Sunday, December 11, 2011

Bad Day

Date: Sunday, December 11, 2011
Time: 11:15 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards/Meters
197 days to Olympic Trials

1400 yards warmup

Short Course Meters:

50 breast: 28.78

100 IM: 57.34

100 breast: 1:03.02

No, the times for the breaststrokes are not typos. I actually swam that slow.

It's amazing how things can shift in less than 24 hours. Yesterday, I was on cloud nine (or pretty close to it) after swimming so well in the meet. Today, things took a nasty turn somewhere, and I've been sitting here for a long time trying to figure out when it happened. Every question and answer I provide leads to the same question each time: But how did I swim so well yesterday?

Did I overtaper? Probably, but how did I swim so fast yesterday? (Tapers don't radically end after one day)

Did I not sleep well last night? Yes, but I didn't sleep that great the night before, either, so how did I swim so fast yesterday?

Was the weather too cold? Maybe, but it was a little chilly near the end of yesterday's session, so how did I swim so fast yesterday?

Did changing my dryland routine adversely affect my strength in the water? It felt like that on breaststroke, but why not the other strokes?

The bottom line is that I have never swum this slow in my breaststrokes in Masters. I have never, ever swum 1:03 in short course meters when shaved and tapered. And the 50 is also my slowest ever. It was extremely difficult to put a smile on my face after both races when people congratulated me on a good swim, saying my stroke looked awesome and other words of adulation. I knew the truth, and I didn't sugar coat it with most people. I didn't have the energy to do so.

After the meet, I spent a long time retracing the steps of the past four months. I have raced the 100 breast three times since qualifying for Trials last July, and all three swims (which includes today) were terrible. Remember the 1:05 I swam at the meet in Mesa last month? That should have been the writing on the wall. Even worse, my broken 100 that I did on Tuesday should have been a big sign. Usually I am within a few tenths of the actual time I swim when I do broken swims during taper. I went a 1:03 in the broken 100, and Coach Mark said it was just because it was near freezing, and I was doing it at 6:45 a.m. Obviously, those were not good reasons.

If I didn't have this major meet looming on the horizon in 197 days, I wouldn't put too much thought into today's swim. I would just move on to the next season. But I have to seriously think about why my breaststroke hasn't been on par when I race. I was doing some very good race pace breaststroke throughout the season, but it did not translate when it mattered. Mentally, my body was ready, as is evident in the 100 IM time. But even during the IM swims (both the 100 and 200) I sensed that my breaststroke wasn't feeling extremely natural. A teammate filmed today's races, and I will reluctantly look at them. I'm too ashamed of the times to post them online, so I hope you'll forgive me.

If this weekend was a bust all around, I could devise a concrete reason why things didn't work out. But it appears that every stroke but breaststroke was good this weekend. That has never happened, which is why the answers aren't coming to me. 

My breaststroke stroke didn't feel strong. During the 50 and 100, the strokes felt a little forced. When I am swimming well, I can swim on autopilot. I kind of was able to do that last July when I made the Trials cut, and today, I had to put all of my concentration on each stroke. Coach Mark said my 50 split was 29.9, which is despicable for me. I know, I know. There are many, many people who would love to have a 50 split like that for freestyle, but knowing what I am capable of doing, it makes me upset, frustrated and a little depressed. This taper was supposed to be a gauge on my training progress toward Trials. I have to believe, at least right now in this emotional state, that no progress was made. I think if there were some steps forward made, I took twice as many steps backward. But what were those backward steps, and why did it only affect my breaststroke??!!!!????!!?!?! 


I am going to take a few days off. Maybe the answers will come in that time. I'll be back in the pool Thursday.


  1. Jeff, looks like an under-taper to me. Didn't want to write this when I saw it, but why were you doing breast sprints at 90% right before the meet? Better to rest and not do anything over threshold that close to the meet. Don't get discouraged, rooting for you man!

  2. Maybe it goes back to the change in your kick. Having that Hungarian coach tell you the kick needed to be fixed was probably a big distraction a week before your meet. Get that changed, or commit to the new kick and keep training it. Stroke changes take a long time to feel right and to improve your times.

  3. That is one of the changes I will be examining in the next few days.