Sunday, November 6, 2011

Take Five

Date: Sunday, November 6, 2011
Time: 8 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
232 days to Olympic Trials

Today was the Phoenix Swim Club Pentathlon. The meet order was: 500 free, 50 free, 200 free, 100 free, 200 IM. I have swum in events like this before, and have fun with them ... though the short amount of rest makes for some painful swims. Here's a look at my performances. All five events were done in a 90-minute time span:

2,000 warmup

500 free: 5:03.88
Splits: 57.87, 1:59.16 (1:01.29), 3:01.18 (1:02.02), 4:02.89 (1:01.71), 5:03.88 (1:01.01)

10 minute break (400 warmdown in this time)

50 fly: 24.69

Five minute break (300 warmup in this time)

200 back: 1:58.81
Splits: 28.20, 57.60 (29.20), 1:27.89 (30.69), 1:58.81 (30.92)

Five minute break (200 warmdown in this time)

100 breast: 59.48
No splits available

Five minute break (300 warmdown in this time)

200 IM: 2:02.66
No splits available

500 warmdown (with LOTS of stretching)

Out of five events, I felt good about three of them. Sadly, they were the first three. I wasn't happy that the two events which weren't good were two of my best events (100 breast and 200 IM). But, three out of five ain't bad!

I was quite surprised by my performance in the 500 free. I haven't done a 500 free in competition since high school, and I think I swam a 5:03 then. I got a great race from Patrick Brundage, who is very much a middle distance/distance swimmer and has a lot of experience doing the 500. That definitely showed at the 300-yard mark, when we turned almost even and he took off.

The 200 back was also a very nice surprise. The final 25 was very painful. Pushing off the last wall almost had me gritting my teeth underwater. Knowing that my 100 breast was next, and that I hadn't raced a 100 breast since July, I could have swum a lot easier on the backstroke. But, I am not the type of person that backs out of a race if I'm feeling good, and the 200 back was the last race today in which I felt good.

Diving in for the 100 breast, I could immediately tell that the result would not be satisfactory. I could feel the lactate in my muscles during the first pullout and my breaststroke muscles did not want to respond for the entire 100. To make it worse, my technique was sloppy. My legs were not together at the end of many kicks, and I could feel my hands slipping on the insweep. I took seven strokes for each of the last three 25s, but a low stroke count isn't good when the speed isn't there. I felt embarrassed to see "59.48" on the scoreboard, but I couldn't think of that for much longer. I wanted to break two minutes in the 200 IM, and I had to get into the mindset for that race.

I was mentally ready to swim a fast 200 IM, but my body was already checking out. I dove in and the butterfly felt OK, but backstroke was worthless. At this point, I was swimming against the clock (Patrick Brundage was a couple of body lengths behind, also feeling the weight of the morning's swims). When I swim against the clock in a 200 IM, it's difficult for me to push the breaststroke. I did my best to at least keep the technique correct, but I was so tired I could barely get through the pullouts!

My freestyle felt incredible today. I was tired at the end of the 500, but I believe the technique of keeping a strong vertical forearm and not letting go of the water halfway through the pull helped me keep my splits even and strong.When you're racing tired in-season, the best thing is to keep the technique proficient, so when you're swimming at your best at the end of the season, technically correct swimming will be easy. This starts in workout, continues to the in-season meets and follows through at the end of the season.

I don't want to go into the taper meet with a 59.48 being my last 100 breast. I might swim in a short course meters meet in a couple of weeks in Mesa. I would definitely do only two events. One would be the 100 breast, and the other might be the 100 back, 100 IM or 200 IM.


  1. Nice job Jeff. I think you're doing great!

  2. Hey Jeff. Its Jeff the swimmer - I recommended the oatmeal to you for breakfast. Glad you are doing it. A few things:

    Too much drama about the breaststroke time during the pentathlon. Race! don't count strokes. Don't waste mental energy every time your legs don't come together. You just get tight and stop your body from doing what you are in process of training it to do in a race. Let your coach or teammate count strokes or have somebody video cam or iphone the race. Evaluate it after with your coach.

    Also just my instinct - but i think the pure leg press sets, extensions all that are too much for building in functional strength. Bulk building?

    Second - you have no idea that a 59+ is bad really other than that you think it is. If I were your coach I would have you for one practice next week, maybe near the end of the week, recreate the entire pentathlon, exactly as you did it during the event. Same events, warm downs etc. etc. Goal to swim everything the same or faster. NO EXCUSES! Then see what the breaststroke time is so you have something to compare it to given the stress of the multi - swims.

    Lastly- I am wondering what your best 100 fly time is? Your 50 fly seemed decent, and if you can do a decent 500 free, are a short axis specialist, and do the IM - I would like to see what the 100 fly can yield with some effort during practice etc. ( no insult intended).

    But do recreate the meet so you have some data to work with. Good luck.

  3. Hi, Jeff. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I've been counting my strokes on back and breast for as long as I can remember. On backstroke, it's done to help me gauge when the flags are approaching (this is mostly helpful for long course swimming). I don't why I started counting strokes on breaststroke, but it might go back to my days at the Olympic Training Center, where I was working to reduce stroke count on aerobic sets. It's so ingrained in me to do it that I don't know if I can tell myself to stop!

    I know I shouldn't stress too much about the time in the 100 breast, but seeing as my typical in-season time is 57.5, I was well off my average. Even taking into consideration the quick turnarounds, I felt I should have been faster, but I do realize there comes a point when I should understand the situation and move on from it.

    Jeff, I am not a butterflyer by any means. It is my worst stroke. I don't think my arms would have gotten out of the water on a 100 fly yesterday. My best 100 fly shaved and tapered in Masters is 52.81, back in 2007. I stay away from fly as much as possible in workout. If I weren't training for the 100 and 200 IM, I wouldn't swim a stroke of fly unless a set required it.

    I'm not sure I have the time to re-create the setting for the meet, given that I would need time for the warmup (about 40 minutes), then the 90 minutes for the races themselves. Plus, this would likely take place before dawn, which wouldn't necessarily be re-creating the situation, either. It's a good idea, but probably won't happen. If I don't get to swim in the meet on the 19th, I'll step up on the blocks in Tucson and do a solo race or two.

    As for your comment on the dryland exercises, they are in no way designed to build bulk, at least the ones I am doing with JR. I'm not maxing out on weight during his session. I'm doing about 12 repetitions each time, which won't build muscle but will aerobically strengthen them. When I'm at the gym, for these final weeks before the meet, I am close to max weight on some exercises, which aren't building much muscle mass, but keeping the strength component that all sprinters need.