Friday, October 28, 2011

It's All Coming Back to Me Now

Date: Friday, October 28, 2011
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
241 days to Olympic Trials

8x50 on 1:00 choice

6x200 kick with short fins on 3:30
Descend 1-3 flutter kick, 4-6 backstroke kick
(2:45, 2:40, 2:37, 3:00, 2:50, 2:47)

600 easy, done as:
200 choice
200 (15 breakout/35 easy)
200 easy

50 breast fast from push - 28.7

4x50 easy on 1:00

50 breast fast from push - 29.2

50 easy

10x50 breast kick drill (two kicks, one pull) on 1:05

50 breast fast from push - 28.5

200 easy

Total: 3,300 yards

Today was the first good workout of the week! I was worried I'd go through the entire week without a workout I could be proud of and look back on with a smile. My plan before knowing the workout was to try and get a couple of timed 50s breaststroke in, and I was able to find an empty lane for that. After the 600 recovery, the top group did 6x200 descend 1-3. I had no plans on doing that, especially since I'm six weeks away from my taper meet. Now is not the time to do two sets of descending 200s. I was fine with doing them for the kicking set, because I still need to develop endurance in my lower body. But I needed to have a sprint set in the workout today, and had I done the 6x200 swim with everyone else, I might not have been in the condition to do any fast 50s.

As you can see, I used part of the recovery 600 to get ready for sprint 50s. I can never over-emphasize how important it is to get your nervous system ready for fast swimming before you do it. Don't do a long, easy warmup and expect to have good results on a sprint set. This is why you need to do short bursts during warmup in a meet as well.

I was very happy with my sprint 50s today. I hadn't had good times with sprint sets since returning from Orlando. Part of it may have to do with my body being so tired from travel and work and training, but I'm usually able to push through all of that. The fever I had on Monday proved that I am not as invincible as I once thought.

With Mark Rankin out of town on vacation (shooting innocent animals in Idaho), Tako was there to give me pointers on my breaststroke. He believes my kick needs a lot of work (duh!) and offered some suggestions. It might be difficult to explain in writing. Instead of kicking my feet back, he suggested I kick down a little bit, but not in a butterfly way. He used Kosuke Kitajima's kick as a comparison. I've seen Kitajima's kick underwater, and it is fantastic.. I tried it a couple of times on the first 50, and understood the concept. I let my mind go on the second 50, and I think that contributed to the slower time.

I was going to do the 50s kick drill and get out, but I felt like I got the concept of what Tako was referring to and decided to try another fast 50. Tako wasn't nearby, so I asked a swimmer in a nearby lane to time with the watch on his arm. I have no reason to believe he started the watch late or stopped it too early. My stroke felt faster, and I did it with fewer strokes! On the first two 50s, I took eight strokes each time on the second 25. On the third 50, I took seven strokes!

I rarely focus on my legs during breaststroke. I categorize myself as an upper-body swimmer for all strokes, and while I don't just let my legs dangle behind me when I swim, I tend to focus on what my upper body is doing, because it's where a large part of my propulsion comes from. (This is very different from Rebecca Soni, as you can see in this video.) But lately I have tried to think about my legs, and it has paid off (i.e. Trials cut).

Tako has helped me reform a lot of my swimming this year, and I can't thank him enough for what he's done.


  1. Thanks for the videos. Do you have any drills that encourage a fast arm recovery. I tend to pause hands under my chin instead of in the streamline position.

  2. There are four great things to do for arm speed. First, if you are in a shallow pool, stand with a slight bend at the waist anddo breaststroke pulls, making sure you do not pull under your face. It will probably feel like you're sculling compared to your old stroke.

    Also, do some underwater breaststroke pulls. Not pullouts, but regular strokes. You'll discover quickly if you are 1) pulling under your chin or 2) pausing. The resistance underwater is greater, and you'll likely fix the problems quickly. Make sure to have fast hands!

    The third one is to do breaststroke pull with head out of the water. Put on fins if you need to do so. If you pause under your head, you will have trouble keeping your chin from sinking. A fast recovery will help you with balance.

    Fourth, do breaststroke pulls (with or without fins) on the surface, working on arm speed. You will feel like you are scrambling, but the goal is to try to get the hands moving around quickly. If you want, start the pulls while standing, and evolve to being horizontal.

    Doing 15-meter breakouts are also great for hand speed.

  3. Thanks so much. This is a bad habit I developed as an age grouper. I think swimming breastroke when you are slow & tired may promote that habit too. I'll try these drills.