Friday, May 18, 2012

One More Chance

Date: Friday, May 18, 2012
Time: 5:50 a.m.
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Short Course Meters
38 days to Olympic Trials

3x(4x100 on 2:00)
1. 75 swim/25 kick
2. 50 swim/50 kick
3. 25 swim/75 kick
4. 100 kick

12x50 on 1:00
odd: 25 flutter kick rotating all sides/25 swim
even: 25 dolphin kick rotating all sides/25 swim

100 breast kick with board fast (1:30)

300 free easy with snorkel

4x15 breakouts on :45

2x50 breast fast from push on 2:00 (31.6, 31.8)

200 easy

2x50 breast fast from push on 2:00 (32.0, 32.0)

200 easy

50 breast fast from push (31.3)

100 easy

Total: 3,050 meters (75 minutes)

I haven't done a lot of breaststroke kick work recently, so today had a breaststroke focus. I was surprised that we didn't do more fast kicking, but I wasn't really complaining. I did very well on the fast 100 kick. I wasn't expecting to go 1:30 in meters. I think I usually go 1:30 for yards!

This makes me happy because I'm getting stronger in my legs, thanks to all that vertical kicking and work with JR. My IT bands, which greatly help breaststrokers, are quite sore this afternoon, but it's nothing a nice soak in the hot tub won't cure, which is what I plan to do after work. The hot tub at my gym isn't the best, but since I'm paying for it, I need to use it!

As for the fast 50s, I was extremely happy with them. I was working on grabbing as much water as possible on my outsweep, and as a result, my Trapezius muscles were working very hard this morning. These are the muscles used mostly to help the arms go outward on the breaststroke pull, and is a reason why you see overdeveloped "traps" on many breaststrokers.

After the second round of 50s, I was content to do a warm down and move on with my day. But, something inside me convinced me I could do one more 50 under 32 seconds. How was I able to go 31.3? It's real simple. On the first two rounds, I was circle swimming with others in my lane. On the fifth 50, I swam straight in the lane. But besides that, I picked up my stroke rate just a little bit. I had a long glide into the finish, but it couldn't be helped. Knowing I was going to be a little far from the wall, I just kicked extra hard on the last stroke. When I heard the time, I didn't tell those around me that I went faster mostly because I wasn't swimming in a circle, but I let them heap lots of praise on me. I was, despite the obvious advantage, happy that I was able to break 32 seconds, and it was a good way to end the workout.


I haven't mentioned anything about this, but I found this article about the special group of swimmers that I belong to: the breaststrokers. I've copied the full article from below. Everything that's mentioned about breaststrokers is pretty much true!

By Ryan Hurley, NBCOlympics
Thus far in 2012, Phelps’s world rankings are fourth in the 100m butterfly, fifth in the 100m freestyle, 10th in the 100m backstroke, and tied for 77th in the 100m breaststroke.* True there are millions of swimmers out there that swim their entire career without being ranked 77th in the world in any event, but comparatively for Phelps it does not stack up.  The trend is similar for most of the other elite “well-rounded” swimmers because of one simple fact - you’re either a breaststroker or you aren’t. 

Just ask Brendan Hansen, Rebecca Soni, Eric Shanteau, Amanda Beard, or Kosuke Kitajima.

They represent the other side of the spectrum – the best breaststrokers in the world, who cannot disguise themselves as anything else. It is unlikely that you will see them compete in any event other than the breaststrokes, let alone earning a spot in the world rankings. For the most part, breaststrokers put in their two races, and an occasional high-stakes medley-relay leg, and are on their way. 

More so than with any other stroke, breaststrokers find their calling early on in their swim career, and if the body position and feel does not come naturally, it’s an uphill battle to master the stroke.

“It either comes to you or it doesn’t,” says Olympic-gold-medalist Rebecca Soni. “You have to have funky legs that turn in funky ways and stretch.”

The way breaststrokers are built affects the way they must train, often breaking off into their own practice group and doing particular sets that allow them to hone their skill. Tips on rotating your feet, lifting your torso, or extending your glide are instructions you would hear barked in the breaststroke group, but nowhere else. You might also see more kick sets or breath control, as breaststrokers spend plenty of time underwater during their pullouts and rely heavily on their legs.

Breaststroke to me, at least the way I swim breaststroke, it’s more [about] finesse, more of a gliding stroke than the others,” says Soni. As it is the slowest of the four strokes, breaststrokers are always looking to find that perfect rhythm, and glide a little bit more smoothly.

Outside of their atypical training, breaststrokers are also known for their unorthodox perspectives on the sport, and - most notably to the untrained eye – their distinctive walk or waddle. 

“We’re definitely the weird ones,” says American Eric Shanteau. “I think you have to be weird to swim breaststroke. You can pick us out in a group of swimmers - we’re usually the ones standing with our feet sticking straight out like a duck.” 

For the most part though, breaststrokers embrace their role as the oddballs of the swim community. Consider it a peaceful medium between the nutty distance workhorses and the often-envied lackadaisical sprinters.   

“We’re our own special breed of swimmer,” says Shanteau. “It’s kind of fun being in that little group within the group.”


  1. I mean, Shanteau and Beard have won medals at Worlds and the Olympics, respectively, in the 200 IM. Not that they're not primarily breaststrokers now, just goes a bit against the guy's third paragraph.

  2. Yes, there are a few in history who have done well internationally in the 200 IM, hence the phrase used in the article "For the most part..."

    1. Completely agreed, but I didn't cherry-pick those two from the annals of swimming - he brought them up himself. He didn't mention Jessica Hardy though, so that was good.