Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dropping By to Say Hello

I’ve been taught it’s important not to neglect things in one’s care – the old “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” thing, but sometimes you have to make choices. Unfortunately my blog was one of the first things I had to cast adrift in recent weeks as work demands have (incredibly) increased over the past couple of months. So apologies for not posting at least something this month but, since a posting typically takes an hour of my time (considerably more if it’s an editorial) and considering I’ve only been able to swim a half dozen times this month, there was simply not the time to write anything.

In a couple of weeks the new 2007/08 season starts and I’ll be there. Though behind in my intended preseason training I’ll adjust my training program to salvage what I can and soldier on. With a year’s experience behind me and having learned considerably about current advancements in stroke technique I’m now expecting better times all around. I’m especially targeting a couple of races for improvement. My 100 meter freestyle PB hasn’t really budged since early last December after only a couple of months training and as the premier event (and general benchmark for speed) my present best is embarrassing. I intend to improve it to at least something more competitive. My 100 backstroke on the other hand isn’t bad, even if I believe it to be a least a couple of seconds slower than what I could do given proper rest and preparation. I bought Aaron Peirsol’s ‘Go Swim’ DVD and the basic pointers he gives combined with overall better conditioning, a little better technique and, hopefully, continued progress in my rollover turns, should result in significant improvement. That’s the theory at least. Improvement in the rest of my events, especially my 200 IM and 200 back, will need to rely primarily on improved conditioning to bring about the necessary breakthroughs. I have in my office a spreadsheet showing the qualifying times beginning with my province’s 15&O AAA age group through to my country’s Senior Nationals: the intention being to cross off each time as I make it and see how far I can go. As I write this I don’t have a single time crossed off. Some interesting observations: in Canada our highest quality bracket is triple A but in the States we actually have quadruple A – and my those times are fast! Time progression is fairly steady between the age groups until you try to make the leap to Senior Nationals from Western Nationals (the interim level between Age Group Nationals and Senior Nationals in Canada) where typically a swimmer needs to cut a full three seconds off their 100 times to qualify. At one time I also had the Olympic ‘B’ and ‘A’ times on my spreadsheet (only for completeness sake!) and the gap between those two and between them and Canada’s Senior National times are equally imposing. It will be interesting to see what sort of progress I can make against the 15 and 16 year olds this season.

I have plenty planned for this blog too. My article about Dara Torres raised a couple of arguments as to why her times are legitimate, both of which I’ll address over the next couple of weeks or so, plus some further observations on the remarkable Torres. Beyond that I have a long list of topics to write about when I’m not posting about my own training program and swimming progress. Topics to be covered include diets, tributes to ‘Doc’ Councilman and Arthur Lydiard, why swimming is the best sport for children, distance events, the 1980 Olympic boycott, and many other topics of interest. Hope you stay around to read them.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Day 1 of U.S. Nationals and I’m Sitting Behind a Desk

Sometimes things just don’t work out. I’ve been planning to attend this year’s long course championships ever since I wasn’t able to go to our only long course swim meet in Victoria way back in March, again because of work commitments. I would have thought the middle of August, smack in the middle of the slow season, would have been proof against this happening but I would be wrong. The original plan was to spend a couple of leisurely weeks with my sister while working some part days for a client, then head off for Texas for the long weekend, and return to LA for a few more days to wrap up my work. That had to be scrapped when I had to twice delay my departure to deal with client problems and to complete some engagements (try telling a client you’re not going to deal with his tax problem until you get back from vacation in three weeks!). I had another client move up the time for an expert opinion because of available court dates which meant flying down I was looking at working right through the week and then squeezing in my opinion during the swim meet. Not the best preparation for an important meet but those were my plans until I discovered some major accounting problems early this week which required me to reconstruct events going back as far as 2003. So regretfully I had to sacrifice my swimming this weekend. It’s a shame because attending a serious Masters swim meet would be an experience and would have given me the opportunity to meet up and talk with some of the best masters swimmers in the world as well as several prominent bloggers. Wieslaw Musial, the Canadian backstroker masters world record holder in the 200 back for my age group will be there, as will Steve Woods, the current 100 back masters world record holder (you should be able to tell I consider myself a backstroker). Perhaps next year things will work out better.