Comes a flock of Albatrossians!
by, March 21st, 2012 at 05:09 PM (2957 Views)
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:
- Set the new Albatross record in the 200 freestyle
- Set the new Albatross record in the 400 freestyle
- Do well enough in the 100 to make it into the Top 10 in my new age group
- Possibly do well enough in the 50 to do similarly
- 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.
- 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 FreestyleAge 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.
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
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:
- 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.
- His first 50 was 31.75; mine was 34.92. His first 50, in other words, beat me by 3.17 seconds.
- By the end of the whole 400, his time beat mine by .66 of a second.
- Jeff's last 50 was 35.90, and mine was 34.31, which means I beat him by 1.59 seconds here.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
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]