Next Sunday is our first swim meet of the season, held as always at the University of British Columbia’s Aquatic Centre. Although this year it may be sparsely attended as the Canadian Football League’s Western Final is playing at the same time and the BC Lions, our local team, are in it. The scheduling conflict between game and meet wasn’t known early on and there were quite a few changed plans when Joe announced in the locker room he had obtained tickets to the game and so wouldn’t be racing at UBC after all. Tough luck for the swim meet’s organizers because ordinarily this isn’t something you’d plan around: the present level of interest almost entirely due to the Lions’ participation. Originally my own plans placed little importance on this meet and Nanaimo’s as I will be training right through these months aiming for Victoria’s long course meet in March. Unfortunately missing the U.S. Long Course Championships in August has meant most of my times this year are pretty stale; it would be nice to record in 2007 something more reflective of my present abilities. Now I’d like to do well at UBC, and even more so at Nanaimo two weeks later when I swim my free and back events (trying to have my cake and eat it too I know).
This might be hard to do as I’m pretty well bogged down smack in the middle of training. It hasn’t helped Coach Brad has been handing out some crippling fast workouts recently. Take this past Friday’s practice. He started out with a warm up consisting of:
200 free @ 4:00
4 x 50 breast @ 1:00
12 x 25 fly @ 0:45 (4 single arm drill/8 swim which we swam @ 0:40)
4 x 50 breast @ 0:55
There are those damn breast ‘sprints’ in a warm up again! True, Brad has slowed the first four fifties down a full ten seconds from the disastrous night I experienced a month ago, but then he compromises on the second round and reduces the required splits by five seconds; and you should note they follow after 300 fly. I was so perturbed I actually openly questioned the warm up, noting the beginning pace for breast was the same as our opening free – an observation which Brad dismissed as something which would only trouble those who had difficulties with breaststroke. Fully recognizing my inadequacies as a swimmer I can honestly say his rationale is distressingly correct and unfortunately applicable to me. That's why I was complaining. Well I survived the warm up but success there only meant having to deal with our main set – an absolute killer:
300 back @ 5:30
2 x 50 free @ 0:35
200 back @ 4:00
4 x 50 free @ 0:40
100 back @ 2:30
6 x 50 free @ 0:40
This is not a backstroke set, it’s an anaerobic free set with some back thrown in as filler. But it’s still way too fast for most masters despite being short course meters. A 0:35 interval means swimming thirty flat unless you touch-n-go, a practice which pretty well defeats calling for fifties. Even a 0:40 interval means swimming 0:34 or 0:35, still too fast for me over an extended number at least – and the set calls for ten of them. Looks like Brad’s been dipping into the Hyack Senior Nationals and National 2:30’s workouts again (the National 2:30’s being Hyacks’ elite group) and didn’t adjust enough. Regardless of the extensive backstroke I didn’t want anything to do with this set so I said I’d start the 300 back after Damon but afterwards would drop behind everyone and boy, did I call it right. To make this truly the set from hell Damon then jumped the gun and started our 2 x 50 free a full minute early on 4:30. This is the second or third time he’s gone early; perhaps because only recently retired from competition he’s just not used to our middle of set rests and when doubts creep in about when to leave he naturally goes at an interval more in keeping with his old workouts. No big deal of course but unfortunately it’s hard on the rest of us old geezers. I do the old touch-n-go for the two fifties, and no sooner than I finish my hundred, take three breaths, and get my feet on the ledge that the clock shows I’m a second late leaving for the 200 and have to push off. I arrive back in time to hear Ian complaining we had left a minute early after the 300, add my bleating whine to his for a few seconds, and then save my breath for the 4 x 50 free coming up. Practically speaking for me it’s a 200 free on 2:40 and a 300 free on 4:00 because I’m not going to come close to those intervals. In fact, no one met them in Lane Six as everyone went touch-n-go by the end. Unlike the rest of my teammates, however, I had to skip a couple of fifties to finish the set, which is a miserable feeling. It’s far better to swim in a slower lane and do the set properly than punish yourself and fail by trying to swim in a lane beyond your capabilities. To close out the workout we had a 100 choice easy and then 6 x 50 kicks on 1:10. The way things were going for me it was inevitable I suppose – the leg cramps started on the first fifty kick and by the fourth fifty I had to get out of the pool to deal with them, generally disgusted with the world and everything in it. Trying to do workouts like this now at my current conditioning level is just too much. If they continue to be this tough I’ll have to seriously consider moving down a lane or two.