Meditations on a Swimming Bubble
by, January 2nd, 2010 at 10:36 PM (2396 Views)
Age/ Yearly Miles/ Weekly Average/ Best 100 SCY free / age rating / suit
- 46 / 221.11 / 4.25 / 53.68 ... 86.4 Speedo briefs
- 47 / 207.78 / 4.00 / 54.42 ... 85.6 Speedo briefs
- 48 / 264.34 / 5.08 / 52.09 ... 89.8 aquablade
- 49 / 374.77 / 7.21 / 52.46 ... 89.5 aquablade
- 50 / 411.77 / 7.92 / 53.02 ... 89.0 FS1
- 51 / 390.04 / 7.50 / 52.83 ... 89.7 FS1
- 52 / 363.90 / 7.00 / 52.87 ... 90.1 FS1
- 53 / 272.42 / 5.24 / 53.97 ... 88.7 FS1
- 54 / 373.28 / 7.18 / 52.69 ... 91.4 FS1
- 55 / 372.07 / 7.16 / 52.90 ... 91.6 FS1
- 56 / 406.70 / 7.82 / 52.86 ... 92.2 B-70
- 57 / 330.59 / 6.36 / 54.08 ... 90.7 B-70
Greek Olympian and man-god Chris Stevenson posted this age ranking calculator athttp://www.vaswim.org/cgi-bin/rcalc.cgi He includes an explanation for how it works and plenty of cautionary language about why not to take it too seriously, etc.
You can use Chris's brain child to age grade any of your different races in all three courses. But for the sake of this vlog, I decided to just pick the 100 SCY freestyle. If you are getting to the point where your times are starting to plateau a wee bit, you might find this age grading stuff to be a fresh source of motivation.
A couple different factors seem to clearly correlate with my personal swimming performance. The first one that jumps out is the introduction of the first speed suit, the Speedo Aquablade. My time dropped by a little over 2 seconds from the age of 47 to 48, and my age graded ratings jumped from the mid 80s to the cusp of 90--mainly because the norms were probably based on non-speed suit swimmers (thus giving me an artificial advantage once I started wearing one.)
With the FS1, my times also improved relative to my age, and I think part of this was the faster suit, but my training--inspired, I am sure, by times I hadn't done since my young youth--also escalated significantly. The first time I cracked the "90" rating barrier was at age 52 in a FS1. The next year, however, I dropped back to an 88.7 rating in the same suit. The difference seems, that year at least, to be explained by a significant drop in yearly mileage--from 364 to 272. Clearly, the suit matters greatly for me, but training apparently makes some difference, too.
My highest rating of all was a 92.2, achieved last spring at Colony Zones Championships. This was the first meet where I ever wore a B70. The year before, in a FS1, I swam only .04 slower. Was it the faster suit--or the increase in yearly mileage (from 372 to 406) that allowed me to swim a tiny bit faster at age 56 than I had at age 55?
Soon, it seems fairly certain, speed suits of any sort are going to be outlawed. It is hard to know for sure what effect this is likely to have on my swimming performance, but it would be nice to at least discount the psychological change.
So far, at age 57, I have swum the 100 at a couple of our local Y meets, and I've worn my B70 while doing so. It's been a bit disappointing for me because even with this advantage, my best 100 this fall/winter season has been a 54.08, albeit in less than ideal swimming conditions.
Until today's exercise in Big Picture assemblage of personal swimming statistics, I have been dreading to think how truly slow I will become once the suit is outlawed.
But let's say that I do end up adding roughly 2.5 seconds to my 100 post body suit ban. This is about what I subtracted in my 100 time from age 47 to 48 when the Aquablade was first introduced.
I would thus be swimming, say, a 56.5 for the 100 free, which seems to me truly awful. But when I plug this number into Chris's age rating calculator, it cranks out an 86.8. This is almost exactly what I was doing, age-graded wise, at 46, before the speed suits were even introduced.
So it would be just a return to historical norms.
Perhaps this past decade in swimming performance, not just for me but for all who have "benefited" from suit enhancement of their swimming times, will be viewed by future historians as just another bubble of our bubble-bursting era of excess!
And in the meantime, I shall set my sights on breaking 56.5 in jammers!