First meet of 2011
Due to various ailments and infections I have had to miss two meets this year. Had registered for both but had to pull out at the last moment. So it was with great joy that I was able to participate in the British Columbia Provincial Championships as a 76 year old this last weekend. Expectations were not high as I had had only about 4 weeks back in the water after about 30 days enforced layoff. It was held in Kelowna in their new Aquatic Centre which is a sight to behold. It was a Short Course Meter (SCM) event.
I swam in 9 events 7 individual and 2 relays. 5 on Sat. and 4 on Sun.
The place of finish is not important as in 4 of 5 of the Free events I was the only one in my age group (75-79). The first swim was the 400 and I was second to a competitor from Washington State by about 4 sec. My pacing was not good and I left too much in the pool. My last 25 I had lots of juice left. As a result I missed the Provincial record by 1.5 sec. (splits 44:17, 50:03, 53:33, 55:27, 54.34, 54:97, 55:95, 51:83 Total 6:59.89.
The next two races were 100 Fly and 50 Fly and I was edged by another old friend in both for the gold. I had done little Fly work in the last month so was not at my best. 44.86 and 1:52.77 which are both off last year times.
The last race of the day was 200 Free and fatigue is my excuse for the 3:15.06 which is 5 seconds off my record time of last year.
Sunday was better as the first race was the 800 Free and I set a BC record. The time was 15:08.06 which took 24 seconds off. It had stood for 12 years. Am going to set a goal of low 14 minutes for next year. My pacing was better as after 2 - 50's of 46:44 and 54:68 I settled into 11 50's in the 58 sec range. the last 3 50's were 56'48, 57:18 and a closing 50:06. Again I had lots left for that last faster 50. Was pleased with the consistency. Have to do some work on being able to recognize the pace I am swimming.
The final two individual races were the 100 and 50 meter Frees. 100 Free I missed the record by .6 sec. Was pleased with the 1:21.76 as it was less than last years time. I felt the last 5 meters I was starting to weaken. But there was nothing left in the tank. Also the last 50M split was only 2.5 seconds slower so I was close to being within 2 seconds of the first 50.
The 50 Free was slower than last year by about .6 sec and fatigue was setting in by that time. We finished with a 200M mixed free relay and the split time got screwed up so I don't know if there was any further deterioration.
All in all a good weekend of swimming and seeing old friends and acquaintances. And lots of food for thought.
A number of my races were faster than last year which had been slower because of the swim suit regulation change. I am aiming to see how close I can come to matching those full body suit times. Of course father time has something to say but Terry and you folks in this forum give me lots of tools.
One last thought. I still enjoy the sprints and really liked the feel of the 800. Not so much the 400 but that was the first race and always have a lot of excitement to handle.
So going to concentrate on 100 to 800 Free and 50 to 200 Fly for the next year.
Good luck on your Nationals Terry.
Congratulations on your successes! It seems to me that you did wonderfully well, especially considering your health issues and how little prep time you had. I'm impressed with the number and variety of events you swam.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on what you'd like to improve. I'm still a beginner and have not thought of racing, but reports like yours make it sound intriguing.
Grant thanks for the post. I can only echo the written word of Cynthiam.
Swim Silent and Be Well
Thanks for sharing your results and reflections with us. One personal goal I've decided I want to prioritize - and use the bully pulpit TI provides - is to more vocally encourage TI swimmers to consider entering competitions or 'measured events' of some kind. And I want to aim this message particularly at people age 55+.
I have a somewhat selfish motive in doing this. Having moved from the 55-59 age group to the 60-64 I can't help notice how the ranks of competitors become fairly thin in the age groups beyond 60. In one sense it makes little sense. We have more free time to devote to pastimes and diversions.
I understand one aspect of why many people who were active competitors when I was 38 or 48 seem to have dropped out. They've probably become discouraged by steadily-slowing times. So it's important to demonstrate that absolute time is a too-narrow way of judging the quality of a swim, while relative time is far more interesting -- and more revealing.
In any case, I'm delighted that both you and Richard Skerrett not only continue to compete with relish in your mid-70s, but that you both faithfully share your thoughts about it. If we start to see more people doing the same on the TI Forum, you'll both deserve much credit.
If people ask "What's so good about racing?" I can answer with complete conviction "It's been proven good for your health."
1) Racing keeps your body younger. Because the 85+ age group is growing faster than any other, gerontologists study older athletes closely for clues to healthy aging. As we age, our cellular 'power plants' - mitochondria - degrade, hurting endurance and strength. Researchers believe that intensive training does more than lower-intensity exercise to rejuvenate mitochondria and stimulate production of telomerase, an enzyme that keeps genetic info intact when cells divide.
2) Racing keeps your mind younger. Your phrase above 'food for thought' is key here. Before a race you think much more strategically than before a training session. After the race you review your splits and -- as in your report above - evaluate how you could have swum better. That leads naturally to more examined thinking about practice: How to rehearse and imprint more successful race strategies, rather than just put in time and yards.
Any sort of abiding passion, and particularly one that not only involves critical analysis and strategic thinking -- but combines such thinking with movement and exertion -- has been clearly identified by neuroscientists as especially good for keeping brain function at a high level as we age.
What I highlighted above from your post were the thoughts that have value to all of us:
Swimming a multitude of events pushes you to plan the best way to maintain performance through many races. It also pushes you to come up with - and execute - a far wider range of strategies than if you only swam in a few or only in a narrow range of events. And on the brain health side, there's particular evidence that escaping your comfort zone is strongly beneficial. Swimming - and training for - events you struggle with is far more valuable than doing those in which you have a history of success.
Time and place are relatively unimportant. I used to focus on where I placed in my events. Then I asked should I be happier about a 1st place, than 3rd or 4th place, finish? I won my first national championship in a 3k race in which there was sparse competition in my age group. I was surprised how little satisfaction that provided. In striking contrast was the intense satisfaction I felt a year later after coming 2nd in a really intense race with a good friend and rival at the national 2-mile cable championship. The glow of that experience lasted for months. As well, a narrow focus on place will discourage us from venturing outside our comfort zone. As well, when swimming in our most familiar events -- those in which we long ago cracked the code -- we're more likely to switch to mental autopilot. Both limit brain benefits
Pacing is key. In every 'sustainability' challenge we face, whether it's minimizing loss of speed with age, or keeping a steady pace in a longer event, or maintaining performance through 3 or more races in one meet session, mastery of pacing is utterly essential.
And this is why relative time is more important than absolute time. As I've aged my perspective on races has changed. When I was younger, it was hard to avoid a high-pressure feeling, but in my late 50s my goal became to turn races into a game or art form. My time for 1000 Free at Nationals next week will probably be nearly a minute slower in absolute time than it was 20 years ago, but I'm still excited about my goal of artful pacing. I know what I need to do to make that happen - minimize the gap between the first and second 100, or first and second 200. And that goal gives me a mission for practice over the coming week that will call upon my creativity in thinking up ways to rehearse my strategy.
Seeing old friends. At the Zone meet I had a chance to reconnect with several people I coached or coached with 30 years ago. Several swimmers at the meet, now in their 40s, swam for me between age 10 and 15 around 1980. How cool it is now to be colleagues in Masters.
I also get uplift just from the sense of shared experience I have with strangers. Before my first event, the 200 Fly, I was standing behind the blocks visualizing with pretty keen focus. My focus was broken when the prior heat finished and a guy in his 50s climbed wearily from the pool in my lane and said "Man, that was hard." But he said it with such a wide smile that I immediately felt happier and lighter. That was more valuable to my mental prep for the coming race than visualization of perfection. (Though I still believe in its value.)
[quote=terry;19061 I also get uplift just from the sense of shared experience I have with strangers. Before my first event, the 200 Fly, I was standing behind the blocks visualizing with pretty keen focus. My focus was broken when the prior heat finished and a guy in his 50s climbed wearily from the pool in my lane and said "Man, that was hard." But he said it with such a wide smile that I immediately felt happier and lighter. That was more valuable to my mental prep for the coming race than visualization of perfection. (Though I still believe in its value.)[/QUOTE]
Thank you everybody for your acknowledgments. They are appreciated. And also Terry for putting the post into a educational context.
The quote above speaks of Terry's experience before the race. I would like to share an experience after one of my races. First a little background. In Masters Swimming we swim times finals which just means one race. Unlike the open swimming where they will swim 3 races with the winner of the last race gets the Gold medal. When entering we submit our seed times. This is the time we expect to swim that race. This ensures that those swimming in the nearby lanes are in the same area of competence. Thus they can be of any age and sex. This is a good system as you are almost assuredly guaranteed a competitive race. The computer figures out the age group placings after.
Usual I have talked with the swimmers on both sides of my lane but in the 100 Free I did not see or notice the swimmer on my left in lane 8 until we were called to get on the blocks. I knew from the heat sheets we were very close in our seed times. We switched leeds several times in the race and I know she pushed/pulled me to my fastest time in 2 years. Now the neatest part. We are both
panting very heavily hanging on the wall and our eyes met and she broke out in a face splitting smile and mine did at the same time. She looked to be in rapture and I felt I was. The experience was magnified by the sharing. We said a quiet "nice race" and went on with our day.
Such are the joys of Masters Swim Meets.
Yes, indeed. The joy of being pulled along to a good time is something worth savoring. I can't say I've experienced the joy of being pushed to a good time yet but perhaps one day that will come too.
I'm glad you finally managed to swim in one of your meets, Grant. It is very frustrating to have to withdraw due to extraneous circumstances.
Congratulations on your record and good luck in your quest for more of them.
An analogy that comes to mind is biofeedback, the fascinating process by which patients learn to change physiological activity -- including brainwaves, heart function, blood pressure, muscle activity, and skin temperature -- for the purpose of improving health and performance. It's done via concentrated thought with the physiological activity measured by precise instruments. The patient watches the measuring device and 'moves the needle' by thought.
The feedback improves the patient's ability to target the thought.
During yesterday's practice on this set
3 x 100 [25FL25BK] SPL = 7FL-14BK-8FL-16BK
Hold stroke count and descend without effort.
I was working on addressing what I analyzed as a weak spot in my 400 IM. I seem to exert too much effort on the 100 Fly that comes first. My 2nd 50 of Fly slows too much from the 1st 50 and my backstroke splits are dramatically slower than those in my 200 BK. It was clear that I spend a good deal of the race recovering from the effort of swimming Fly.
So my goal for the 400 IM I'll swim on Friday as my 2nd event at Nationals to swim the 100 FLY at the same pace as I did at Zones, but with much less effort. That should allow me to swim much faster on the 100 BK and 100 BR that follows.
So on the set above I focused on feeling as if I was pulled forward by a natural energy after landing in each Fly stroke. My feedback would be partly kinesthetic, feeling the forward pull, and partly from the pace clock. If I improved my ability to translate thought into reality, I should see my time improve on each 100 without increasing effort -- or strokes.
I went 1:32 - 1:30 - 1:29. It appears that it worked. I'll bring that Focal Point into the 400 IM with me next Friday.
[quote=terry;19072]Consider the possibility of being pulled to faster times even without another swimmer's help. I've experimented at times with using that as a Focal Point and found it almost always works. It's a Focal Point that calls upon you to employ a stronger gift of imagination, but I think it illustrates our remarkable ability to learn how to effect physical, tangible change with the power of thought.
That's a very interesting idea and definitely worth trying. I have noticed that I swim faster when I'm chasing a faster swimmer in practice and although some of the increased speed may be down to drafting, sometimes the faster swimmer is so far ahead that there can hardly be any suction between us.
I'll try to invent an imaginary swimmer the next time I swim - tomorrow if all goes according to plan.
Another aspect of using the mind to ones advantage when in race mode is how one handles it emotionally when one is the rabbit and when one is chasing the rabbit. In my early days of racing I much preferred chasing someone. I noticed that I had a lot of negative emotions concerning being chased. Especially experiencing pressure. I found by lightening up and actually enjoying the game of staying ahead of the one chasing me was far more enhancing than tightening up and dispairing. If I am passed I switch into chase mode and all the attendant joys of the chase take over. We can have it both ways.
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