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Old 04-07-2014
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 647
Default First meet of 2014

My first meet of the year was held in late February. One of the attractions of this meet for me is that, unlike many of the adult swim meets that are held in my area, this one includes distances longer than 100 for events other than freestyle and individual medley. So I planned to take advantage of this by swimming both 200y breaststroke (which I had never before done in competition) and 200y backstroke.

Unfortunately, I had a mishap about 2 1/2 weeks before the meet. I was going out to my car one evening while some light snow was falling, and didn't realize that there was a thin layer of black ice underneath the snow. I discovered this when my feet went out from under me and I landed on my back! My shoulder blades took most of the impact of the fall, and when I next went to the pool, I discovered that I couldn't swim butterfly or breaststroke without pain.

I delayed signing up for the meet until the last day in the hope that the shoulder blade pain would go away in time for the meet, and in the meantime I tried to keep my breaststroke kick in shape by doing lengths of breaststroke kicking on my back (drill #2 in the article I did on breaststroke kicking in 2005):

But, while I was showing signs of improvement half a week before the meet, it was clear that I still wasn't going to be up to swimming 8 lengths of breaststroke. So I reluctantly scrubbed my plans to do 200y breaststroke, and settled for just doing 200y backstroke.

At this same meet in 2013, my attempt at 200y backstroke had been ruined when I rolled onto my breast a bit too early on my second turn and, as a result, my feet didn't quite make contact with the wall. So I paid particular attention to my turns when I was warming up this year. What I discovered is that the timing feels different at the two ends of the pool. At the end opposite the starting blocks, I would pass under the flags, count 4 strokes and roll, and the wall would be there. But when I did the same thing at the starting block end of the pool, the wall would not be there yet. I don't know whether this is because the flags are positioned differently at the two ends of the pool, or whether it's just an optical illusion. In any case, I kept practicing my turns until I was able to nail the timing at both ends (though it was difficult to do this because the warmup lanes were very busy, which is probably why I didn't practice my turns enough last year).

I successfully completed the event this year, but missed my personal best (PB) time by 3.2 seconds, which was a disappointment. One of the nice things, though, about doing 200s in short course pool meets is that the electronic timing system gives you times for each 50 (since your feet make contact with the touch pads every time you turn at the blocks). What I found was that my times for the middle two 50s were both about 5 seconds slower than my time for the first 50, while my time for the last 50 was about 3 seconds faster than my time for the first 50.

One of the things I remember being conscious of as soon as I started the heat was that the muscles in my lower legs felt tired. I'm not sure exactly why this was. My practice schedule had been disrupted a bit by my shoulder blade injury, and because of this I had done a fairly heavy practice the day before the meet (which I would ordinarily have done at least 2 days before the meet). And I had spent a lot of time during warmup practicing my turns. I also tend to get tensed up during meets, so perhaps I had been unconsciously tensing the muscles? I'm not really sure.

The good news is that I am clearly capable of moving fast enough in the water to significantly improve my PB time. The bad news is that, considering how few meets in my area include 200 backstroke, it's not clear when I'll have my next opportunity to swim the event.

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