felt a little draggy at first after the weekend off. But better as I went along. Going to cut the amount of fast swimming quite a bit during this recovery week. Still think I might be coming down with something. Really hope not!
    Categories
    Swim Workouts
  14. Garbagio Lessons

    by , March 7th, 2012 at 01:39 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    Preamble: Sorry for how long this is. I wanted to jot down a few thoughts I have had on this season so far, and it has gotten a bit extended, verbiage wise, even for me. To leaven the mood, I will put a few pictures in here and there of me playing with Ciara's pony tail.



    Ciara's wonderful father and my father figure/swimming coach, Bill White, perches like a better angel atop my right shoulder.
    *

    We last left our cliff hanger on the eve of my 1650 swim at Carnegie Mellon University, Feb. 26th, 2011.

    At the time, if memory serves, I suggested that if I swam reasonably well, there would be no need for me to quote extensively from Sartre's Nausea. I am happy to report that this has, indeed, proven the case, and there is no reason whatsoever to ruminate for so much as a split second on :


    • "Ma pensée, c'est moi: voilà pourquoi je ne peux pas m'arrêter. J'existe parce que je pense … et je ne peux pas m'empêcher de penser"
    • "Every existing thing is born without reason, prolongs itself out of weakness and dies by chance"
    • "I know. I know that I shall never again meet anything or anybody who will inspire me with passion. You know, it's quite a job starting to love somebody. You have to have energy, generosity, blindness. There is even a moment, in the very beginning, when you have to jump across a precipice: if you think about it you don't do it. I know I'll never jump again."

    These, and many more existential bon mots just as depressing have absolutely no relevance to today's vlog!



    Ciara and I attempt a mind meld of the sort popularized by those bluish people on Avatar.

    Instead, I would like to take the opportunity to offer something ever so rare in my episodic entries to date: potentially actionable swimming advice that might help my fellow middle distance freestylers approaching their Twilight years (in the non-vampire old-fashioned sense of the term.)

    Data
    One reason for the delay in posting my results is that I keep hoping for the Hyteck Meet Manager results to actually make their way a) onto the Internet, and b) into the "event rankings" section of USMS as was promised by my LMSC. But as is the case with many such promises, this hasn't happened yet, and I am slowly bracing myself for the thought that yet another of my swims in recent years won't count for possible TT consideration.

    So instead, here is the hand-written sheet from my CMU backup timer, who posted the splits from the electronic scoreboard:



    Historical Context

    JIM THORNTON 59 1650 Free 19:38.20

    JIM THORNTON 58 1650 Free 20:03.90

    JIM THORNTON 57 1650Free 19:34.18

    JIM THORNTON 56 1650Free 19:54.24

    JIM THORNTON 55 1650Free 19:47.91

    JIM THORNTON 54 1650Free didn't swim it
    JIM THORNTON 53 1650Free didn't swim it

    JIM THORNTON 52 1650Free 20:41.65

    JIM THORNTON 51 1650Free 18:59.22

    JIM THORNTON 50 1650Free 18:53.69

    JIM THORNTON 49 1650Free 19:27.75

    JIM THORNTON 48 1650Free 20:34.05

    JIM THORNTON 47 1650Free 21:10.00

    JIM THORNTON 46 1650Free didn't swim it
    JIM THORNTON 45 1650Free didn't swim it

    JIM THORNTON 44 1650Free 21:40.54

    JIM THORNTON 43 to 0 1650Free didn't swim it (though my mother might beg to differ--how many laps in a shared placenta is a 1650?)

    As you can see, my times have bounced around a bit over the past 15 years. My lifetime best performance was at age 50, a time when my coach Bill White helped me get into the best distance swimming shape of my life. I remember that year we did the following practice:

    10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up
    2 min rest

    10 x 200 on 2:30

    2 min rest
    10 x 200 on 2:30

    cool down


    To this day, making this practice remains by far my proudest moment as a practice swimmer!

    You will also notice that before age 49, I never broke 20 minutes. I was not swimming particularly hard at this point in my masters career, the body suits had not come out, and these times were all done at practice, not a meet.

    Two other conspicuous 20 min+ outliers include the 20:41 done at age 52, which can be explained by broken ribs; and the 20:03 at age 58 (last year), which was the first year the body suits were banned, plus I had suffered a detached retina that January, which put me out of the water for nearly three weeks.



    I have always thought I look good with that flouncy pony tail out the ball cap look! Now I can prove it!

    Analysis of Recent "Comparables"

    For an apples-to-apples comparison, let us look at my recent swim at 59 (19:38.20) and my swim at 57 two years earlier (19:34.18).

    On the surface, it appears that I have slowed down by 4.02 seconds over the past two years. My pace per 100 has deteriorated from 1:11.41 to 1:11.16, or a quarter of a second per hundred in two years. On an annual basis, it would seem that I am slowing down by approximately one eighth of a second per hundred.

    There are, however, several fudge factors that make this "apples-to-apples" comparison more of a "Granny Smith vs. Red Delicious" situation.

    First, suit differences.

    At 57, I swam the 1650 in my "floatie" body suit, the B70. At 59, I swam shaved an in a LSR elite jammer given to me a couple years ago. Did the suit change make a huge difference in my times?

    It definitely did in some events. At 57, for instance, I swam my lifetime best 200 SCY freestyle in the B70, breaking in the 1:54's for the first and only time in my life. Since then, my fastest 200s have been high 1:57s. My 50s and 100s have also shown clear deterioration thanks to the suit change.

    But for some reason, distance events of 500 and over don't seem to have shown as much of change. It seems like they should--with the B70 on, I took 1-2 less strokes per length swimming exactly the same way as always; moreover, I regularly gained at least a couple feet further on pushoffs and dives.

    You would think such things would prove especially additive over longer distances, but so far that hasn't been the case. Perhaps the inability of body heat to escape the body suit as easily might muddle its impact on my own distance performances.

    Conclusion: replacement of the B70 with a jammer probably hurt my time, but I cannot absolutely prove this.



    In this corner, Red
    vs.


    In this corner, Granny

    Even apples-to-apples comparisons are difficult to make sense of in the post-Body Suit Era!
    Second, accumulated yardage leading
    up to the 1650.


    This year's 1650 was preceded by 423.44 miles in all of 2011; 41.79 miles in January, '12; and 60.60 miles in February, '12.

    The B70 1650 two years earlier was preceded by 330.53 miles in all of 2009; 38.76 miles in January, '10; and 28.62 miles in February, '10.


    Conclusion: swimming significantly greater distance probably helped my performance, though the suit change variable makes this also difficult to prove.



    Is a Jim Clemmons-style mustache the key to time drops in swimming?

    Third, a more
    intelligent pacing
    strategy for me.

    Before this year's swim, I solicited advice from Ande.

    Some selected excerpts from my questions and his always great counsel:
    _________________________________________
    Originally Posted by jim thornton
    Ande, did you post something on swimming the 1650?

    I'd like to do a good time this year, but I am wary of going out too fast and becoming cooked. Once I cross over to that "cooked" stage, it's agonizing to keep on going. But if I go too slow to avoid premature baking, it's hard to make it up on the other end. Any advice?
    Swim by feel, assuming you will probably feel too good at the beginning and thus should consciously slow down?
    _________________________________________
    Hey Jim,

    Great to hear from you. So you want to have a great 1650 & you want to split it correctly, swim it "just right" instead of being over cooked by going too hard up front or under cooked by going too easy.

    "just right" is the trick and it's tricky.
    Your 1st 100 needs to feel EASY.
    You need to cruise it, going too hard on your first few 50's is usually way worse than going too easy.

    BE VERY WELL CONDITIONED.

    Do a great job warming up before your race.

    Know your pace.

    Do some longer swims in practice, some faster than your 1650 pace, some at & some below. Know what that effort feels like.

    Ideally you want to hold the same exact pace the whole way, but diving in and excitement, makes some people rabbit the first few 50's.

    You can only do what you can do. Swimming above pace up front is very likely to be detrimental. Settle into a sustainable pace and hold it.

    Your pace an differ based on water temp. The warmer the pool is the worse your pace might be.

    the best thing to prepare for the 1650 is consistent hard longer training and some speed work.
    _________________________________________
    Originally Posted by jim thornton

    Ande, thanks so much for a very detailed and helpful reply.

    I was starting to feel pretty confident, but last night we had a practice which started off with 8 x 100 on 1:25 warm up, then some 50s kick, then 2 x 500 on 6:15.
    To break 20 on the 1650, I know I have to average around 6:00 per 500. But on the first 500 in practice, I did a 6:01, and the second one I just squeaked in at 6:14.

    It was demoralizing.

    But I usually try to negative split distance stuff, and I probably swam that first 500 faster than was comfortable. Plus the water was hot, I'd swum a meet the day before, and I was pretty tuckered out from swimming every day, without stop, since Jan. 28th.
    So...who knows?

    I am definitely going to take it out easy because by the end of last night's second 500, I was definitely not feeling ready to do another 650!

    Today, I just went in and swam a slow 1650; I will probably take it easy at Wed. and Fri. practices, and just stretch out on the days in between.

    I will take your post with me and try to ingrain your advice.

    Thanks again!


    _________________________________________
    Hey Jim,

    You're welcome for my reply, happy to

    don't let your performance in a particular practice crush your spirit
    just keep showing up & do the best you can
    how many times a week are you training?
    how far per practice?
    if possible, before you taper, attempt to increase your
    x/wk, yds per practice, & pace.
    do it by just being determined to swim faster in practice.

    so you want to break 20:00 on your 1650
    20 x 60 = 1200
    1200 / 33 = 36.363
    so you need to ave 36.36 per 50
    that should be easy and very doable for you

    ingrain my advice & come up with a
    training plan and a
    race plan

    holding 1:12's should be very easy for you
    I bet you can hold under 1:10's
    _________________________________________

    Right before my B70 1650 at age 57, I solicited the advice of an on deck coach, who told me to go out smooth but strong on the first 500, then pick up each 500 thereafter.

    Here are my splits from that race: 1 1-5 Thornton, Jim 57 TPIT-AM 19:50.00 19:34.18
    30.96 1:05.54 (34.58) 1:40.03 (34.49) 2:14.52 (34.49)
    2:49.55 (35.03) 3:24.78 (35.23) 3:59.96 (35.18) 4:34.94 (34.98)
    5:10.07 (35.13) 5:45.07 (35.00) 6:20.07 (35.00) 6:55.36 (35.29)
    7:30.52 (35.16) 8:06.58 (36.06) 8:42.46 (35.88) 9:18.37 (35.91)
    9:54.37 (36.00) 10:30.72 (36.35) 11:07.09 (36.37) 11:43.09 (36.00)
    12:20.04 (36.95) 12:57.12 (37.08) 13:33.82 (36.70) 14:10.80 (36.98)
    14:47.27 (36.47) 15:24.20 (36.93) 16:00.74 (36.54) 16:37.19 (36.45)
    17:13.84 (36.65) 17:50.36 (36.52) 18:26.61 (36.25) 19:02.29 (35.68)
    19:34.18 (31.89)

    I started out following the coach's advice, and I did feel strong and smooth--for a while. My first 500 was a 5:45.07. By the 1000 mark, I was starting to hurt, realizing too late that what feels good early on is not necessarily as easy as you think. My 1000 split was 11:43.09. The final 500 of the race was 6:00.36.

    Compare this "start strong and decay" approach with the strategy I adopted, thanks to Ande's advice, this year. The second strategy is perhaps better described as "baby and coddle yourself beyond belief, and pick it up as you start to feel more comfortable."

    I took the first 500 out in 6:10.38, more than 25 seconds slower than the previous race. The guy on my left and the guy on my right quickly disappeared into the gloaming in front of me, but I reminded myself of Ande's wisdom to ignore the rabbits and realize going out too fast is usually a much bigger mistake than going out too slow.

    At the 1000 mark, I was at 12:10.91, now 27 seconds slower than my time in 2010. To an outside observer, it no doubt looked like I was setting myself up for total disaster. Note: to break 20 minutes, you have hold just a smidge over a 1:12 pace, and I was far from doing this.

    But somewhere around this point, I caught up with both rabbits. I felt good, I felt strong--precisely the opposite of how I had felt two years earlier after going out much more quickly.

    My final 500 was a 5:40.27, which was (at that point of the year) my fastest 500 of the season.

    My final 200 was 2:10.11; my final 100 1:02.91; and my final 50 a 30.01.

    Granted, overall I was still 4 seconds slower than when I swam it the "hurty" way, but when I got out of the pool at the conclusion of this year's race, I didn't feel the need to glance around to make sure the facility had an AED on hand. I felt pretty good, actually--and extremely happy that I had broken 20 minutes.

    Conclusion: each swimmer must know his or her body and design a race strategy that works best for the energy systems and musculature therein. My friend and coach Bill has been a long time advocate of the "go out fast and try to hang on" approach.

    For me, however, I have found that husbanding my energies, especially in longer races, seems to be the way to go. Not only does it hurt less, but I have come to believe that I just do better this way. Don't get me wrong: I am a big believer in pain and suffering. But I am not a believer of stupid pain and suffering, the kind that comes from misplaced Calvinism. If I tip over into what we used to call the lactic acid bath too soon in a distance race, I just tie up and can't finish strong.

    What I am trying to do now is to figure out exactly where the line is (and the line shifts over the course of a race), swim as close as possible to this line without crossing it, and at the end, when I know I can cross the line and still finish the race, only then do I give it my all.

    Final note:
    Strategic Application
    to Other Events


    This past weekend, there was the last regular season AMYMSA meet before our championships. This meet, held at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, was again supposed to count for USMS purposes. The first event was the 500, and given that I did my season's best time in this event at the end of the 1650, I was hoping to match last year's best mid-season time of 5:33.

    I used the same basic strategy of the 1650, but because the distance is so much shorter, I didn't coddle myself quite so much at the beginning, I did, however, remind myself to keep things smooth and under control.

    Here are my splits:

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 5:28.81

    30.82
    33.36
    33.53
    33.63
    33.39
    33.58
    33.07
    32.88
    33.41
    31.14

    Later, I did a pathetic 50 freestyle, thrashing impotently like a maniac. My time here, 25.69, was so dispiriting that I figured I would never be able to do a decent 100 again and should concentrate from now on only on 200s and longer.

    The last event of the 3 and a half hour mudhole meet was the 100, and Bill told me he thought I should scratch because my time would likely be demoralizing. I didn't want to do this because the Albatross SCM meet is coming up soon, and I signed up for a bunch of events and wanted to gauge how my current conditioning would allow me to perform in multiple freestyle races in close proximity.

    Bill said that he thought I would be lucky to swim in the 56s, and that I should brace myself for doing a 57 in the 100.

    So I decided to just swim the 100, not worry about my time, and try the "out easy" strategy here, too.

    Here's how I typically judge the best possible time you can do for a 100:

    take your 50 time (25.69) and add 1 second to it (26.69)to determine how fast you should take out your first 50 in the 100. Then take this time (26.69) and add 1.5 seconds to it to get the time you can do on the second 50, which doesn't include a dive (28.19).

    Thus my fastest theoretical 100 would be 26.69 plus 28.19 = 54.88.

    Here are my actual splits from the 100 on Sunday:

    AGE GROUP: 55-59
    1 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 55.11

    27.00
    28.11


    What makes this even more unusual from my perspective is that I misjudged the flip turn at the 50 mark, and had one of those foot-only push offs that gives you virtually no momentum off the wall. If I had had a decent push off, it's possible I could have had my first negative split 100 ever!

    The strategy, it would appear, even works on 100s!

    I will have to try it out on the 50 next!

    Note to self: No matter how much it itches, do not forget to shave!

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  15. Last swim in Dallas

    by , March 12th, 2012 at 08:49 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    This is Spring Break week! We decided to leave a few days later to make sure our assistant is ok on her own. Her husband passed away last Wednesday while she was at work. We didn't know if she would work this week, so Breck was on hold. But, she wants to get back to her routine and keep busy, so we are off to Breckenridge tomorrow AM!

    SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
    on my own

    200 warm up

    6 x 10 sec cords; easy sprint with paddles

    8 x 50 on 1:15
    free with PFS
    smooth, but amazingly fast 35-33's

    100 easy

    4 x (15 seconds no breath, immediately (that means no breath) into a fast 25) on 1:30
    This was really hard on #3 and #4. I took 1 breath on each of the last 2, and made the first 2.

    100 easy. lots of breaths!

    8 x 25 on 1:00 monofin fly! no breath.
    100 easy
    4 x 50 kick on 1:15
    TYR burner fins; kick on sides

    100 easy

    6 x Dives to about the 15m

    100 easy

    The End

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Alright! Awesome workout today if I do say so myself. I still felt rushed at the end, since I had to eat lunch, pick up one daughter and then the other, and we were on a really tight schedule to make it through Braum's for ice cream and then back down for their swim practice.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Next up: Outlet shops at Silverthorne, here I come!!!!

    PS - Jerkey wagon on Main street, here I come!!!!
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  16. Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck up!

    by , March 14th, 2012 at 04:33 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    It is going to be a bit difficult to write today's vlog, given my recent posting in the No Whining Pledge thread of the discussion forums.

    For those of you who missed it, here is what I wrote:


    When I swam with Pitt masters at the U Pittsburgh pool, there was a morning group (up at 5 a.m.) and an evening group (practice starts at 5:30 p.m.)

    As an unconscious whiner who emitted little whimpers involuntarily, the way a person with halitosis exhales puffs of putrescent breath that he has gotten so used to that its smell seems like normal air, I was informed one day by Pitt's excellent masters coach Jen that I didn't need to be this way.


    There was, Jen told me, a legendary non-whiner who swam in the 5 a.m. practices, a fellow named Rich Durstein who never complained about anything. The man could have a spike through his head and he would not have mentioned it, nor the impact said spike would have on his ability to hold a tight interval.


    Perhaps, Jen suggested, I could try to be a
    little bit more like Rich Durstein.

    I am nothing if not suggestible!


    And from that day on, I determined to Durstein my way through the vicissitudes of life, shouldering no shortage of woe and handicap without so much as a micro twitch of my mouth corners!


    This was approximately five years ago.


    I have yet to meet Rich Durstein; indeed, I have come to wonder if he even exists.


    They say that if God did not exist, then Man would have had to invent him.


    Perhaps it is like this with Rich Durstein.


    I don't know.


    But I do know this: after five years of Dursteining my own way through life's teary veil, the thought of
    ever uttering a whine or complaint has become inconceivable to me. I am, in my own way, a model of Dursteining swimming.

    Take your pledge? No need, my good man!


    This would indicate I am capable of backsliding, of paying attention to my corporal state, my fevers and colics and headaches and cramps, and commenting about same either through soliloquy or groan!


    But I am incapable of doing either!


    Sometimes I believe that when Man felt the need to invent Rich Durstein, Man inadvertently invented me!


    If you would like help following my path, I will do my best to help. My disciple Leslie is making progress. I shall not comment on the nature of this progress. It is not the Durstein way.


    --from [ame="http://forums.usms.org/showthread.php?t=20289"]No Whining Pledge - U.S. Masters Swimming Discussion Forums[/ame]


    Part 1. Dispassionately Related Symptomatology*

    *no judgment whatsoever of the sort that might be perceived as "complaining" or "excuse making" or the like is intended; indeed, any such judgment, if espied, is purely coincidental and/or a projection of the reader's own psychodynamic propensity for whining, kevetching, and so forth, certainly not anything that could legitimately be pinned to Mr. Thornton.
    I remain committed to Dursteining, as I have been doing for countless uninterrupted years now, but I do need to cite several medical facts of particular relevance to this week's upcoming Albatross meet. Let me sum up these facts in a plain, unadorned way, using the unemotional language of a long-time coroner who regards each new corpse with the same degree of ennui as its predecessors.

    Thornton, James, male, aged 59, considered 60 by FINA. A generally unremarkable specimen in recent months, Mr. Thornton presents with the following symptoms:


    • Sniffles and a certain gravel in the voice that caused his wife to inquire, "Have you been crying?"
    • Body aches and the episodic appearance of goose bumps, particularly when exposed to a draft.
    • Neuralgia.
    • Inability to walk up a short flight of stairs without a sensation of exhaustion in lower extremities.
    • A sense that his 2-a-day regimen of meals containing at least 8 oz. (and frequently much, much more) or red meat, much of it containing nitrates, may be fueling DNA damage throughout his frail elderliness
    • Unable to complete "child's play" like swimming practices without what he describes as "hog whimpering effort"
    • The following results from his CPAP device (see caption for explanations)




    Thanks to regular use of his CPAP machine, Thornton's AHI, or Apnea Hypopnea Index, is 7.3--most of which is accounted for by hypopneas (delayed breathing: 6.8 per hour, on average) with only a relatively small number due to full-blown apneic strangulation (cessation of breathing altogether: .5 per hour).



    Graphs of Mr. Thornton's generally unremarkable (to knowledgable doctors) CPAP results. It does seem, however, to this layman that Mr. Thornton leaks an awful lot.

    Part 2: Historical Context

    On March 15, 2011, exactly 365 or 366 days ago from today, March 14th, 2012 (Leap Year throws off my ability to calculate), I posted the following Vlog entitled simply, "Albatross" http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=14471. Naturally, the ideal thing would be for my readers to go back in time and reread this entry in its entirety. But I know how short-spanned the modern attentional ability is, so I shall simply excerpt a few of the choicer passages that strangely echo with today's situation:

    It almost failed to occur, this bid of mine to come back from retinal detachment, financial depression, and a recent severe case of incapacitating sniffles.

    Last Thursday, I awoke at 3 a.m., my nostrils spilling twin cataracts of Niagara-like mucous falls.


    Last Friday, I spent the entire day daubing my nasal passages with deeply absorbent tissues, and still these were not enough to stem the flow!


    Why can they not make nostril tampons for men who get colds this severe? Why is this natural market niche not being exploited? Best healthcare system in the world? Sadly laughable joke for those of us who cannot find a simple nostril tampon or maxi pad when we so desperately need them.


    On Saturday, I had not the energy to leave the couch for more than an occasional cheesecake refrigerator run.


    On Sunday, I forced myself to go to the Y where I swam an open turn 1650 in about 33 minutes--and almost could not finish, so deeply lethargic and hypoglycemic and dizzy I was in my cold!


    The entry ends on a high note, with me managing to draft my way to completion of a grueling set of 10 x 100 on 1:25 warm up; 20 x 100 on 1:20; 8 x 100 on 1:15; 4 x 50 on :40.

    It is somewhat analogous to this Monday's practice of 8 x 100 on 1:25, 300 kick, 5 x 200 on 2:40, 3 x 200 on 2:30, 3 x 200 on 2:40, 6 x 50 on :50, which I also made--mostly by the grace of god and drafting.

    Two days later, on March 17th, 2011, I posted again, showing how merely finishing practice had been flukish indeed. Again, best to reread the entire entry-- "An Albatross Around One's Neck" http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=14508 -- but for those of you who are pressed for time, here's the breast meat:

    After Monday's miracle practice, in which I rose Lazarus-like from the sick couch to complete, albeit with drafting assistance, a grueling workout for an aging fellow, my own pipe dreams and capacity for suspension of disbelief in myself convinced me to enter the Albatross meet.

    Alas, at last night's practice, the familiar malaise and effeteness thrust themselves upon me with renewed vengeance. Weak? Check! Shaky? Check! Hypoglycemic? Check! In no condition whatsoever to swim in a swimming meet, even one that did not first involve driving for a minimum of 5 hours? Check!


    Still, a tiny voice inside me has always urged: Forward Ho, Jim!--its sound, if anything, growing louder in proportion to the hopelessness of my mission!


    And thus, sickness be damned, I will soldier on to Bethesda and do my best to set the new 200 SCM freestyle Albatross
    meet record in the 55-59 age group. If I can accomplish this--impossible, I know, but if...--then I shall be forever known not just as a multiple Zonesman but as an Albatrossian, too!

    And it will be the Albatross who must wear me round its pallid neck, not vice versa!




    Heroically, and against all rational odds, Mr. Thornton did triumph last year, establishing a new All Time record at the Albatross meet (albeit one likely to fall this year to the ever estimable Bradford Gandee, 58-year-old youngster) in the 200 scm freestyle of 2:13:04. (Splits 30.66; 33.17; 35.04; 34.17.)

    In the process, he established himself as an Albatrossian for the first time. The question is: Will it be his last?

    Part 3: Analysis

    Does last year's eerily similar, if less severe, outbreak of pre-Albatross meet physical, mental, and spiritual contagion/weakness hold any prophetic powers for this year's bid for Albatrossian Status Redux?

    The financial community would have us believe that "past performance is no guarantee whatsoever we won't lose all your money this time"--and it is not a bad motto by which to live a good American life, I must say.

    However, let me quickly ruminate on a couple codicils to this fall-back position.


    • I do feel sicklier this year than last year, though I am not sure if you could put FINA 59-year-old Jim beside FINA 60-year-old Jim that the former could completely convince the latter of this assertion.
    • I am swimming in a presumably easier age group this year, and the aforementioned Bradford Gandee is no longer a threat (though he might well steal my record.) Paul Trevisan, human beast of sprinting magnificence, will kill me in the 50 and 100 this year just as he did last year. The difference: Paul and I are now in the same age group (he was 60 or 61 last year.) There will absolutely be no Albatrossian status possible for me in the 50 and 100; fortunately, Paul is not swimming the 200 or 400, the records for which are currently:


    • Men 60-64 200 Free 2:29.31 3/21/2009 David Harmon - ANCM-PV (Doable, I hope)
    • Men 60-64 400 Free 5:00.89 3/25/2000 Edward C Morgan - 1776-DV (Iffy)
    • I have also learned a bit this season about how to split such races better, and unless my symptoms disappear significantly by Saturday, I suspect the pressure to not go out too fast will be even greater. Two examples:
      • 200. At last year's 200 SCM, I went out in 1:03.87 and came back in 1:09.21, a differential of 5.33 seconds. In yards this year, I have had better luck with more even splitting. For example, I swam a 2:00.07 in the 200 SCY free, going out in a mid 1:58 and coming back in a mid 2:01, a differential of around 3 seconds.
      • 400/500. I didn't swim the 400 at Albatross last year, but I had my best midseason 500 in years by slightly negative splitting it 10 days ago: AGE GROUP: 55-591 JIM THORNTON 59 M SEWY 5:28.81





        • 30.82


        • 33.36
        • 33.53
        • 33.63
        • 33.39
        • 33.58
        • 33.07
        • 32.88
        • 33.41
        • 31.14



    It was after this meet at Duquesne in Pittsburgh, which was supposed to be recognized for USMS, but won't be, that the symptoms afflicting Mr. Thornton appeared to gain the upperhand. He won't complain about these, of course. But here are the words that clinicians often hear from men and women with such symptoms who are not of such a stoical mindset as Mr. Thornton:

    Ah, the body aches intensify! The gas leakage, too, even though the CPAP is not turned on.

    Indeed, the most you can coax from the likes of Jim Thornton about his upcoming trip to the Albatross meet is this:

    I shall soldier onwards the best I can--Albatrossian Redux or not, I shall embrace my fate smiling (or whatever twitching of the mouth corners I have the energy to sustain)!

    Vomitari, te salutamus!

    This, in the end, has always been an Albatrossian's proudest oath.

    And on such a note, let this vlog simply add by way of encouragement--

    Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck the **** up!

    You have been in this realm before, and by Odin's beard, ye shall be in this realm again!



    Odin, the King of Norse Gods, advises his son Thor (Old Norski for Thornton) to buck the **** up and ready his loins for Ragnarok. Thor replies in the strong but curiously low voice of men like him everywhere: Jeg vil buck den **** opp, far! Og kjempe sammen med gudene i den siste kampen som allerede er forutbestemte vi skal miste. For hva mer kan en rettferdig spør enn å dø seierrik frem?*


    ------------------------------------------------------------------
    *Translation: I will buck the **** up, Father! And fight alongside the Gods in the final battle that has already been preordained we shall lose. For what more can a Righteous Man ask than to die nobly?

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  17. Palate Cleansing

    by , March 19th, 2012 at 12:20 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    I'm awaiting the art work for the Sequel to Buck up, Albatrossian! Buck up! (http://forums.usms.org/blog.php?b=21165) and the invaluable life lessons this recent meet bestowed upon me, your Vloggist Everyman, and hence, by extension, to you, i.e., Everymanandwoman Everyman.

    In the meantime, please enjoy today's palate cleanser of a vlog, which I offer in the spirit of less is more, the less being any extraneous verbiage I have managed to X-out, using the pen feature of the Paint program that comes free with Windows ®.

    This represents the first time in history that the words All, American, Listings, for, James, and Thornton have ever been collected together in a single document, sequentially or otherwise.

    If it can happen to me, it can happen to you, too, Everymanandwoman Everyman everywhere!

    Have an excellent Monday, March 19th, 2012.



    PS: Major thanks to Jeff Roddin for running a sensational 2012 Albatross Open during which his dapper-looking and newly minted septuagenarian father, Hubert (?) Roddin*, set two new national records and his doe-eyed daughter, Rachel-Ray (?) Roddin, had her pre-toddler debutante coming-out party (ostensibly to introduce her to Pittsburgh Society/ineligible bachelors).

    I also got the chance to meet Ruth Ann (?) Roddin, Hubert (?) Roddin's lovely bride and quite possibly my future Grandmother-in-Law, as well as continued my uninterrupted winning streak in all distances of 400 m or longer that I have enjoyed against every member of the Roddin family. The streak dates back to the Chris Greene National Open Water 2-Mile Cable Championships two summers ago. It continued its uninterrupted peregrinations to glory thanks to the lovely Mulie Roddin, my likely future mother-in-law, who has shed the last of her baby bumpage, replacing this with blue-steel core musculature, but somehow still managed to lose to me and my own core, which when lightly flicked resembles a water bed. Not to worry, Mulie--it was still your finest 400 m swim in decades, in my opinion.

    And it goes without saying that my gratitude knows no bounds, as well, to my mither, Leslie Livingston, with whom I co-own a house in Vienna, Virginia, which--unlike my other real estate ventures over the years--has actually seen a modest price rise on Zillow ® recently!

    Nice to know that post-starter mansions in the close-to-Langley area of Washington, D.C., have begun to rebound from our recent economic woe!

    One more little peep of disturbance from the Sino-Islamo-Soviet-Indo-North-Korean-et-al geopolitical realm, and everybody in Northern Virginia's gonna get filthier rich, Leslie and me included!


    Here's hoping anyhow.



    Jeff Roddin demonstrates the perfect racing dive, pike position.




    Jeff and Mulie Roddin at a pre-marital counseling session with me during which I explained to Jeff the unbelievably noxious batch of suffering compounds that would be unleashed in his brain if he blew it with Mulie and did not get married in a timely fashion. Shortly afterwards, my possibly future bride, Rachel-Ray, was born, demonstrating once again that God helps those who help themselves. True, I have been accused of helping myself to too much. But God 'n me don't look at this way.


    ______________________________________________
    * My recent inclusion in the highly rarefied-to-my-ilk world of All Americanism has induced such euphoria that even the realization I am only 10-years-young than Jeff Roddin's father cannot dampen my spirits. It does, however, continue to blow my mind. I thought Jeff was several decades older than me. His gravitas certainly argues for such a premise.
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  18. Comes a flock of Albatrossians!

    by , March 21st, 2012 at 04:09 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)


    Please pour yourself a favorite beverage, be this a goblet of Chardonnay or a punch made from dark roast espresso and Everclear, sit down upon your favorite couch with your iPad 3, other tablet device, or laptop computer, and commit to a good old-fashioned Dickensian style
    meet report that will leave you both inspired and smarter!

    Last Friday, March 16th, I drove down to the Middle Atlantic Compound that I co-own with Leslie Livingston and her family (don't ask: the intricacies of squatters rights real estate law are well beyond the scope of this report, though I will refer interested parties to the Office of Circumlocution for more info). The ride was uneventful; not so the repast of flank steak and asparagus and polenta that greeted my arrival, nor the first two episodes of the show, Shameless, that Leslie and I watched until our respective hypnotics knocked us into our respective rooms to sleep in our respective states of drugged babyhood.


    The next morning, Leslie made one of her smoothies, which include various berries, spinach leaves, aged contents from supplement bottles, potions, lawn waste, unguents, and a few tinctures that I think may have gotten women into trouble in Salem, Massachusetts in yesteryear, though thankfully that is well past us.


    We made our way to the Albatross meet with our respective goals in mind: Leslie to beat her own World and/or National Records in the 50 Fly and 100 Back, and to do similarly well in the 50 Free (she accomplished the first; half accomplished the second; and scratched the third--for more, I recommend reading her excellent blog.)


    My goals were at once more modest and more daring, given our respective reservoirs of swimming talent.


    I wanted to:



    1. Set the new Albatross record in the 200 freestyle
    2. Set the new Albatross record in the 400 freestyle
    3. Do well enough in the 100 to make it into the Top 10 in my new age group
    4. Possibly do well enough in the 50 to do similarly
    5. Contribute to three relays with my 1776 teammates, Dale Keith, Geoff Meyer, and Paul Trevisan, the four of us adding up to exactly 240 years of collective elderliness, thus qualifying to swim in the 240-279 relay category.
    6. Finally, preserve my Albatrossian record (set last year when I was in the 55-59 age group) in the 200 SCM freestyle, though I realized this was no longer in my control. The great Brad Gandee has signed up to swim this, and though his seed time was slower than my record, I suspected that he may well have sandbagged...

    I shall record the various races in the order they took place, with commentary to follow each one.

    100 SCM Freestyle

    Age Group 60-64 - Male

    Paul Trevisan 57.61

    James Thornton 1:00.14

    I came in second to my 1776 teammate, Paul Trevisan, a sensational sprinter who has set a number of World Records in the past and was hoping to break the 100 and 50 records here, too, despite the absence of a tech suit. Paul came close but didn't quite make it.


    What proved somewhat encouraging to me, if not Paul, is that two of us in the 60-64 age group beat most of the other swimmers at the meet in the 100 free.


    The next oldest swimmer who beat me (but not Paul) was Darek Sady in the 35-39 age group--Darek swam a 58.00.


    Two guys in the 25-29 age group beat us both: Bryan Rivera, with a 53.58; and Nick Kaufman-O'Reilly, with a 55.24.


    Commentary:


    Sprinter Paul and Middle-Distance Jim clearly swim the 100 in different ways, beyond, that is, the fact that Paul swims it
    a lot faster!

    Check out the respective slopes of our splits:




    Paul's slope is reasonably steep here, indicative of the "leave nothing behind" philosophy of sprinting the whole race and trying not to die too badly by the end.


    The differential between Paul's 50s was 4.33 seconds. Would he have gone faster overall by saving a little on the front end? Who knows?





    My slope, on the other hand, is less steep, indicating a more controlled approach.


    My differential was 1.98 seconds. Would I have gone faster had I not coddled myself so much on the front half? Again, it's hard to know for certain, but several factors conspired to convince me to swim the race this way.


    First, it's worked for me in various other swims so far this season.


    Second, the difference between my "smooth EZ speed freestyle" stroke and my frenzied "all out sprinting freestyle" stroke is not huge, time-wise, but it is very significant energy-expenditure-wise.


    Third, unlike last year, where I signed up too late to swim the 400, I knew that at this year's Albatross I would be swimming the 200, 400, and three relays. Since I tend to do better, rankings wise, in the 200 and 400, I didn't want to use up too much on the 100.


    All the above notwithstanding, I was a bit disappointed when I looked up and saw that I'd failed to break a minute. At the 2011 Albatross meet, I swam .99 faster, turning in a 59.15, which proved good enough to earn me a tentative 6th place in the World that year--FINA TT rankings:




    My splits last year were 28.47 and 30.68, for a slightly higher differential of 2.21 seconds. One technical flaw this year might have accounted for a bit of the difference--I didn't see the final wall until I was right on top of it, and ended up taking an unnecessary final short stroke. Still, I doubt this made too much of a difference. The bottom line is that I probably tried harder in the 100 last year.



    200 SCM freestyle


    Fortunately for me, Paul Trevisan doesn't like to swim anything over a 100, which gave me a relative free pass in the 200.

    I came in fifth overall for this event, with the only four fellows who beat me (admittedly by substantial margins) were in the 40-44; 35-39; and 25-29 age groups.


    Age Group 60-64 - Male
    1776 James Thornton 2:12.59

    Age Group 40-44 - Male GERM Daniel Bellin 2:01.28

    Age Group 35-39 - Male
    GERM Frederik Hviid 2:00.53

    Age Group 25-29 - Male
    UNAT Bryan Rivera 1:56.99
    CUBU

    Age Group 25-29 - Male
    UNAT Sam Garner 2:08.94

    Despite losing to whippersnappers, I was happy with this swim.


    What was particularly gratifying when I looked up and saw my time was knowing it bested last year's 200, where I'd set the Albatross meet record of 2:13.04 in the 55-59 age group.


    Here are my splits for this year's 200:




    The difference between my first and second 100s was 2.53 seconds. Since the first 100 benefits from a dive, I feel I swam this race pretty evenly, which was my goal.

    Last year's 200 had the following splits (sorry I can't find a SwimPhone graph for last year's results):


    30.66, 33.17 (first 100 1:03.83)

    35.04, 34.17 (second 100 1:09.21)

    Difference between last year's 2 x100s:
    5.38

    Maybe the reason I swam a faster 200 this year is because I saved up a bit on the individual 100 earlier in the day. But I think a more significant explanation is that I simply paced things better this year for my kind of swimming style.


    Could I have done a better time going out a bit faster this year? I am not sure, though I concede it's possible. But more and more, I am beginning to conclude that for my body type, stroke, and energy systems, an evenly balanced swim is the better bet than the "hold on and try not to die" approach.


    In any event, last year's 2:13.04 proved good enough to make the tentative Top 10 worldwide:




    Had I been FINA 60 last year, instead of turning it this year, my 2012 time would have actually been good enough to place No.1 in the world by nearly a second:




    Of course, this year isn't last year, so who knows what will happen.


    My time did set a new Albatross record in the 60-64 age group, plus in the heat after I swam, Brad Gandee ended up having to withdraw half way through the race because of cramps.


    Thus my 55-59 Albatross record in the 200 SCM still stands. Who cares about world placement when one can legitimately boast:
    Ich bein ein duble Albatrossian!

    Men 55-59 200 Free 2:13.04 3/19/2011 James Thornton 1776

    Mr. Roddin, please know that you can stamp Stetari by this 200 Free Albatrossian record for at least one more glorious year!



    400 SCM freestyle

    I signed up for the 50 free, but it was less than 15 minutes away from the 400. The meet, which had started at 3 p.m., was dragging on. Besides Leslie's a.m. smoothie, and a couple of scrambled eggs consumed before we set off from the Compound to the pool much earlier in the day, all I'd had to eat was some Gu Chomps and a banana. My stomach was beginning to roil. It was nearly 7:30 p.m. by the time my heat in the 400 SCM free was ready to be swum.

    I also knew that immediately following this heat, the last of the day, my 1776 teammates and I would be swimming 3 quick relays.


    Call me cowardly, but I decided that if there was ever a time to adopt the controlled pace strategy, this was it. After all, it had worked quite well for the 200, and when I swam that race earlier in the day, I actually felt energetic and good as opposed to shakey and nauseated.


    Anyhow, I came in third overall in the 400 SCM free with a time of 4:48.72.


    The fellows who beat me were:


    Age Group 45-49 - Male

    Jonathan Berry 4:39.19

    Age Group 30-34 - Male

    Jeff "Muppet" Strahota 4:48.06

    I actually spied Jeff on the final length, though I didn't know at the time it was him. I'd failed to secure a counter, and though I was 90 percent sure that I was swimming the last length, there was enough uncertainty about this in my mind that I didn't want to turn entirely to lead in case I had to finish with another 50.


    Nevertheless, I did my best to beat Jeff and almost succeeded.


    Here are our respective SwimPhone graphs:




    Muppet's graph above





    My graph above.



    A couple notes about our respective races:



    1. Jeff told me at the Social after the meet that he always likes to be the first one to touch on the very first 50 of distance races.
    2. His first 50 was 31.75; mine was 34.92. His first 50, in other words, beat me by 3.17 seconds.
    3. By the end of the whole 400, his time beat mine by .66 of a second.
    4. Jeff's last 50 was 35.90, and mine was 34.31, which means I beat him by 1.59 seconds here.
    5. Overall, our average 50s were extremely close: 36.01 for him; 36.09 for me, or 8 one-hundredths of a second for each of the 8 x 50s.
    6. Could I have perchance beaten Jeff if I'd exerted myself a wee bit more, particularly on 50 No. 1? I don't know. The thing about swimming fast at the beginning of a race, at least for me, is that it has a multiplier effect, sort of like the way a tiny millimeter off as a bullet leaves the barrel of a rifle can miss the target by a wide margin, particularly the further away such a target (or final wall) is.
    7. I do think I might have swum a better 400, especially if it had been the first event, not the last individual event of the day. My "meters to yards" conversion time worked out to a 5:28, pretty much the same as my best 500 of the year, albeit in a worse pool but swum first thing in the meet.
    8. Leslie told me she thought I looked "lackadaisical" on the first 50, I am think perhaps I could have gone slightly faster here. When control blossoms into a lackadaisy, is it really control anymore--or something else entirely?
    9. I think for me the ideal way to swim freestyle races 200+ and divisible by 4 is similar to the old school relay order: second fastest guy first, followed by slowest guy, then the third fastest, then the fastest guy as the anchor. Put more simply, grading the four quarters of the race would thus be: B D C A. The difference, of course, between one person doing a long swim and four people doing a relay is that the dive yields such an advantage that the individual race, ideally, should be swum A D C B. Even with the dive, I swam my 400 A D C B.
    10. Conclusion: I probably should swim first 100 a little bit faster, particularly first 50; and start descending a bit more aggressively on the third 100, all the while staying away from teetering over the lactate threshold.

    I didn't swim the 400 last year, but here are the FINA results for 2011's 60-64 age group:




    Who knows how my time will fare in this year's rankings? With luck, I may even get another chance to swim a SCM meet before the end of the year.


    But one thing looks certain: I can add the coveted Albatrossian title for a third time in an individual event!


    Mr. Roddin, sir! At the risk of sounding cruel, please do not dither too long before hiring the masonry artisan to rechisel into the granite tablets a replacement name for Mr's. Harmon and Morgan, former record holders in the 200 and 400 SCM freestyles, respectively!


    Sorry, fellows. There's a new old-bird Albatrossian who is taking over the roost!


    *


    240-239 Year old SCM Relays

    For the infinitessimal numbers of you who are still reading this vlog (thanks, 61-year-old Jim Thornton and older versions of you! I am always happy to see you guys walking down Memory Lane here at our vlog!), I just found out that I have reached my limit of pictures for this blog (you are allowed to add no more than 10--who knew?)

    So let me just make relatively quick work of our relays, which, thanks to my wonderful teammates, earned each of us three more Albatrossian meet records (I am certain of this, though they don't keep records for relays in any spot that I can find.)


    Men 240-279 200 SC Meter Medley Relay

    WORLD: W 2:01.03 12/5/2009 GOLD COAST MASTERS -USA G SCHMIDT, T SHEAD, J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH


    USMS: N 2:01.03 12/5/2009 GOLD COAST G SCHMIDT, T SHEAD, J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH Team Seed Finals Points ================================================== ============================= 1 Colonials 1776 'A' NT
    2:09.02 12

    1) Keith, Dale M58
    32.57
    2) Dougherty, Steve M61 38.22
    3) Trevisan, Paul M61 30.36
    4) Thornton, James M60 27.87

    Five minutes later, we swam the 200 free relay. My teammates let me lead off so I could get an official time for the 50, which I had scratched because of it being right before the 400. My lead-off time isn't that great, but it would have snuck into the TT last year.


    Men 240-279 200 SC Meter Freestyle Relay

    WORLD: W 1:49.69 10/17/2009 GOLD COAST MASTERS -USA J WOTTON, C CAVANAUGH, D QUIGGIN, C BURNS


    USMS: N 1:49.69 10/17/2009 GOLD COAST J WOOTON, C CAVANAUGH, D QUIGGIN, C BURNS Team Seed Finals Points

    ================================================== =============================
    1 Colonials 1776 'A' NT 1:50.33 12

    1) Thornton, James M60
    28.22
    2) Keith, Dale M58 28.19
    3) Meyer, Geoffrey M61 28.76
    4) Trevisan, Paul M61 25.16

    Note:
    we missed the World Record by .64 seconds! Those fellows, moreover, swam their time in 2009 and thus almost certainly had the advantage of high tech body suits! We came so close! Who knows, perhaps we will have a chance to try it again, preferably when I haven't just swum a 400 and 50 within the previous 10 minutes!

    Finally:


    Men 240-279 400 SC Meter Freestyle Relay


    WORLD: 4:07.34 W 12/3/2011 VENTURA COUNTY MASTERS –USA G GRUBER, H KERNS, J MCCONICA, M BLATT


    USMS: 4:04.88 N 5/18/2008 OREGON T LANDIS, W EDWARDS, M TENNANT, R SMITH.
    ================================================== =============================
    1 Colonials 1776 A NT 4:13.35


    1) Keith, Dale M58 1:05.08
    2) Thornton, James M601:02.45
    3) Meyer, Geoffrey M611:04.93
    4) Trevisan, Paul M61 1:00.89

    We weren't that close to this World and/or National record, which is confusing.


    How can the world record be slower than the USMS record?

    Anyhow, the faster of these two times, 4:04.88, beats our end-of-the-meet, utter-exhaustion, be-jammered time by 8.47.

    If Paul and I had swum our individual 100 times from earlier in the day, we would have done a 1:57.75 (actually, probably a bit faster because one of us would have had a relay start). The other two swimmers would have had to swim a 2:07.13 to tie—if each swam exactly a 1:03.56, we’d have the new record!

    The point is that there are some new Albatrossians to deal with now in the 240-279 age group.

    Cover your french fries and your eyeballs alike. We are out to peck and pluck out anything we can to feed our insatiable hunger for more glory, and then take flight!

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYW5G2kbrKk"]Flying like a bird | part 14/14 - YouTube[/nomedia]



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  19. Halfway thru P90X!

    by , May 8th, 2012 at 10:34 PM (Chowmi's Blog)
    Well, I am still going strong!!!

    I am halfway thru Week #7 of the 13 week total. This is the 3rd and last week of Phase 2, then the "recovery week" #8. (Plus photo!)

    I think the key is proper modification. This is really hard because most people I have talked to say they started it and couldn't finish and/or got injured. There isn't a coach standing next to you telling you what and how to modify, and a lot of people say they get so competitive they try to keep up with Tony & crew. Plus you have to modify in relation to the fact that you are also swimming. The videos don't account for the fact that you are swimming - training - and that a lot of effort is duplicated, so you are going to really hurt yourself by all the double dipping if you don't eliminate/modify those bits. The last thing is not to think of it as a do-or-die in 90 days. If you think of this as a first round sampler, leaving room for heavier weights, more reps, higher/farther leaps, deeper lunges, etc, then you will probably decrease your chances of getting injured. You have all the time in the world, so think of the program and an indefinate and customizable repeat after the first 90 days! Remember, these guys would look completely foolish doing your job, so it is the same thing when you pop in the DVD and try to keep up with them. They were selected because they are super duper good at it, and have rehearsed the sequences for the video not unlike any other type of performance. You aren't going to get on stage and play Hamlet on the first round, so build up to it!

    +++++++++++++++++++++++
    I am happy to report that I can now bicycle backwards for the full 25 count. I could do cross leg instead of full legs out on the cross over sit uppy things, but that was on my strongest day, and I have only done it once. And I can do all 25 sissor kicks (yes, I wait for the number!). The key is to squeeze your butt and use the raised leg as the balancing end, and the down leg (1 inch off the floor, butt squeezed!) as the elongating move.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    I skipped the swim meet on Sunday! I was not well over the weekend, so I bagged my cameo 50 free. I mentally calculated I had a low 28 in me, and then decided the recover period AFTER the race would cost me too much of my P90X consistency.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Here is my workout on Monday!
    SCM, Baylor Fitness Center
    Billy G coached

    Here is Billy's commentary on his 1500 LCM fly: He did it the summer of/after 1980 Trials. Since he was in great shape, and trained with a distance donkey team, he decided to try it. His time was 19 something. He made it completely fly legal. The official, who is always really bored in the D-events, had nothing better to do so he walked with Billy the entire way, just to see if he was fly-legal. Billy's time was a big bell curve. Once he got to about 700-800, he was really disgusted. But he decided to just do another 100, another 100, until he got to 1200 and at that point he knew he could finish, and he started getting faster. His last 100 was not as fast as his first, but again, he bell curved his splits.

    ++++++++++++++++++
    200 swim/200 kick/200 pull

    6 x 75 kick on 1:30
    50 smooth/25 strong

    8 x 125's pull
    4 on 2:00 (yes, I actually used a pull buoy)
    4 on 1:45 (no equipment, swam these)

    10 x 100's swim
    4 on 1:35 descend
    1 on 2:00
    repeat

    I gave it a big decend and went 1:11 and 1:10 on the #4's. Solid and strong, i'd say about 92.5% effort.

    The End

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
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  20. Leslie's Core: In Praise Of

    by , June 3rd, 2012 at 03:06 PM (Vlog the Inhaler, or The Occasional Video Blog Musings of Jim Thornton)
    After the Greensboro meet, during which I managed to beat everyone in attendance in the 200 freestyle who was also at least 59 years old, I decided that it was time for me to take the next step.

    That next step is to become more like Leslie.

    I think I can say with 100 percent accuracy that our little Leslie, AKA, Leslie "The Fortress" Livingston, is not only a World Class Masters Swimmer but also the Patron Saint of Masters Swimmers Everywhere as well as Mither Nonpareil to a Quartet of Unbelievably Talented Athletic Youngsters: Zach, Ali, Gillian, and her favorite of all, Jimmy, the man child.

    One of the keys to Leslie's swimming success, I believe, was her decision to embrace and excel at something most of us post-40 Masters never learned during our swimming youths: the SDK.

    I was trying to recall the exact circumstances that caused Leslie to pursue excellence in this new "second fastest of all strokes"--and to put it into the pitiless vanquishment of her 50 and over female (and, honestly, male) competitors. (I can't begin to tell you how many chauvinistic men of a certain age were muttering in the Greensboro locker room that the 50 fly and 50 back have been forever ruined for them by Leslie's untouchable World Records! Besides me, there must have been at least one more embittered old jerk doing this.)

    Leslie has told me more than once the inspirational story of how she came to devote herself to SDKs and the core strengthening this requires.

    Alas, my memory is not what it used to be, and what it used to be wasn't all that great.

    For the life of me, I just couldn't remember what this story was. So this morning I Googled "why Leslie decided in middle age to become the best 5' 3" to 5' 4" female SDKer in the world" (or words to that effect) and the following image popped up on my screen, bringing the whole episode back with such detail it was as if it had all just happened yesterday!



    For those of you who may not know, Leslie was a stand-out distance swimmer at Dartmouth University, where she specialized in the 400 IM and 200 Butterfly.

    She attended Dartmouth on a full scholarship because her great great great great great grandfather on her mother's side was a cousin to Jim Thorpe's great great great great uncle by marriage. As most of you know, Dartmouth was originally founded for Native Americans, who to this day are given preferential treatment in admissions process.

    Not that this in any way made up for the savage racial taunts Leslie experienced from her Pale Face classmates. Indeed, for much of her freshman year, Leslie's only friend was her roommate and fellow part-Ojibway, Elizabeth Warren.



    How mercilessly were Les and Liz teased for their high Indian cheekbones and somewhat shrill war cries! In one particularly cruel episode, Harvard boy, Mitford Romney (known to the Sioux and Ojibways at Dartmouth as Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers) lead a gang of privileged white country clubbers to the girls' dorm. As the frat boys held the comely squaws down, Two Faced White Weasel Born of Multiple Mothers pulled out an authentic tomahawk purchased for the occasion at a New Hampshire Stuckey's, held it high above his head, and yelled, "Now I'm a'gonna cut your Sacagawea's off!"

    The next thing Leslie remembers was waking up at age 46, with four kids (the oldest of which she hadn't yet met), a bit of mid-life dysthymia, and a desire to get back into swimming shape. She started swimming at a pool near her house in suburban Washington, DC, where she had been practicing law, wifing, and living a completely unmemorable life for decades.

    The coach suggested she might want to learn SDKs, and Leslie thought it was a good suggestion.

    So she practiced, did exercises to strengthen her core muscles, and over the next four or five years became incredibly good at SDKs!

    It's an amazing story, and I am sure that many of you will find it as inspiring as I have.

    All of which is leading up to a set I accidentally stumbled upon while swimming a solo practice at the Sewickley YMCA pool last Thursday:

    Easy 1000 warm up

    Continuous 50s kick for as long as it takes, performed with a kick board but without fins in the following order--

    First 50, all flutter kick.

    Second 50, 1 dolphin kick off each wall, followed by the rest of each length flutter kick.

    Third 50, 2 dolphin kicks per wall, followed by flutter.

    Fourth 50, 3 dolphin kicks per wall and so forth....adding a single dolphin kick per length..

    Until you kick the whole length only doing dolphin kicks.

    In my case, I finally made it with 30 dolphin kicks per length, which brought this kick set to 1500 yards.

    I finished up with some actual submerged dolphin kicks, swimming 25 yards length underwater (took me 28 kicks to do this.)

    Then the normal cool down procedures.

    I was pretty sure my back would be killing me the next day, but it didn't. DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness, kicked in two days later, but not in my back but rather my abs, which became very sore indeed. When I mentioned this to Bill, he said that the pain indicated I was probably doing the SDKs correctly.

    Clearly, I'm far from ready to Venus de Milo my own abdominal regions the way Google has opted to do for World Record holder, Leslie. Nor am I prepared to put on a war bonnet and declare, via blood curdling whoops, my intention to raid the 60-64 Age Group.

    My own great great grandparents were not related to a famous red Indian like Jim Thorpe but rather, I am fairly certain, derived from anonymous pastey-faced European mongrels, themselves beget during one of those frequent collective-horde "love fests" that is a chief reason evolutionary biology has driven human sperm counts to such Zarathustrian numbers!

    Still, I do plan to continue my SDK practicing whenever I find myself solo in a lap lane! Unlike Leslie, I have never had much of a Sacagewea to count on. But as her own experience has so nicely shown us, it's never too late to grow one.
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