Sunday, April 29, 2012

Whip It

Date: Sunday, April 29, 2012
Time: 11:00 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters
57 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

Four rounds:
200 free with snorkel and fins on 3:20 (avg. 2:40)
100 back kick with fins on 2:10
2x50 breast on 1:05 (25 double pullouts/25 pull)
100 IM on 2:20 (allowing time to put on fins and snorkel for next round)

8x25 on :50
odd: 15 fast/10 easy
even: 10 easy/15 fast

Three rounds:
4x 30 seconds breaststroke with bungee cord (1 kick, 1 pull, 1 kick, 1 swim)
100 easy on 2:00
50 fast from push (33.5, 33.1, 33.6)
150 easy
About two to three minutes rest

100 easy

Total: About 4,100 meters (100 minutes)

I borrowed today's main set from the Canadian Olympic team, which was in Phoenix last week for a training camp. I had the opportunity to film this workout, and you'll be able to find it on  SwimmingWorld.TV in the coming days. This was done by the sprint group, and though they did four rounds of the set, I only had time for three, and it was enough! They also did this set with the Power Tower, but they weren't set up at the Hillenbrand Aquatic Center today, so I improvised and used this instead.

Using bungee cords is a nice alternative to the Power Tower, but you get to a point where you can't swim any further, and when you reach that point, the rubber starts to pull against you, instead of keeping you in place, as the Power Tower does. When I was doing my breaststroke swimming, my body position didn't feel great, but I was happy to almost make it to 25 meters!

The focus of the set was the fast 25. I am not entirely sure if the Canadians were told to go all out, but I know they were supposed to work on distance per stroke. I made sure I did not go over 23 strokes on my 50s, and hoped to be able to do one under 33 seconds. But doing the bungee cord work takes a little of the edge off, and I felt that in the final 15 meters. If I had been fresh on those push 50s, I would have been able to do all three under 33.

I officially entered the Southwest Invite, and will be swimming the 200 free, 100 back, 100 breast and 200 IM at the meet. Why the 200 free? I wanted to swim two events per session, and there was nothing else up my alley. The meet is being held in timed finals format, and I'm only swimming Saturday, which means I will race four times in one day. It'll be a good training meet, and I'll only back off on Friday. This meet is more about racing than times. It might be my last competition before Trials, but that's not certain yet.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Run, Baby, Run

Date: Friday. April 27, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
59 days to Olympic Trials

10x50 on 1:00
odd: 25 kick/25 swim
even: 25 drill/25 kick

300 breast kick no board on 7:00 (6:05)

Seven rounds:
30 seconds breaststroke vertical kick with 11-pound weight
30 seconds rest

4x100 on 1:45
50 free/50 back easy

Seven rounds vertical kicking as above

2x(4x25 on :30)
1-3 fast
4 easy

100 easy

10 minutes:
25 dive with underwater swim or kick/:10 vertical kick/25 swim moderate/five pushups on deck/jog back to starting end (did six rounds)

3x100 on 2:30
50 fast from dive/50 easy
#1 free: 27.1
#2 back: 30.2
#3 breast: 32.1

100 easy (with stretching)

Total: 2,500 meters (not including vertical kicking and running)

Not too long after I made my Olympic Trials qualifying time in the 100 breast last July, my coach, Mark Rankin, sat down with me to discuss some things he thought I should do differently training-wise in the months to come. One of those things was more vertical kicking. I probably don't do as much as he would like, and sometimes I feel like I do more than I expected. Either way, I know my legs are stronger, especially because he always requires me to hold a weight during kicking. I'm often the only one on the Masters team doing vertical kicking with a heavy weight (others usually are holding on to five-pound weights).

Today, in the middle of the 300 breast kick, Mark suggested I do some vertical kicking. He had written on the board "4x400 kick on 7:00," which is impossible for me to do -- and quite boring, to boot. During the 300 breast kick, I was thinking of alternatives, and vertical kicking hadn't crossed my mind. My legs were still quite sore from JR Rosania's dryland workout on Wednesday, and I wasn't sure I could take some aggressive vertical kicking.

But I did it anyway, and it wasn't that bad. That's not to say I did it with a smile on my face, or had plenty of energy to do those fast 25s afterward, but it generally felt good to do them.

That 10-minute "exercise set" was a surprise. We do those things often, but always on Thursdays. With most of the Masters team made of triathletes, this was probably a fun set for them. For me, the jogging part was just a little faster than race walking. It's not a great idea to run in your bare feet, since there's nothing on your feet to absorb the shock from hitting the hard ground. Plus, as I mentioned earlier, my legs were quite sore.

I'm somewhat embarrassed by those 50s at the end, but at least they were consistently bad. All three of them were about two seconds slower than what I usually swim for the first 25 of my 100. I swam hard on all three, but got through them knowing the times wouldn't be fast. This came at the end of a very, very, very long week that consisted of a few work days that lasted more than 12 hours and a sleepless night on Tuesday. I was happy I could get out of the pool at the end of the workout today! I rewarded myself with a sugar cookie from Einstein Bagels at lunch!

Another reward will be at least 10 hours of sleep tonight. Enjoy the weekend ... especially those competing at the U.S. Masters nationals in North Carolina! I noticed a lot of names from "back in the day," including Todd Torres, who I raced in the 100 breast at the Pan-American Games in 1991 (he got second, I got third), and a couple of teammates from those Pan Am Games, such as Todd Pace and John Keppeler.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Relax (Don't Do It)

Date: Thursday, April 26, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
60 days to Olympic Trials

Interval starts at 2:10 and drops five seconds per repeat, down to 1:15 -- just make intervals

800 -- 50 kick/50 swim/50 pull

8x50 on 1:15
Odd: 25 scull/25 swim
Even: 25 swim/25 scull

4x200 on 3:15 aerobic
100 back/100 free, breathing every three (avg. 2:43)

100 easy

Total: 3,300 meters (75 minutes)

I really needed today to be an actual recovery day, and I'm glad it pretty much turned out that way ... for the most part. The first set was only difficult for the last three, just going fast enough to get enough rest to see the clock and know when to leave again. The next 1200 was very relaxing, and gave me the opportunity to work on my stroke technique, which I need to do every day but is always a necessity on recovery day, just to "check in" to see where my body is.

As for the last set, I wasn't really sure how fast I could go and keep the set aerobic, which for me is a heart rate under 170. My backstroke felt good, but my freestyle felt weird, especially since I was breathing on both sides. It's always good to swim that way, in order to keep your body balanced, but I felt my body continually going out of alignment at my hips. Instead of rotating from side to side, as if on a roasting spit, I was wiggling from side to side.

This afternoon, I started to feel real soreness in my legs from yesterday's dryland workout, especially in my groin and IT bands. It's from the squats and jumps I did, and it probably will have an adverse effect on tomorrow's kicking workout, but I will go in tomorrow with positive thoughts!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Spoonful of Sugar

Date: Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
61 days to Olympic Trials

6x100 on1:40
odd: free breathe every 5
even: 50 free/50 stroke

12x25 on :35 with short fins
odd: underwater kick about 90 percent effort
even: swim easy

16x50 on 1:00 with small fins
odd: free at 90 percent (avg. 30.5)
even: back easy

300 easy (every fourth 25 scull)

4x(3x50 on 1:15)
1: breast fast from push (32.6, 33.5, 32.7, 33.0)
2-3: easy

200 easy

4x50 IM order fast on 1:30 (29.5, 31.2, 35.6, 29.1 = 2:05.40) 

200 easy

Total: 3,200 meters (75 minutes) 

I am not a fan of supplements, and this feeling dates back long before all the recent situations involving Jessica Hardy and others around the world. When I was a swimmer at the University of Texas, we took creatine pills every day. I think this was during my junior year. I had stomach aches a lot, and I think my muscle mass grew more than it should have for a sprint breaststroker. I gained 10 pounds of muscle, and that was too much, since I was already at my ideal weight. That made swimming difficult for me that year.

I tried taking supplements again when I turned 30, going to the local vitamin store for anything that could naturally help me recover quickly after workout. I didn't like swallowing those horse pills, and I didn't see any marked improvement on my recovery rate.

I had given up on supplements, happy to just eat well and take care of myself in and out of the pool. Until now ...

Before I continue, I must disclose that I am not being paid to shill anyone's product, but I have been getting free samples since February. Sure, getting the product for free makes me feel better about trying it, but so does the fact that the owner is a very good friend of mine, a swimmer who had success outside the United States before bringing his product home to the USA.

In August 2011, I saw Tim Shead at the USA Swimming nationals, where he told me he was officially starting to sell his supplements in the United States, after many years of success with it in South Africa. I was happy to hear it, and could feel the pitch starting. It took me about five months to agree to just test out his products.

I started with the EnduroBoost Adaptogens, which are brown pills that are designed to mostly provide you with the energy you need in workout (or in a meet), and help with recovery afterward. As I mentioned before, the recovery aspect was what intrigued me, especially since Tim said he's been able to do more work in the pool with these pills. When I got the bottle of pills, I was relieved to see this:

I'm sure lots of companies swear their products are safe for elite athletes, but this was the first time I'd seen such a disclaimer.

The pills took a few days to do their job. The most immediate effect was more energy in workout that allowed me to push my sprinting to new levels. I was holding averages in workout that I hadn't held in recent memory, and it shocked me. Taking the pills was the only difference in my workout regimen.

This week, Tim sent me a bigger box of products to try, and though I am feeling a difference after just two days on this new regimen, it's a pain to remember what to take, when to take it and how much to take!

When I wake up:
Six adaptogen pills and two Sport Multivitamins plus my prescription blood pressure pill (it takes more than spoonful of sugar to help all this go down!)
Eight ounces of milk mixed in with a couple of scoops of Nutriboost

When I go to bed:
Two multivitamins plus my prescription cholesterol pill
Eight ounces of milk mixed in with a couple of scoops of Nutriboost

The Nutriboost is a thick powder that you mix in with water (yuck!) or milk, and it's supposed to be similar to drinking chocolate milk, which has become the craze around the world. Drinking it at night facilitates the recovery process, which happens the most while you are sleeping. Drinking it after workout definitely is supposed to help with recovery, and as I type this 14 hours after workout, I feel better than I usually do.

A side note to taking all these supplements is that I have a little more energy during the day. Usually, I feel like I want a two-hour nap in the middle of the day, but so far I have been awake and alert all day. Take that, Red Bull!

On to today's workout ...

I usually have Monday off, and I did not swim Tuesday because work kept me away from the pool. I wasn't sure I could do anything worthwhile with two days out of the pool, so I decided to stay at 90 percent effort for the first half of the workout, and see what happens in the second half. Boy, was I surprised with the times Mark Rankin yelled out today! The fastest I expected to go on the fast 50s breast was 33.5, and that would have really been pushing the pace. I worked on snapping the kick faster and holding my body line better on the glide.Doing those 50s free with the short fins took some of the energy out of my legs, but it was good practice for the end of a 100 breast, when my legs will be dealing with a lot of lactic acid, and I'll still have to kick!

I took 23 strokes on my fast breaststroke repeats today, which is my normal stroke count, and to be able to go under 33 seconds twice today was a major step forward in training. I know I'm in the power/sprint/race pace phase of the season, but usually I am not able to be that fast on that many repeats. The last time I was able to hold under 32 seconds was in mid-March. Yeah, I was at the end of my first testing of the supplements then, and it's becoming obvious that the supplements are giving me a boost, but I also am feeling stronger, thanks to JR's maniacal awesome workouts.

Today's workout with JR was one of the three toughest I have done. Not only did JR increase the amount of weight on some of the exercises, but he also increased the repetitions! By the end, my fast-twitch fibers were barely twitching, and I found myself walking funny, because my quadriceps were quite sore. I put some ice on my left shoulder, only as a preventative measure, and I'm looking forward to tomorrow!

Sunday, April 22, 2012


Date: Sunday, April 22, 2012
Time: 11:30 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters/Short Course Yards
64 days to Olympic Trials

Long Course Meters:
300 warmup

6x100 free on 1:45
25 free breathe every 5/25 overkick/25 swim

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

4x150 on 2:40 aerobic
50 back/50 breast/50 free (descended to 2:01)

100 easy

Short Course Yards:
4x25 breakouts on :45

Four rounds (one round each stroke)
25 fast from push/25 easy on 1:00
50 fast from push (27, 27, 30, 25)
2x50 easy on 1:00
:30 rest

200 easy

Two rounds:
25 breast from dive with parachute
25 breast fast, no parachute (2 strokes underwater, 1 regular stroke)
:20 rest
25 breast double pullouts
25 breast fast from push with parachute
6x50 free aerobic with snorkel
Two minute break between rounds

200 easy

Total: 3,000 meters/yards (90 minutes)

I had written the workout for long course, but the staff at Hillenbrand informed me that they were switching the pool to short course sometime during my workout. I was glad that the warmup part was long course, though it would have been interesting to at least see how I would have done today on the two fast sets in long course.

Breaststroke didn't feel very good today, and I thought about switching the last set to backstroke, but I did not. When you are doing resistance work, you aren't going to feel that great anyway, so it doesn't really matter if your legs feel tired and tight, or if you just have little motivation because it's another solo Sunday workout. But what made the workout more tolerable was that the water was a cool 80 degrees! Thanks Hillenbrand staff!

During my easy swimming in the lactate sets, I thought about the Masters nationals that will be held immediately after Olympic Trials, in the same pool. I know I will be swimming the 50 and 100 breast, as well as the 100 back and 200 IM, but I have two other events I can enter, and I don't know what they will be. If it were short course, I would enter the 100 IM, but it's long course, so that's not an option. I was thinking the 100 free is a good option, especially since I almost won the 100 free at the 2011 short course nationals. But I still don't know what else to swim. I suppose I can do the 50 back. I don't like doing the 50 back short course because I can't compete with all the underwater kickers. In a long course race, the deck is stacked more in my favor, so I might do it.

I'm also entering the upcoming Southwest Classic in Tucson. I swim in this meet every year, though I often shave and taper for it. I won't be tapered and shaved this year, but I might scale back in workout for a couple of days, so I'm a little fresher. I like the meet because I live in Tucson, and there are so many great breaststrokers here at the University of Arizona that I do not have any problems with having someone to race. This year, the meet is timed finals, so I am not sure if my seed time will put my in the last heat. Either way, it might be my last real racing opportunity before Trials, and I want to make sure the things I've been working on (keeping legs together on start, strong outsweep) are coming together.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Just That Kinda Day

Date: Friday, April 20, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Yards
66 days to Olympic Trials

6x150 on 2:30
#1: 125 swim/25 kick
#2: 100 swim/50 kick
#3: 75 swim/75 kick
#4: 50 swim/100 kick
#5: 25 swim/125 kick
#6: 150 kick

6x100 flutter kick with small fins and snorkel on 1:45, descend 1-3, 4-6
(1:28, 1:25, 1:23, 1:28, 1:24, 1:22)

6x100 IM swim on 1:45, descend 1-3, 4-6
(1:13, 1:07, 1:02, 1:12, 1:07, 1:01)

12x25 on :30 underwater kick

4x(3x100 swim on 1:45)
1 & 2 easy
3 fast descend to fast by rounds (1:03, 1:02, 1:01, :57)

200 easy with snorkel (25 swim/25 drill)

Total: 3,500 yards (85 minutes)

I woke up this morning with a pain in my legs I haven't felt in a very long time. The great work I had done in and out of the pool this week caught up with me. My quads were tight, and my hip flexors, well, wouldn't flex. I did my best to do some good dynamic stretching before I got into the pool, but nothing seemed to function well. This is a product not only of hard work, but being 38 years old!

Because of my physical state, I didn't want to do much sprinting today, at the risk of injury. I knew there was a limit to what my body could do, and I was pretty close to that this morning. On the last set of 100s backstroke, I thought descending to 1:00 would be just fine, but at number 12 I wanted to see what my body could do in my last fast swim of the week. I was surprised that I went 57, though on a "normal" day, I could be able to go 55.

At the gym (5 p.m.)

Eight minutes on elliptical machine

Five minutes shoulder warmup exercises

Incline bench press (15@100, 12@125, 10@140)

Standing lat pull (15@50, 12@60, 10@75)

Hamstring curls (15@80, 12@100, 10@110)

Leg adduction (15@150, 12@170, 10@180)

Bicep curls (15@15 each arm, 12@25, 10@30)

Ten minutes abdominals and stretching

My gym workout was a little bit of a struggle as well, but not as bad as in the pool. I felt the soreness in my legs, but luckily it was mostly in my quads. I felt good in my upper body workout, and it was a good way to end the week. I spent a lot of time stretching at the end of the workout, wanting to get my leg muscles into some semblance of normalcy. When I wake up tomorrow on my day off, we'll see how things feel!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Forever Young

Date: Thursday, April 19, 2012
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters/ Short Course Yards
67 days to Olympic Trials

I don't recall much about how I was as a workout swimmer as a teenager, but I am pretty sure I wasn't as tough as the kids I swim with once a week at Phoenix Swim Club! These kids are animals, and occasionally I find myself struggling to keep up with them on the tougher sets. Naturally, they have a better ability to tap into energy stores than I do now in my late 30s, and they have better lung capacity. But there's something else about them that just keeps me in awe of them.

Here was one of the sets we did today:

Two rounds:
3x100 on 1:30 (25 underwater kick/25 back swim/25 breast swim/25 free swim no breath)
3x50 on :40 (#1 back, #2 breast, #3 free)
2x150 with pull buoy on 2:15 (#1 25 back/25 breast/25 free, #2 50 back/50 breast/50 free)
3x50 on :40 (#1 25 back/12.5 breast/12.5 free, #2 25 breast/12.5 breast/12.5 free, #3 25 free/12.5 breast/12.5 free)

After the set, Coley called out heart rates and asked us to raise our hands. One girls raised her hand at 130. A few more at 140. Most at 150. A couple at 160. I think I was the only one to raise my hand when he called out 170. I was beat after that set, and we all thought it was over ... but we had about 900 yards left of threshold pace swimming, which Coley said was a little slower than 200 pace. In order to keep up with the kids, and not have the guys behind me in my lane catch me, I think I was going much faster than threshold, but as I have mentioned before, I'm not entirely sure what my threshold pace is.

All in all, I was pretty sore today from yesterday's dryland training. My shoulders were aching every time I took a breaststroke pull. It was pain, just general soreness and muscle breakdown. I came home and put some ice on my shoulder, which will be a great preventative measure and allow me to be ready for whatever Mark Rankin throws at me tomorrow morning.

I will continually go on the record and say that I am enjoying my workouts with the kids at Phoenix Swim Club. They give me a different perspective on swimming, and challenge me in ways that my teammates in Masters often cannot. But at the same time, they are half my age (or more than half my age, in many cases), so I feel like an outsider sometimes. That's OK.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Anything You Can Do

Date: Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
68 days to Olympic Trials

1300 warmup (including 15-meter sprints)

75 free fast from push (42.6)/175 easy on 6:00
25 breast fast from dive (13.2)/175 easy on 5:00
50 breast fast from push (32.3)/100 easy on 4:00
75 free fast from push (42.6)/175 easy on 6:00
25 breast fast from dive (13.2)/175 easy on 5:00
50 breast fast from push (31.9)/100 easy on 4:00
25 breast fast from dive (13.3)

225 easy, freestyle and sculling drills with snorkel

Total: 2,750 meters (75 minutes)

Today was one of the best workouts I've had in a long time. It took a while to wake up and be ready to swim fast, but once the main set came around, I was mentally ready, though I wasn't sure my body was ready to do what my mind wanted. During the 15-meter breakouts, my breaststroke didn't feel so good, a little choppy to be exact, but during the main set, my goal was to grab as much water as possible during the outsweep and hold it through the insweep. On the fast 25s I was trying to get into my stroke quickly. Sometimes I don't feel like I am "ready to swim" until about 20 meters, but I was trying to be ready on the first stroke, not the fourth.

The times were very good. I didn't expect to go 32.3 on the first 50 breast, and knowing I was rushing my stroke too much, I felt I could go under 32 on the second round. I was so glad I did. I haven't swum short course meters in a while, but this is definitely an improvement across the entire spectrum. As a comparison, the last 50 on my world record swim in the 100 breast in 2009 was 32.0, so add a few tenths for the turn, and I'm already going faster! If you want to compare apples to apples (instead of techsuit to jammer), then let's go with my 1:01.86 from 2010, when my last 50 was 32.3. Here's a video of that race:

The keys are my much-improved pullouts and, of course, improved swimming strength.

My freestyle felt great as well, and I don't want to forget about training that stroke. I plan to swim the 100 free at the Masters nationals after Olympic Trials, and I will need to be on top of my game for that race, since it's definitely not one of my primary events.

I kept the energy from today's pool workout going this afternoon in my dryland training with JR Rosania. I'm always excited about working with him, but today, I even got excited about the exercises that I despise, including the dreaded leg extensions. Do you want to know why I hate that exercise so much? Here's video proof:

This next exercise has become one of my favorites, even though it's the reason I can barely lift my arms the next day. I don't think there's an official name for this exercise, but it definitely was designed (by JR?) to help strengthen the muscles needed for the breaststroke outsweep:

Yesterday I found a video of Ryan Lochte performing various drills with the battle ropes. He makes it look so easy, but that's because he's Ryan Freakin' Lochte.

I've been doing this exercise for a couple of weeks as I start the power phase of training. After today's workout in the pool, I felt pretty close to invincible, and I was certain I could work the ropes better than Ryan. I leave it up to you to decide:

I suppose I have a long way to go before I can do anything as good as Ryan. Maybe that's why the breaststroke leg on his 200 IM is almost faster than I've ever swum the second 50 in a 100 breast!

Workouts like today don't come along very often for me. There's always some negative aspect of the workout that overrides the positives, but today, I couldn't find anything negative in the pool or on land.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

Date: April 17, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
69 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

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

4x(3x100 on 1:40)
1. back (avg. 1:26)
2. IM (avg. 1:24)
3. free (avg. 1:21)

4x50 breast on 1:15
25 double pullout/25 head up

3x200 back on 4:00, descend 1-3
2:53, 2:43, 2:38

100 easy

8x50 on 1:15
odd: 15 fast from dive
even: 25 fast from dive (13.8, 13.5, 13.2, 13.5)

100 easy

Total: 3,500 meters (80 minutes)

I don't care if I sound like a broken record. The water was too warm today.

Instead of swimming the 12x100 "all strong," my goal in that set was to keep my heart rate down. I didn't really achieve that (168 after No. 12), but it could have been worse. I wanted to push the last 200 back to a strong effort, but it was also impossible. I tried to negative split the last 200, which means my first 100 meters would have been slower than my second 100 meters. That was not the case, even though it felt like I was expending more energy on the second half. I split 1:17 at the 100, and went 1:21 on the second 100. That was not lactate building up or extreme tiredness. My muscles simply wore out. If the water were two degrees cooler, I might be writing about my sub-2:30 200 back today.

I was happy with my dive 25s today. I had hoped to get a 13.0 or better, but my main focus was not on sprinting, but keeping my legs together on the entry. That, as you may remember, was a major problem in my 100 breast at sectionals last month. It's going to take a lot more work to get it right but I think it will all come together. On Sunday, I was working on being explosive off the blocks despite lactate buildup. Today, the focus was on technique. Once I put it all together, I should have a really good first 25.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easy as Life

Date: Sunday, April 15, 2012
Time: 11:15 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Short Course Yards
71 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

Two rounds:
2x150 on 2:30 with snorkel (50 free/50 breast pull/50 free)
2x100 IM on 1:40 (round 1 drill, round 2 swim)
2x50 on 1:00 (4 breast kicks, 1 pull)

6x50 on 1:20
15 fast/20 easy/15 fast

3x100 free with snorkel on 1:40 (25 left arm/25 right arm/50 swim)

Four rounds:
Out and back with Power Tower, right into 25 fast from dive on :45
25 fast swim from push
4x50 on :50 make interval
Three to four minutes rest
(rounds 1, 3 and 4 breast; round 2 free)

4x50 free with snorkel on 1:00 - six strokes per 25

Total: 3,500 yards (90 minutes)
Today was one of the hardest workouts I've done, at least from a mental standpoint. It took every ounce of brain power to will myself into doing four rounds of the main lactate set , because the water was too warm and I was feeling my usual negative thoughts, as I was swimming alone.

These Sunday workouts often are designed to be mentally and physically engaging. If they were "garbage yardage," I would be done after the first 1,500. But, I design main sets that seem like fun, at least if all conditions are close to optimal. I think the water will start to get cooler in Phoenix and Tucson in the next 10 days. The mercury will reach above 90, which means the nights will be a little warmer and the heaters will not need to be on at all.

I suppose I should stop being a diva and just do my workouts without complaining. There are many people around the world who swim in less than favorable conditions, and do quite well. I was once one of those people. I swam in a pool that was no cooler than 85 degrees when I was in high school, and I managed to be fairly successful nationally ... though I did more than my share of complaining.

OK, back to the workout. I based my workout on the lactate set I did with the Phoenix Swim Club on Wednesday. I figured that hopping up onto the blocks immediately after doing the Power Tower was a good way to work on swimming tough from the blocks. You are supposed to be fresh diving off the blocks, but this was to help my body react to my legs not feeling their best. I don't know what my times were, but I would imagine they weren't anything to shout about to anyone. I did the best I could. (Again, if the water was cooler, I could have kept my core temperature down better, which would have kept my heart rate down and allowed me to catch my breath better. But I digress.)

I did a lot of snorkel work with freestyle today because I wanted to work on the catch and the pull. Sometimes, my left arm pulls under my body, and it's an effect of my weakness in my shoulder muscles. Pulling correctly will help strengthen those muscles and train my body to swim correctly at all times. I need to swim with a snorkel more often.

No swimming tomorrow. I am looking forward to another week of training, both in and out of the pool. Last week was my first full week of "normal" training, and it showed. I should be able to handle whatever is thrown at me this week!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Highway to Hell

Date: Friday, April 13, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
73 days to Olympic Trials

4x200 on 3:45 (100 kick/100 swim)

500 flutter kick with snorkel and small fins, descending effort by 100s

6x50 on 1:15
odd: 25 underwater dolphin kick with small fins/25 back kick easy
even: 25 breast pull/25 back kick easy

6x50 on 1:00
1-3: freestyle drill with small fins and snorkel
4-6: freestyle swim aerobic (:37)

4x150 on 3:00
1-3 50 breast fast from push/100 easy (averaged 34.8)
4: easy

Three minute break

50 breast fast from dive (31.2)/100 easy on 3:00
50 breast fast from push (34.2)/100 easy

250 easy

Total: 2,950 meters (75 minutes)

At the gym (4:45 p.m.)

Eight minutes on elliptical machine

Shoulder warm-up exercises

Incline bench press (15@95, 12@125, 10@145)

Seated row (15@80, 12@100, 10@120)

Leg extensions (15@100, 12@130, 10@150)

Ten minutes abdominals and stretching

I swam five days in a row this week. That's a long stretch without a day off. I do not normally do that. Add in the fact that I did two workouts with the kids at Phoenix Swim Club and I called this my Hell Week, that time of the season, when you are working your hardest, and it takes every ounce of energy to get through the last workouts. Every workout was tough in their own regard, especially that Wednesday workout, which was 80 minutes of sprinting with almost no easy swimming!

I didn't feel too great in the first three 50s breast in today's workout. The water was warm, and my arms were not pulling water well. I could feel like I wasn't pulling wide enough on my outsweep, yet my shoulder muscles were too tired to do it correctly. That's no excuse, because in workout is the time when you have to swim correctly while you're tired, so you can replicate it in a meet. As much as I would like to blame the warm water, I simply wasn't in a sprinting mood today. It showed through the entire workout.

I did get myself motivated for the two 50s at the end. I was really hoping for a sub-31 second 50 from a dive today, but it wasn't a horrible swim. The 50 from a push was surprising. I was trying to stretch out my stroke and not spin my wheels, and the result was a pretty fast 50.

This might not be my hardest week of training before Trials, but it will be the last time I do five workouts in a row. I don't think my body has the staying power to last an entire week of training. I need my Mondays and Saturdays off! Now that I'm back on track in the pool, my workout schedule will return to normal.

I didn't feel like going to the gym. I'd had a stressful day at work trying to get 101 things done, and all I wanted to do was crash on my couch at home before I had to drive to Tucson tonight. But, I believed a good workout would take the stress out of my brain and relax me a little bit through endorphin release. For the most part, that was true, but the desire to go home was often very strong.

I had to be gentle with my left shoulder today. I have been feeling small twinges in my shoulder tendon, and I don't want to take any steps backward. I am getting back on a regimen of ice to help the soreness, mixed in with my electronic stimulation to keep the weaker muscles active.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I Like It Like That

Date: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Time: 4:40 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters/Long Course Meters
74 days to Olympic Trials

Today's workout with the kids at Phoenix Swim Club was a mixed bag. Usually, the main focus is on breaststroke, but the first half had an IM focus, with some emphasis on breaststroke. Specifically, we worked on making the pullout strong, forceful and legal. The key, I've found int he past three months, is to not et the hands stop their motion too much when you separate them to start the pullout and do the dolphin kick. You want to have a quick snap as soon as the hands separate and keep moving the arms through the pull. It's not easy, because you tend to want to stop the hands while doing the dolphin kick.

The second half of workout was essentially a distance freestyle workout, with stroke 50s thrown in for recovery. Here's how it went: 

Long course
Two rounds:

3x50 back on 1:00 (pull, kick, swim)
3x100 free on 1:40 holding threshold pace (averaged 1:10)
3x50 breast on 1:00 (pull, kick, swim)
2x100 on 1:40 holding threshold pace plus 3 seconds (75 free/25 back) (averaged 1:11)
3x50 free on 1:00 (pull, kick, swim)
1x100 on 1:40 holding threshold pace plus 4 (75 free25 breast) (averaged 1:12)

I was very pleased with the way I swam the set. I have done threshold sets like this before with this group, and I am not entirely sure what my threshold pace is, since we don't do sets of that nature often in Masters. But, I remembered that set I did with Tucson Masters last Friday, and thought I should be able to hold 1:11 and not fall apart too much. My heart rate was high (28 beats for 10 seconds) but my stroke felt "comfortable," meaning I wasn't floundering at the end. This was a great breakthrough in terms of my endurance, which can often suffer when I am in the sprint phase of the season. I tend to forget to keep my endurance in check, and I was glad to have today's set to remind me of what I'm doing.

It was much better than what was offered in today's Master's workout. They had a 1500 for time! No thank you.  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Your Little Body's Slowly Breaking Down

Date: Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Time: 4:45 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
75 days to Olympic Trials

I will not writing very much tonight. My fingers are too tired to express many of the thoughts in my head tonight. My entire body will be in knots tomorrow. Part of that is exacerbated by the fact that I stayed at the pool for an hour after workout to talk with Coley Stickels, instead of going home to replenish my fuel stores that were completely empty. Ideally, you want to have something almost right after swimming (chocolate milk has become the trend), and a good meal within the hour after swimming. It's now two hours after workout ended, and I'm now about to have some real food.

Today's workout with the kids at Phoenix Swim Club was tough, one of the toughest lactate workouts I've done in many, many years. It was 80 minutes of sprinting, from start to finish. I am not kidding. Even the first "warm-up" set of a 400 had 100 meters of sprinting in it! And after that, it was fast swimming on everything. Most of it was just to make the interval, but the "main" lactate set was the killer. I tried to have good stroke rates on everything, but I felt like my arms were moving at 200 speed.

Coley said afterwards that he had to adjust the workout a little, because the pool was supposed to be short course yards, and we started about 15 minutes late. But I don't think he adjusted it enough! Doing 50s on 50 seconds long course is tough, and even tougher when you're trying to swim 35 meters without breathing.

I'm not usually a glutton for punishment, but I'm going to swim with the kids tomorrow. I've never done two of Coley's workouts in a row, but now's the time to get my muscles broken down and train them to know how to get to that high lactate production level, and still swim efficiently. The key, though -- and this is why today was so hard -- is getting plenty of rest in between each lactate set. We only got about three minutes rest, which is barely enough for people my age to catch their breath and go again. But I am happy I did the workout.

OK, my fingers were able to get out all my thoughts. I hope there's enough energy in me to eat a plate of pork chops and broccoli, and to turn on the TV to watch a new episode of "Modern Family."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

If You Don't Know Me By Now

Date: Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
76 days to Olympic Trials

16x50 on 1:000 reverse IM order
Odd: 25 kick/25 swim
Even: 25 drill/25 swim

8x100 on 1:45
1-5: 50 back/50 breast (1:27)
2:00 break
6-8: 50 breast/50 free (1:22)

100 easy

6x50 on 1:15
1-4: 25 fast IM order/25 easy
5: 50 back fast from push (30.6)
6: 50 breast fast from push (34.1)

Two rounds:
1x100 easy on 2:00
4x50 on 1:00
Round 1 IM with fly from dive (30.2, 34.4, 37.2, 32.3=2:14.1)
round 2 free, diving No. 1 (29.9, 30.9, 30.9, 30.5=2:02.2)

300 easy

Total: 2,900 meters (75 minutes)

They are still putting tarps over the pool at night at Phoenix Swim Club, even though it's 65 degrees at night. I can't imagine the pool will get that cold if they leave the water exposed to the air. This morning, the water felt like it was pushing 82 degrees, and I found my heart rate to be too high on the second set, especially given the pace I was holding and the effort I was putting forth.

The workout as written called for a 400 stroke or IM, but I knew that was not happening, even though Mark Rankin suggested a 400 breaststroke for me. I'm surprised he thought I was going to do a 400 breast 11 weeks out from Trials. Doesn't he know the type of swimmer I am???!!?? Sometimes I feel guilty about not doing the workout he writes on the board, but today I had to make this exception, if I were to be able to exit the pool on my own power this morning.

For a few fleeting seconds, I thought it might be a good thing to do the 400 to keep a check on my breaststroke endurance, but not when the water was so warm. Instead, I chose to do the 6x50 on 1:15, and was happy to do it. I did bargain with Mark that I would do the last two 50s all fast, though my initial plan was to do 25 fast/25 easy for all six. I was happy with my push 50s on 1:15, especially since I was hurting for pretty much the entire 50 breast.

The broken 200 IM could have been better. I should be able to go faster than 2:14, but I didn't pace my backstroke correctly, and I had nothing on freestyle. I thought about doing backstroke on the second round, but I wanted to test my freestyle, and was glad I did. My lane mate, Gordon Beh, decided to swim next to me on the second round, and it helped push me on the last two 50s. As usual, though, Gordon is a "Sammy Save-Up," and he blasted a 28 on the last 50 after holding three 50s in the 30-point range.

My left shoulder felt better this morning, though still a little stiff on butterfly. Well, every part of me hurts on butterfly, so I didn't feel the pain too concentrated on one part of my body. I should have put some ice on my shoulder after swimming, but the facility had no ice bags, and I forgot to bring the bag I had laid out on my counter last night for such a thing.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Raise It Up

Date: Monday, April 9, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
77 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

3x(3x100 on 2:00)
1. 25 swim/25 kick/25 free kick drill/25 swim
2. 50 back/50 free (50 back/50 breast on rounds two and three)
3. pull with buoy

odd: free aerobic on 2:20 (avg. 2:00)
even: 50 breast pull/50 breast kick/50 breast swim on 2:50 (avg. 2:25)

100 easy

8x25 on :35
odd: 15 fast kick underwater/10 easy
even: 10 easy/15 fast swim

3x(4x50 on 1:00)
1-3 easy
4 breast swim fast (34.6, 34.4, 34.6)

200 easy (with stretching)

Total: 3,800 meters (80 minutes)

During my pre-Easter feast nap yesterday, I slept in a weird position, and it affected my left shoulder, which is my "bad" shoulder. I felt stiff later that night, and took some ibuprofen to hopefully loosen the muscles. I did not have any more Ben-Gay, so it was the next viable option. (Ice, I realized as I was lying in bed that night, would have been another option.)

So, this morning, I felt a little stiffness in my shoulder as I did my dynamic stretching and my 300 warmup. It started to feel better after about 40 minutes in the pool, but I think my range of motion was affected. I wasn't able to extend fully on each freestyle stroke, but nothing that was alarming.

The main set as written was essentially 10x200 with little rest. I have 77 days to go to Olympic Trials, so this part of the season is not about distance freestyle. I did 150s, because I knew I needed to work on long course endurance -- and breaststroke. The water wasn't 83 degrees, like it was on Saturday in Tucson, but it was still a bit warm ... maybe 81.5. The weather is getting much warmer in Phoenix (93 degrees for a high today), so I'm hoping the water heater is off and the aerators are getting primed for duty!

I was somewhat happy with my fast 50s today. I wasn't feeling power in my pull or kick, but the stroke felt clean, i.e. no unnecessary movements or body angles. After that long 1500 set, I wasn't really up for sprinting, even though I had done some short sprint bursts. Time-wise, it's not very fast, but as I said, I wasn't feeling much like a sprinter today. Tomorrow I hope to do more power stuff, though maybe shorter than 50 meters. I need to start feeling explosive in the water!

I decided to do my dryland with JR Rosania today instead of Wednesday, because I wanted to do the Wednesday lactate workout with Phoenix Swim Club ... and because my schedule allowed me to make the change. The past two weeks have been tough on the muscles. We're working on explosive power, and to do that, JR is increasing the weight on some of my exercises, particularly the dreaded leg extensions!

The other exercise that totally obliterates me is the breaststroke pull exercise. Holding on to two stretch cords, I simulate the outsweep of the breaststroke pull. Each week I have been increasing the repetitions, with the goal of doing three sets of 50 before May. Why 50? That's the approximate number of strokes I take in a 100-meter breaststroke race, rounded up from my actual target of 44 (21 first 50, 23 second 50)

By the end of the workout, I could barely lift my arms over my head, but all in all, a good day of exercise. I feel like I am back in the swing of things after three weeks of upheaval. Tonight, I put a big bag of ice on my left shoulder for about 30 minutes. It feels better, but still a little stiff.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Heat Is On

Date: Saturday, April 7, 2012
Time: 9 a.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Short Course Meters
79 days to Olympic Trials

600 warmup

3x150 back on 2:20 (avg. 1:56)
50 easy on 1:00
3x100 IM on 1:40 (avg. 1:15)
100 easy
3x50 breast on 1:00 (avg. :37)
150 easy

50 easy swim on 1:10
2x100 on 2:00 (25 underwater flutter kick fast/25 easy)
100 easy swim on 2:00
2x50 on 1:10 (25 breast fast/25 easy)
100 easy swim
2x50 breast swim fast on 1:10 (33.1, 33.9)

4x75 on 1:20 -- 25 back/25 breast/25 free
1-3 aerobic
4 fast (:46)

Four starts

100 easy

Total: 2,950 meters (65 minutes)

With the water temperature at 83 degrees in the diving well at the University of Arizona's Hillenbrand Aquatic Center, there was no way to do any major sprinting set. That said, I made sure to keep my heart rate down throughout the workout, as it tends to get quite high when trying to exert myself in warm water. I swam with a slower group this morning, because I did not want to do another freestyle workout. The intervals in my group were about five seconds slower per 100, which was just fine. I probably could have done the same set with the faster group, but with the water being warm, I wanted to have a little more rest, to allow my body time to "cool off."

The best thing about today was being able to work on starts, using the facility's starting blocks that have the new fins attached to them. These are the types of starting blocks that will be used at Olympic Trials, and this is the only place I'm able to get used to them. The difference between these and regular starting blocks is that the new ones give you a better angle of trajectory, and allow you to have more power in your back foot when you push off the block. During my starts today, I got about 12 to 13 meters on my start, though I did glide a little longer than usual before starting my pull. The main thing was working on what I do in the air, and work on flexing my ankles better before entry. It's a lot to think about, but the more I work on it now, the less I will have to concentrate on it in Omaha.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Afternoon Delight

Date: Friday, April 6, 2012
Time: 12:10 p.m.
Location: Tucson, AZ
Long Course Meters
80 days to Olympic Trials

200 warmup

400 free on 6:00 (5:30)
4x100 free on 1:30 (averaged 1:11)
300 free on 4:30 (4:10)
3x100 free on 1:30 (averaged 1:11)
200 free on 3:00
2x100 free on 1:30 (averaged 1:10)

3x200 :15 rest -- 100 back/100 free

3x100 on 1:45 -- 50 breast kick drill/50 free overkick

200 easy

Total: 3,100 meters (60 minutes)

Friday at Tucson Ford Masters is always distance day. I knew this going in, but it did not make the workout any easier. The main set was quite tough, and I was extremely surprised that my aerobic endurance got me through the set with little difficulty.

I will admit that I took a little break during the 300 to prepare for the 3x100s. I did only 250 meters by turning around at the halfway point after 225 meters. I wanted a little more rest to get my heart rate down before preparing for the 100s. If I hadn't, I might not have been able to hold 1:11 on the second round.

Through the set, I was doing my best to keep up with a great distance swimmer, Jeff Utsch, who was in the lane next to me. I should have known better to keep pace with a guy who swam distance free at Arizona and has been a top Masters swimmer for many years. But, again, I was glad my body kept going through the set, and that I was able to hold such fast times on the repeats. I had originally planned to average 1:15. You don't think that's much of a difference, but it is. Those four seconds mean a lot, especially on the final two 100s. It wasn't just Jeff and I that were swimming so fast on that set. Everyone else seemed to step up and do very well, and I was glad to be a part of it.

The best thing to come out of that set is not only some endurance training, but some good freestyle work, particularly for my 200 IM. I tend to falter badly on my freestyle on the 200 IM, and workouts like this really help with that. Yes, my primary focus for the next 80 days is my 100 breast, but I am not forgetting that I'm swimming at the US Masters nationals the following week, and I'll need to keep in touch with my other strokes in the interim.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Eyes of a Child

Date: Thursday, April 5, 2012
Time: 4:30 p.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
81 days to Olympic Trials

Today was probably the hardest 3,300 meters I've done in months. I knew the workout with the gold group at Phoenix Swim Club would be tough, given my forced time off last week, but I did not expect us to do anything close to the final 1,500 meters:

2x100 pull on 1:25 (50 back/40 breast/10 free)
1x50 dolphin kick on back on 1:00
2x100 swim on 1:25 as above
1x50 dolphin kick on back on 1:00
2x100 swim with short fins on 1:25 as above
1x50 dolphin kick on back on 1:00

One minute rest, then repeat set with the following change:
2x100 on 1:25 (50 back/40 breast/10 free)

When you're a teenager, you can do sets like this and not be affected by it. When you're in your late 30s, you can probably get through the set, but you'll be hanging on the edge of the pool deck for a couple of minutes, wondering how the kids around you have the energy to laugh at a joke just told.

The worst part of the set was that it combined three of the things I am horrible at in the pool: pulling, dolphin kick and swimming with fins. For that reason, I went to the back of the lane, in case I found myself unable to make the interval. I was able to make the interval each time, but in some cases I was only able to "touch and go." It turned out to be pretty much a straight 750 meters. My heart rate at the end of each round wasn't as high as I thought (about 170), which made me feel good about how I did on the set.

The key of surviving a set like this and not get wrapped up in making the interval is concentrating on technique. For me, I worked on kicking more on backstroke and keeping my body line more parallel than normal. For breaststroke, I tried to think about my hand speed on the recovery and holding a good body line. It helped somewhat, but I still worried about making the interval and not looking like an old man in front of the kids.

My upper back was extremely sore today. Yesterday's workout with JR Rosania made swimming breaststroke difficult today, since many of the exercises focused on building breaststroke-specific muscles. I didn't expect to be back to normal today, but today was a good step back to normal. By Monday, I should be ready to get back into race-ready training, and I can't wait to do lots of sprint training!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Tired

Date: Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Time: 5:45 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
82 days to Olympic Trials

300 warmup

16x50 on 1:00
1-4 free breathing every 5
5-8 back
9-12 breast
13-16 free breathing every 4

9x200 on 4:30
1-4: 25 kick with small fins/25 kick easy (got about 1 minute rest between repeats)
5: 25 breast kick underwater fast/25 swim easy (about 40 seconds rest)
6-9: 50 swim fast/50 swim easy
        #6 & #8: free averaging :31
        #7: back averaging :33
        # 8: breast averaging :35

200 free easy, breathing every 4

200 easy: 25 scull/25 swim

Total: 3,300 meters (75 minutes)

I was awakened at 2:30 a.m. by a couple bickering loudly outside my window. There was no way to sleep through it. They were so loud, it was easy to understand every word they were saying, some of which I would prefer not to repeat here. The argument lasted about 10 minutes. The man got in his car and drove away. The woman kept yelling after him, using words I will not print here.

After the verbal storm, I tried to go back to sleep. It was no use. My brain was awake, processing the day that was and the day that was about to be. The harder I tried to sleep, the more difficult it was. The last time I saw the clock was 3:45, about 75 minutes before my alarm was set to go off. I woke up feeling groggy, but I usually feel that way. I was OK during workout, but by 1 p.m. I was dragging, mentally and physically.

Today's workout didn't help me physically. It was tough. The main set originally was 10 rounds of a 100 fast, then a 100 easy on a 4:30 interval. Not my cup of tea, especially this time of the season. Mark Rankin decided to take a vacation, and left a simple workout for our coach, Mary Jo Pursley. No fault to her, but it was a very mind-numbing workout. Even if Mark had been there, I would have dome something different. The way I did the set was more conducive to a sprinter, and though I wasn't yet ready to be a full-on sprinter in my second workout after six days off from swimming, I did pretty well. I wasn't thrilled with my times on the 50s swim, but I gave it a good effort.

Tonight's dryland session with JR Rosania was one of the toughest ever. Definitely one of the toughest I've done in a couple of months. Oddly, the dreaded leg extensions were not the hardest thing on the menu today. The breaststroke stretch cord pull was definitely difficult! We've been building up the repetitions of the exercise every week, starting at 20 reps of just doing the breaststroke outsweep. Now, I'm at 40 reps for three sets, and I thought my arms were going to collapse on me after the third set. I'm writing this about an hour after doing the workout, and I'm still quite sore despite a decent cool down and stretching. I'm going to take a good amount of ibuprofen and put some Ben-Gay on my left shoulder, as a preventative measure.

I am so sleepy right now I could go to bed and not wake up until dawn. Luckily, I'm swimming with the kids at Phoenix Swim Club tomorrow, so I get to "sleep in" until 6:45!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

All Star

Date: Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Time: 5:40 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Long Course Meters
83 days to Olympic Trials

400 warmup

4x200 on 3:30
25 back/25 free

4x(4x25 on :30) IM order

24x50 on :50
1-8 back (averaged :41)
9-16 50 IM (12.5 fly/12.5 back/12.5 breast/12.5 free) (averaged :41)
17-24 free (averaged :38)

400 breast kick easy with board, working on technique

4x100 back on 2:15, descend 1-4
(1:25, 1:20, 1:15, 1:11)

200 easy

Total: 3,800 meters (85 minutes)

I haven't swum since last Wednesday. When you are an adult with a full-time job, you have to work with what you have when you travel for business. I've been happy and fortunate that my travels in March before last week took me to meets that gave me the opportunity to do full workouts, but that was not the case last week. Despite my job taking me to the Far Western championships in Morgan Hill, California, I was not able to do a workout, because the way the meet is run, the pool is only open for about 30 minutes between sessions.

Sure, I could have jumped in and "splashed around" for 30 minutes just to stay in swimming shape, but I felt it would have been useless. It would have begun to feel like a taper workout, because I would have only been able to do a warm-up and a very brief set. If I would have been able to get in more than 2,000 yards in 30 minutes, it would have been a miracle. So, I decided not swimming was the best choice. I did get to the gym on Friday, thanks to my membership at 24 Hour Fitness that is good anywhere in the country! I did 30 minutes on the treadmill and another 30 minutes working primarily on upper body.

I did not expect to do much today in the water. I certainly was not expecting 3,800 meters, nor did I expect to be able to handle those 50s on :50. I thought my body would crash at the halfway point, but I was able to keep going through it, despite only nine seconds rest on the first 16 of them. My heart rate was about 160 after the set, which is aerobic for me. With this being my first workout after six days away, added to getting only six hours of sleep and the fact that it was long course (not easy to adjust to after a brief break), I was happy with how my body held up this morning.

I didn't put too high of a goal for myself in the last set of 100s. I did not feel much like a sprinter today, and my muscles did not want to move very fast. I said a 1:10 on the last 100 would be fine, and I was only one second slower. I couldn't hold my arm tempo for the entire 100, and my legs weren't kicking strong. By this time next week, things should be back to normal.

Earlier today, I was searching the United States Masters Swimming website for any news on what was going on in the Masters community. I remembered then that the list of people who made the USMS All-Star team is usually released in April. I went to that part of the site listing the All-Stars, and there was my name! For those who are not a part of the Masters swimming community, being an All-Star is a big accomplishment. It means you are ranked number one in the most events across all three swimming courses (short course yards, long course meters and short course meters) in a calendar year. For some people, it's not difficult to get this honor, as they completely dominate in their age groups. I've won this five previous times, and every year I was never sure I would get it until the list was released, because as a breaststroker, I do not swim as many events as a freestyler, who has many more racing options than I do. This year, I was in a close battle with Tyler Blessing, who won the All-Star for the 35-39 age group in 2010. Tyler was very fast in 2010, getting 12 #1 rankings to my seven. In 2011, I was worried that Tyler would put up a lot of long course and short course meters swims, but he did not do that, enabling me to get the honor this year.

The All-Star award is one of the highest honors a Masters swimmer can get. It rewards you for competing all year, and for being consistently fast all year. Obviously, 2011 was a big year for me in the pool, and this is just one honor that is proving all the hard work I put in was worth it. I'm not sure if I am going for the 2012 All-Star honor. I haven't done any short course yards racing, and with the yards season ending May 31, I have no plans to do so. It means I'll have to accumulate a lot of meters swims in the next eight months. I plan on taking a nice break after July, but we'll see how things shake out.

For now, I'm just glad to be back in Arizona, and back in the pool. My life is going to be very normal from now until Trials, and I'm very thankful for that. I do not plan to leave Arizona until I board the plane for Omaha, and I'll only swim in local meets before then. No need to travel to, say, the Santa Clara Grand Prix to "test things out," when I can just race the really fast Arizona swimmers in early May, and sleep in my own bed!