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Old 04-21-2011
terry terry is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2008
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Originally Posted by Grant View Post
I swam in 9 events 7 individual and 2 relays. 5 on Sat. and 4 on Sun.

The place of finish is not important

The first swim was the 400 . . . My pacing was not good and I left too much in the pool. 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.

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.

All in all a good weekend of swimming and seeing old friends and acquaintances. And lots of food for thought.

So going to concentrate on 100 to 800 Free and 50 to 200 Fly for the next year.
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.)
Terry Laughlin
Head Coach & Chief Executive Optimist

May your laps be as happy as mine.

My TI Story

Last edited by terry : 04-21-2011 at 12:20 PM.
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