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  1. Toys galore

    This morning I swam the early AGUA workout. August is such a nice peaceful month in the city—the pool felt very spacious this morning, with just 4-5 swimmers per lc lane. We had a treat this morning—Coach Frank from Curl-Burke guest coached (our regular coach, Craig, is away with our “national team” in Puerto Rico). Frank was super nice and full of energy, at 5:30 in the morning no less. I adapted the workout as necessary for my taper. Here’s what we did:

    500 lcm warmup

    5 x 100 (50 K / 50 easy swim) @ :20 rest

    4 x 200 wrap-around, skip-stroke IMs @ 4:00: 1st 200 = FL/BK/BR/FL, 2nd = BK/BR/FR/BK, 3rd = BR/FR/FL/BR, 4th = FR/FL/BK/FR

    4 x 300 w/ paddles:
    First we had a technique talk on correct paddle technique (keep elbows high and rotate, should feel it in the lats, not the shoulders)
    --On the first 300, we wore a paddle on our right hand only, and swam 100 right-arm only (50 w/ left arm at side, 50 w/ left arm in front), 100 left-arm only (50 w/ rt. arm at side, 50 w/ rt. arm in front), then 100 using both arms.
    --On the 2nd 300, we wore a paddle on our left hand only, and did the mirror-image of the above
    --On the 3rd 300, we wore paddles on both hands and otherwise did the same thing as on #1
    --The 4th 300 was paddles on both hands, 200 back build + 100 FR
    [Doing the one-arm drills with just one paddle on felt confusing, plus I was getting remarkably far behind my lanemates, so I got out mid-way through the 2nd 300 and watched how my teammates did these drills for a bit. Keeping the motion continuous and fluid seemed to be the key—I think I was stopping and starting too much with each single arm stroke. Then I noticed that two of our swimmers who were PR-bound today were doing some fast swims from a dive in another lane, so I went over there and practiced a few dives and got some good pointers. I hopped back into my lane near the end of the 3rd 300. On the 4th 300, I ditched the paddles and did 4 x 50 BK (25 sprint, 25 easy) + 100 FR easy

    4 x 200 w/ fins (150 kick + 50 swim choice)
    [I just did the first of these with fins, and really hammered the 50 swim (FR), which was majorly fun. I then warmed down finless for the last two.]

    Midway through my warmdown I was submerged under the water doing breaststroke on my back, and I happened to look backwards and saw one of my lanemates doing fly with fins swimming towards me. It looked really cool! After that, I tried lying on the pool bottom and watching several of my friends as they swam by. It’s a neat effect.

    ***********
    Over the weekend I watched U.S. nats on tv. Here’s some thoughts:

    --I wondered what Lochte could go for a 200 BR—that stroke looked great on both of his IMs.

    --My disapproval of earlier tech suits on purely aesthetic grounds still stands for the current generation. I don’t at all like seeing all 8 finalists wearing the same solid black suit. If Speedo can make sparkly emerald green sneakers for Lochte, can’t they custom-make some colorful graphic-y suits for their stars? (Or if not custom make—I think that might run afoul of FINA regs, alas—at least produce their suits in a variety of colors and patterns, a la their very successful Flipturns line?) For $375 you should get pretty suit, not just a fast one!
    On one night that swimming was not on Universal Sports, they carried a track meet from Stockholm at which Usain Bolt was wearing a cool custom designed singlet. It would be neat to see something similar done with our tech suits.

    --The thinner parts of the Speedo suit are very sheer, especially in the sunlight at outdoor meets. Some of the guys almost looked like they were wearing black nylon stockings over codpieces.

    --The Arena women’s suit (worn by Rebecca Soni) is very aggressively cut in on the sides. Arena racing suits were always cut like that in the 80s and 90s, but it’s interesting that they went back to that minimal-fabric back design once zippers were outlawed.

    --I want to try those starting blocks with the slanted bit in the back. Do any pools that host masters meets in the northeast have them?

    **********
    Yesterday I went over to my 220y track and did plyo. I had planned to plyo while on vacation in Lake Placid—I had even chosen the grassy infield of the Olympic speed-skating oval as my venue—but had to postpone it for a few days after stubbing my toe on a heavy wooden Adirondack chair. Nothing broken, but the toe swelled up under the nail and was painful for a few days. I was worried that I might lose the toenail, but now it seems fine, and I can once again wear running shoes without pain.

    Here’s what I did yesterday:

    Warmup

    4 x 40y sprint (85, 90, 95, 100%)

    5 x 40y skip:
    warmup skip
    skipping for height, both legs
    skipping for height, right leg
    skipping for height, left leg
    skipping for distance, both legs

    I left off the one-legged skips for distance, because my right knee was feeling a little wonky right at the place (MCL) where it was injured last summer. It feels ok today, though, so I’m glad of that. I’m still very nervous about injuring myself with the plyo, so am being pretty conservative about how much and how quickly I add stuff. I might get in one more plyo session before Zones, if my legs feel good this Wednesday or Thursday, or this might be the last one for a couple of weeks.
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  2. Creating your own day spa at meet venues

    Today was gorgeous here, so I walked over to Asphalt Green for the noon workout again. I wanted to work on some stroke and some sprinting today, and ended up totally highjacking what was meant to be a freestyle aerobic set to get what I wanted out of it. Here’s how it went:

    500 warmup plus bobbing and sinking

    9 x 100 FR (3 kick, 3 drill, 3 swim) @ :20ish rest

    Freestyle set:
    10 x 75 @ 1:15 [I did 3 as 25 FR/ 25 ST / 25 FR, 3 as 25 ST / 25 FR / 25 ST, 3 as all ST (rotating through FL, BK, and BR for the ST on each of these sets of 3), then 1 as 25 FL / 25 BK / 25 BR]
    10 x 50 @ :45 [I did these all FR: 3 desc., then the rest concentrating on various pieces of sprinting: 1 working pushoff and breakout, 1 working turn, 1 working finish, 1 working breakout, 3 working turn]
    10 x 25 @ :30 [I did 3 1/3 x (2 easy, 1 sprint)]

    200 warmdown + sinking and bobbing

    I really hadn’t done any much sprinting since nationals—it felt really good today to go fast.

    The only bad thing about workout today is that I somehow lost a contact in the pool. That hadn’t happened since I stopped playing polo, and I wasn’t even sure when or how it happened today. Although extra contacts are on my bring-to-meets list, they’re not something I always keep in my pool bag, so I had to get myself home with only one good eye. (I’m terribly nearsighted—my prescription is in the double digits.) It worked out ok, except that I had absolutely no depth perception, so stepping up and down off curbs was a little exciting. From here on I’m keeping an extra lens in my bag. (Of course, I could have just taken a taxi home, but it was really too pretty a day to be stuck in a cab in traffic.)

    My last two meet experiences have convinced me that more is more when it comes to stuff. I’ve decided to re-write my meet pack list to accurately reflect all the comfort items I like to surround myself with when I’m hanging out at long meets. In addition to all the usual things like extra caps and goggles and warm clothes, this includes:

    --a stretching mat (I like Kiefer’s stretching mat, which is cushier than yoga mats. Inflatable camping mats also work well too. I try to scout out the venue first thing to find a pretty, out-of-the-way spot to set up my stretching mat. I generally leave my swim bag and spend most of the meet sitting nearer the pool, with teammates or friends, but like having a little retreat set up away from the action.)

    --an actual towel (The synthetic ones work fine for drying off after events, but a real beach towel laid over the stretching mat makes it way more comfortable to lie on, plus it looks festive. In a pinch, a hotel towel will do.)

    --a pillow (I travel with a small pillow anyway, so carrying it back and forth from hotel to pool is no big deal)

    --an eye mask (to block out light, or signal to teammates that you’re enjoying a me moment)


    --a cooler packed with a sandwich, snacks, and iced tea (because you never know what food you’ll find at meet sites, and nutrition is too important to leave to chance. I have a soft-sided cooler I can pack, or have sometimes bought a cheap hard-sided cooler for longer multi-day meets once I arrive)

    --a stretching rope

    --a self-massage tool (I travel with this mini one and work pressure points in my back with it)


    --ipod (I actually don’t use this much at meets, but if I get nervous or down it’s a sure-fire way to jolly myself back up)

    --a YA book (I find these are about the right reading level for masters meets—easy to slip into and out of, not too disturbing, and often quite funny. At Middlebury I plowed through one of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” sequels, which had me in stitches.)

    --toe socks to keep feet from getting chilled when wearing flipflops


    --a hat and scarf to ward off chills during downtime

    --I don’t yet have but want to get a compact foam roller. One of my friends brings his to meets and lets me use it, but I’d like one of my own.


    --and of course a rolling duffle bag to carry all this stuff, because you don’t want to tire yourself out by toting it around yourself

    Did I leave anything out?
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