Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Date: January 17,2 012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
160 days to Olympic Trials

200 warmup

2x500 on 8:00 -- 25 kick or drill/25 swim
#1 free, #2 non-free

24x25 on :25
odd: back
even: breast

4x100 on 2:00
odd: breast pull
even: back with breast kick (or close to normal backstroke for me!)
(The purpose of this set was to do a stroke with a different kick.)

6x250 on 4:00, descend 1-3, 4-6
200 back/50 breast
3:30, 3:21, 3:16, 3:42, 3:22, 3:11

300 easy

Total: 4,000 meters (80 minutes)

Instead of talking about today's workout, the warm pool and my heavy, tired legs, I would rather continue discussing last Sunday's racing. I thought about it a lot in workout today, particularly when doing breaststroke.

Before I continue, take a look at my 100 breast, provided to you thanks to Chris Lundie and his team at TakeItLive, which was streaming the meet live online:

<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/geSHdftGNww" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

As you can clearly see, I lose a lot on my start. The guy to my left gains a half-body length on me, and the guy two lanes over is a body length ahead before the first stroke! I've watched this video at least 20 times, pondering the mystery of my deficient start. It would appear that my trouble starts after the pulldown, that I lose forward velocity quickly. I want to believe it is my extremely inflexible ankles slowing me down after doing the dolphin kick. There seems to be no other explanation. What else could be slowing me down so severely? When I dive in, I'm pretty much even with these guys.

One thing Coley Stickels suggested to me immediately after the race was that my arms were recovering too slowly after the pullout. I think he was onto something, though as you can see on the video, the damage had already been done by the time I was recovering my arms to start swimming . This morning in workout, I consciously recovered my arms faster, to find that I was able to keep my velocity so much easier! It's such a small thing, but it means so much.

The good news is that on the first 50, I kind of make up some ground on the guy to my left. That makes me feel good, that I'm outswimming him. Or, maybe I'm overswimming the first 50? That's not true, since I only went out in 30.8 or 30.9, depending on your stopwatch. That's not too bad for the first 50 of an in-season swim.When I swam my 1:04.42 last July, I was out in 30.26, and was probably doing the same pullout then that I did on Sunday. (I don't have a time goal for Omaha, but I do know that I want my first 50 to be under 30 seconds.)

The more I watch the video, the more encouraged I am by what I see. (Of course, I stop before the camera pans to the scoreboard. I don't need to be reminded of the time!) I like seeing that there is a major point in the race that needs fixing, and by simply fixing it, I can probably drop five tenths of a second or more on the first 50! My pullout on my turn was just as bad. As you can see, I turned almost even with the guy in lane four, but he took off after that. He must have been quite rested, because he swam a time very close to his seed time. I, on the other hand, was swimming on about six hours of sleep and tired legs.
Today I got some body work done with Tod Miller, and I asked for his opinion about my ankle inflexibility. He stated with full authority that anything can be made better with a little work. And with that, he put his body weight on my Achilles heel and did his best to stretch them out. I don't feel any difference three hours later, but maybe with his monthly techniques, things could improve. In my life, I have tried everything to make my ankles more flexible, from using the FINIS rack to sitting on my heels while watching television. My collee coach, Eddie Reese, once suggested breaking my ankles to reset the tendons. I think he was kidding.

I know you have the urge to tell me how to fix my start, pullout and overall stroke. I would love to hear from you. Post your comments here on the blog, or if you're too shy, send me an email to jeffswim@aol.com.


  1. For what it is worth it looks like you didn't hold your glide off the start and turn as long as the guys that got the big leads (lanes 3,4) - you had finished your pull before they started theirs. They got the leads when they pulled and you were gliding.

    Yes the hand speed on the recovery will help you come up swimming fastest but i dont think that was the issue on the start and turn. In my workout this morning I tried speeding up my arm recovery on the pull out and it made a big difference for the breakout and holding the speed of the pullout. Great idea. but imho holding the glide longer before you take you pull will help. Work on your leg strength - deadlift and back squats.

  2. Thanks for the comments, Dan. As I mentioned, my legs were quite tired that day, which doesn't help when you're trying to get the most out of your legs on the final 25! My legs aren't as strong as they used to be, or could be, but I'm working on it!

  3. One thing I noticed, and is something I discovered in the past couple months and greatly improved my pullout in breaststroke, is that you do your body dolphin and pull almost simultaneously (which isn't bad, it's more preference.) If you look at the lanes above you, they do their body dolphin and finish their kick just as they are beginning their outward scull.

    I always did a breaststroke pullout like you seem to be doing (pulling into the kick.) Whenever I started emphasizing that single kick and then start the outward scull as the kick finished, I not only felt improvement, but I like doing that a lot more. I went from going maybe 8-10m (close to where you are now) to 12m-15m off the start, almost DQ'ing. (Granted, I have a really strong start as well.)

    As one can see in the video, off both the start and the wall, you are even. They pull about 2m ahead after the pullout. That 2m is gained while you are doing your simultaneous pull and kick while they are just doing a body dolphin.

    The benefits are, you are holding your streamline longer and at a higher velocity because you are not breaking form while you do your kick. Basically, you use the same amount of force over a longer period of time. That equates to higher average velocity underwater.

    I would suggest just trying this out for a bit before or after practice. See how you like it. (Just make sure you are starting your outward scull as you are finishing your kick or its a DQ.)

  4. Thanks, Matt. A lot of people are making this suggestion, and I'm anxious to see how it works.