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  #1  
Old 03-12-2013
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Default First meet of the year

WELSH OPEN MASTERS 2013

Normally this is not the first meet of the year for me, as I more often than not enter for the Shrewsbury New Year Gala and the Southern Region Long Course meet at Crawley, but this year, although I had entered for the meet at Crawley, family illness meant that I had to withdraw and thus this was my first chance to see how my swimming was progressing and also my first chance to meet the old familiar faces, those that have still survived. Two notable absences were Colin Knowles of Cardiff and Baz Owen of Arfon Masters, both of whom have gone to the pool in the sky and are much missed.

Once again the meet had been compressed into a two-day format as the organizers had found that the three-day meet format lost money. This year this also meant the loss of the 1500 meter event, which was a disappointment, as the 1500 is one of my favorite events, although not my best. As it turned out it was probably a good thing that I did not have to swim the 1500 as my first event because it seems that my endurance has suffered a bit of a setback this year, perhaps an inevitable consequence of aging, although I like to think, or at least hope, that one can stem the tide to some extent.

The first event was the 400, for which I had entered last year's time of 10: 28.93, and in the warmup I felt quite comfortable, but the actual race didn't go according to plan and I finished in a time of 10:50.50, which is disappointing, but as I was the only swimmer in my age group I was the winner.

In the next race, the 200 IM, I was disqualified in the butterfly leg for arms not bought forward over the water, which was a bit of a blow, as it seemed to me that I was managing to clear the water quite well with my strange stroke, but the stroke judge did not agree. The bright spot was that it was quite a bit faster than last year's legal time and a little faster than last year's non-legal time, so I have the feeling that at least something is going in the right direction. Back to shoulder flexibility exercises and various other drills.

Next came the 200 Back, where again I was the only entrant in my age group, and with nobody close in entry time. I had entered a time of 5:24.67, somewhat slower than my best time of 5:16.60 from two years ago, but the best I could do was 5:30.55, which was disappointing but not tragic.

The 100 Free is a bit of a bugbear, for me at any rate, a difficult race to split properly, especially if one is slow even flat out. My entry time was 2:12.00, a somewhat optimistic estimate, based on the fact that last year I managed a best time for 50 meters of 57.41, somewhat faster than my previous best from 2008, when I had also produced my best time for 100 meters of 2:07.17. I didn't swim a long course 100 last year but did swim 2:12.36 in a short course meet. In a discussion with a swimming friend from Cardiff, who is 81 this year, he suggested that I should go all out from the start and just hang on hoping that I would have more in the tank than I suspected, but I felt that a more restrained first 50 would be a better plan. This time I managed 2:14.67 , with a first 50 of 1:01.46, which was perhaps still too fast, because my second 50 was 1:13.21. This is something I obviously need to work on. Based on world record times and differentials and my ratio to world record speed, I calculate that for a time of 2:12.00 my first 50 should be about 1:04 and my second 50 about 1:08, or maybe 1:05and 1:07. Anyway something closer to about even pace, allowing for the dive. Obviously adding a bit of 50 meter speed would be very beneficial. I'm hoping to get the chance to swim another LC 100 this year and perhaps I'll test this theory then.


The second day began with the 200 Free and here I had entered last year's time of 4:51.16 and was hoping to improve this to something like my time of 4:44.31 from 2010, but on the theory that my poor performance in the 400 was a result of going out a little too fast, although in fact I hadn't actually gone out very fast at all, I decided to try taking the first 100 out fairly easy and then speeding up the pace on the last two fifties. When the results were posted I saw that my first 100 was split 1:07.43 and 1:20.42 giving 2:27.85, so obviously the second 50 was too slow and then the third 50 was even slower at 1:22.07 and the last 50 at 1:13.43 was not fast enough to bring me home under the five minute mark. There were two entrants in this race for a change but the other man was a lot faster, to the tune of at least a minute.

For some reason, I have no difficulty in even splitting the 100 Back, although my backstroke is considerably slower than my freestyle. The 100 Back was something of a relief, as I managed to beat my entry time of 2:32.15, set last year, equaling my best time from 2007 of 2:30.35. As far as I remember, that was swum half and half, that is to say, one length with Old English (double-arm recovery and inverted breaststroke kick) and one length with back crawl. Since then I have concentrated on back crawl almost exclusively.

Usually I enter all the breaststroke events but this year I decided to limit myself to the 200 meter race, where again I was the only entrant in my age group and there was nobody else of similar speed. Ideally there should be someone who is just a little bit faster but the man on my left was quite a lot faster and the man on my right considerably older and considerably slower. I was relatively content with my time of 5:23.27, quite a bit slower than my entry time of 5:14.64 from last year and a lot slower than my best time of 5:00.14 from 2008. I basically used the race to practice my head position and to concentrate on not messing up any of the turns. In this I was not entirely successful, as some of them were not very skillfully executed and I found myself pushing off with only one leg. However, they were all legal with two hands carefully placed on the pad. I must do more turn practice! Having analyzed my splits, I conclude that the third 50 was much too slow.

By this time we had come to the end of the meet and the only race remaining was the 800 meter freestyle. Here I had the rare honor of not being the only competitor in my age group, but the other two were much faster and swam in different heats. I had failed to finish in the 800 last year due to fatigue after the 1500 and a heavier program than this year, and had entered my split from the 1500 as my entry time, but alas, I was unable to match it and ended up swimming almost exactly a minute slower, finishing in 22:55.19 instead of 21:56.05. The other two in my age group were several minutes faster. I failed to note down their times and the results do not seem to be available yet, but we are talking about eight minutes or so faster, which is a lot in an 800-meter race. Never mind; we don't swim for glory or medals but for the love of it.
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Old 03-13-2013
Grant Grant is offline
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Glad you had a fun meet Richard. This downward slide business is often vexing. At times I can accept it with grace and other times i get hooked into it which does not enliven my day.
Re your DQ. I think our Canadian Masters use the same rules as yours does. I was just told several weeks ago that in the Fly one can have the arms drag in the water on recovery as long as they are partially above the water surface. It would obviously slow one down but is not worthy of a DQ.
I recently had the rare treat of having a DQ reversed in my 800m SC race. have not heard the official reason but I get credit for my swim for the yearly rankings. It was not what Ii wanted timewise (15:58.56) but was a opportunity to handle it with grace. :0) Damm it.
I enjoy your posts. Swim on.
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Old 03-13-2013
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Hi Grant

It seemed to me that my arms were at least partly over the water and it also seemed to me that it was improving as the length progressed but the judge disagreed and his word is law. ;-)

The results are now published and I note that the chap who won the 100 Free broke the championship record for our age group - he's a mere stripling of 75 - with a time of 1:22.24, which is probably about your speed. He also a set a new championship record in the 50 Free and just missed by a narrow margin in the 800.

P.S.
His time for the 50 Free was 34.04 and 14:42.91 for the 800. The record is 14:36.63. It certainly makes my time look poor! These chaps can string a set of fifties off faster than I can swim one of them. Oh well...

Last edited by Richardsk : 03-13-2013 at 10:53 AM. Reason: adding a p.s.
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  #4  
Old 03-13-2013
Grant Grant is offline
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Hi Richard
The times the 75 year old swam are very close to the times I swam when I was 75. Now at 78 there has been a slide. Tho I have had a Prostate operation 18 months ago I don't think that can be blamed entirely if at all. I really think it has to do with having less muscle mass at my disposal. The 50 MSC is down to :37+, while the 100 is down to 1:28+ and the 200 is at 3:28+.
I have trained as much and keep incorporating stuff I learn on this forum so the sense of improvement is still there just not on the clock.
In two years we will be the young ones.
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May we swim with ease at the speeds we choose.
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  #5  
Old 03-13-2013
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Nice account Richard, thanks for sharing. I'd like to do some pool events next year when I return to the UK.
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Old 03-14-2013
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Good plan, Andy, perhaps our paths will cross somewhere.
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Old 03-16-2013
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Richard, I enjoy your posts and I hope you will not mind my asking your advice. At 72 I have never swum in a pool race and am finding it difficult to know how to go about starting. There must be others like me?
My preference is for longer freestyle races - the longer the better as I have a great heart and lungs but probably not a single fast-twitch fibre in my body! I swim a mile five times a week, usually around 35 minutes which is comfortable but certainly not fast. My best is around 33 minutes. I will start some interval training/ faster work before too long. I have not got a clue how to go about entering a race or learning how to race but would value your experience and opinion and hope to hear from you. I am in Dorset but would travel where necessary.

Martin T.
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Old 03-16-2013
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Hi Martin

Your first move should probably be to find a masters club, if you haven't already found one.

This link might be useful:

http://www.swimming.org/asa/clubs-an...h-west-region/
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Old 03-16-2013
Grant Grant is offline
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Hello Martin
Good advice from Richard. In case Master swimming is totally unknown to you I will give you some background. You will find a Masters Swim Organization in most western countries as well as Asian and Australia. The swimmers are divided into 5 year age groups beginning 20-24 then 25-29 and so on up to over 100. Most swim meets are sponsored or put on by Masters swim clubs. The make up of the meet varies but roughly they have 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1500 meters or yards freestyle races. As well 50, 100, 200 Back, Breast and Fly. There are often 200 and 400 Inividual Meley races as well.
The neat thing is that when you compile an entry you must put down a seed time. This is the time you expect to swim that race in. Then you will be placed in a heat that has people with close to the same seed time. This usually ensures you are swimming with people that will either push you or pull you to a good race. The times are then compiled and you are ranked within your age group as to where you placed within that age group. In your case you would be in the 70-74 group.
I did not mention it but men and women results are separated though you may be swimming in the same heat with women.
Also you don't have to be registered with a Masters Swim Club to swim in these. One can swim as an Unattached swimmer. You must however be registered with the countries Master Swim Assoc. this usually is a yearly payment of dues.
One can pick the races you want to swim. There usually is a limit but you can swim just one race if you so choose.
The atmosphere is very supportive and a light hearted comaraderie that over the years can develop into good friendships.
For me the meets are my icing on the cake or the treat at the end of the meal.
Hope this is of use to you or anyone else wanting to play in a swim meet.
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  #10  
Old 03-17-2013
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Richard and Grant, thank you, gentlemen, for your advice and for taking the trouble to respond. I will get cracking and investigate Masters' Clubs in my area and keep you posted. It is strange after a long, competitive running career how nervous one can still be. Must be a fear of the unknown . . ?
Thank you, again.

Martin T.
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