Second meet of 2014
My first meet of the year was a bit of a disappointment due to a minor injury that I received when I slipped on some black ice 2 1/2 weeks prior to the meet. The good news is that the symptoms of the injury went away right after the meet, and I was once again able to swim both butterfly and breaststroke without any discomfort. So I had no issues to deal with going into my second meet.
One of the trickiest parts of planning for any meet is choosing which events to compete in. Among the factors I consider are:
1) What events are included in the meet. This meet, for example, didn't have any distances longer than 100y for any events but freestyle and individual medley (I.M.).
2) Recovery time. I never sign up for back-to-back events, and may even want more than one intervening event if I know from experience that meet turnout may be low, or if an intervening event is relatively unpopular, and may therefore have only a single heat.
3) Time since I last set a PB in an event. There are currently 14 events that I "do" (in the sense that I have practiced those events in the past year or so), and I have a goal of trying to do personal best (PB) times in all of those events every 2 years. So when I set a PB time in an event, I normally won't do it again in competition for awhile because I want to concentrate on doing those events for which I haven't recently set a PB time.
4) Competition. Since all of the meets I participate in are invitational, I never know for sure what competition I'm going to face. But I've found that there's some consistency in which swimmers patronize certain meets. All other things being equal, I'll tend to go with events where I think I have a decent chance of placing well, and I prefer events where I do this by beating my competition rather than by not having competition.
The lead-off event for this meet was 200y freestyle, which I hadn't done for awhile, and for which I hadn't set a PB time in more than 6 years. (My last attempt, in October of 2012, had been sabotaged when, less than a week before the meet, I had been trying to tune my pacing for the event in a somewhat crowded lane and, while attempting to avoid another swimmer on a turn, had badly muffed the turn and whacked my foot against the gutter. I had still been recovering from the injury on the day of the meet, and had ended up literally setting a personal worst time in the event, though I did prove that, if necessary, I could swim 200y with an injured foot!) So that seemed like a good choice.
The next-to-last event of the meet was 100y I.M., in which I had last set a PB time in April of 2011. I had tried to set another PB in October of 2013, but had failed. So I was ready to try again.
Since these events were almost like bookends to the meet, I decided that I could do another event somewhere in the middle of the meet while still having enough recovery time. 200y I.M. was an event I had been doing as a warmup during most of my practices for about 2 years, but I had never actually done it in competition. There were plenty of events between 200y I.M. and 100y I.M., so I didn't see any problem with scheduling both events. In fact, it even occurred to me that 200y I.M. might make a good warmup for subsequently doing 100y I.M.
I thought, going into the meet, that I had a decent chance of doing PB times in all three events. (200y I.M., of course, would be a "by definition" PB time, assuming I didn't muff something and get disqualified.) I was least confident about 200y freestyle, since my practice times during the week before the meet had been somewhat erratic.
One unfortunate decision I had to make at the meet was whether to practice my forward starts during warmup. Ordinarily, I would always do this if I were going to be swimming any events other than backstroke since (like many masters swimmers) I don't get to practice forward starts during my practices. Unfortunately, at this meet, they didn't open the starting blocks until about 10 minutes before the meet was due to begin, and I had already decided that I didn't want to be in the water for about 20 minutes before the meet started, since I was literally going to be in the first event of the day.
My decision definitely hurt my starts, but I still think it was the correct decision given the circumstances. The good news is that, in spite of a poor start, I still succeeded in knocking more than 2 seconds off my previous PB time for 200y freestyle. And, in a way, it's nice that I did this in spite of a less than optimal performance, since this means that I'll probably be able to set another PB in this event in the not-too-distant future. This is really the culmination of the training I've been doing over the past few years, in which I've worked on seeing how much I can increase my stroke rate while maintaining efficient technique.
Whenever I'm swimming an event for the first time, my primary goal is just to prove that I can complete the event successfully under competitive conditions, since any time I get is by definition, a PB time. I also took first place for my age group, though this was because of (ahem) lack of competition. ;-) But I'll take first places however I can get them. All in all, though, it was very satisfying to finally add 200 I.M. to the list of events I've done in competition.
Unfortunately, on my final event, something happened that has never before happened to me at a meet. The event preceding 100y I.M. was 50y freestyle, and there were a total of 6 heats of that event. I walked over to the starting blocks during the final few heats to be ready when my event started, but I apparently miscounted which heat they were on, and, to further compound the problem, they neglected to announce that the next event was starting. I didn't realize what was happening until the last minute, when I realized that the swimmers stepping up on the blocks didn't look like they'd be the fastest swimmers in a 50y freestyle event, and asked the backup timers whether the next event was starting. But before they could answer, the starting tone sounded, and it was too late! So I missed my final event.
I would have been more unhappy if I hadn't already had two successful heats. As it is, I've decided that this will just give me a chance to work on some aspects of my 100 I.M. that I really hadn't had time to work on prior to the meet. My practices had really just focused on tuning my pacing for the event, but I had realized that there were also some places where my technique could use some work. My back-to-breast turn (which isn't used anywhere but in I.M.) is certainly less than optimal. And all of my breaststroke training in recent years has been focused on prepping for the 200 breaststroke, whereas the breaststroke leg of 100 I.M. really consists of sprinting rather than distance swimming. Since I don't have any meets coming up for awhile, this seems like an ideal time to work on some of these other things.
Last edited by CoachBobM : 04-26-2014 at 07:56 AM.