Thursday, September 29, 2011

Shake it up

Date: Thursday, September 29, 2011
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Short Course Yards
270 days to Olympic Trials

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I plan to do one workout a week with the top group of swimmers at Phoenix Swim Club. This group is made of mostly teenagers who have USA Swimming sectionals or senior national cuts. I think a couple of them have Olympic Trials cuts, but they came from Oregon when Coley Stickels was hired to be the head coach. Among that group is Olympic champion Roland Schoeman, who definitely looks out of place, only because he's Roland (expletive) Schoeman!

At Coley's request, I cannot post the workout here, but it was about 4,000 yards in 90 minutes. That doesn't seem like a lot, and you may be right. Coley doesn't hold to the traditional way of training age groupers, and he never focuses on pounding out the yardage just to build a base. He also seems to be building swimmers who swim perfectly and are mindful of their strokes. When you swim "garbage yardage," you tend to not think about the stroke, only the fact that the workout never seems to reach the end.

Today, all I thought about were the strengths and weaknesses of my breaststroke. And I had plenty of time to think about them. Nearly 90 percent of the 4,000 yards we swam was breaststroke, and of that 90 percent, about 10 percent was done full stroke for at least 25 yards. We did lots of breaststroke drills, breastroke pulls and breaststroke kick. As far as my strengths, I confirmed that I am an upper-body breaststroker, that my momentum, strength and speed come mostly from the first half of the stroke. When it comes to the kick, it's OK, but when I took the time to think about it, I noticed I wasn't maximizing the full potential of my kick. This is something to correct in the next 269 days.

The important thing for me today was to not race the people in the pool. When you're doing breaststroke drill, you need to slow down a little and feel the stroke. I went fast enough to get enough rest each time. Roland "won" a lot of the time, as did Michael Nelson, who has promise as a senior in high school.

The only true difficult parts of the workout were the underwater swimming portions. And there was a lot of underwater swimming. Because I couldn't make a 25-yard breaststroke underwater, I felt like I wasn't in shape cardiovascularly, but I think the truth is I don't do enough underwater work. Breaststroke in a short course pool is about 45 percent underwater, so it is something I should be working to improve. Even though my ultimate goal involves a race in a long course pool, working on lung capacity is key for me.

I liked Coley's workout today, and it was good to shake up my routine a bit. I plan to go back next week! It's time to go to bed now. I have to be back at the pool for Masters workout tomorrow at 5:45 a.m.!

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