Sunday, December 02, 2007

Good Pool, Lousy Swimmer

The Nanaimo Ebbtides host an excellent swim meet even if their city is a little off the beaten path. It’s a fast, modern pool kept at the right temperature for competitive swimming, has plenty of warm up/cool down lanes, and other than a slight hiccup at the start of the meet with their timing system this year, is always very smoothly run. Of course to really enjoy a meet I have to swim well too. As Hamlet would say, “Ay, there’s the rub”. The less said about my 200 back the better. I started out at a good pace but had some problems with shortness of breath early on, choked on some water at about the sixty meter mark, and then struggled to recover any sort of breathing pattern thereafter – my race pretty well finished at that point. Going into the turn at the hundred mark I discovered I couldn’t (wouldn’t) duck my head under at the wall (remember my hesitation about not wanting to make proper flip turns at the UBC meet two weeks ago?) and consequently coasted in on my stomach and was disqualified. In my 100 free I went out much too slowly and then merely continued the same pace the last fifty rather than accelerating. I felt good with my stroke staying reasonably intact, to the point of thinking right afterwards I had had a decent race but my final result said otherwise: less than two seconds faster than the time I swam a year ago at this same meet; and that time was with only three months training. In my all important 100 back, where I was trying to qualify for my AAA time (even going so far as to scratch my fifty free to provide more rest) I once again went out much too slowly. I think I was still in shock over my 100 free and had already resigned myself to a substandard time. I touched outside even a personal ‘best’, finishing about two tenths off that mark, in a race where anything less than a two second improvement would have been disappointing. Oh well. It’s not as if improvements come in steady, predictable increments. The only real bother is the limited number of master races gives only a few opportunities to test oneself each year; and with this meet a washout it means I’ll have to reswim my backstroke events at Duncan to reestablish my confidence rather than try out a couple other, less swum events such as the 200 free. Much of my problem stems from my expectations for improvement, where I’m looking to tear chunks of time off rather than improve a mere second or two. To my disgust I still struggle in the 200 back with a time quality-wise the equivalent to my 100 free, causing me to consciously punish myself by immediately scheduling another 200 back for the very next meet (I suffer a lot in the 200 back). Ultimately I’ll start swimming the race properly but until it happens I’m building quite a phobia about it, especially the pain of the last fifty since my suffering starts to build as soon as I push off on the second hundred. And I’m completely frustrated with the lack of progress in my 100 free since I’ve definitely improved all aspects of the stroke and should be swimming much faster. My fly and breast, on the other hand, have been from day one works-in-progress so expectations here are low anyways; nor do I have any real hopes in the near future for a decent 200 individual medley because of those same two strokes. Ignoring the 50 sprints as novelties better suited to test all out speed rather than legitimate events in their own right leaves my 100 back standing alone as my sole competitive event at this time. And even this needs some improvement before I can call myself a real backstroker. Two more months until my next meet. I’ll find out then just what sort of talent I truly do possess.


Joe said...

I still say your 100 free was a thing of beauty. When we taper in April, you'll be down to 1:01 or even 1:00. 100 meters is your distance.

Did you check out "The Rack" yet? If so, are you going to get one for yourself?

Joe said...

BTW, I won't stand for this "Lousy Swimmer" talk anymore! Your excellent work ethic inspires me to come to practice and work hard. Give yourself a well deserved pat on the back, Scott. You're pulling all of us along with you in your quest to improve.

Scott said...

One of the best things about sports is the purity of it. Manu a manu, or measured against the clock or tape measure, sport allows no delusions - you are what you are. Hard work does not mean success, it only associates with success. We've had this discussion before Joe, and we come from two different places. From my viewpoint an inability to compete with the average fifteen year old means I can't, with any logic, be deemed to be a swimmer of quality. Lousy might be a trifle harsh assessment of my abilities, but then I have high expectations (as I always do) about myself. Still don't misread my sentiments: to me masters swimming is all about improvement regardless of where one starts out. That's why when so many of my teammates say point blank to me, "I'm not a good swimmer" I tell them that's nonsense, the talent to do better is there - all it requires is some effort. For many life's other obligations make it difficult to make that effort. The great thing about masters swimming is it allows you to measure how your swimming has improved and get physically fit at the same time. Hopefully that positive reinforcement spills over into the rest of your life.