Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Man in the Mirror

Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards/Short Course Meters
89 days to Olympic Trials

Short Course Yards
8x150 on 2:15
odd: 75 swim/25 scull/50 swim
even: 75 swim/25 underwater kick/50 swim

4x25 flutter kick with arms out front on 1:00

Short Course Meters
8x25 breast on :45
1-2: pull with parachute
3-4: pull 
5-6: kick with parachute
7-8: kick

3x(3x50 on 1:20)
1. 25 fast/25 easy
2. 50 fast
3. 50 easy

200 easy

6x50 breast on 1:40, best average
(avg. :34.0)

300 easy (with stretching)

Total: 2,750 yards/meters (75 minutes)

My neck felt a lot better today. I slept quite well last night, and the ibuprofen I took before bed helped help the pain, as did the ice I put on my neck. I still wasn't able to do backstroke very well, and sometimes breathing on freestyle put a strain on my neck. I was surprised that I hardly felt any pain while swimming breaststroke. That's why so much of today's workout was done breaststroke.

I wanted to do more sprinting today, but the water was about 82 degrees, too warm for effective sprinting. The weather is getting warmer in Phoenix, and soon the water will get cooler. Because the water wasn't optimal this morning, I couldn't swim faster on the last set than I did. On a good day, I should have been able to swim a second faster, but I was happy I was able to stay strong on the set though my arms felt like jello.

Today was the official start of my power phase of training. I've got about 80 days of hard training ahead of me, with the goal of getting my muscles primed for explosive speed, both in and out of the water. Just about every workout I do, even the so-called recovery workouts, will have a speed element to them. I'm very, very excited to be at this phase of training. The "sprint endurance" phase I've been going through for the past two months was OK, but now it's time to work on race pace, and that is always fun to do.

My dryland session with J.R. Rosania today was my first real dryland workout in about two weeks, and I felt like I had been away for a few days, but my body responded well. We're starting to put power into some of the exercises, and will be building up to doing some explosive work in the next few weeks. It will be tough, but I'm excited to see what the final result will be.

This morning I turned on the light in my bathroom, which I usually do not do because it's very bright, and quite a shock at 5 a.m. But this morning I turned it on, and what I saw in the mirror gave me pause. The guy in the mirror did not look like me! The guy I saw looked fairly lean, had lost a little of the love handles I'd been carrying around since December. I rarely analyze my body in the mirror, and I do not own a weight scale, so I wasn't aware of my weight loss. Many people have told me in the past few weeks that I've lost weight, but physically I didn't feel different, and have been so busy with life that I didn't have the time to notice even one pound of weight loss.

I have long thought that it would be great to be under 200 pounds by the time I swim the 100 breast at Olympic Trials, but I told myself not to be fanatical about it. When I went to the doctor for a check-up in February, the scale said 210, including clothes, and I figured I weighed 205. Losing five pounds seems easy, but I was not about to eat celery or do any other radical dietary changes. I think the weight came off just from working hard and being smart about what I do.

Because I do not have a weight scale at home, I do not know how much I weigh, but I am very pleased with how I looked in the mirror this morning. That's enough for me! I'm not sure if I was this light at sectionals three weeks ago, but if so, it could explain a lot about feeling "lighter" in the water.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Do You Believe in Magic?

Date: Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
90 days to Olympic Trials

12x50 on 1:00
odd: 25 kick/25 swim
even: 25 drill/25 swim

4x200 on 3:30
50 back/50 breast/100 free (90 percent effort)
(avg. 2:47)

4x50 breast on 1:30
25 kick underwater/25 pull

100 easy

200 fly kick no board

6x50 on 1:15
25 breast kick fast underwater/25 easy

6x100 on 2:00
1-3: 50 back @ 200 IM effort (avg. :35)/50 free aerobic
4-6: 50 breast @ 200 IM effort (avg. :38)/50 free aerobic

200 easy

Total: 3,000 meters (75 minutes)

At the start of the final set, I started to feel a strain in the back of my neck. Throughout the set, it was hard to swim well as I felt the difficulty of trying to balance my head while swimming backstroke. I also had problems when I turned my head to breathe on freestyle. Oddly, I did not feel this strain very much on breaststroke.

I have been dealing with this pain in my neck all day. I took some ibuprofen, but it did not do much to dull the pain. I feel it is muscular in nature, but I could not pinpoint what caused it. The only thing I could figure was that during the set of fast underwater kicking, I was straining my neck to keep from exhaling underwater, in order to be able to go further before taking a breath. I did not do any sudden head movements, nor did I hit my head. If I had this pain when I woke up, I would have equated it to sleeping at a bad angle, but I felt just fine when I woke up, and had no issues during the first hour of swimming (other than the extremely warm water).

As fate would have it, today was my monthly massage appointment with Tod Miller. I told him about the "injury," and what I think may have caused it. He furrowed his brow, trying to think of the cause as well. He figured it might be a pinched nerve, caused by a random motion while swimming. (Possibly, but wouldn't I be in a lot more pain?) Or maybe it was just muscle strain, in which case I had come to the right person to make it all better. Tod's magic fingers worked on all the muscles in and around my neck, all the way to my shoulders and down into my upper back.  I have been feeling like a pretzel these past few days, and maybe this was a far as my muscles were willing to be twisted.

No matter. In a matter of 90 minutes, I was feeling closer to a real person again, instead of a robot without a neck joint. The tendons and muscles in my neck were much looser, and my upper body had better range of motion. This is why I am glad I decided to have monthly sessions with Tod, instead of three or four per year. I've been able to keep up this tough training for the past six months because I've had my muscles kneaded and stomped back into submission every month. It's made all the difference.

I came home and put ice on my neck for about 30 minutes. The numbness gave me more range of motion, and I'm sure the ibuprofen will help as well. If I wake up in the morning with a stiff neck, I probably will not swim in the morning. But I'm playing it all by ear.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Coming Home

Date: Monday, March 26, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
91 days to Olympic Trials

16x50 on :50
2 free, 1 back

100 free with snorkel on 1:30 (1:20)
200 free with snorkel on 3:00 (2:50)
300 free with snorkel on 4:30 (4:10)
Two minutes rest 
200 free on 3:15 (2:40)
500 free on 7:30 (7:00)

8x50 breast on 1:15
1-4 pull head up
5-8 kick drill

100 easy

300 kick

6x50 breast on 1:00 distance per stroke
(avg. :46, 12 strokes)

Total: 3,200 meters

How great to be back in Phoenix, and even better to swim the same workout with other people! Granted, the main set was another boring ladder (more boring than the one I did Friday), but it helped get through the part of the ladder that I did.

We're three months away from the Olympic Trials, and it's getting time to get race ready. Doing a 2,500-meter freestyle set is not really the way to get ready for a 100 breaststroke race. I did part of the set to get acquainted to long course swimming, but after the 500, I decided to do some breaststroke training while the rest of the group finished the ladder.

The rest of the week should be long course, and after the Masters state meet this weekend, the pool should be pretty much long course through Olympic Trials. Long course training is tough sometimes, and the transition from short course usually takes about two weeks.

I'm traveling to the Far Western age group championships on Thursday and getting back on Monday, so I'm going to make the most out of my training through Wednesday. I am not entirely sure if I'm going to be able to swim while at Far Westerns. Prelims usually ends in the mid-afternoon with prelims starting about 90 minutes later. That means the pool won't be available much for me to get in a workout, but maybe there will be a gym to do some weightlifting.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Giving You the Best That I Got

Date: Saturday, March 24, 2012
Time: 1 p.m.
Location: Orlando, FL
Short Course Meters
93 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

3x(4x100 on 1:45)
Round 1: free breathing every 3 (avg. 1:15)
Round 2: 50 back/50 free aerobic (avg. 1:17)
Round 3: 50 breast/50 free aerobic (avg. 1:22)

12x25 on :35
1-4: free with 1 breath
5-8: breast double pullouts
9-12: fly with 1 breath

100 easy

Vertical kicking:
3x (one minute breast kick/:30 rest)
1 minute break
3x (:30 breast kick/:30 rest)

4x50 free easy on 1:00

4x100 free on 1:40, descend 1-4
(1:15, 1:11, 1:06, 1:03)

300 easy -- 25 scull/25 swim

50 breast fast from push (about 32-mid)

150 easy

Total: 3,000 plus vertical kicking

That vertical kicking set did not seem difficult, but I really felt it on the set of 100s freestyle after it. On the fourth one, I was barely able to get past the flags on the last two pushoffs, reflecting the poor time. I had originally planned to do two rounds of that set, but I gave everything I had on that 100 free, and didn't want to do another one. That's the only positive spin I can put on swimming alone. If you really don't want to do something, you can choose to not do it.

I was thinking that it would be fine to do a 300 easy, but I thought I should make up somehow for not doing that second round of 100s, and decided on a fast 50 breast, just to see how it felt. My legs weren't very powerful, so I relied on my arms to keep me moving forward. On the final three strokes, my body line wasn't very good. That means I wasn't fully horizontal on the glide. It felt like my torso wasn't extending forward, which negates all the work your glide can do for you. so, a 32-mid for a fast 50 today was pretty good!

I was surprised I was able to get in a good workout fairly uninterrupted this afternoon. I swam at the same time that the early heats of the distance events were going on here at the NCSA junior nationals, and only a few kids got into my lane. I think I was keeping them away by swimming in the middle of the lane, but I wasn't overtly trying to keep them out.

During my vertical kicking set, a few coaches walked by and shared some funny comments. Pete Morgan, one of the head coaches at Curl-Burke Swim Club, yelled out to me, "Is that all you got!" (Today, it was.)

Near the end of the set, Brian Pajer, head coach of the Aquazots, praised me for not lifting my knees while kicking. If I hadn't been out of breath, I would have told him this is a great set for working on keeping the knees in line during the kick. If you bring the knees up, you go down in the water.

About a half hour after workout, Mark Schubert, who really needs no introduction to those in the swimming community,  said he considered throwing me some 10-pound weights during the vertical kicking. I didn't tell him that I usually do my vertical kicking with 10-pound weights, but couldn't immediately find any. I suppose I could have borrowed such a weight from the nearby weight room today. I'm glad I didn't, though. My legs were very tired long before the vertical kicking today. Every morning, I walked 15 minutes to the pool, carrying a computer briefcase, a camera bag and my backpack, about 20 pounds total. That was some good exercise.

Tomorrow I head back to Phoenix. I'm only home for three days before heading to the Bay Area for the Far Western championships, where we will be streaming the meet live. It's similar to what we did this week for the junior nationals, though the swimmers are a little younger, and it's outdoors. Weather looks like it could be chilly and rainy. Oh, boy. 

Friday, March 23, 2012


Date: Friday, March 24, 2012
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Orlando, FL
Short Course Meters
94 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

2x500, :30 rest
250 back/250 free aerobic

2x400, :30 rest
#1 50 breast pull/50 breast kick
#2 100 free swim/100 free kick

12x50 on :55
1-6 breast (avg. 37, heart rate 174 )
7-12 free (avg. 33, hear rate 156)

200 IM drill, :30 rest
4x50 IM order at 90 percent effort on 1:00 (:31, :34, :36, :30)

2x100 on 2:00
odd lengths easy, even lengths fast breaststroke

200 warmdown

Total: 3,500 meters (65 minutes)

Today, I seriously considered the option of taking a nap over swimming. After 10 minutes in the water, I seriously regretted choosing the workout. My body felt heavy, and I mentally was checking out. Add to the fact that I started the workout with two 500s -- not my cup of tea -- and today was a challenge.

My legs felt very tired, and my left shoulder was in serious need of work. I didn't bring the electronic stimulation machine I got for Christmas, and I wish I had. I could be using it every other night to keep my muscles and tendons looser, and would help keep my range of motion. While I was doing dynamic stretching before I dove in, I noticed my left arm didn't have the same range of motion as my right arm, and it worried me. Luckily, I am scheduled for some body work with Tod Miller on Tuesday!

The fact that I designed the workout as a downward ladder made things a little easier. Knowing that the sets were getting shorter made getting through it better. I don't have ADD, but sometimes -- more likely, when I'm swimming alone -- long sets are hard to get through.

I did feel better near the end of the workout, but as you can see, those six 50s breast were killer. I didn't think holding 37s was going to be difficult in short course meters, but it was! My heart rate was higher than I wanted it to be for that set, and my technique faltered a little bit on numbers five and six. Instead of doing four 50s IM order, I had written down a 200 IM at 90 percent. I didn't think that was a good idea.

All in all, I'm glad I did the workout. Every workout I manage to do always looks good in hindsight, even the tough ones. Those are the ones that make me mentally and physically better. The ones I look forward to doing -- which are the ones I do with my team back in Phoenix -- are important as well.

Speaking of being back with my team, I can't wait to be at Monday's workout at Phoenix Swim Club. Today was my seventh workout alone, and it's getting difficult to come up with clever workouts to keep me engaged. As tired as I was today, it was hard thinking of anything interesting beyond a downward ladder. This was the only thing I didn't like about coaching many years ago, and was the only thing I don't miss about it.

Speaking of which, it was great seeing two girls I used to coach in Albuquerque, N.M., do so well this weekend at NCSA juniors. I remember coaching Olivia and Mariah Morrell eight years ago, when they were 8 and 10 years old. I'm so glad they are still swimming. They're not Olympic caliber yet, but that doesn't matter. It's great to see them still racing -- and racing well.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Can You Lose?

Date: Thursday, March 22, 2012
Time: 3:15 p.m.
Location: Orlando, FL
Short Course Meters/Long Course Meters
95 days to Olympic Trials

Short Course Meters:
300 warmup

6x150 free aerobic on 2:30 (avg. 1:54)

6x50 breast on 1:10 -- 25 pull/25 kick

4x50 on 1:20 -- 15 fast/20 easy/15 fast 

100 easy

Long Course Meters:

Two rounds on about 6:00:
25 breast fast from dive/25 easy on about 1:15
50 breast fast 
100 easy
(Round 1: 25 breast 13.9, 50 breast 33.9)
(Round 2: 25 breast 13.8, 50 breast 33.7)

100 easy

25 back fast from start/25 easy
50 back fast (30.5)

300 easy (with stretching)

Total: 2,700 meters (70 minutes)

I cut today's sprint set short by one round. I had planned to do four rounds of that broken 100, but time constraints led me to only do three. But they were three very good rounds!

I have to thank Gordy Westerberg, the head coach of Vipers of Albuquerque Swim Team, for helping me with the main set. He was there with a watch -- and some much-appreciated advice -- on the breaststroke rounds. On the second round, he suggested that I do something a little crazy on the fast 50. He suggested that I build the 50, instead of making it an all-out sprint, which is what I usually do on push 50s.

What could I lose by trying something new today? If it didn't work, it was worth trying. The strategy worked, since I went two tenths faster and took one less stroke. It felt strange holding back on the first half of that 50, but it did pay off on the second half, as I had more control of my stroke and was able to actually sprint in the final 10 meters.I will have to continue working on that pacing strategy in the next three months. It will not be easy controlling my emotions on the third 25 of the race in Omaha, especially if I'm swimming well in the first 50. But that will be the key to finishing the race well, and I am very thankful to Gordy for his advice, especially if it pays off in Omaha!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Roll With It

Date: Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Orlando, FL
Long Course Meters
96 days to Olympic Trials

400 choice :30 rest

300 reverse IM: 50 kick/50 drill/50 swim :30 rest

2x100 back on 1:40 (avg. 1:25)

2x50 free on 1:00, four breaths per 50

1 minute break

400 free aerobic, breathing every 3 on 6:15 (5:45)

6x50 breast on 1:15 - 25 pull/25 kick

2x100 back on 1:40 (avg. 1:20)

2x50 free on 1:00, three breaths per 50

1 minute break

4x100 IM on 1:40

2x150 on 2:30 (50 back/50 breast/50 free) (avg. 2:00)

2x100 back on 1:40 (avg. 1:16)

2x50 free breathing every 4 on 1:00

200 easy (with stretching)

Total: 3,200 meters (65 minutes)

Today was my first time in the pool since Saturday, and my first true long course workout in a couple of months. I had planned to take Sunday and Monday off, but circumstances beyond my control kept me out of the pool on Tuesday. In this stage of preparation, I'm not concerned about being out of the pool for three straight days. It did affect my feel for the water today, but sometimes you have to roll with the punches when it comes to having work -- and life in general -- upend your plans. Masters swimmers experience this all the time.

I should have written an easier workout today! I think my eyes were bigger than my stomach, as they say, not to mention that I did a pretty tough weight workout here at the YMCA Aquatic Center yesterday. That added to the difficulty of the workout. It's not easy to jump in and expect things to go easily at my age, but I was happy that I didn't feel too tired at the end. It was, in the long run, a good way to clear my head.

I planned to do 4,000 meters, but I did not have time. I wanted to do a long course workout, and had to wait for the pool staff to switch the pool over to long course, after the kids at the meet competed short course in prelims (finals are long course each day). They finished at 3:00, which I knew would cut my workout short. I wasn't sure when the kids would start warming up for finals and had hoped it wouldn't be until 4:30. But they started diving in at 4:00, which is when I finished 3,000 meters. I didn't want to be in anyone's way, so I stopped short of my planned 4,000. I'm not upset by it. I was overly ambitious to write a 4,000-meter workout anyway.

As you can see, the 100 back repeats were the highlights of the workout. I wanted to descend the effort down to 1:15 on the fourth round, and that is why I'm happy I didn't have time for another round. Holding 1:16 on the third round was very tough anyway. I've been on my legs a lot at this meet, and have been walking to and from my hotel a lot. It's only a 15-minute walk, but they add up! It's good exercise for my legs, and I'm glad to keep up the cardio training.

If the pool isn't converted to long course by 2:30 tomorrow, I will do my workout in the short course meters diving well instead. It's a crowded pool until about 10 minutes after time trials, so I can't get in until mid-afternoon anyway.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Been Caught Stealing

Date: Saturday, March 17, 2012
Time: 2:45 p.m.
Location: Mansfield, TX
Short Course Yards
100 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

3x200, :20 rest
25 scull/50 kick/50 drill/25 swim/25 scull/25 swim

8x100 IM on 1:35

4x50 from mid-pool on about 1:20
25 fast/12.5 easy/12.5 fast

200 easy

Three rounds:
25 fast/50 easy, then about :30 rest
50 fast/75 easy, then about :30 rest
75 fast/100 easy, then about 1:00 rest
Rounds 1 and 3 breast, round 2 back

8x25 on :30
odd: breast double pullouts
even: free 1 breath

Three breaststroke starts

25 easy

Total: 3,300 yards (80 minutes)

I stole this workout from a postgrad swimmer who was doing a workout at the same as me on Wednesday. I took note of the set, thinking it was a good sprint set for me to do. I needed to do some sprinting that is longer than a 50, to work on my sprinting endurance.

I did not ask for permission to use his workout, or to post it here, and though I'm not sure if he knows this blog exists, I hope he won't mind. I wish I had gotten his name, so I could personally thank him here for the inspiration.

In the main set, my body didn't have the kind of sprinting snap that I hoped to have, and without a pace clock as a gauge, I do not know what my times were. But I felt aggressive and held that aggressiveness through the 75s, which were tough!

I was glad to have the opportunity to work on my breaststroke start today on superior starting blocks. Though they didn't have the fin that will be used at Trials, I was able to put some focus on my leg position during the entry. I wanted to focus on keeping my legs together, and while I might not have been perfect, it was better. I think I got a little more distance on the start, but I think my entry was too deep.

Luckily, I have 100 days to keep working on it! I can't believe Trials is 100 days away. When I talked to people at the meet in Federal Way last weekend, I was told I will blink, and suddenly I'll be walking onto the deck in Omaha, getting ready to race. That was the case for me in 1992 and 1996, and I don't want that to be the case in 2012. I don't want to look back and wonder where all the time went. I've been enjoying the entire process and the journey so far -- even that slight roadblock that was the Austin Grand Prix. I'm looking forward to all that life has to offer me on the way to Trials.

Friday, March 16, 2012

If I Could Turn Back Time

Date: Friday, March 16, 2012
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Mansfield, TX
Short Course Yards
101 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

5x100 :15 rest
75 free/25 kick

Six rounds:
150 free on 2:10
2x25 breast double pullouts on :35

3x100 back on 1:25
:20 extra rest (to put on fins)
3x50 fly on :55
:30 extra rest

3x100 back on 1:25
:20 extra rest (to put on fins)
3x50 fly on :50
:30 extra rest

3x100 back on 1:25
:20 extra rest (to put on fins)
3x50 fly on :45
:30 extra rest

8x25 free on :30, one breath per 25

Total: 3,550 yards (75 minutes)

This workout was an exact copy of a workout done on January 2. I was out of ideas for today's workout, and needed something that was pretty tough but not exactly a sprint workout. I took out my workout book and opened a random page and picked the first non-sprint workout I saw. As much as I don't like butterfly, I needed to do it for the mental toughness and to help my IM. I remembered this workout well. It was with the UCLA Masters group, and not many people were able to do it then. I was happy that I was able to do it then, and I made it through just fine today.

I did chicken out and use fins for the butterfly swims. I justified it in the sense that I wanted to strengthen my legs, but all I thought about was all the Masters swimmers I see who put on their fins to make a set easier. I'm not sure if the fins made the set easier, but I did hold 30 seconds on each 50, and I don't think I would have done that without fins, because my fly kick isn't very good. In hindsight, I should have not worn the fins.

Not much else to report on today's workout. I am very glad I made it through it without quitting, but I am sure that is starting to sound like a broken record. And since I'll be doing more solo workouts for the next nine days, I'll stop carping on working out alone.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One or the Other

Date: Thursday, March 15, 2012
Time: 2 p.m.
Location: Mansfield, TX
Short Course Yards
102 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

12x100 :20 rest
1-4: 50 kick/25 drill/25 swim IM order
5-8: 4-3-2-1 breathing per 25 freestyle
9-12: 50 back/50 breast

6x50 :20 rest
15 breakout/10 easy/12.5 underwater/12.5 easy

100 easy

Five rounds, on about 6 minutes:
25 underwater kick, then :15 rest
37.5 swim fast, then :15 rest
12.5 easy, then :10 rest
25 swim fast
50 easy
Rounds 1 and 3 back; rounds 2 and 4 breast; round 5 free

3x100 free easy, :20 rest

2x50 breast fast swim from push, about two minutes rest between

200 easy

Total: 3,250 yards (75 minutes)

I had three possible lactate sets to choose from for today's workout. I picked the one I did because I had no pace clock to use, and this set was not totally reliant on a clock. I hope to do one of the others on Saturday, but it depends on the availability of a pace clock, which they turn off for the meet. I used the scoreboard's time clock yesterday, but they switched the display for use in diving today. When you workout during a competition, you're at the mercy of the rules!

I was happy with the way I felt in workout today. Not exactly explosive, but technically sound and really pushing the effort, even though my legs were screaming after each 25 underwater kick. I am wondering if I should have done that 12.5 easy before the last 25, or done something fast to the wall. Either way, I was pretty tired when I got to the last 25, and didn't feel like my stroke fell apart too much.

I've been inspired watching the kids (yeah, they are kids, since a lot of them are half my age) swim here at the Division II meet. It's given me some motivation in workout the past two days, and I definitely need it when I'm swimming alone!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Date: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Location: Mansfield, TX
Short Course Yards
103 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

10x50 on 1:00
12.5 underwater/12.5 swim

10x75 on 1:20
25 back/25 breast/25 free

10x100 free aerobic on 1:30 (avg. 1:05)

8x15 breakouts on :45

50 easy

6x50 breast on 1:00 (avg. :32)

200 easy

4x25 breast on :35
odd: kick drill easy
even: double pullouts easy


Total: 3,400 yards (70 minutes)

I didn't feel much like swimming hard today. I just wanted to do an aerobic workout, to get out the kinks of travel yesterday. Plus, I hadn't thought about what I was going to do for workout until about five minutes before I dove in. The only thing I had planned beforehand was the 6x50 breast at the end.

On that set, I had written down "Don't go over :34," thinking I would stay aerobic and work on stroke. After the first one going :32 didn't seem too difficult ... until number three. Based on what I saw on the pace clock, I was barely holding on to that 32-second pace on five and six, but I managed to do it. I was mentally forcing myself to not quit the set, knowing this would be a good mental and physical exercise. Plus, if I could make 10x100 with no desires to quit, I could make 300 yards of breaststroke.

My left leg didn't feel good today. I was having trouble with my hamstring, and was being real tentative on the pushoffs. I did a good dynamic stretching routine before I dove in today, but the muscle never felt loose. The tightness never developed into a cramp, but I was a little fearful of that during that set of 50s. Afterward, I did a lot of hamstring stretching, which was essentially holding the wall and extending my legs. It felt a little better after that.

I'm at the NCAA Division II swimming and diving championships, at a pool used by four high school teams in the area. It's the first time I've heard of a high school pool used for a major college meet, but it is a nice facility. The only issue is too little spectator seating, and the fact that Mansfield, Texas, is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.The few hotels here are taken by the college teams, so I'm at a hotel in Arlington 20 minutes away. If I wanted to do some sightseeing or whatever, most of the major attractions are 30 minutes away. Not that I want to see any sights. I've been to the Dallas-Fort Worth area many times, and there's not much that I want to see. Some of the sports information directors here were talking about visiting Dealey Plaza, where JFK was assassinated. I've been there, and it's eerie and somber.

No worries. I usually stay at the pool all day, and doing a 70-minute workout makes the time pass a little faster.

I want to publicly thank Bob Button, a local high school coach who made sure it was OK for me to get in a workout in the competition pool. I had a feeling it wouldn't be an issue to swim between prelims and finals while the diving competition was taking place in another part of the pool, but it was nice to have Bob's thumbs up! It will make jumping in the rest of the week a lot easier.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back in Business

Date: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
104 days to Olympic Trials

3x(3x100 on 2:00), all choice
1. kick
2. drill
3. swim

6x(2x50 on 1:00)
1. 25 fly/25 breast
2. 25 back/25 free
Rounds 1-5 aerobic effort; round six faster (29 on fly/breast, 28 on back/free)

3x400 on 6:30
1. 100 back/100 free (4:50)
2. 50 back/50 free (4:45)
3. 25 back/25 free (4:37)

Six rounds:
75 easy on 1:15
25 breast from dive on :45 (avg. 12.6)

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 3,400 yards (75 minutes)

I felt OK in the water today. I wanted to take it easy, just to get my body back into workout mode. Plus, the water was about 82 degrees, or at least it felt like it. I spent all weekend in Washington spoiled by racing in 78-degree water that even 80 degrees today would have felt too warm. I managed to do well in the workout despite the general soreness I felt from last night's weight workout ... and the muscle pain from not doing a proper warmdown after the medley relay on Sunday.

When I saw the set of 400s on the whiteboard, I was already in sprinter mode, thinking of an alternative set. But I need to do "distance" stuff every once in a while, and I knew it wasn't supposed to be a set requiring all-out effort. Just a slight descend is all I had to do. My backstroke felt relaxed the whole set, but I was trying to put more emphasis on my kick. As you may have seen from my videos from last weekend, my flutter kick on backstroke has little to be desired. It's always been that way, and probably will be for the rest of my life. But I keep trying to make it better.

On the dive 25s, I wasn't going for all-out effort. I was working on keeping my legs together on the entry and holding them together until the breaststroke kick. Had some difficulty with it at first, but I think I got it down at the end. I plan to do lots of work on starts in the next three months, and hopefully it will translate into keeping my legs together on the entry without much thought!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Three is a Magic Number

Last weekend at the USA Swimming western sectionals marked my third competition at the Weyerhauser King Country Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington, in a span of 21 years, and continued a streak of successful meets that has been unmatched at any other facility in the world.

The first time I visited the pool was in 1991 at the USA Swimming spring nationals. I placed third in the 100 breast with a 1:02.51 (very fast back then) and was selected to compete at the Pan American Games from that swim. Plus, I swam a lifetime best in the 200 IM (2:11.51). I won't count my 200 breast on the first day, because I've blocked it out anyway.

The second time I swam there was in 2007 at the US Masters short course nationals, where I broke a very old national record in the 30-34 age group in the 50 breast. I also swam my fastest times at that point in the 100 IM and 100 fly, and close to my Masters best times in the 100 back and 100 breast.

I remembered this history when I first walked through the doors this weekend, knowing that the pool and I had a very loving relationship that I did not want to end. Though I was not tapered or shaved for this meet, I wanted to put together some good swims and grow the confidence I already have for the Olympic Trials in about 14 weeks. Bottom line: My confidence is now through the roof! I swam so much faster than I expected in all three of my individual races, and in two cases, swam faster than my shaved and tapered times from last summer! I've never done that before!

Why did I decide to not shave or taper for this meet? I already have my Olympic Trials qualifying time in the 100 breast, so I saw no need to end this current training cycle, just to see how fast I can go. I felt just resting for a couple of days and pulling back a bit on the dryland was the better option, so I could get back into training this week as if nothing happened. A few people at the meet who already had Trials times were shaved and tapered, and I hope they can get back into hard training soon before taper in about 12 weeks!

Below, a day-by-day breakdown of the meet:

<b>Friday, March 9</b>
I arrived in Seattle the night before, and got to the hotel at a reasonable hour, enough time to settle into my hotel room and not have to go to bed right away. It had been a long day at work, trying to get everything in order so I could focus solely on my swimming. With Federal Way an hour behind Phoenix (at least until Sunday), I was feeling tired by 10 p.m. anyway, so I fell asleep with no problem.

However, since I am used to waking up at 5 a.m., my body did just that -- at 4 a.m. Pacific time! I tried to fall asleep again, and when it didn't work, I just got out of bed at 5:30, checked email and ate the free hotel breakfast early. I went to the pool during warmup to swim in the long course pool. I hadn't swum long course since the Austin Grand Prix in January, so I needed to acclimate.
That afternoon, I swam the third leg on the 200 free relay on the "C" team for Phoenix Swim Club. I wasn't upset by that. I'm not a freestyler, and I was surprised to be on any freestyle relay. I split 24.7, pretty good for the first swim of the meet. I was told that my head position wasn't stable during the swim, but other than that, it was fine.

That evening during finals, I swam the breaststroke leg on the 200 medley relay on the "B" team. After the race, I was getting a lot of congratulations on my split. I thanked them all, but not sure why everyone was so happy about it. A few minutes later, a coach who I knew said "Wow! 27.4 is amazing!" I didn't know what he was talking about at the moment, but then I figured it out. My swim didn't feel like a 27.4. That's world championship/Olympics speed, and I've never been that fast! I checked the results, and there it was in black and white: 27.49. It had to be a mistake. If I had gone a 27.4, our relay would have been well in the lead after that leg, but we were only in third. Luckily, Coach Tako was filming every race, and after watching it and timing my swim, I got a 29.01. That's my official split.

Later in the weekend, people were still congratulating me on the swim. I didn't correct any of them. I felt bad about it, because I needed to do that. If you are one of those people, my apologies.

Unfortunately, our relay was disqualified because the backstroker went past 15 meters on his start. We lost the crucial third-place points.

This was a good way to start the meet, though. Two 50s in races where there was no pressure.

<b>Saturday, March 10</b>
I woke up this morning feeling excited about my first official day of racing. Unlike most of the people on the team, I was only swimming in three events. Mostly, that was because that was all I qualified for, and the only events of interest to me. I started the day with the 100 back. I was seeded with a 1:00.70, which I swam shaved and tapered last June at the Southwest Classic. It was at this meet that I came within .09 of the Olympic Trials time, so I was very much rested for that meet. It wasn't a great 100 back time, but consistent with how I had been swimming the past couple of years in terms of backstroke.

The race today was awesome. The first 50 was almost effortless. When I pushed off at the turn, I felt better than I expected. With no long course training, the pain was bound to kick in earlier than usual. It didn't start to hurt until the final 20 meters. When I touched the wall and saw "1:00.41," I said "Whoa" out loud. I couldn't believe it! I didn't have too much time to savor the moment. The prelims was being run with chase starts, which meant they were starting races at both ends of the pool. I got out of the water quickly and had a few seconds to see the time again before the scoreboard cleared for the next heat. I was in shock. That was fast! I had never gone that fast unshaved before, and I started to get excited about my 100 breast, which was coming up in about two hours (after about 30 heats of the 400 free).

(Click here to watch my 100 back prelims race. Apologies that you don’t get to see the finish.)

When the 100 breast prelim came, I stood behind lane four (as the third seed, I was the fastest swimmer in the first circle-seeded heat) and visualized the stroke mechanics I needed to focus on for a good race. Coley Stickels wanted me to surge my shoulders, arms and hands forward faster on the recovery, and I wanted to make sure I got the most out of every kick. The second-fastest swimmer in the heat was about a second off the Olympic Trials time, and I figured he might be making a run at it.

The first 50 was smooth. I didn't feel like I had easy speed, but I was swimming fast and not feeling any effects. When I pushed off at the 50, I saw a couple of swimmers at my shoulders. That meant I touched the wall first! I wasn't expecting that. In an instant, I told myself I was having a great race so far, and not to screw it up! I maintained my tempo for the next 25 ... and then the pianos started falling. My technique started to falter, and I could feel myself sinking in the water. I continued to surge forward in the final 15 meters and hit the wall. I got the opportunity to see my time before I had to get out :1:05.43. Amazing!

If I was in shock after my 100 back, I was in utter disbelief after my 100 breast. I was wondering if I had looked at the wrong lane, and I was thinking I swam someone else's time. After all, I only had a couple of seconds to see it before I had to haul my tired body out of the pool. I refused to believe it as I talked to Coley about the race, and as he told me to stop spotting the wall for the turn, since my speed and tempo slow down.

I qualified third for finals!

(Click here to watch my 100 breast prelims race. Again, apologies that you don’t see the final 25 meters … which might be a good thing!)

I only got about an hour sleep before I had to go back to the pool for finals. I did about 1,000 meters of warmup in the big pool. Even though I wasn't swimming for about two hours, I wanted to warm up in the competition pool, because the water was about 78 degrees. In the diving well, the water was about 83 degrees. Anyone who regularly reads my blog will know how much I hate swimming in warm water. I had to do my pre-race warm up in the diving well, though, and I feared the warm water was making my muscles too relaxed.

After I paraded out to the blocks with the other finalists, I splashed a lot of cold water on my body, to get myself re-acclimated to the competition pool temperature. It helped greatly. I felt re-energized as I listened to the announcer name off the finalists.

When I swam that 100 breast in 1991 to make the Pan American Games team, I did it in lane three at this pool. Twenty-one years later, I was in the same lane, swimming a 100 breast that had much less at stake, but still very important. Three was definitely a magic number this weekend! Maybe I’ll get third place in this final!

I executed the race in finals similar to my prelims race, with one exception. I wanted to be just as fast as the top qualifier, who had swum about a second faster in prelims. If I could stay with him the first 50, I might be able to go under 1:05, which would be extraordinary!

I made a quick turn at 50 meters and glanced to my right. The top qualifier was even with me! Instead of rushing my pullout to get to the surface and start swimming, I held the glide and snapped my arms in the pulldown, just as Coley had suggested. Of all the things I've been working on since the Austin Grand Prix (where I swam a 1:07.11 due to shoddy preparation at the meet), my pullout was the biggest change I've made to me my stroke. I'm doing the dolphin kick at the top of the pullout, and gliding a little longer off the start and turn before doing the pullout. I think it's made a <i>very</i> significant improvement!

The final 50 hurt just as much as the prelims swim. I made a couple of errors. First, I was checking on my competition multiple times throughout the race. I think I looked at each lane on either side of me a total of 10 times. I thought I was being conspicuous about it, but Coley said he easily noticed it. Also, in the final 25, as I was speeding up my tempo in an effort to begin my all-out sprint, my legs went too far outside my bodyline, and definitely affected my momentum. I saw the swimmers on either side of me in my periphery, which meant they were ahead. I panicked a little bit in the final 10 meters, but not too much.

But none of that mattered when I touched and saw "1:05.28" next to my lane for fifth place. Because of the little mistakes I made, it might have cost me a sub-1:04 swim. But I already had my Trial cut, and wasn't planning on getting a better seed in the meet. Plus, I had only expected to go a 1:06-anything, so to be so far under 1:05 -- and so close to 1:04 -- brought on a wave of elation. I kept my cool and shook the hand of my teammate in the lane next to me, who got fourth place and swam within four tenths of his best time. The top four swimmers swam under the Trials cut, and two of those guys hadn't qualified before this meet, so I made sure to congratulate them.

As you can see from the video, my start has improved, but still needs work. Do you see how my legs are not together right before doing the dolphin kick? That’s not good streamlining, and it’s something that pretty much every swimmer knows. It gives me something to new to work on, since from the look of things, my stroke is pretty good, even when my stroke breaks down.

A lot of people who either read my blog, know me from my work with Swimming World or know me from "the old days" came up to me and congratulated me on my fine swims. Even Missy Franklin gave me a high five!

The only problem with having a great day at the pool is having a brain that won't stop replaying it over and over and over and over while you are trying to sleep. I don't think I fell asleep until 11:00 -- and that didn't count the hour we were losing due to daylight savings time! It didn’t help that I started watching the Sarah Palin movie “Game Change” when I should have been asleep.

<b>Sunday, March 11</b>
I only got about six hours of sleep, which made me worried about my swimming performance. I was set to compete in the 200 IM, which is a fun event to do when I’m tapered, but not so much when I’m broken down from training. The final 50 hurts much more than usual, and my legs start burning on the breaststroke.

I warmed up well, and the cool water helped to wake me up. I still had some apprehensions about my endurance, since I’ve been so focused on my 100-meter races in the past three months. I was in a very fast heat, full of guys who were all entered with a 2:14. That was the time I went shaved and tapered last summer, and I thought that was a very good time then, considering I had seriously put off any 200 IM training in favor of trying to make Olympic Trials in the 100 breast. I told myself to just race the guys in the pool and let the lactic acid take care of itself.

Butterfly is my worst stroke, but it turned out OK in this race. My shoulders survived those 50 meters, and I felt very good on backstroke. That always sets me up well for the breaststroke, and when I did my turn, I saw the guy in the lane to my right just a half body length ahead of me. That gave me confidence that I could run him down in breaststroke, which I did! But the trouble started brewing about 15 meters into freestyle. My shoulders and lats started burning and my legs were getting heavier. But seeing that I was ahead of a few people made me ecstatic about the way the race was going. I was pretty sure I was the only unshaved person in the race, and my goal was to go 2:16 or better. I feared that would put me dead last in the heat, but if I was beating these shaved guys who were seeded at 2:14, I must be doing something amazing!

A 2:14.10 unshaved is indeed amazing! I was so happy to see the time on the board, but because of the chase starts format, I had only a few seconds to catch my breath and pull myself out of the water. I had to lay on the bulkhead for a few seconds to get my heart rate down. You would think I had just run (or swam) a marathon!

(Click here to watch my 200 IM prelims race.You can skip ahead to the 2:09 mark.)

Of all the individual swims of the meet, I was most shocked by the 200 IM. I love doing the 200 IM because of all the strategy entailed, and when I’m in a good race, it makes it more exciting. But given all that, I did not expect to swim faster than my shaved and tapered time from last year! I’m swimming at the Masters long course nationals the week after Trials, and this severely changes all my goals for that meet!

One more race to go: the 400 medley relay. Phoenix Swim Club had already sewn up the men’s team title despite two relay disqualifications, but we wanted to make our presence known, and hopefully go 1-2. I was swimming breaststroke on the “B” relay, since the other breaststroker beat me in the 100 breast final. I was very happy with the way I swam. I dove in a body length behind the breaststroker from King Aquatics in the lane next to me, and almost out-touched him at the finish. The race for second turned out to be between my relay and the King relay,and though I was a little sad that we didn’t go 1-2, we raced very well. After the race, I heard that I split 1:05.5, which seemed right. I had put everything I had in that race, but it didn’t feel as good as the 100 breast the night before.

I’m not always the best relay swimmer, as my former college teammates will attest. But I was happy with my performance, regardless of the time. When I returned to the hotel later that night, I checked the official results. There, on my monitor, read “1:04.95.” I was thrilled to know that I finally went under 1:05 this weekend. Yes, I had the advantage of a relay start, but I’ll take it where I can get it!

We won the men’s team title and got third overall. Here’s a photo of me with Walter Ross holding the team trophies!

It’s Monday afternoon, and I’m still analyzing how it was possible to swim so fast last weekend, with only two days rest. Normally, that’s not enough for me to feel in good racing shape. I was worried I would swim as badly as I did in Austin, which would not have been a good barometer for my training these past seven months. Everything seems to be progressing very, very well on this journey to Olympic Trials. What’s even more exciting is that I was not nervous for any of my races in Federal Way. My stomach is usually in knots before a race, but each time, I was perfectly calm and collected and “in the zone.” I want that to be my mindset when I walk onto the deck in Omaha.

Since I did not do a taper for this meet, I can pick up right where I left off training-wise. I’m going to the gym today for a medium-intensity weight workout, then back in the pool tomorrow. I’m off to Dallas in the afternoon, starting a 19-day cross-country journey covering three swim meets for work: the Division II NCAA championships, the NCSA junior nationals and the Far Western championships. The best thing about my job is having a pool available! I plan to do workouts in between sessions at all meets, and promise to not quit even when it gets boring swimming alone.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Come Fly With Me

Date: Thursday, March 8, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
109 days to Olympic Trials

3x300 on 5:00
50 swim/50 kick/50 pull

16x25 on :30
decreasing breaths per 25 in rounds of four

4x200 on 3:20
1 and 2: 25 head up free/25 breast pull
3 and 4: 25 free/25 back

10x50 on 1:00
1-5 25 breast/25 free
6-10 25 back/25 free

8x25 on :40, underwater breast pull

2x100 free on :20 rest

Three backstroke starts

Total: About 3,000 yards (75 minutes)

A somewhat relaxing workout today. My heart rate stayed down, and even though I wanted to do some sprints, I stayed aerobic. I wanted to feel better than I did yesterday, and for the most part, I believe I did that. My legs feel stronger and I am more prepared to race tomorrow. Though I am only doing a 50 free and a 50 breast, it will help me set up the rest of the weekend.

I'm getting on a plane to Seattle in about 90 minutes! I'm excited to go to this pool. I've raced there twice before, and swam well both times. The first time was in 1991, when I swam in the spring nationals and qualified for the Pan American Games team with my third-place finish in the 100 breast. The second time was at Masters nationals in 2007. I swam some Masters best times there after a couple of years of being in a short course slump.

I am not bringing my laptop with me, so I will report on my swims when I return on Monday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mind Over Matter

Date: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
110 days to Olympic Trials

6x125 free with snorkel on 2:00

6x50 on 1:00
1-3 back/free
4-6 breast/free

4x(4x25 on :35)
1. breakout
2. easy
3. fast 25
4. easy

Four rounds:
75 on 1:00 (25 back/25 breast/25 free)
25 stroke fast/150 easy on 3:00

2x50 breast fast on 2:00

4x100 easy

Total: 3,250 yards (80 minutes)

Technique felt a little sloppy in the pool today. I was trying too hard to sprint, which in turn means technique gets thrown out the window as I essentially spin my wheels. Overall, I felt a little bit like I felt on Sunday, which is not unusual when you're doing a sort rest for a meet. Because I didn't feel great, I started to let my mind believe that I wasn't going to be well-prepared for the meet. I know I will be prepared, but sometimes the mind is stronger than the body!

When you taper, this feeling might last for a couple of days, but when you rest, you only really lower the intensity, not the yardage, so you're not shocking your body into recovery as much. Of course, resting any length is more of an art than a science in swimming. There is no right or wrong way to do it, because it's different for every swimmer.

Tonight was my last session with JR Rosania for three weeks. I'll be on the road for work through April, and I told him I will try to do some dryland work whenever and wherever possible. Today, I only did 30 sets of dryland exercises, a major step down from last week's 42.We agreed it was best to not overexert my muscles so close to the meet, but since I'm not on a full taper, it was fine to do something. I felt better on the dryland today than I did in the pool. A good night's sleep tonight will make it all better!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Brand New Day

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
111 days to Olympic Trials

4x(3x75 on 1:15)
1. kick/drill/swim
2 and 3 IM

4x(4x100 on 2:00)
1. swim aerobic
2. kick
3. drill
4. swim at 90-95 percent effort
(fly: 1:03, back: 1:03, breast: 1:07, free: :57)

8x50 on 1:00
1-4 free with two breaths
5-8 back

25 breast fast from dive (12.0)
75 easy
25 breast fast from dive (11.8)
125 easy

Total: 3,150 yards (75 minutes)

I felt so much better today than I did on Sunday. I'm not saying I'm going to blast a 1:03 in the 100 breast this weekend, but I felt a lot better about my preparation. I'm calling Sunday a little speed bump that probably was hampered by that very difficult vertical kicking set on Friday. My legs today felt like they had much more spring in them, and that made all the difference.

My starts don't feel very good, though. I'm trying to have a good reaction time, but I feel like I'm not getting off the blocks quick enough. I wish we had one of those devices that can measure reaction time in workout, so I can accurately know if my reaction time is normal (about .60 to .70) or too slow (.71 or higher).

The 100s I did at 90 percent effort felt smooth, though not extremely easy. I put in the same amount of effort on the 100 breast today that I did on Sunday, and swam much better and was a little more relaxed on my stroke. I think I could have done two more on a 1:40 interval today, holding 1:07.

Tomorrow will be much more laid back than today. I plan to do no more than 100 yards fast, but it depends on the sets tomorrow. I'll do about 3,200 yards tomorrow, but it will be working on technique and giving my body an active day of recovery.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Some Days Are Better Than Others

Date: Sunday, March 4, 2012
Time: 11:20 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
113 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

4x100 breast on 2:00
50 pull with buoy/50 kick no board

Four rounds:
4x50 free with snorkel on :50
1x100 IM on 1:40
2x25 breakouts on :45
extra :30 rest

50 easy

3x100 breast swim on 1:40
(1:09, 1:08, 1:08)

200 easy

Four rounds (one each stroke), with interval about five minutes:
25 fast from dive
About 15 seconds rest
50 fast from push
75 easy

6x50 easy choice on 1:00

Total: 3,250 yards (85 minutes)

I felt like 200 pounds of horse manure in the pool today. I don't know why, but I have had days like this before, and will likely have more days like this again. I felt sluggish and heavy in the water, and I had to fight to just do the 3x100 breast on 1:40. I had planned to hold 1:07 or better, which didn't seem too difficult. But after the first 100, I knew it was going to be a very difficult set. I wrote that set after watching Roland Schoeman do 2x100 free on 1:30, holding :53. After figuring that his best 100 free shaved and tapered would be, say, 41 seconds, I figured I could do three 100s breast holding 1:07, which is 12 second slower than my best taper 100 breast from last year.

Maybe my body could do this set in college or in my postgrad years, but I definitely did not have it today. I was so mad after the first one, because it felt like it was closer to 1:05 than 1:10. I didn't want to increase the effort on the next two, because I knew my heart rate was already high, and I only managed to go one second faster. That last 100 was extremely painful. It was like doing the last 100 of a 200 breast. I suppose this is good endurance training, but I wonder if my performance means I'm not in good shape, or I just had a bad day.

I'd like to think it was the latter.

The sprint set at the end was affected by that set of 100s breast. The last 25 of each round was sloppy, and none of my times matched what I felt I could go. For example, my fast 50 breast was probably not under 30 seconds, based on what I saw on the clock when I touched. I didn't have the snap that I had a few days ago, and naturally, I started to worry if I was going to do well at sectionals. Would I have to rest a little more in order to swim as fast as I wanted?

Today was one of the toughest workouts to endure. Not only were those two sets tough, but I was doing it alone. After the set of 100s breast, I thought about scrapping the sprint set for a long time, but I knew I needed to work on sprinting today. I don't regret doing it, but my body will definitely let its feelings known tomorrow, as I recover from today. I had thought about swimming tomorrow morning, but I think I need a complete day off from exercise. When I get back in the water on Tuesday, I hope I will feel much better.

I saw the psych sheet for sectionals, and I'm seeded third in the 100 breast. Only three of us are seeded with Olympic Trials times, with two others behind me within a second of the qualifying time. I'm sure they'll shave for the meet, and I believe my teammate Mike Nelson will be shaved as well. Since I'm not shaving, I do not believe I will swim as fast as 1:04.42 (my seed time), but I want to race well and use the feedback (my own and my coach's) to prepare for Trials.

You can see the psych sheet here. It will be a good meet, with Missy Franklin there to show us all how it's done, and Roland Schoeman bound to dominate in the sprint freestyles.

Friday, March 2, 2012


Date: Friday, March 2, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
115 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

6x150 on 2:40
1. 5 lengths swim/1 length kick
2. 4 lengths swim/2 lengths kick
3. 3 lengths swim/3 lengths kick
4. 2 lengths swim/4 lengths kick
5. 1 length swim/5 lengths kick
6. 6 lengths kick

20x25 on :30 flutter kick with snorkel and short fins
5 fast, 1 easy
4 fast, 1 easy
3 fast, 1 easy
2 fast, 1 easy
1 fast, 1 easy

Easy 150

Vertical breaststroke kicking, with 10-pound weight:
Five rounds:
1 minute kick, 1 minute rest
Five rounds:
30 seconds kick, 30 seconds rest

2x150 easy, :15 rest
1 free, 1 choice

4x50 on 1:15
odd: breast @ 200 IM pace (32.3, 31.7)
even: 25 fast/25 easy

Easy 100

Total: 2,450 yards plus vertical kicking (80 minutes)

At the gym (4:45 p.m.)
15 minutes treadmill

10 minutes abdominals

Sitting bench press (12@160, 8@180, 6@190)

Bicep dumbbell curls (12@25, 8@32.5, 6@40)

Leg adductors (12@170, 10@190, 8@205)

3x25 breaststroke strokes with 6-pound dumbbells

Five minutes abdominals and stretching

The vertical kicking set wasn't as bad as I had feared. I was most worried that I wouldn't be able to stay with the set through the 30-second part of the set. But the hardest part of the set was the one-minute kicking intervals. But the most important thing to do in these instances is to flush the lactate out of your legs during the rest period. I hung on the lane rope during that minute and did very slow flutter kick.

The key to doing this set is to not look at the clock during the entire kicking interval. The good thing about doing breaststroke kick is I could count how many kicks it took to get to the minute. I didn't have to really look at the clock, because I did 58 kicks in a minute for each round.

There's always a fast swim at the end of workout, and I had every reason to do another stroke on the 50s, but I chose breaststroke. I wasn't sure my legs would be able to handle that, but they did OK.

I stayed away from doing too much work with my legs in the weight room. I had done plenty of strength work in the pool earlier in the morning, so no need to do more. It was the last strength weight workout I would do before sectionals, and I wanted it to count. I had hoped to do 200 pounds on the sitting bench press, but I wasn't feeling it, and there was no reason to push beyond my body's boundaries today.

Writing this about four hours after leaving the gym and 15 hours after this morning's pool workout, my legs are screaming at me. Luckily, I have tomorrow off!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Bad Medicine

Date: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Time: 4:40 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
116 days to Olympic Trials

I walked into the pool at Phoenix Swim Club today unsure what the workout with the gold group would be like. Just about everyone in the group is going to western sectionals next week, and I believe almost all of them are tapering. With that in mind, I figured today's workout would be pretty easy, and it was! Only 3,000 yards of drills and a little bit of swimming above aerobic pace. Coley Stickels called it "threshold swimming," which I must get his take on one day. I still don't know how fast that's supposed to be. I think it's supposed to be near 500 pace, which is 1:00 for me, but some of the girls were holding paces faster than that, though they are probably able to do a 500 free under 5:00 in season.

In any case, I needed tonight's workout. I was feeling quite sore from yesterday's speed workout compounded by the tough dryland session with JR Rosania. I don't know if I could have made it through 4,000 yards of tough breaststroke work! And to make it better, the workout allowed me to mix up the strokes, which helped me mentally. I wasn't really feeling my breaststroke today, though my freestyle and backstroke weren't so hot, either! Just to remind you, I'm not tapering, but today was a good recovery workout as I prepare for tomorrow's tough legs workout. Mark Rankin was at the pool tonight and, like an idiot, I suggested we do the vertical kicking set he mentioned to me last week. As soon as I made the suggestion, I wanted to take it back, but I might as well do it now. I won't be back for another Friday workout until the end of March, and who knows what state I'll be in then. I'll let you know how my body reacts to 15 minutes of vertical kicking.

After tonight's workout, I went to the store to pick up my refill for my blood pressure medicine, and also to get my new prescription for lowering cholesterol. I'm quite nervous about taking this, just as I was when I started taking the blood pressure medicine. I don't know how I will feel in and out of the water, knowing my body will need a few weeks to adjust to it. I hope it doesn't not adversely affect me, especially during the meet next week. The only problems I had when I started taking my blood pressure medicine nine years ago was slight headaches and lots of peeing. I have to take the prevastatin in the evening, so tonight is the first night! Down the hatch!