Monday, July 20, 2015

Blair Bish is Trying Something New to Get Race Ready

it somestimes goes straight to his butt, which helps keep his hips up.. haha.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Meet Carri Cook from TYR

In my last post I gushed about the TYR Avictor and now I want to gush a little more about the girl who let me give it a try.  Carri Cook covers a large part of the USA for TYR and hopefully after getting to know her a little in this interview you will want to seek her out to see what TYR can do for you and your team.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I Prayed to Odin. He Sent TYR to help.

The Norse God of Warriors knows how to make a suit.

It is July 15 and I am at the first day of the Mizzou Sectional. My only athlete who was scheduled to swim today had to scratch so I ended up being the only race for my team. I have hardly been able to fit in much swimming, only getting in four very short swims since June 24th.  I had absolutely no reason to expect to swim well, but lately I have the mindset to never back out. I have surprised myself enough times that it is always worth racing to see what may happen. I shaved legs today but left the hair on my face, chest, and belly, which is a pretty significant furry layer at this age. I may shave more for Futures in West Lafayette but I am not sure. 

After warm ups, I decided it was time to look into finding a deal on a tech suit. I caught the TYR rep on deck and told her about my AP-12's being stolen. I was hoping she had one to sell for cheap since they are rumored to be discontinued. We talked a little about potentially signing my team with TYR since we have never committed to a brand, and then she offered to let me try on the Avictor. HELL YEAH!

I warmed up a little more in the suit and then raced the prelim 200 breast with it. In my opinion, it is a fantastic suit. So many tech suits catch water at the waist and are hard to tie tight enough. That was one of the things I loved about the AP-12: the waist never caught water, even without the high waist model. The Avictor had a better string that didn't slip as much when trying to get it tight, and also had rubber at the waist which is something that has become more common in tech that the AP-12 didn't have.  The fabric on the Avictor also seemed to be a lot thinner but it didn't feel like they sacrificed any strength.

The fit on the Avictor was the same, but the compression was very different. I have tried a lot of suits, and there are many varying degrees of compression across the thighs and hips on the market. The Avictor had excellent compression at the hips but I worried that it felt less tight at the lower thighs than what I was used to. After racing the 200 breast though, I can understand why they changed the design. My kick felt much more free. It was like the best of both worlds, with effective stability and compression, but the freedom of movement that allowed me to get the most from my range of motion. I felt like my kick was less restricted and more efficient than with other compression suits I have tried.

My race went really well.  Even after the huge roadblock in my training this summer I was able to drop two more seconds from my best time with a 2:29.9.  Even better, my last 50 was by far the best split I have turned in at 38.8.  I had much less fade today than ever. As a matter of fact, the entire amount of time I improved over last summer's shave meet is covered by the difference in that last split. It is kind of mind-blowing when you consider that I was trying my best to overcome what should have been a lack of fitness due to my crazy schedule over the last three weeks.

These might be my best race splits ever for the LCM 200 breast.
The best part: I met one of my short term goals. The time I turned in officially lands me on the FINA Masters all-time top ten list for my age group. Take a look here... 2:29.94 lands me at the 8th fastest in history for age 40-44. Not bad for a guy who is just squeezing in short workouts in on the fly and didn't bother to shave anything higher than the knees. I turn 41 next week so I am really anxious to see if I can carve out enough training time over the next three years to move up on that list.  I wish I could get off work to go to Masters Nats!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Lesson on Intensity

One of the few difficulties I have run into with USRPT is that it seems to be very difficult for the average kid to have the mental will to do it correctly. To truly practice race pace there has to be a specific level of intensity involved, and many young swimmers are inclined to do as little hard work as they can get away with. The athletic mindset requires fighting human nature a little, and with a large team of kids who had grown up training in a way that allowed them to coast through a large percent of their time in the water, it seems almost as though many feel that they are doing enough by just showing up.  Sometimes it's like they think the comfort zone is an intentional training zone. Even worse, they can act as though a good day of training or racing is something that just randomly happens to them as though they are waiting their turn for the best time fairy and she just seems to like some kids more than others.

If I actually get a chance to fit a workout in myself, it is a completely different experience.  I start getting anxious hours in advance.  I get nervous that I might finally go hard enough to hurt myself, and I prepare myself to give the pain required it's time. I warm up with purpose, making sure I leave myself no excuse built in. I push during the set to make sure that any fail I have is caused by fatigue and not some other factor that implies a lack of focus. I can't always control my schedule, but I can control my own body and mind. I try to make the most of every minute. 

By the time I reach my third fail the lifeguards are wondering if they are going to need to call 911. 

I get pretty frustrated sometimes when my swimmers don't even look like they got their heart rate up on these sets. I can tell when the intensity is on or off. It is hard to watch when the majority of a large group just seems to be okay with mediocrity in training.  Often I make my swimmers continue beyond their third fail just so they aren't incentivized by free time as a reward for doing a lousy job.  

Last night at practice we did a set of 20x50 at 200 free pace. Only about three out of 35 swimmers made it past number 8 before their first fail. Over half took the 4 freebies easy and then failed number five. So after they finished I pulled them out. I explained that since these sets are based on their own best times, I know they weren't even trying. Many looked around as though I must be talking to someone else. It wasn't a fun moment. 

So we did the set again. I told them that if they made ten in a row with no fails (and no freebies) the set was over. If they failed any of the first ten, they had to continue all the way to twenty again. It changed the incentive. They had five minutes to swim a 200 easy if they want it before we started. Not much rest really. 

Taa-daa!  Every one of them made a better score to first fail than they did on the first round. All but two made it to ten with zero fails.  Amazingly, when I looked through the notebook, ten was the best x score of the season for almost all of them. 

So then, I got to ask them, "WHY?"

It was a rhetorical question, obviously.  I felt like I got the answer from the looks on their faces. They finally looked like they had just finished a hard race. They were breathing hard enough that there were no conversations happening.  A couple of them were sprawled on the deck like warriors wounded in battle.  

It was beautiful.

I can only hope that the message came across in a way that makes them value their time enough to not waste it.   When they get their next chance to make the most of an opportunity, I hope they remember it is a matter of choice. I would choose to take pain rather than waste time any day. 

I guess maybe a big part of my job as a coach, no matter the type of training, has always been to convince others that it's a good trade.