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Thread: Prime years for male swimming.

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    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Prime years for male swimming.

    www.swiminfo.com, in an article about 27-years old Olympic Algerian sprinter Salim Iles who two days ago in France set a new African record in 100 meter freestyle in a 50 meter pool at :49.00, claims that age 29 is now considered the "prime years for male swimming".

    One day ago, Franck Esposito (Fra.), age 31, swam 1:54.62 in 200 meter butterfly in a 50 meter pool, second fastest time in history, marginally behind Michael Phelps (US) 1:54.58, age 17.
    (As a side note, Esposito is not a giant like 6' 7" Tom Malchow (US), or tall like Phelps' 6' 3", he is 5' 11").

    Alex. Popov (Rus.), Mark Foster (GBR), John Miranda (US), Ron Karnaugh (US), Sven Lodziewski (Ger) are clear Olympic-level calibers for male swimmers past the age of 30.

    So, age 29 is now considered within the "prime years for male swimming" in this sport that is physically fitness-driven.

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    Very Active Member Matt S's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Another take

    Ion,

    Another way to look at those statistics is that they might indicate that swimming is, in fact, a skill sport with an endurance component. Let me toss out some other examples from prominent professional sports: baseball, definitely skill sport, prime age: 30; basketball, skill sport, prime age: 27; hockey, skill sport, prime age: 29; tennis, skill sport, prime age: 26; golf, penultimate skill sport, prime age: 35; figure skating, skill sport, prime age: 23. (Please note that the "prime age" statistic is my own, bar-stooling guess. I am open to any alternate ages, and the conclusions you might draw from them. I am a little more confident of my characterization of the above sports as "skill sports," but again I am open to any differing views). My thesis is that many elite swimmers have to practice their craft well past college age to get their stroke technique just right and reach their potential. Thus, I conclude that swimming is more of a skill sport than an endurance sport.

    So what's the counter-example? I think most would agree that distance running, bicycling, or triathlons are endurance sports; however, their prime age are also in the late 20's. So maybe I am all wet theoretically (as well as literally) speaking. What do the rest of you think?

    Matt

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    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Re: Prime years for male swimming.

    Originally posted by Ion Beza

    ...
    So, age 29 is now considered within the "prime years for male swimming" in this sport that is physically fitness-driven.
    Matt, I threw in "..that is physically fitness-driven." and lenghten my statement, knowing that it brings a contentious point.

    1) It is reported in www.fina.org that Olympian Alex Popov (Rus.) after a number of second placings in major competitions in mid-90s, cranked up his training in 1998 at in between 80 and 90 kilometers per week, with a majority of anaerobic threshold sets.
    In the year 2000, at age 28 and a half, he nailed a :21.64 in 50 meter freestyle in a 50 meter pool, new world record. So to do it, he increased his sprinter training mileage up to the level of an international middle distance swimmer. He boasts that he is dominating other sprinters with superior physical fitness.

    2) It was reported in the year 2000 before the Olympics, in www.nbcolympics.com that Tom Dolan (US) was physically outtraining international competitors, with 70 miles per week workouts. Out of this 70 miles, less that 1 mile was technique drills and more than 69 were for the physical fitness conditioning.

    3) I remember reading in www.swiminfo.com a few years ago, that when the 400 meter world record holder for women, Janet Evans (US) was training at Stanford, the coach Richard Quick declared that she taught him technique doesn't matter that much.

    4) I was smiling in the year 1999 when training in New York made me see this woman doing way more than 50% of her workouts on technique drills, and me less than 10% of my workouts on technique drills, yet I would be blazing past her in any straight swim.

    5) The San Diego Union Tribune on Monday March 4, 2002 reads: the "...aerobic capacity, as measured by maximal oxygen uptake tests..." among all sports is the highest in cross-country skiers, swimmers and marathoners. Achieving the biggest possible aerobic capacity, it is physical fitness, and is best done in teen-age years when the body grows.

    Unlimited more fitness conditioning is not better since it is physically draining to the point of regress, but more fitness conditioning up to a saturation point for each one to discover, it is better. When a new adult swimmer attempts to do a 200 butterfly for example, the major obstacle is not to understand the technique by means of visualization, the major obstacle is to execute the technique with brain conditioning and physical conditioning: blood vessels connecting the heart and the triceps are missing, blood vessels connecting the heart and the lats are missing, the muscles lats are missing, the kicking muscles are missing, the lungs are small, the aerobic capacity is nil, etc..

    What I am saying is that better fitness allows for better technique but not than vice-versa.

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    Active Member SupaFly's Avatar
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    Aren't ages quite "relative" in the sense that some people are much less physically mature at any given age?

    For example, I'm 18 but people think that I look about 14. I also have a rather fast heart rate for my age even though I'm far more physically fit than the average, and have a large (biologically speaking at least ) heart. I've always been like that; when I was in grade 9 I was about 5 feet tall and 75 lbs and now, probably NOT fully grown, i'm 5'9", 145.
    Conversely there are also 14 year-olds who look like they're in their 20s. Both my parents look very young for their ages also.

    So I'd think that one person's body at 29 (for ex.) is not necessarily in the same physical strength as another's. It's just genetics I think. Some people seem to age slower. That's probably part of the reason why some live into their 100s and others die 30 years earlier. It's all probably very complicated though...

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    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SupaFly

    ...
    So I'd think that one person's body at 29 (for ex.) is not necessarily in the same physical strength as another's.
    ...
    True. Saying now that age 29 is prime years for male swimming, is a general statement; it is a new stereotype for many competitors, knocking-out the former stereotype of age 22; it is not an individual statement.

    In line with my previous examples illustrating that in swimming the physical conditioning triggers improvements, before technical improvements start to matter, I read in the book 'Swimming: Character and Excellence' by Mike Gosman this paragraph written in page 46 by the US sprinter Matt Biondi:
    "My loss to Michael Gross in the 200 free at the 1986 World Championships was another big disappointment. But after that loss I became a different swimmer - a better swimmer. I became more dedicated in training. I hadn't been in condition to swim the 200 meter free; I had been training 12,000 meters a day. Losing gave me the inspiration and desire to train harder. Instead of training 12,000 meters a day, I began training 16,000.".
    This example tells me the bulk of improvement in swimming is physical conditioning, while technique is fine-tuning. I think physical conditioning as way of improving most does apply to breastroke too, the most technical stroke amongst the four strokes.
    Swimming is foremost a physical conditioning activity rather than a technical skill activity, and the emphasis in the 90s on 'technique' talk, to me it was a scam.

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    Active Member SupaFly's Avatar
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    I definitely agree that swimming is mostly conditioning. To be right there at the TOP takes both, but otherwise conditioning still goes most of the way.

    I bet that if Thorpe were asked to swim head-up freestyle holding rocks in his hands he'd still go ridiculously fast, even though swimming with the head up is technically very wrong, and so is holding clenched fists. I heard that he can kick a :56 for 100 meters. Sure the ankles are flexible and he has good kicking technique but it's essentially just huge power.

    There were some guys in the Olympics who came off of their turns "Superman style" with terrible streamline and hardly even kicked before surfacing. No matter, they're still in the Olympics! It seems to me that they're just extremely strong in the water from awesome conditioning.

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    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SupaFly
    I definitely agree that swimming is mostly conditioning.
    ...
    I bet that if Thorpe were asked to swim head-up freestyle holding rocks in his hands he'd still go ridiculously fast, even though swimming with the head up is technically very wrong, and so is holding clenched fists. I heard that he can kick a :56 for 100 meteres. Sure the ankles are flexible and he has good kicking technique but it's essentially just huge power.
    ...
    This alone is proof of swimming being a physical activity before being a technical skill activity.
    An unexperimented swimmer, with not many blood vessels connecting the legs and the heart, would need a heart rate of 160 beats per minute to pump oxygen into the legs when kicking, through the few blood vessels the new swimmers has. With an untrained heart not sustaining for long 160 beats per minute, the kicking would end up as a pathetic try for a few seconds only. It happens all the time at any YMCA near you.
    Ian Thorpe (Aus.) with lots of blood vessels connecting the legs and the heart through aerobic development, would easily need way less than 160 beats per minute to pump oxygen into the legs' muscles he built, when kicking in much more impressive effort. With a trained heart, 160 beats per minute, that's a piece of cake for Ian Thorpe.
    It was reported in www.swiminfo.com that in a near-100% kicking effort, with heart rate in the 200 beats per minute, Ian Thorpe was doing 5 x 100 meter kick in a 50 meter pool, leaving every 5:00, and coming in 1:01.
    Olympian Tom Wilkens (US) is said to achieve and hold 210 beats per minute when swimming a sub 4:19 400 meter IM; artificially raising the heart rate into the 200s in a unfit person even for a few seconds and not for 4:20 like in Tom Wilkens case, would quickly give that person a heart attack.
    Achieving this cardiovascular physical fitness, that is what ranks swimming along with cross-country skiing and marathon running, physically and not skill-wise at the top of all fitness sports.

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    Active Member SupaFly's Avatar
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    29 seems a little old... If you look at the competitors in the Olympics there are very few that old, and probably only a couple are actually setting records (I just know of Mark Foster). I thought that the peak of muscular power in men is on average at 24 years of age.

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    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Originally posted by SupaFly
    29 seems a little old... If you look at the competitors in the Olympics there are very few that old, and probably only a couple are actually setting records (I just know of Mark Foster). I thought that the peak of muscular power in men is on average at 24 years of age.
    Supa,
    Josh Davis (US) born in 1972, Alex Popov (Rus) born in 1971, Mark Foster (GBR) born in 1970, and Franck Esposito (Fra) born in 1971 set records at ages 28, almost 29, 30, and 31.
    Others like John Miranda (US), Ron Karnaugh (US), Sven Lodziewski (Ger), Zoltan Szilagyi (Hun, born in 1967, he swam in 2000 at age 33, a 400 meter in a 50 meter pool in 3:57.66, good for rank 95 in the world), Jure Bucar (Slo, born in 1966, he swam in 2000 at age 34, a 400 meter in a 50 meter pool in 3:57.74, good for rank 96 in the world) keep up with top world-class competition while in their mid thirties.
    This is a ground-breaking trend: supported by money allowing them to avoid jobs, these full-time swimmers push the limits of peak physical maturity at an age close to 30; new knowledge is driven from them.

    The tendency for physical maturity happens in Masters Swimming also, albeit it is hampered by the fact that the adults in Masters Swimming have jobs to support their lives since competitions in Masters Swimming don't pay anything yet: for example, last year in a 50 meter competition for the 200 meter free-style, Paul Smith (US) age 42 swam 1:58.61 and Paul Carter (US) age 44 swam 1:59.36. Even though these are not their lifetime bests, it is worth noticing that these age records were done by people with full-time jobs, family, training in their forties, while it took Donald Schollander (US) of age 18 in 1964 a full-time training to set the then World Record of just under 2:00.

    It is a ground-breaking trend indeed, the pushing of physical maturity limits...

  10. #10
    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Ion Beza

    ...
    It is a ground-breaking trend indeed, the pushing of physical maturity limits...
    The news don't let me off the hook on this:

    1) In Olympic-caliber swimming, Sven Lodziewski (Ger) born in 1965 like Matt Biondi (US), is ranked so far for the year 2002, #57 in the world, with a 50.92 in 100 meter free in a 50 meter pool.

    2) In Masters Swimming short course yards, Ron Johnson (US), Don Hill (US) and Graham Johnston (RSA) recently swam in the 58 for 100 free, at ages 71.

    3) www.swiminfo.com reports today that Paul Carter (US) age 44 just did in a 50 meter pool, a 100 meter butterfly in 56.72, not that much behind 54.40 swam in the same race by 18 years old, 6'5", high-shool sensation and Yougoslavian 2002Olympian who trains in US, Michael Cavic.
    Paul Carter wants to swim faster than 56.72, this summer.

    These sample news and many more, are unheard of until 2002.

    I guess this extreme excellence by 'forever young people', fascinates me.

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    don't forget Dennis Bakers 200 LC fly last week of 2:05.84 at the age of 40, only 1.15s off of Nationals qualifying time!

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    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Phil Arcuni
    don't forget Dennis Bakers 200 LC fly last week of 2:05.84 at the age of 40, only 1.15s off of Nationals qualifying time!
    No, I won't forget.

    That's amazing.
    If I could do it, I would do it myself too, but I don't know how.

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    Active Member Steve Ruiter's Avatar
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    I think I heard on the radio that Greg LeMond just turned 41. Didn't he just win a TdF recently?

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    Active Member Steve Ruiter's Avatar
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    Oops. I am confusing Lemond and Lance Armstrong.

    I don't know how old Lance is, but the guy did beat testicular cancer, which cant make you fell any younger.

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    Active Member Yardbird's Avatar
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    Wink

    Lance is 30, just a pup!

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    Talking

    Then what is the prime age for women. Dana Torres placing in the olympics at 32 years old and Laura Val swimming some events faster in her forties or 50 years old than she did at 18 or 20 years old. I always think that we women can do things sometimes older than the guys. In the old days people thought that swimmers were over at 22 years old because the elite swimmers couldn't stayin the sporanderfor economic reasons, And also Dennis Baker time could have gotten him 3rd place in the 200 meter fly in 1972 for men or be able to beat Mary T Meagher or Misty Hyman and Susie O'Neil at their primes. As for Don Schollander times are from an earlier generation, soex-national level swimmers in their 40's should be able to do faster than he did at 1964.

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    As to Thorp's kicking so fast...Gosh, it has NOTHING to do with his POWER...it has to do with his size million feet.
    Heck, I am shocked he has never been disqualified for using flippers (disguised as his feet).

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    The muscular prime is more 35 years old than 24 years old. In weightlifting and field events in track and field most male and female sports people are into their late 20's to mid 30's. Swimming depends less on muscular strength than those sports. That's why you have 12 year old girls that can qualify for nationals being only 5' tall and weighting less than 100 pounds.

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    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Originally posted by cinc310
    Then what is the prime age for women. Dana Torres placing in the olympics at 32 years old...
    She was 33, almost 34.
    However, in the summer of 2000, San Francisco Chronicle had an article about Olympians, one of them being Dara Torres, who were taking legal supplements under medical supervision giving the benefits of illegal products. It was to the tune of products of many hundreds of dollars per month.
    Originally posted by cinc310

    ...
    and Laura Val swimming some events faster in her forties or 50 years old than she did at 18 or 20 years old.
    ...
    I know. That's awesome.
    Originally posted by cinc310

    ...
    I always think that we women can do things sometimes older than the guys.
    ...
    Like what?
    Originally posted by cinc310

    ...
    As for Don Schollander times are from an earlier generation, soex-national level swimmers in their 40's should be able to do faster than he did at 1964.
    Still, it shows a tremendous evolution in performance for pioneers, so that followers can follow to a degree.

  20. #20
    Very Active Member Ion Beza's Avatar
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    Originally posted by cinc310

    ...
    Swimming depends less on muscular strength than those sports. That's why you have 12 year old girls that can qualify for nationals being only 5' tall and weighting less than 100 pounds.
    Swimming depends mainly on cardiovascular, which in swimming is the ability of the heart to send oxygen from lungs into swimming specific (not weightlifting specific) muscles.
    Medical studies rank in order cross-coutry skiiing, swimming and marathon running as the sports developing the most cardiovascular, "...as measured by maximal oxygen uptake tests." writes a paper, amongst all sports.

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