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  #1  
Old 06-22-2010
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Default My first meet of the year

I guess it says something about my degree of busyness this past spring that I am only now getting around to writing up a meet that occurred in mid-March!

I've long suspected that if kids had to go through what adults do to participate in competitive swimming, most of them would never do it. For example, I've never in my life had a home meet (i.e., a meet held in the pool where I normally practice). Nor have I ever had a meet that was held in my own county! I consider a meet to be "close" if it takes less than an hour to get to it.

I've never been sure whether the distance I've had to travel to get to my meets has significantly affected my performance. But now that I've been in two meets that were relatively "close" to where I live, it's starting to look like it does.

In June of 2005, I went to the first meet I'd ever been in that was less than a 45 minute drive from where I live, and I set a new personal best time in 50y backstroke that I wasn't able to break for nearly 3 years!

In March of this year, I went to the second meet I'd ever been in that was less than a 45 minute drive away, and set a personal best time in 100y freestyle - something I'd been trying to do for more than 3 years!

The June 2005 meet and the March 2010 meet were both held in pools I'd never been in before, so I didn't have the "familiar pool" advantage in either one. I suppose it's possible that the meets just happened to come at times when I had progressed to the point in my training where I was ready to set personal best times. But that seems rather coincidental! So I'm pretty sure that having a meet that's a relatively short drive away really did help my performance.

In the March 2010 meet, I had signed up for three events: 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, and 100 breaststroke. The events weren't as far apart as I'd have liked, since there was only one event between 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke, and one event between 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke. But there are usually a number of heats in each event at a masters meet, so I expected that there would be a decent amount of recovery time.

In a recent blog:

http://www.totalimmersion.net/blog/S...struments.html

I wrote about the training approach I've been using for freestyle lately. My previous personal best time in 100y freestyle had been set in February of 2007, and I hadn't been able to break it in spite of trying a number of times. In 2009, I'd even tried 100m freestyle in both short course (25m pool) and long course (50m pool), but the course conversion tool on the USA Swimming website indicated that neither of these times was quite as good as my 100y personal best.

The heat didn't get off to a good start, since my entry off the blocks wasn't completely clean. I also misjudged the distance on my final turn and didn't get a good kick off the wall. So I was pretty amazed when I looked up at the clock at the end and saw that I'd knocked 8 hundredths of a second off my previous personal best! Setting a personal best time when you've done a less than flawless swim is a good sign that you're likely to set some additional personal bests in the near future!

In my 100y backstroke heat, I only did a personal second best. But the reason wasn't hard to identify: Only a few people had signed up for the event between 100y freestyle and 100y backstroke, so they only had one heat for that event. So I literally didn't even have a chance to sit down between my heats! I could tell near the end of the 100y backstroke that I wasn't going quite as all out as I normally would, because I hadn't had time to recover from my previous heat. Hopefully, I'll have another shot at it later in the year.

The 100y breaststroke heat was a personal best by definition, since it was the first time I had done a breaststroke event longer than 50m.

In the July 2005 issue of Total Swim, Terry included a forum post I had made about how I learned to pace 50 breatstroke, and had succeeding in setting a personal best time in the event at a meet without feeling totally wiped out at the end. I mentioned that I had even begun to envision the possibility of someday swimming 100 breaststroke.

Actually, after writing the post, I took a break from breaststroke for awhile because I wanted to try other things. And even when I came back to the stroke, I still just stuck with 50s. I think that my memories of my early experiences with breaststroke, in which I had felt wiped out after swimming a 50, were so deeply engrained that I was nervous about even attempting a 100 breaststroke.

But late last year, I decided to try it once in practice, just to see how it would go. I figured that, since it was only practice, I could always stop if I started to feel wiped out. But that didn't happen! In fact, I was surprised at how easy it felt to swim a 100! I even did multiple 100s at the same practice, choosing different focal points each time.

Finally, in March, I did it at a meet! They did have several heats of the event between 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke, so I had about 20 minutes of recovery time. And things went well! Since it was my first time doing the event and no one else in my age group had signed up for it, I focused on simply completing the event rather than trying to compete. But now that I've proven to myself that I can complete it under meet conditions, I can start experimenting with how fast I can do it. And, who knows? I might even get daring enough to try a 200 breaststroke someday!


Bob
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  #2  
Old 11-05-2010
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Here's an update:

In October, I swam 100y backstroke again, and this time I succeeded in setting a personal best time, knocking about a second off my previous personal best time.

Unfortunately, I was less successful in my 50y freestyle and 50y backstroke heats. Although I've been hitting some speeds in practice for 50y freestyle that are faster than I've ever done in competition, I still can't do it consistently, and it didn't happen on the day of the meet. My problem with 50y backstroke was, I think, a "gear changing" problem, but I've said more about that in my reply to the "Question that requires honstey" thread in the Racing forum.


Bob
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  #3  
Old 11-05-2010
Grant Grant is offline
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Hi Bob:
Quick question. On your 50y Free are you using a 2BK, 6BK or other? And congrats on your PB for the 100y Back.
May we swim with ease at the speeds we choose.
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May we swim with ease at the speeds we choose.
Grant
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  #4  
Old 11-06-2010
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant View Post
Hi Bob:
Quick question. On your 50y Free are you using a 2BK, 6BK or other? And congrats on your PB for the 100y Back.
May we swim with ease at the speeds we choose.
That's a really good question, Grant! The answer is that I'm focusing on minimizing drag in every aspect of my stroke while quickening my pace, and the result is that I'm not even paying attention to how I'm kicking. I've never actually practiced a 6 beat kick, but may try doing that to see what effect it has.

Near the end of a backstroke event, I add a very narrow and rapid kick which adds a little speed at the cost of a lot of energy. I've been gradually increasing the distance over which I can maintain this kick by doing vertical kicking while holding my forearms out of the water.


Bob
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  #5  
Old 11-06-2010
Grant Grant is offline
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Near the end of a backstroke event, I add a very narrow and rapid kick which adds a little speed at the cost of a lot of energy. I've been gradually increasing the distance over which I can maintain this kick by doing vertical kicking while holding my forearms out of the water.
Bob[/quote]

Thanks for the idea. I do that vertical kicking but with the dolphin kick. It never occured to me to do the rapid, narrow kick.
As I am within 2.3 seconds of the Canadian 75-79 50m free record I have been practicing a full bore kick as above and keeping it in sync with the rest of the stroke.
So I like the vertical twist for developing that kick. Have a swim meet the end of Nov which will give me some feedback.
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  #6  
Old 11-07-2010
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grant View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by CoachBobM View Post
Near the end of a backstroke event, I add a very narrow and rapid kick which adds a little speed at the cost of a lot of energy. I've been gradually increasing the distance over which I can maintain this kick by doing vertical kicking while holding my forearms out of the water.
Bob
Thanks for the idea. I do that vertical kicking but with the dolphin kick. It never occured to me to do the rapid, narrow kick.
As I am within 2.3 seconds of the Canadian 75-79 50m free record I have been practicing a full bore kick as above and keeping it in sync with the rest of the stroke.
So I like the vertical twist for developing that kick. Have a swim meet the end of Nov which will give me some feedback.
What I do to transition from vertical kicking to horizontal kicking is to start doing vertical kicking and then "fall back" onto my back while still doing it. It helps me to maintain the same feeling of a rapid, narrow kick.


Bob
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  #7  
Old 11-07-2010
Richardsk Richardsk is offline
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Hi Bob

Presumably the falling back from vertical kicking would also be advantageous for learning to do an upside down dolphin kick. Do you start your backstroke races with a fixed number of dolphin kicks? It would be nice to go the full permissible distance ( or close) but at the moment I doubt if even one or two dolphin kicks add any speed to my underwater phase.
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  #8  
Old 11-13-2010
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richardsk View Post
Hi Bob

Presumably the falling back from vertical kicking would also be advantageous for learning to do an upside down dolphin kick. Do you start your backstroke races with a fixed number of dolphin kicks? It would be nice to go the full permissible distance ( or close) but at the moment I doubt if even one or two dolphin kicks add any speed to my underwater phase.
I would say that the quality of your underwater streamline does more to determine how far you go than the quality of your dolphin kicks. Things to keep in mind on your streamline are:

- The arm position for streamlining is hand over hand, wrist over wrist, with the thumb of your rear hand hooked around your front hand. The thumb gives you leverage to squeeze your arms tightly behind your ears. In general, the tighter and narrower your arms are, the farther you'll go.

- Keep your toes pointed in line with your ankles. Keep your feet just far enough apart to stabilize your body and keep it from rotating about your long axis.

- Try to be conscious of anything that make be creating drag so that you can minimize it.

The main difference between the dolphin kick you use for underwater streamlining and the body dolphin you use for butterfly is that the u/w dolphin kick goes from your belly button down to your toes instead of from your chest down to your toes. I find it useful to vary different aspects of my dolphin kick to see what makes me move the fastest.

I don't do any preset number of dolphin kicks. I just try to feel out the point at which I can move faster by stroking than by streamlining with dolphin kicking.

Hope this helps!


Bob
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  #9  
Old 11-13-2010
CoachBobM CoachBobM is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richardsk View Post
Presumably the falling back from vertical kicking would also be advantageous for learning to do an upside down dolphin kick.
I just realized that I never addressed this sentence.

The way I normally practice u/w streamlining on my back is to start from a stationary butterfly-to-backstroke open turn. It's essentially the same turn you do when going from butterfly to backstroke in I.M., except that you start from the point at which you've just touched the wall.

The way you do it is:

- Float in a face down horizontal position with your hands touching the wall or gutter.

- While keeping your nose pointed down, bring your feet to the wall as quickly as you can. You can speed this up by (1) keeping your toes pointed in line with your ankles until the last moment before you are going to plant your feet, and (2) putting one foot over top of the other to minimize the surface area you are pulling through the water. Bringing your feet forward while keeping your nose pointed down will create a tension in your body that I like to call the coiled spring.

- Just before you are about to plant your feet, release your hands from the wall/gutter. This has the effect of releasing the coiled spring, thereby flipping you decisively onto your back a foot or two below the surface with your arms in front of your head (what would be over your head if you were standing).

- snap your arms and hands into a streamline and then kick off.


Bob
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