One of the many things where swimming masters differs from competitive swimming is in the brevity of its competitions. Instead of a weekend sitting around in the morning waiting for your events and then having to deal with finals in the evening it’s just one quick afternoon and you’re home for supper. For the busy adult who wants to do a little racing the time commitment requires only some minor juggling of affairs to attend a meet. The draw back for this convenience is the reduced the number of races I can compete in. After a rocky start where I bit off more than I could chew in my first swim meet I’m up to racing a combined maximum of 450 meters a meet. If scheduling works out for me I try to enter two 100 races, a single 200 event, and a throw-away 50 sprint for the afternoon. I even have a list I select from: either free or back for the sprint; all four strokes in the 100; and back, free, and IM for the 200. Unfortunately even with a palette of nine events to choose from I rarely squeeze in the maximum four races.
Because of the difficulty getting race experience I looked at competing in this year’s Provincials despite it being smack in the middle of my busy season. Like most other state or provincial championships the competition is spread out over an entire weekend rather than an afternoon which allows enough rest for several races to be entered. However the event scheduling at this year’s Provincials is horrible for me. Great if you happen to be a breaststroker but not so good if you fancy yourself a backstroker and want to swim some free or fly too as I do. So I’m not going to our Provincials this year. In its place I’m considering entering the SPMA Short Course Meters Regional Championship this fall to get my last short course times before I move up in age group. Hopefully its event scheduling will be better.
Thinking about all of this brings me to understand the full import of what Michael Phelps will have to do if he is to win eight gold medals in Beijing this fall: eighteen or more races in eight days. It seems the betting has Phelps entering the 100 and 200 fly, the 200 and 400 IM, and the 200 free plus the three relays. At the Missouri Grand Prix three weeks ago he beat Ian Crocker in the 100 fly final with a 51.52, narrowly lost to Aaron Peirsol in the 100 back final ten minutes later touching in 53.70, and then only twenty minutes after that took sixth in the 100 breast final, won by Brendan Hansen, with a 1:02.57. That’s a lot of swimming in a short space of time. It’s curious as to why he’d swim three events so close together. Could it portend something at Beijing? Could Phelps be planning to enter the backstroke races and compete in ten events? It wouldn’t come as a complete shock – Michael Phelps’ noted knack for quickly recovering from hard races makes anything seem possible.