Sunday, July 15, 2007

Turn Drills

In our Friday night practice Coach Brad scheduled some turn sprints – just eight fifties starting from the middle of the pool requiring us to swim easy most of the distance but all out between the wall and flags. It has been a long while since I’ve worked on my turns at speed. Among several other problems the set highlighted my severe streamlining problems coming out of the turn, as well as an overpowering need to breathe immediately rather than take some strokes off the wall and conserve speed. I can work on better streamlining but I’ll leave off delaying my breathing until my VO² max improves more. As a child we had a set, used primarily by our coach as a punishment drill, called a lung buster. It was a 200 breathing three, five, seven, and nine for the four laps. I didn’t enjoy the seven, despised the nine, but the worse part were the turns because we weren’t allowed to breathe at the wall. I just hated that. The turn just added on an extra couple of seconds before the next painful breath. Thank God I swam long course! It was a punishment drill because we’d get it whenever we acted up or complained about a set. The true punishment came afterwards, however, when the extra laps were doled out. Take some extra breaths, or breathe at the wall, and a swimmer could be told to repeat the last 100. Very few young age group swimmers could do a lung buster perfectly, so if the coach wanted to make an example out of some one it was rare some infraction of the rules wouldn’t allow the imposition of the extra laps. If you didn’t do the repeat correctly and Coach was in a particularly foul mood you could be ordered to do it again while the rest of the group went on with the regular workout – and an imperfect repeat was something practically guaranteed because of exhaustion from the initial attempt. I still vividly remember a teammate being ordered to repeat the extra 100 and the gasps coming not from him (he was breathing too hard) but from the rest of us waiting for the clock. And there are people who wonder why I quit? But our Nationals group did lung busters as a matter of pride, often trying to see how far beyond 200 they could go. The star of Canadian swimming at the time was Ralph Hutton, a former 400 meters world record holder, and it was said he could swim a 400 lung buster, which would call for fifteen and seventeen strokes per breath the last two laps – three, or at most four, breaths for the last hundred! Crikey! Nowadays as an old man I’m struggling when breathing every five strokes, and I hate the wall even more if that’s possible.


Wendy said...

Scott, I need to breathe off the turn if I go farther than a 50.

Oddly, it wasn't like that 30 years ago!

Scott said...

I'm with you Sister! The biggest impact aging has on our performance until sarcopenia (loss of muscle) kicks in is the decline in our VO2 max - the ability to aerobically process oxygen. It also degrades much faster when not in training and once lost is never fully recoverable after your twenties. Of all the many varied difficulties I've encountered coming back to swimming my breathing problems are by far the most disconcerting. Almost panic inducing at times.